FPV Tickford TE50 & TS50 - Future classics

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Ford, Unique Cars Archives

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Tickford's foray into HSV territory had its moments

 

Tickford TE50 & TS50

Think back to 1999 and Ford is having an all-too entertaining time with the AU Falcon and the ongoing fight against main rival GMH. Though now seen as some sort of ironic cult car these days, the humble AU copped a pasting by would-be styling critics and was facing a losing battle in the showrooms.

A less gloomy spot was the company’s performance flagships – the XR6 and XR8 – but there was nothing to take on the truly well-heeled territory occupied by a thriving HSV.

Tickford stepped in the with substantially restyled T1 series boasting a variant of the venerable 302 Windsor V8. You could get a Falcon-based TE50 claiming 200kW and a Fairmont –based TS50 claiming aluminium heads and 220kW. And yes, there was the big luxury variant, the TL50 based on the Fairlane Ghia.

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The TS50 made the unloved AU look desirable

In all three cases, the real claim to fame was Tickford’s significant chassis tweaks, designed to significantly enhance the on-road performance.

In late 2000 we saw a T2 series, where the TE gained the alloy heads but weirdly took a step backwards in brake spec.

None of this really answered the key issue, which was bragging rights in the engine department – an area comprehensively lead by HSV and its LS derivates.

The answer in 2002 was a much-altered version of the 302 Windsor. Now this might not immediately impress, but Ford’s answer, for the T3 cars, was to stroke the bent eight out to 5.6 litres, instantly hitting a claimed 250kW at 5250rpm and delivering an attention-getting 500Nm torque number at 4000.

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Essentially hand-built, the engines came with a mixed reputation. Powerful, certainly, but a little harsh and vibey. Oh, and they loved a drink! That said, none of those things ever stopped a serious petrolhead from enjoying themselves.

The bottom end stomp meant the four-speed auto was more than quick enough for most tastes, though you did have the option of a Tremec five-speed manual.

Now the idea of a Falcon with a giant V8 in the snout might not sound like everyone’s idea of a great handling package, but the feedback on them is very positive. The Tickford chassis tuning is unquestionably a big improvement over stock.

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Really, any of these high-end local cars are, or will be, of collector interest. Don’t look on them as a way to get rich.

They don’t have quite the market traction of HSV at the moment, which means there is probably some good buying out there. The smart money is on a T3 TE50 and with manual and ideally the optional Brembo brake package. That last item would have set back the original owner a sobering $5000!

In any case, there are owner groups for these cars and it would be well worthwhile joining one if you’re in the market. More often than not, the clubs know where the good examples are hidden.

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How much? Condition and good records are everything. We’re seeing respectable T3 TE50 manuals being advertised around the $30-40k mark. Closer to high 60s was recently being asked for an ultra-low mile T3 TS50 manual recently, which might be a stretch for many in the current market.

As is often the case, you may well end up weighing the value of having something that looks absolutely right and fuss-free, versus a car that needs work. Build numbers are very low, so there’s little risk you’ll get another parked next to you, except at a Tickford show. In any case, you’re likely to end up having a whole lot of fun with it.

 

From Unique Cars #443, Aug 2020

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