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!

Falcon GT Nationals

27. April 2015 15:25 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)
 Once every 10 years, a very special motoring event takes place and this year, it was the 30th Anniversary Falcon GT Nationals event.  Held at Sandown International Raceway over the Easter weekend, April 2 – 6 and hosted by the Falcon GT Club of Australia, the Falcon GT Nationals is a celebration of everything Ford Falcon GT. Entrants and enthusiast travelled from all over Australia to the once in a decade GT celebration. A total of 300 Ford’s entered, with 250 of those Falcon GT’s, so it was one of the larger collections of GT Falcon’s ever assembled in Australia. More than 3,500 spectators attended the main Saturday show day, revelling in the best of Ford’s special model designation. The weather was kind to the GT faithful throughout the weekend, which culminated in some on track action on Sunday for a number of machines and their drivers, as they took to the famous Sandown circuit for some sprints, giving them the chance to stretch the legs of their high performance GT machinery.   Rare Spares were on site displaying its large marquee and showcasing the GT Flacon parts available plus they were offering a $200 parts voucher via a special event promotion. There was strong interest in the stand and 116 people entered the promotion. “It was a great event, with nothing but positive feedback. Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was the best crowd we have had a for a Nationals event,” said Falcon GT Club of Australia President Darrell Mitchell. “I want to thank all the club members who helped promote the event and also assisted in the running of the event. I also want to thank all the sponsor, including Rare Spares who supported what is a fantastic event. Finally, thank you to all the entrants and spectators who made it an event to remember,” said Mitchell. For all your Ford Falcon parts, head to www.rarespares.net.au     

All Ford Sunday

24. February 2015 14:22 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Rare Spares were proud to sponsor the 24th annual Kiwanis All Ford Day. Held on Sunday 15th Feb at Deakin University, Waun Ponds Geelong in Victoria, the All Ford Day  turned on some beautiful summer weather which resulted in the largest event on record.   Over 7,000 spectators joined in the automotive celebrations of all things Ford, to view over 1,300 vehicles on display. There was a great range of all type of Fords, young and old and included both racing machinery and street cars.  Event Organiser Graeme Munro was in awe at the success of the event this year. “It was a magnificent event and the best we have ever held over our 24 year history. The quality of the cars was up on previous years, the huge crowds enjoyed it and the weather was perfect.”    “The All Ford Sunday is the biggest Ford show in Australia and we are looking forward to going again in 2015” Rare Spares set up a trade stand at the event and were inundated by restoration enthusiasts, making part enquiries and entering the Rare Spares promotion, where a lucky spectator had a chance to win a Rare Spares product voucher. “We are very happy to have Rare Spares involved and they are one of our club’s gold sponsors. They also assisted in getting John Bowe to attend the event, so we are very thankful to their support” said Munro. Rare Spares Ambassador and Ford man John Bowe was on hand at the Rare Spares stand signing autographs and taking part in the trophy presentation amongst other motor racing legends including Allan Moffat and Jim Richards. For more information on the event, head to www.allfordday.org.au You can find out more about local events by joining the Rare Spares Loyalty Club at https://www.rarespares.net.au/Loyalty/default.aspx 

Time with a Legend: Howard Astill

12. January 2015 16:02 by Rare Spares in   //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Howard Astill has gone all the way from casually modifying his XC Ford Falcon panel van in the late 70’s, to achieving one of the highest honours in the street machine world, the Summernats Grand Champion, not once but on three occasions.  More recently Howard was honoured again, this time as the Rare Spares Legend for 2009. Howard’s love of all things automotive started with his family.  “My father raced in hill climb’s and boats and was involved with a ford dealership. So it was pretty much a given” said Howard. 1977 was the year of Howard’s first ever event, where he headed to the ‘Van Nationals’ in Mildura with his XC Ford Falcon panel van.  Howard’s first complete car build was an XA Ford Falcon which he turned into a stunning machine that was nick named ‘Rock Solid’. Howard’s hard work paid off, and established Howard’s reputation as an Elite car builder. After various rebuilds of ‘Rock Solid’ and in its third guise, Howard finally achieved Top Judged and Grand Champion at Summernats. In 1990 and in association with Street Machine Magazine, the build of a rare 1960’s Ford ‘Compact’ Fairlane would become a project car for the magazine and ultimately be given away as a prize to a lucky reader. Powered by a fuel-injected Ford 5.0-litre V8, the Fairlane was street-legal and one of the first new-generation ‘retro-tech’ or ‘pro touring’ street machines ever built. At its first outing at Summernats 5 the Fairlane obtained the coveted Summernats Grand Champion award.  Never one to rest on his laurels, the next project was named ‘Race Rock’ and was an XA Falcon Hardtop built to win the Street Machine Magazine’s ‘Street Machine of the Year’ award. Appealing to a broad range of enthusiasts, with a supercharged engine, pro street stance, classy comp-style trim and a beautiful paint job, the Pioneer sponsored machine won the 1995 SMOTY and incredibly secured a third ‘Grand Champion’ award for Howard. With the tragic death of his friend Leigh Demain, who had assisted in previous builds, Howard decided to freshen up ‘Race Rock’ in 1999 and turned the machine into ‘Die Hard’, all in memory of his mate. “The biggest thing was taking the rear wing off it, which gave it a different stance. It got some new interior bits and a sound system. But basically, all I did was blow it apart, paint it, detail and put it back together. That car was about Leigh, nothing else” explained Howard. In 2005, Howard once again turned his attention to street machines, commencing a long-planned Ford Mustang - The Mustang was debuted at Summernats 22 and took out Top Standard Paint, Top Coupe and placed in the Top 10 for the Top Elite Awards. “I am proud to say that I have put my heart and soul into building some of the most highly regarded Elite-standard show cars in Australia and I hope that I have inspired a whole generation of others to do the same. Looking around the industry, the scene and the magazines, I know that modified car building in Australia is now stronger and better than it has ever been.”   Howard explains why he continues to love the scene and events like Summernats. “It’s ultimately about the people, for an event like Summernats it’s the once a year opportunity to catch up with friends and associates I may not see during the rest of the year. It’s a great excuse and all in an environment we all love.” These days Howard runs a boutique car design and custom build workshop in Wollongong known as Astill Design.   “My passion has always been cars, but when you turn your hobby into your job, you need a new hobby!” Howard now plays golf competitively to have a regular break from cars so he can remain fresh, focused and motivated with the builds he is working on. One of the more interesting projects is one of the surviving XC Bathurst Cobra’s, one of only thirty ever produced. “We are using quite a few parts from Rare Spares to put it back together.” Another large project in the works at Astill Design is an FB Holden known as ‘Tail Spin’ that is going to be something special. “It will be very unique and should be finished in late 2015 so keep an eye out for it.” In terms of the changing of trends over the years, Howard thinks the quality of builds is the biggest change. “The innovation and quality of cars now vs thirty years ago are light years apart. The top car thirty years ago would be struggling to get any awards at today’s events.” Finally, Howard spoke of receiving the Rare Spares Legend Award in 2009. "To receive the Rare Spares Legend award was an emotional thing. I have always put a lot of myself into my builds and this award gave something back.  I love to talk to the up and coming builders and hopefully inspire them to give it their all. This award rewards those who give unconditionally to the sport of street machining."          

The Love of a Mustang

25. November 2014 12:27 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
The Ford Mustang is arguably one of the world’s most iconic cars and by the end of 2015, the Mustang will be once again heading for Australian shores. With the ending of the locally produced Falcon and the associated performance models of FPV, Ford will be missing a performance model to sell to Australian consumers and the Ford faithful. This is where the famous Mustang re-enters the equation and will resume a love affair that has existed in Australia for 50 years. [More]

GT Forever

24. July 2014 16:20 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Earlier this year, Ford, Holden and Toyota all announced their withdrawal from Australian Manufacturing over the next 3-4 years. This was a deep cut to Australia’s proud heritage of producing world class vehicles and an industry we were proud of.  With this realisation, Ford announced it would also retire the ‘GT’ designation, signalling an end to a famous badge that portrays performance and an incredible motorsport heritage for Ford lovers. What are your first thoughts when you hear someone say “Falcon GT”. Racing pedigree, XY GHTO Phase 3, Allan Moffat and Bathurst are just some of the terms that come to mind and it is sad to hear that this iconic Australian title will soon be no more.  GT’s have been part of Ford Australia’s Heritage since 1967 when GT became the badge given to the performance variants of the Falcon range. Starting with the XR Falcon, the GT designation continued with the XT, the XW, XY, XA and XB model’s. The XW and XY model’s also saw the ‘HO’ designation added, which stood for 'Handling Options' and is synonymous with the XY GTHO Falcon’s that are so commonly mentioned when discussion turns to famous Ford’s. The GT badge was rested for 16 years before being revived for a 25th anniversary edition, used with the 1992 EB Falcon. In 1997 the 30th anniversary edition was offered for the EL Falcon. As of 2003 Ford Performance Vehicles inherited the badge and have used the GT designation throughout the BA, BF and FG model ranges. The last Ford Falcon to carry the GT badge will be the 2014 Ford Falcon GT-F, which pays homage to its famous forebears and will carry the famous 351 badge signifying the engine’s power output of 351kw’s. The GT-F will also be the most powerful Falcon ever produced at Broadmeadows.   The ‘F’ designation will represent ‘Final’ version of the GT. 500 vehicles will be sold total, with 500 allocated for Australia and the other 50 heading to New Zealand.   “This is a celebration of the best of the best,” said President and CEO of Ford Motor Company Australia Bob Graziano. All 500 of the GT-F’s have been ‘accounted for’ due to the interest of the Ford Faithful and will all be sold at recommended retail pricing according to one Ford dealer, as the interest in obtaining one of these vehicles is so high. Although sad that GT is no longer, we are sure the memories and the success around GT will live on forever with the Ford Faithful."