2000-2002 Ford Falcon AU-BFII XR8 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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ford falcon au ford falcon au

Buyer resistance to the AU Falcon's charms was about looks, not fundamental issues - its styling is now viewed more kindly

 

Ford Falcon AU-BFII XR8

For a long time it seemed that the AU XR8 would remain a pariah and even cars that were carefully preserved would have their lives abruptly ended by a crusher.

Then a few years back, people suddenly took an interest in later versions of the AU. While you wouldn’t say the weirdly-shaped Ford had become a cult car there were buyers willing to spend better than BA money to get themselves into something a little older but more distinctive.

| 2019 Market Review - Ford Falcon/Fairmont/XR6 AU-BF

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The AU II that launched in April 2000 fixed pretty much everything that was wrong with the original AU and even had a bash at diffusing criticism of the styling. The original shape was memorably described to me by a former Ford salesman some years ago as "looking like a turd with teeth".

Changes to the AU II’s body structure, suspension and brakes improved the range and produced a more viable platform for performance models. Most significant were new engine mounts and a laminated fire-wall that dramatically reduced vibration.

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The distinctive four-light front remained but with the AU II came a neat two-bar grille and scalloped bonnet. The bumper/air-dam was modified to include additional air-ducts, while a single-deck spoiler and reshaped tail-lights helped disguise a rear-end that had originally caused much controversy.

Inside were upgraded seats and standard dual air-bags, a six-stack CD player and optional satellite navigation. SmartShield security replaced the often-unreliable Smart Lock central locking/security system.

| Ford Falcon history: AU, BA, BF series 

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Immediate good news for AUII buyers was a boost in power. Initially the XR8 sedan was upped from 185kW to 200kw, rising by a further 20kW from mid-2001. Utilities stuck with the 185kW motor until March 2001 when they  also received a 15kW power increase. The AU III ute would also find space for a touring-friendly 82-litre fuel tank.

The AU III XR8 ran from November 2001 until replaced by the BA. It continued with the 220kW engine and cast-aluminium heads that were matched to balanced engine internals. A new throttle body delivered improved throttle response.

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Scarcity and performance have  encouraged Ford enthusiasts to seek and out and pay increasing prices for five-speed manual cars. The disadvantage they then suffer is with lower overall gearing that has the engine revving around 2400rpm when doing a constant 110km/h and the consequent affect on fuel consumption.

Manual sedans and utilities can get into the 10L/100km region but traffic or being pushed along with frequent use of the gears see them slurping at 15-18L/100km.

| Read next: 2000 DJR Falcon AU V8 supercar

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AU II XR8 automatic sedans showing more than 200,000 kilometres and in average condition can cost less than $5000. They provide interesting transport but virtually no prospect of value growth.

Look harder – because these are not easy to find – for a five-speed manual car that has travelled 100-125,000 kilometres and the price quickly soars towards $20,000.

Checking the log-books and service history is essential. You may not want to be paying top money for a vehicle that copped a commercial flogging when new or began life with flashing lights on the roof and a radar unit hooked to the driver’s pillar.

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VALUE RANGE: Ford Falcon AU (AU II/III 5-Speed)

Fair: $5500
Good: $13,000
Excellent: $19,500

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

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Body & chassis

GT restorations often took place 20-30 years ago when the cars weren’t especially valuable and buyers weren’t overly concerned about authenticity. If corners were cut and non-genuine parts used the ripple effect can now have a huge influence on the size of the sale prices. Inspection by a GT specialist will be well worth the fee. Before spending your money, look for filler where metal should be and rust returning in places like the windscreen surround and wheel-arches.  Check sills, floor-pans, spring attachment points and between the boot lid and rear window. Good reproduction parts are available to rectify bodgy work. More serious is poor crash repairs causing poor panel alignment or kinked chassis rails. Quality rechroming is expensive.

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Engine & transmission

High GT prices need to be underpinned by authenticity and that means a car still having the same engine and transmission fitted when it left the factory. Some experts are even able to identify authentic ancillary components but having the ‘right’ engine is enough for most buyers. Bearing rumble at start-up, the ticking sound signifying worn cam lobes and oil smoke and leaks indicate an engine that needs work. That’s expensive but if it is the original motor and can be saved the cost is worthwhile.  Cars that are rarely driven can be hard to start and suffer the effects of stale fuel. Clogged radiators and perished hoses cause even pristine cars to overheat.

Suspension & brakes

GT suspension is basic and keeping it in top condition is not expensive. Rear spring leaves crush and crack but a pair of new semi-elliptics costs around $1000, with matching front coils at $200-300 each. A brake pedal that feels mushy or goes to the floor after a few stops can be scary but not expensive to remedy. Less than $1500 should buy all the new brake components you need. Wobbly or binding steering can be remedied by spending $500 on a reco-ed steering box. Be cautious of cars with ultra-low profile tyres which will transmit shock loads that originally were damped by 70 Profile rubber.

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Interior & electrics

GT trim is hard wearing and some cars may still be running around with original seats and door panels. If not there are suppliers offering exchange door cards and reproduction seat material for a total outlay of $3500 or less. New vinyl hood-lining costs around $350 plus installation with carpet sets below $300. Manual window winders that are hard to move or have broken handles can be  replaced and remember to test the floor-mounted dip-switch to make sure you have high-beam lights. Fully replacing the seat belts and mounting bolts is a wise move and four belts cost less than $600.

 

2000-2002 Ford Falcon AU II/III XR8

NUMBER MADE: 2287 (exc. GTHOs)
BODY STYLES: Steel integrated body/chassis four-door sedan
ENGINE: 5763cc V8 with overhead valves and downdraft carburettor
POWER & TORQUE: 217kW @ 4800rpm, 520Nm @ 3200rpm
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 7.8 seconds,
0-400 metres 15.6 seconds
TRANSMISSION: Four-speed manual, three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, wishbones, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
BRAKES: Disc (f) drum (r) power assisted
TYRES: ER70HR 14 radial

 

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