FPV BA/BF GT GT-P - Future Classic

By: Mark Higgins, Photography by: Ford & Nathan Jacobs


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2002 saw the establishment of Ford Performance Vehicles, for buyers wanting exclusivity with their Blue Oval badge

The AU Falcon had more than a whiff of the Edsel about it.

Its development costs were huge, its looks polarising and sales disappointing.

In fact, Ford Australia threw $700 million at it; making it the most expensive Falcon ever.

For the management team at Broadmeadows its successor, the BA, couldn’t come fast enough.

| Ford Falcon history: AU, BA, BF series 1998-2008

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It broke cover in September 2002, around the same time as the General rolled out its VY Commodore. It was game on…again.

The BA Falcon was significantly revised, only the door skins were carried over from the AU and its styling was toned down resulting in a more cohesive and neater look.

| Aussie best buys: FPV GT BA-BF

There were major drivetrain upgrades across the board as well and an independent rear suspension setup under the sedans.

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Subtle silhouette

Within months of its launch the BA took out Wheels Car of the Year in 2002, its first COTY in over three decades and, more importantly, it beat the Holden.

The BA also captured four consecutive Australia’s Best Cars awards and for a short while held a higher market share then its Holden rival.

In 2002 Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) was formed in a joint venture between Ford Australia and English-based Prodrive. The FPV brand name was created and a range of vehicles developed and launched February 2003. And for the first time since the XB (of the mid-1970s) the GT badge was back as a regular fixture.

| Buyer's Guide: FPV GT 40th Anniversary

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Huge rear spoiler a clue to its performance

The GT-P was the flagship of the range and there was a turbo model too, based on the XR6 Turbo. With a price tag of $59,810 the GT was your entrée into the world of FPV V8 motoring while the GT-P V8 set you back $69,850.

Both the GT and GT-P used the quad headlights from the XR Falcons and the body kit wasn’t too dissimilar to that of the BA Falcon V8 Supercar, highlighting the connection to FPR. Eighteen inch alloys were standard on both.

| Future classics: FPV Tickford TE50 & TS50

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At the heart of the GT and GT-P is Ford’s 5.4-litre V8, with an iron block, double overhead cams and 32 valves cast aluminium cylinder heads sourced from the Mustang Cobra R. The engine also features a forged and balanced crankshaft, special conrods and big end bearings, Cobra R camshaft profile and bespoke management system.

This resulted in it producing 290 kilowatts and 520 Newton metres and, for marketing purposes, FPV named it the Boss 290.

| Read next: FPV GT review

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Allan Moffat signed this one

Initially the GT and GT-P could only be had with a Tremec five-slotter but in no time it was also offered with a four-speed auto with sequential shifting in manual mode.

A limited slip diff was fitted to both models.

Underneath the FPV crew got to work on sharpening up the ride and handling of the front double wishbone, coil spring layout and control blade independent rear setup. Mods included stiffer springs, a lower ride height, larger diameter anti-roll bars, and a tad of negative camber applied to the control blade IRS.

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Stopping power was provided by PBR developed brakes on the GT. It comprised 325x32mm grooved front discs with two-piston, FPV-badged callipers, and 303mm rear discs and single-piston callipers.

A Brembo brake system featuring 355mm cross-drilled front and 330mm rear discs with four-piston callipers at each end were standard on the GT-P and an option on the GT.

The list of standard kit on the GT included a six-speaker 100 watt audio system with a CD player, sports seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and reach steering column, remote central locking, power mirrors and windows, a trip computer and an immobiliser.

Added to that in the GT-P were body-hugging sports seats in leather, bespoke FPV ‘performance’ steering wheel, six-stack CD, dual-zone air, sat nav seen on an LCD screen, power-adjustable pedals and FPV floor mats.

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Driver assist systems were still some way off but the safety tech of both models was comprehensive for the day with front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, traction control and front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters.

Come October 2004 and the BA II was introduced heralding a host of upgrades that flowed through to the FPV twins, along with FPVs own updates. Standard now was a six-speed manual gearbox, replacing the five slotter and the suspension was further tweaked.

Visually the changes were minor and confined to a new striping pack with bonnet decals. Inside were notable changes including FPV ancillary gauges on the centre dash and a new central TFT colour screen as part of the BA range update.

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Auto was an option throughout

The sound system was boosted to 150 watts and dual-zone air was standard in the GT. Meanwhile the GT-P copped the above upgrades plus 19-inch alloy wheels.

Twelve months later the BF Falcon range made its debut and, like the upgrade a year earlier, there were many new Ford items on the FPV cars plus specific FPV enhancements for the BF.

While the engine spec remained unaltered there were other changes. Both models still had the Tremec six speed manual but now the optional auto was a ZF six-speed unit.

The GT now wore 19-inch alloys from the previous GT-P, with the GT-P getting model excusive rims. New body kits with colour coded fog light surrounds, a new rear bumper with mesh inserts and a deeper diffuser plus dual exhausts on the GT were the way to distinguish the BF.

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Luxurious leather sports trim

Towards the end of its model life, and by now in BF Mk II guise, FPV rolled out a series of limited edition models.

The most recognisable was the 40th Anniversary GT, honouring the nameplate, despite there not being a GT Falcon for much of that time.

Limited to 200 units the cars were painted black with gold highlights, a reversal of the gold with black trimmings of the original XT-GT.

There were body stripes, special floor mats, 19-inch alloys, a purpose-designed sound system with iPod (that had just launched) and MP3 connections and a numbered plaque.

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Australia was allocated 175 cars with the remainder going across the ditch to New Zealand. Manuals accounted for 111 units with 89 autos.

A fraction of the 200 cars were produced in R Spec adding recalibrated dampers with matching springs and a power boost to 302kW.

MOTORSPORT

Throughout the life of the BA and BF, Ford Australia was supportive of the V8 Supercar category and was rewarded with the championship in 2003, 2004 and 2005 with Marcos Ambrose at the wheel of a BA in the first two years and Russell Ingall in the last.

Bathurst was also where the BA and BF tasted success. In 2006 Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup drove their BA Falcon to the winner’s circle and in 2007 and 2008 they did the same, but in a BF model. Whincup also clinched the 2008 V8 Supercar championship aboard a BF Falcon.

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Colours offered were both mild and wild

FOR
• It's a V8
• Return of the GT badge
• Practical performance

AGAINST
• Some parts maybe hard to find
• Finding an original
• Potentially steep insurance costs


2002-2005 FPV BA GT specs

Body: Four-door sedan
Engine: 5.4-litre V8
Power & torque: 290W @ 5500rpm, 520Nm @4500rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 5.6 seconds
Transmission: Five speed manual or four speed auto
Suspension: Double wishbone with coil springs (f) independent with coil springs (r)
Brakes: Disc (f) disc (r) power assisted with ABS

 

From Unique Cars #459, Nov 2021

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