What do you classify as rare? Apart from Rare Spares, that is.
Rocking horse poo?
Evidence of the Loch Ness monster being truly real?
How about a Ford XA Falcon GT in RPO 83 specification.
RPO is dealer code for Regular Production Option, 83 is dealer code for...option 83. What it effectively meant is being able to build the stillborn Phase IV Falcon without it actually being plated as one.
Ford, Holden, and Chrysler were the victims of a heavy hitting press campaign now infamously known as “The Supercar Scare.” Ford had the Phase IV well underway and after the project was benched, had a shedload of parts gathering dust.
High performance car parts belong in high performance cars and so Ford very quietly started moving these parts into the XA GT Falcons. Rumours abound that around 250 or so were the recipients of these parts, with an estimated 121 of them being the wide hipped and narrowed tyred coupes.
Nailing down what made one of these was tricky as it really was a covert project at the time. Some commonality, it’s said, are four barrel carbies from Holley, the same as fitted to the GTHOs of XY fame, Phase 3 extractors, rear discs brakes (still almost a novelty in the early 1970s), and baffled sumps.
Such was the nature of the project that not every car would end up alike. A lot had drum brakes, some had a sump designed for the Phase IV with a winged design, even a rev counter that had 8,000 printed in...
The spec engine was Ford’s muscular 351 Cleveland. Outputs varied and numbers of 260kW to 280kW, massive numbers for the period, were quietly breathed by those in the know. Such was the power and torque deliveries, Ford insiders said that the mid-range pulling ability of the 5.8L was more effective than the standard 351ci, meaning better quarter mile figures for the day. Think around 240kph across the strike and something in the 14 second bracket.
In mid 2020, a couple of RPO83 spec vehicles went under the hammer. One has become known as the “Chicken Coupe”, and has defined what a “barn find” is. Bought brand new in 1973, driven for close to 75,000 kilometres, and locked in a barn behind chicken wire to “keep the pigeons out” by the owner, it was effectively forgotten for over 35 years.
The big “tudor” was clad in an inch worth of dirt, dust, and chicken shit, and also MacRobertson’s Old Gold, an orange hue that can be related to a confectionary popular at the time. Gray’s Online knocked it down at a far better than expected price of more than $300,000.
A “Wild Violet” sedan, one of just 11 in the colour, went for over $235,000 at a Lloyds auction, plus a 7.5% buyers fee, taking the figure to over a quarter of a million. With an exterior and interior in pristine condition, it’s a screaming bargain in real terms, and for some, a tragic example of what might have been.
(Pictures courtesy of Which Car and Street Machine)