Falcon Farewell – Saying Goodbye to the Aussie Icon

When Ford introduced the XK Falcon to the Australian market back in 1960, not many would have predicted the impact that the ‘Falcon’ name would have on the Australian motoring landscape. Production of the Falcon came to an end in 2016, although along the 56 year journey Ford was able to produce a number of iconic Australian cars. Here we take a look at six Falcons that will forever be remembered by Australian motoring enthusiasts.

1965 XP Flacon

The original XK is remembered as a car that unfortunately wasn’t built with local conditions in mind, resulting in the model receiving a poor reputation amongst consumers. Ford went back to the drawing board; with build quality issues being quickly remedied and by 1964, the XP Falcon was the car that kick started over five decades of manufacturing of the Falcon in Australia. In order to overcome durability issues faced in the original Falcon, Ford conducted 70,000km of around the clock on-road testing at their You-Yang’s facility. The end result of this arduous testing was a car that proved to be capable of handling everything Australia’s harsh conditions could throw at it.

1971 XY GT-HO Phase III 

Arguably Australia’s most iconic car, the XY GT-HO Phase III was originally built in order to homologate the XY Falcon for racing. Only 300 units were built. The 351 cubic inch that lay underneath the bonnet was a true fire breather, non-standard heads and valves with an increased compression ratio of 11.5:1 coupled with a 780 Holley carby. It was capable of a top speed of 142mph and 14.4 seconds down a quarter mile which propelled it to the fastest four door sedan in the world at the time. The HO also came couple with  These days a very good example of one of these cars would set you back a bit south of $500,000.

1973 XA GT RPO83

In 1972 the XA Falcon range was introduced, with arguably one of the biggest body styling changes since the introduction of the Falcon it certainly made an impression in the car park. With the Supercar Scare and the cancelling of the Phase 4 program hope was not completely lost for a hero car beyond the GT staple.1973 gave rise to Regular Production 83, a performance package option with 250 units scheduled 259 were eventually built. The package included a big 780 Holley carby and extractors along with some other rumoured extras. Not all were fitted with the same equipment supposedly and this has led to many theories as to what was factory and what wasn’t on the limited run cars. They now demand a substantial premium with a recent Lime Glaze RP083 Sedan said to have sold for $240,000.

1980 XD ESP

1979 brought another body styling transitioning from the XC range which marked the introduction of side intrusion bars and the forever iconic blue oval grille and bootlid badges. The XD was more reminiscent of the XY styles with sharper body lines and was heavily influences by the European Granada Mk2. With the departure of the GT name in 1976 the public now were deemed ready for another substantial sports package, the European Sports Pack (ESP) option in 1980. Option 54 – ESP, included “Scheel” fornt seats, Red lit instruments/clock, Bilstein shockers, dual rear radius rods and Bathurst Globe rims. Ever since the introduction of the ESP they have been a sought after vehicle with XD and XE ESP’s demanding between $15,000 and $45,000 in most cases depending whether they were 6 cylinder’s or fitted with the highly desirable factory T code 351ci engine.

2002 BA XR6 Turbo

In 2002, the BA XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone. This turbo charged engine package option utilized the new Barra I6 4.0L with a Garrrett GT40 Turbo, it was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder counterpart some serious competition. The new look BA design with the XR6 Turbo offering went a long way to erasing the memories of the largely unpopular AU range.
 

2014 FGX XR8 Sprint

The 2014 FGX XR8 Sprint will go down in the history books as the most powerful Falcon ever produced. The brochure will tell you that the XR8 Sprint produces 335Kw/570Nm, although as a result of its ‘transient over-boost’ feature, maximum power figures will read closer to a whopping 400Kw/650Nm. The FGX brought in a number of cosmetic changes compared to the outgoing FG, although the interior stayed much the same. Whilst some may deride the fact the interior is a little plain, and that the car is lacking a few common technical features, it still remains that the consumer had access to unbelievable power figures at a very competitive price point.

