Ford Falcon XA GT RPO83 Review

Presented by

Falcon XA GT 19 Falcon XA GT 19
Falcon XA GT 20 Falcon XA GT 20
Falcon XA GT 21 Falcon XA GT 21
Falcon XA GT 24 Falcon XA GT 24
Falcon XA GT 23 Falcon XA GT 23
Falcon XA GT 27 Falcon XA GT 27
Falcon XA GT 222 Falcon XA GT 222
Falcon XA GT 26 Falcon XA GT 26
Falcon XA GT 17 Falcon XA GT 17
Falcon XA GT 16 Falcon XA GT 16
Falcon XA GT 4 Falcon XA GT 4
Falcon XA GT 9 Falcon XA GT 9
Falcon XA GT 10 Falcon XA GT 10
Falcon XA GT 14 Falcon XA GT 14
Falcon XA GT 11 Falcon XA GT 11
Falcon XA GT 3 Falcon XA GT 3

Scarcity of the Falcon XA GT RP083 will contribute to price growth as an investment, as will its inherent superiority over other GTs of similar age

 

Ford Falcon XA GT Falcon

The fate of Ford’s Phase 4 Falcon GTHO is well documented but not so the story of how Ford made use of its surplus Phase 4 bits and in doing created an almost accidental ‘hero’ car.

The existence of a Regular Production Option for the XA GT Falcon was confirmed via a low-key, single-page Dealer Bulletin issued in October 1973. There seems to have been no official announcement at all to the media – no more ‘160mph Killer Supercar’ headlines wanted here, thank you.

Falcon -XA-GT-7-658

Contained within the statement was confirmation of ‘variances’ to an unspecified number of GT Falcons produced during preceding weeks. These changes included a Holley 780cfm four-barrel carburettor (look for the tell-tale manual choke), extractor-type exhaust manifolds (as had been fitted to the superseded GTHO Phase 3) and shields to deflect heat away from the clutch slave cylinder’s hydraulic pipe.

No mention though of rear-wheel disc brakes, the ‘baffled’ sump or special radiators, heavy-duty drive-shafts and other ‘goodies’ that found their way off parts racks and onto the odd RPO83.

Falcon -XA-GT-25-658

The Bulletin included a list of cars produced to the amended specifications, contradicting opinions expressed in some circles that "nobody knows which cars were actually RPOs". If Ford Australia or club authorities can’t confirm a car’s authenticity it’s most likely is a fake. What cannot be verified though is that the car you see in 2016 is identical to the one delivered new more than 40 years ago. For the vast majority of their lives, RPO GTs lived in anonymity and weren’t considered much more significant than a basic XA GT.  Engine swaps, colour changes and even complete re-shells are entirely possible.

Bathurst 1000 racer and 1974 race winner John Goss scored a Lime Glaze hardtop courtesy of sponsor McLeod Ford as his ‘company’ car. Late in 1973, and shortly after the first win by an ‘Improved Production’ XA GT, Wheels magazine scored a brief run in Goss’ car and came away both impressed and disappointed.

Falcon -XA-GT-8-658

While Ford denied any changes to the engine internals, Wheels felt that the Goss car "ran more crisply" than a "cooking" GT and performed especially well once the tacho needle swung past 3500rpm. However, if you had missed out on grabbing one of the cars already produced there was no prospect of being able to place an order.

Ford’s intention was to produce just 250 RPO-kitted GTs but for reasons unknown an extra nine cars were snuck through. That left Fordophiles with 129 sedans and 130 hardtops over which to squabble.

We think that the XA GT, in RPO form or not, is a car that warrants a higher collector profile than it has. Consider that the vastly more valuable GTHO Phase 3 has only one Bathurst victory to its credit (1971) while the XA Hardtop or a derivative won in 1973, 1974 and 1977. 

Falcon -XA-GT-13-658

In 2006, GT Falcons joined other Australian-made performance models of in a brief but spectacular value ‘boom’. A few RPOs did during this period got close to $200,000 but potential owners for the main part remained cautious.

Current demand for cars that can be verified remains reasonable and prices are more realistic than they were a decade ago.

Scarcity will contribute to price growth, as will the XA’s inherent superiority over other GTs of similar age. They are a pleasant thing to drive – providing you don’t try reversing a two-door into a confined space. The rear vision is just awful.

