50 years of Ford Falcon XW GT-HO Phase I

By: Unique Cars magazine

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The race game had become very serious when Ford added 'HO' to its GT label - and it was way more than a 'handling option'

A winding public road draped over a mountain in western NSW is responsible for the legend that is the Falcon GT-HO.

The GT-HO was a thinly disguised, road-registerable, racing touring-car, created to do one thing. Win Bathurst.

After winning at Mt Panorama in 1967 with the Falcon XR GT and copping a hiding from the Holden Monaro GTS 327 the following year, it was one apiece for the General and Henry’s boys as the teams headed to Bathurst for the 1969 decider.

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| 2019 Market Review: Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 1-3/XC Cobra

Back then winning Bathurst, in what resembled production cars, was a huge boost for moving large quantities of metal off showroom floors. ‘Win on Sunday and sell on Monday’ was why all the marques were so keen on racing.

History shows that, despite having the numbers – 14 GT-HOs to seven Monaros – things didn’t go to plan at Mt Panorama. On lap one Bill Brown rolled his GT-HO at the top of the mountain causing a 15-car pileup.

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Then the Ford factory team, including Allan Moffat making his Bathurst debut, was running special Goodyear tyres that started shredding at an alarming rate after very few laps, necessitating many more pitstops than its rival, the Holden Monaro GTS350. The Monaro went on to win with Colin Bond and Tony Roberts at the wheel. The GT-HO did finish second, in the hands of the 1968 winners Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland in a privateer entry. Third place went to another Monaro and Bathurst debutant, Peter Brock.

| Read next: 1969 Ford XW Falcon GT-HO Phase I review

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With the launch of the XW in 1969, the Falcon GT received a massive performance boost thanks to its 351ci Windsor V8, a twin-plate clutch, limited-slip diff, power-assisted front disc brakes, anti-roll bars, a 36-gallon fuel tank plus a full complement of instruments. It was big, bold and brash with 300hp under the bonnet thanks to a massive Holley carburettor, re-profiled camshaft, better breathing intake manifold and altered valves and lifters. When launched it was the quickest Aussie muscle car with 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds and the standing quarter mile in 14.4 seconds.

| Read next: Ford Falcon XW GT-HO Phase II review

As best as we can ascertain just 662 Falcon GT-HOs (Phases 1 and II) were built, a fraction of total XW production. Despite its Bathurst failure 50 years ago the Phase 1 GT-HO has become one of the most sought after, expensive and iconic cars made in this country. Happy 50th anniversary. 

 

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