50 years of Ford Falcon XW GT-HO Phase II

By: Unique Cars magazine

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ford falcon xw gtho phase ii front ford falcon xw gtho phase ii front
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ford falcon xw gtho phase ii dash ford falcon xw gtho phase ii dash

Sunday October 4, 1970, is a blue letter day for Ford fans

It was the day Allan Moffat proved unbeatable, taking his and the Ford Falcon GT-HO’s first Bathurst crown, both at their second attempt, cementing the Falcon’s legendary status.

It was a triumph for Ford and the Phase II GT-HO after the previous year’s debacle when the much-lauded XW Phase 1 GT-HO arrived at Bathurst to tackle the Holden Monaro GTS 350, but suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the HDT Monaro pair of Colin Bond and Tony Roberts. Rubbing salt into the wounds, the newly-formed HDT was run by ex-Ford Racing boss Harry Firth. Ouch.

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Unmistakable XW rump

Understand the landscape was very different back then with the big three local makers, Holden, Ford and Chrysler spending plenty by entering factory teams at Bathurst with the goal of ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.’

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

By the time the main protagonists arrived at Mount Panorama for the 1970 Hardie Ferodo 500, Holden had two wins to Falcon’s one victory with the XR GT in 1967.

Ford had spared no expense in trying to win Australia’s great race and the Broadmeadows boys figured a more powerful and faster Phase II GT-HO was the weapon needed to win.

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Five slot wheels define the 1970 iteration

Armed with its higher-compression Cleveland 351ci V8 replacing the Windsor engine, of the same capacity in the previous model, new gear ratios in the four speed-manual and other tweaks, like 5-slot wheels for better brake cooling, the mission to conquer an expected revamped GTS Monaro was ready.

Unexpectedly Holden ditched the Monaro in favour of the lighter, more nimble 186ci six-cylinder LC Torana GTR XU1 as their new motorsport hero and Chrysler joined the party with the Valiant Pacer.

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The stage was set and in practice the Phase II GT-HO Falcons proved uncatchable with Moffat claiming pole position in the first of three practice sessions. Phase II GT-HOs filled seven of the top 10 grid slots. The Toranas and Pacers could only hope the fast Henry’s would have reliability issues come raceday.

While Moffat raced away at the start, Colin Bond in the HDT Torana XU-1 whistled by the red Falcon under brakes at the end of Conrod Straight on lap one, sending the Holden fans into a frenzy and Ford management into a scrum to re-discuss tactics. However Bond’s time at the front lasted just five laps with Moffat taking over. Six and a half hours later Moffat, driving solo, crossed the line to win his and the Falcon GT-HOs first Bathurst crown. Behind Moffat came teammate Bruce McPhee, the 1968 winner, in the second factory Phase II GT-HO.

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From Unique Cars #446, November 2020

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