1971 Ford Falcon XY 500 T-Code

By: Mark Higgins, Photography by: Mark Bean

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The ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing

 

Ford Falcon XY 500 T-code

You know how huntsman spiders have a nasty habit of morphing out of nowhere – one minute nothing - the next minute they’re appear and frighten the crap out of you!

Back in the early 1970s these XY Falcon 500s police cars did the same trick.

And don’t let the mild mannered Clark Kent XY Falcon 500 exterior fool you because underneath lurks Superman, or in this case, Superoo.

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Plain Jane XY 500... not

This 500 Police pursuit car runs full-house Falcon GT running gear, making it the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Known as the T-Code Falcon, in its snout is a GT-spec 4V heads Cleveland 351ci, bolted to either a four-speed top-loader manual gearbox or, in the case of this car an FMX three-speed T-bar auto connected to a nine-inch rear end via a shorter tail shaft and a 3.5:1 diff ratio.

| Read next: 1971 Ford Falcon XY 500 - GT-HO Phase III sleeper cop car

The T-Code Falcon also scores upgraded wiring, a heavy duty cooling system, a heavy duty battery and alternator, sports suspension and driving lights, that are all standard on the GT.

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However there is no rear wing or front spoiler and no shaker poking out through the bonnet that made the XY GT and Phase III GT-HO so famous.

Keeping with the Clark Kent illusion, the inside has the bog-standard Falcon 500 interior with partial vinyl door cards, a skinny two-spoke steering wheel, standard dash and instrument cluster. In fact the only clue to its potency isn’t that obvious until you wander around the back, peer under the bumper and spot the twin exhausts.

| Read next: 1997/98 Ford Falcon ELII XR8 ex-Police car

As the GT-HO was purpose built for Bathurst the T-Code Falcon was purpose built for the cops, and their highway patrol, and pursuit duties.

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Blue was the default colour

These Clark Kent pursuit cars came about as the boys in blue were struggling to keep up with some of the fast metal getting around on the roads and the T-Code was a case of fighting fire with fire.

Retired former Ford Australia Chief Engineer, David Ford (no relation to Henry’s clan) had a hand in the XY T-Code program as well as the original police pursuit car program with the XR Falcon in 1967 and the introduction of the V8.

| Read next: 1995/96 Holden Commodore VS Executive Police car

While the XR GT went on to win Bathurst that same year, becoming the first Falcon and first V8 engined car to do so there have been many arguments about which car came first, the GT or the Police pursuit cars.

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The Latin translation says "You're nicked"

"My recollection was we were actually working on the Police version first," said David.

At this time the charismatic Bill Bourke headed Ford’s marketing effort and while he had a major role in the police pursuit car program, David says the concept is likely to have come from product planning, naming Malcolm Ingles as the potential instigator.

"The approach would have held pretty much the same throughout the police pursuit cars program in that we placed a very powerful engine into the volume selling sedan. Then we added heavy duty GT spring rates for better handling, but with a raised ride height to allow for rougher use by the police and the heavier loads they carried."

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One addition that came about after the police had used the cars for a short while were exclusive ‘police’ front seats. "Special heavy duty seats replaced the standard front pews as the frames were twisting," David told us with a chuckle.

"We used to joke it was because they put a lot of twisting load on the frame when they turned around to thumb the guy they had handcuffed in the backseat". In reality it was because of the constant getting in and out of the car, with most of the cops back then being on the burly side.

Another urban myth was the actual configuration of the powerplant in the T-Code XYs. Some say they were based on the GT others say it was the Phase III GT-HO.

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XYs did wear Police garb

"I am almost certain it would have been the GT and not the GT-HO," David said. "There weren’t that many HOs built and I would doubt we would’ve ever contemplated putting them out into the police car ranks. It wasn’t only a performance consideration, but a commercial one too that would have dictated GT running gear."

While every police force in Australia was offered the XY T-code cars and pursuit Falcons before that, David recalls working closely with the Victorian, West Australian and Queensland forces.

As the T-Code cars were based on the Falcon 500 they were lighter but according to David once the Falcon GT powertrain, heavy duty clutch and the police equipment was added they would have been similar in weight and therefore have the same top speed as the GT.

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According to Falcon GT historian, Mark Barraclough, police special high performance Falcons could only be ordered through Ford via the OGO (Only Government Orders) but were delivered to the police via their local dealers.

Although there is no definitive number it’s estimated that just 150 XY T-Codes were produced, half that of the legendary Phase III GT-HO.

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No six here. Just 351 cubic inches of Ford's greatness

Besides the obvious fun of driving up behind a mate, blasting them with the sirens and blinding them with the flashing lights, why would anyone want to own an ex Police patrol car, especially an undercover one?

Jamie Gilligan is a panel beater and painter and for four years served in the NSW police force. During this time he started a hobby of tracking down and restoring decommissioned police cars, like his 1998 ex-NSW Highway Patrol ELII Ford Falcon XR8 that was featured in Unique Cars 401.

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Standard Falcon 500 interior

He undertook the resto as a nod to ‘his time in the job’ as he told Glenn Torrens.

And it seems he is not alone, with several Facebook groups dedicated to preserving all manner of retired cop cars

Muscle Car Warehouse in Sydney has this superb T-Code XY Falcon for sale for $155,000.

It is finished in the NSW police colour, Cruise Blue and comes with a comprehensive history. In its day it worked as an unmarked highway patrol car based at Orange in central west NSW and in 2012 underwent a full nut and bolt restoration that set the finicky owner back roughly $100,000.

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Looking like it has just rolled out of the factory, it comes complete with the police radio, siren, the additional calibrated speedo, plus extra switches for the sirens and lights. It even has the original fold-open pad used to house the speeding tickets we all thought were unfair after unsuccessfully trying to talk our way out of them. If only that folder could talk. So if you want a very special 1971 XY Falcon 500 T-Code that is even rarer than a Phase III GT-HO give Muscle Car Warehouse a call.

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1971 Falcon XY 500 T-Code specs

Engine: 5766cc (351ci) V8, pushrod, 4-valve
Max power: 224kW (300hp) @ 5400rpm
Max torque: 515Nm (380lb-ft) @ 3400rpm
Transmission: 4-sp man
Suspension: HD coils, control arms, tele shocks, HD anti-roll bar (Fr); Semi-elliptic leaves, tele shocks, HD anti-roll bar (Rr)
Kerb weight: 1524kg
0-100km/h: 6.4sec

 

From Unique Cars #446, November 2020

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