The Ford Falcon will forever hold a special place in Australian motoring enthusiast’s hearts, and with a number of other Falcons arguably being capable of making this list, we’d love to hear which have been your favourite Falcon’s over on the Rare Spares Facebook page and in the comments section below.

Wooden Wonders – The world of wood panelled cars

As automotive enthusiasts, there are a million and one things we love about cars. From exhilarating performance to their racing pedigree and history, there is a broad spectrum of things that appeal to us, but all of this is nothing without style. There have been a number of body styles over the years, some quirky and some more practical, but one of the most unique to appear in the automotive spectrum would be those with wood panels or “Woodies”. These vehicles were the example of outstanding craftsmanship and design flair and here we will take a brief look at the origins of the style and some of the cars that defined the movement.

In the early days of engineless transport, wood was used in the construction of many horse drawn carts and carriages. These sound design elements naturally transferred across too many early motor vehicles, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that cars with wood become the desirable choice. It was Ford in 1929 with the Model A that claimed the title of the first mass produced Woodie, with more than half of the vehicles exterior being crafted with timber. Although the use of this material was a relatively common place at the time, advancements in steel stamping slowly pushed wood to be used more for styling than structure.

The 1946-48 Chrysler Town and Country was one of the vehicles that adopted wooden styling and hit the nail on the head in terms of design. The station wagon was the first Woodie with an all-steel roof and featured wooden double doors (also called “Barrel Back” doors) and came in a four door sedan layout. The popular Chrysler Town and Country two door convertible was also offered and at the time was the most luxurious car on the market!

The Packard Super Eight was produced pre-WWII and was one of the most luxurious of the time. The vehicle featured a 160HP straight eight engine, not to mention wooden doors and rear quarter panels. However, the Woodie movement was not without its ugly ducklings and this generally came in the form of “faux” wood made with vinyl trim which began plaguing cars from the 1970’s all the way to the 1990’s. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in Australia.

When it comes to cars of a bygone era, its clear to see how outstanding design and creativity can stand the test of time. Although beautiful, we are pretty happy that manufactures steered away from termite-bait on wheels to more practical and durable materials.

What do you think of these wooden wonders? Timeless beauties, or better left to rot? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

The Modern Classic – Taking a look at the last of the mighty Monaro’s

Australia has had its fair share of automotive icons over the years, vehicles that encouraged, shaped and defined our automotive culture as we know it. The Holden Monaro has been one particular model that arguably takes out the crown as one of Australia’s most important four wheeled creations and, with a linage that spans a number of decades, the car has won its place in the hearts of enthusiasts across the country. Here we will take a look at the last of the popular two door coupes which farewelled one of Australia’s most loved performance breeds, the Holden Monaro CV8.

The first CV8 Monaro graced the automotive scene 20 years after the HX LE was released. The car had created its own culture and was the prized fighter in the Holden vs Ford debate, so the third coming of the vehicle had big shoes to fill. The first modern Monaro concept was revealed in 1998 at the now debunked Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The VT-Based coupe received so much fanfare that Holden had no choice but to give the people what they wanted.

The first release occurred 3 years later in 2001 with the VX Commodore based Monaro CV8 (V2) coming onto the scene in spectacular fashion. The Aussie powerhouse featured a 5.7 L Gen III V8 mated to either a 6 Speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission. The Series 2 model soon debuted at the start of 2003 with a revised dashboard from the VY Commodore, a new wheel design and various colour changes. The CV8-R was a limited edition variant that was available in either a grey or red colour scheme.

It wasn’t until the VZ Monaro hit the market in 2004 that the vehicle received revised front and rear bumper assemblies and the infamous double ducted bonnet. Holden knew that the coupes time was nearing closer to an end so the final incarnation of the Monaro was produced, the CV8-Z, and was limited to 1100 units. The CV8-Z featured a sunroof, unique wheels and bold colour choices and was revered by many as a fitting farewell to the Monaro legacy.

As soon as Holden announced it was the end of the line of the Monaro, many had hoped, or even wished that it was going to make a comeback with a next model release, however as we now know, with Holden ceasing Aussie manufacturing, this last hurrah of the true Aussie performance coupe will forever hold its place in the history books.