Falcon -XA-GT-12-658

Standard XA GT hardtops are considerably less common than sedans and this influences RPO values even though the numbers of two and four-door cars made are identical. Consider this before paying appreciably more for a two-door car. 

XA GT FOUR-DOOR OWNER: BILL GOURTZIS

"It's basically as I bought it, other than a few little cosmetic things I do to it from time to time. It’s a genuine RPO83 and came out of the factory with a sunroof, power steering and eight-track stereo, which is still there.

"I was pestering a friend to sell me his and he turned around and said ‘listen here, screw you, there’s this one for sale – go get that one!’ So I went and checked it out , picked out the faults, negotiated a price and walked away with it. It was a good decision.

Falcon -XA-GT-18-658

"I’ve traced its history back to the seventies. The paint you see on it is about 14-15 years old. It drives well.  I enjoy driving it, cruising in it and travelling interstate with it. I bought all these hoses and fanbelts when I was going to the Adelaide nationals, thinking old car, old belts – something is going to give up. There was nothing – they’re still sitting in the boot!

"You turn the key, it starts – I’ve had no dramas with it.

"I’ve had the power steering reconditioned and done a bit of maintenance. The gearbox was done when I bought it, reconditioned the shifter, I’ve just done all the front end, it’s got the riveted ball joints in it. I got them re-riveted. When I do something, I try to bring it back to what it would have been from the factory."

SPECIFICATIONS

FORD FALCON XA GT RP083 (SEDAN)

NUMBERS BUILT 129
BODY 4-door sedan
ENGINE 5763cc OHV V8
POWER & TORQUE 246kW @ 5400rpm, 515Nm @ 3800rpm
PERFORMANCE 0-96km/h 7.6s, 0-400 metres: 15.2s
TRANSMISSION 4-speed Top Loader manual
SUSPENSION Front: indep. – coils with wishbones, struts & tele shocks.  Rear: live axle with semi-elliptic springs, radius rods & tele shocks
BRAKES disc/drum pwr-assist
TYRES E70HRx14 radial
PRICE RANGE $60-160,000
CONTACT falcongtclubaustralia.com

 


XA GT HARDTOP OWNER: LES DOLE

Whoever did the original order for this car ticked just about every box on the options sheet.

"It left the factory with RPO83 B2 trim, black with black, 8 track, left-hand mirror, sunroof, tinted side and rear windows, front spoiler – the only thing it didn’t have was air conditioning.

"I knew the guy who bought it brand new, he sold it to another chap in Cranbourne, at that point in time I worked at a Ford dealership – Cooper Ford in Seaford – they got me to service and look after it for them and I eventually got my hands on it. I’m the third owner and have known the car all its life. It’s magnificent to drive.      "It’s driving the best it’s ever been – nice and tight. It had a full rotisserie resto, a lot of time and money spent on it, but worth it. If it wasn’t what it was I wouldn’t have done it – it’s a very special car.

Falcon -XA-GT-15-658

"We knew it was something special because it went bloody hard in the day it was only when I pulled it down and found the four-bolt main I went through and had the documentation done on it.

"We didn’t know it was an RPO when I first purchased it. It just sat in the shed for years and it was only five years ago that I decided to get it out and do something with it. We knew it was something special because it went bloody hard." 

SPECIFICATIONS

FORD FALCON XA GT RP083 (COUPE)

NUMBERS BUILT 130
BODY 2-door hardtop
ENGINE 5763cc OHV V8
POWER & TORQUE 246kW @ 5400rpm, 515Nm @ 3800rpm
PERFORMANCE 0-96km/h 7.6s, 0-400 metres: 15.2s
TRANSMISSION 4-speed Top Loader manual
SUSPENSION Front: indep. – coils with wishbones, struts & tele shocks.  Rear: live axle with semi-elliptic springs, radius rods & tele shocks
BRAKES disc/drum pwr-assist
TYRES E70HRx14 radial
PRICE RANGE $50-120,000
CONTACT falcongtclubaustralia.com

 

SCORECARD

Desirability: 8/10
Affordability: 6/10
Performance: 9/10
Running cost: 7/10
Investment: 8/10
Rating: 38/50

VALUE RANGE: XA GT RP083

Sedan: $60,000 - 120,000
Hardtop: $65,000 - 160,000

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition