XA Ford Falcon GT (1972-73)
Produced between 1972 and 1973, the XA GT was the performance model of the XA Falcon range. With a short production run of only a year and a half, which included some incredibly rare variants, the XA GTs are now some of the most desirable and collectible cars of the era.
The XA Ford Falcon ushered in a new body style for the Falcon range that Ford called the hardtop. Produced alongside the four-door sedan, the hardtop was a two-door coupe version of the sedan with an identical front, but with longer frameless-window doors and a fastback-style rear end. This was the first time since the 1965 XP model that Ford Australia would offer a two-door coupe variant in the Falcon range.
The XA GT was more subtle than its XY predecessor. In an attempt to appeal to a wider range of customers than just the street-racing crowd, Ford toned down the styling and removed the showy stripes from the side of the body. The XA took its coke-bottle styling to the extreme with large overhanging rear wheel arches that left ample space for wider than stock tyres. The hardtop body would prove popular among the public after the competition success of the Ford motorsport team that used it as the basis for many of its cars throughout the 1970s.
The XA GT was powered by a modified version of Ford’s Cleveland 351(cu) V8 engine. The GT’s 351 engine had increased compression over the stock unit, a four-barrel carburettor in place of the standard two-barrel unit, and a low restriction exhaust system. It was capable of producing 300bhp and 380Ib-ft of torque.
The 351 was paired with a 4-speed top-loading manual transmission with competition twin-plate clutch as standard, but could be optioned with Ford’s 3-speed FMX automatic transmission as well.
In terms of braking, the XA GT ran power-assisted 11-inch disc brakes on the front and 10-inch drum brakes on the rear. It sat lower than the stock Falcon models and was fitted with stiffer shock absorbers to counteract the increased engine power.
The interior of the XA GT was the same heavy-duty vinyl trim as that of the top-of-the-range Fairmont model Falcons. Although the GT was Ford’s performance model, its heavily carpeted and sound proofed interior was also the most luxurious of the range. The GT had a padded wrap-around dash that contained a much wider variety of instrumentation than that of the stock model Falcons. This included a speedometer and tachometer, as well as ammeter, oil-pressure, temperature and fuel gauges.
A high-performance homologation special of the XA GT, known as the GT-HO Phase IV, was scheduled for production by Ford, but was cancelled amidst negative media and political attention. The car made it to the development stage and only four prototypes were built. The project was scrapped after a negative news article in the Sun-Herald, which stated “160 mph Supercars” would be made available to the public, caused national panic. The proposed GT-HO Phase IV was capable of speeds up to 150 mph with its heavily modified 351 engine outputting 340 bhp and 400Ib-ft of torque.
As a way for Ford to use up surplus parts ordered for the now cancelled Phase IV production, it built a limited run of 250 units of the XA GT called the RPO 83. The regular performance option known as RPO models were sold off without fanfare and were priced nearly the same as the regular GT models. The RPOs featured Holley 780 cfm carburettors in place of the stock 650cfm units and had the addition of 2.25-inch exhaust headers.
Between March 1972 and September 1973, Ford Australia built 2,759 units of the various XA GTs before they were replaced by the XB models. Of these, 1,868 were sedans and 891 were hardtop coupes.