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Australian Muscle Car Magazine

The Falcon GT turns 50

July 20th, 2017 by mcowner | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

The Falcon GT turns 50 AMC #96 spotlights the very first Aussie muscle car, the 1967 Ford XR Falcon GT. The XR GT turns 50 in 2017 and therefore so does the Australian muscle car. To celebrate a half-century of fast Falcons, AMC presents 50 reasons to love the first GT.

Our long list of reasons is coloured by a beautiful example of this model in its trademark GT Gold hue. But the most famous roadgoing XR Falcon GTs of all are those commissioned by tobacco company, Gallaher International, for promotional work back in 1967. These eight cars were driven by Gallaher’s sales reps and have long been something of a holy grail for Blue Oval enthusiasts. No more than four survive today in varying states and we’ve tracked down arguably the most pristine version, which resides these days in Townsville, Queensland.

Our coverage of this landmark anniversary also includes an interview with the man they call ‘Mr Falcon GT’. Ian Vaughan seems as busy in retirement as he ever was in a decorated 37-year career with Ford Australia. Yet Vaughan was more than happy to stop to discuss the birth of the Falcon GT.

At that time Vaughan was a young product planner and budding rally driver. Fate saw him land at Ford as a graduate trainee in 1964, at virtually the same time that American marketing whiz Bill Bourke arrived in Melbourne. Bourke would soon blaze a trail through Broadmeadows, changing it from a producer of bland family sedans into a vibrant marketing outfit where the key word seemed to be ‘excitement’. Vaughan strapped himself in went along for the ride.

“Yes, it was a very exciting time for the company – it was an exciting time in the car industry, I reckon,” a still sprightly Vaughan, 75, says from his Melbourne home. “In the 1950s when the car industry was getting going in Australia, the Holden was a basic sedan car and the Falcon came in and did the same thing, and then around the mid-60s we decided to put a bit of excitement into it!”

Learn more about the XR GT’s development in our extended interview with Ian in the latest issue.

Another legendary figure who helped craft the XR GT into a motoring icon was Harry Firth. Before his passing in 2014, Firth penned his recollections on the XR GT for the ‘Ford and I’ one-shot magazine. We borrow from that story when Harry recalls his demon Bathurst 1967 tweaks and outlines his vivid recollections of how the race panned out.

Elsewhere in this issue we focus on the Aussie assault on Can-Am MkII.

It’s 40 years since Can-Am was reborn for the 1977 racing season. While Can-Am MkII lacked the impact and grandeur of the original, it does hold more significance for Australians. While the original Canadian-American Challenge Cup,1966-1974, was dominated by Kiwis and lightly spiced by Australians, the shoe was on the other foot for the series’ second coming from 1977. Alan Jones, Geoff Brabham and Warwick Brown all starred and we speak to each of them.

For Holden fans, our ‘Torana artefact’ story is a must. It tells of a 1974 Torana SL/R 5000 L34 that Gary Bartlett finally made his own 10 years ago and which continues to slowly reveal the part it played in Holden history.

A second L34 article this issue is set to cause many pub arguments. Armed with some new evidence we have another look at the epic 1976 race – and cast serious doubt on recurrent claims that the second-placed HDT Torana had actually been one lap ahead of the winning Bob Morris/John Fitzpatrick Torana.

Our Muscle Man this issue is Bob Forbes. His time in the touring car privateer ranks as a driver was followed by a long stint as a team owner as the professional era dawned. Part two of our profile also highlights Forbes’ significant role in reshaping the sport.

All the hardcore details about the 1978 Ford Falcon Cobra that you could possibly want to know is in our R-Rated section. No nudity.

Finally, our regular Sacred Sites feature looks back on the original 3.78km Grand Prix layout of the Adelaide Parklands circuit and considers its place in racing history.

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