What did you think the CV8 did the Monaro name justice? Have you owned one of these fierce rides? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!

The Rare lions - Revisiting one of the Rarest GROUP A's of all time

Back at a time when Australia was serious about muscle cars, a popular beverage company took one of Holden’s most desirable creations at the time, and made it even more special. Here we will take a look at the ultra-exclusive 1991 HSV VN SS GROUP A (TOOHEYS GROUP A)

It was the year 1991 and Brocky was back on Holden’s books, driving the VN Group A SS like a bat out of hell. The VN Group A SS was the result of the 500 vehicle requirement for homologation touring and group a cars. The car itself was Holden’s most intimidating yet however it wasn’t until great race sponsors Toohey’s decided to go ahead with the mother of all promotions, sparing dodgy key chains and stubby holders, the beer giant decided to go all out and add their own touch to Holden’s already formidable beast.

The Group A VN SS was a truly well designed piece of kit. The engine featured Chev NASCAR conrods among other upgrades and Germanys own ZF supplying the first six speed ever fitted to a Holden. Not to mention Bilstein shocks all round and AP Racing claiming the clutch department with the car being fitted with switchgear, cruise and trip computer from the upmarket Calais. All in all, the beast was putting out a mind boggling 215kw (for the time) and got the midas touch from the crew at Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who placed the car in a British wind tunnel and got to work on its aero package.

Tooheys got their hands on chassis number 123 (1000V8) and 161 (2000V8), painting the cars in black and decorating with the appropriate decals , the two Rare Lions were on the cards to one lucky winner who gave the second vehicle to his son in law. Since then time has passed and car 1000V8 has been lovingly brought back to original condition after the current owner found the car used and abused. The whereabouts of 2000V8 remains a mystery, either being hidden away in a shed somewhere or having met its maker.

When it comes to Aussie legends, only in Australia could a beer company partner with an automotive powerhouse to produce some of the rarest Group A cars ever. So when it comes to the performance icons of the past, we say pour a cold one and raise a glass!

Do you know the whereabouts of the lost unicorn? What did you think when you first laid eyes on the mythical beast? Head over to the comments section on our Facebook page and let us know! ­­­

Mount Panorama Bathurst

The regional city of New South Wales, Bathurst, is home to the widely renowned Mount Panorama Circuit - one of the most fearsome motor racing circuits in the world. The track, which is a public road for most of the year, holds the Bathurst 12 hour motor race each February and the Bathurst 1000 motor race each October. Mount Panorama is open to the public on non-race days, however if you intend on bringing out your inner ‘Lowndes’, unfortunately a strict speed limit of 60km/h is enforced (sorry!).

Unique in its rural setting, the remarkable track is 6.213km long with a 174-metre vertical difference at its highest and lowest points. In its infancy, dating back as early as the 1960s, the race was dominated by the smaller cars until the development of Ford’s 289 cubic inch V8 Ford Falcon GT. The smaller cars were no match for the big V8 which dominated the Mount on the long up hills and down hills, ultimately changing the face of racing at Mount Panorama forever. Subsequently, manufacturers country-wide attempted to tame the mountain with their vehicles, as success at the track would greatly increase the car’s image and credibility in the Australian marketplace, thus increasing sales.

Ongoing rivalry at this time between Ford, Holden and earlier Chrysler bred the era of our much-loved muscle cars including the Holden Monaro and Torana, the Ford Falcon GT and later GT-HO Super Falcon, and Chrysler's Pacer and Charger. It was also not long after where we were introduced to the late legend Peter Brock, crowned “King of the Mountain” after going on to successfully capture nine Bathurst 1000 victories.

Since 1999, Ford and Holden have lead the pack by miles in the Bathurst 1000, with crowd numbers rapidly increasing each year… and this year was no exception. An enormous 201,416 fans joined the adrenalin rush and excitement of Bathurst, the second highest ever attendance topping last year’s crowd of 195,261!