XB Ford Falcon (1973-76)
Ford released the XB Falcon in 1973 as the replacement for the XA. The bodywork was only a slight variation of the XA with the front end gaining a more aggressive appearance than that of its curvier predecessor. The grill was changed to a plastic honeycomb design that was deeply inset with a large central division.
The bonnet featured a Mustang-inspired power bulge and the taillights were changed to one-piece molded units rather than the individual three-piece lights of the XA. 11-inch front disc brakes were standard across the range for the first time, as well as power assisted disc brakes on the top of the range Futura and Fairmont models. Inertia reel seat belts also came as standard for the driver and front passenger for the first time in the Falcon range.
Ford offered a “value for money” package with the XB which added a range of optional extras to the standard models at a reduced price. Ford continued to offer its GS package which allowed customers to add GT performance and styling options to the base models. The GS range included features such as the GT bonnet with air intake scoops, fully instrumented dash panels and all round power-assisted disc brakes. The GS package was available with the Falcon 500, Futura and Fairmont models.
The two-door coupe option was carried over from the XA range, including the GT, Falcon 500 and Fairmont models. Ford released a limited edition John Goss Special, named after the winner of the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 race in 1974. These models are rare although the actual amount produced is unknown. They came in two-colour combinations that were predominantly white and Emerald Fire, or white and Apollo Blue with colour-keyed grill, steel wheels and bumpers.
In addition to the coupe, the XB range was extensive and included the Falcon, Falcon 500 and Fairmont sedan and wagon models, as well as the Futura and GT sedans. Commercial models available included the Falcon and Falcon 500 utility models, and Falcon panel vans.
Engine and transmission options were carried over from the previous XA range. This included the 3.3L (200 cu), a 4.1L (250 cu) six-cylinder engine, and a 4.1L 2V that increased output from 130bhp to 155bhp. V8s in the range were manufactured locally rather than imported from the United States or Canada. The 5L 302 and 5.8L 351 were available across the range as an optioned extra if they were not fitted as standard. Transmission options were 3- or 4-speed manual and a 3-speed automatic.
In an effort to broaden their customer base and attract younger buyers, Ford Australia released two new models based on the Falcon panel van. These two new models would be called the Suferoo and the Surfsider. Fitted with a 250 cu inline-six engine and GT bonnet, the Surferoo came fully equipped with curtains, a mattress, wall to wall carpeting, a cool box and neon lighting. The Surfsider was a similar concept but featured a fiberglass pop-top roof.
The XB GT was more subtly styled than its predecessors and aimed at the executive market rather than the street-racing crowd. Available in sedan or hardtop format, the XB GT featured a powerful four-barrel carburettor version of the 351 engine, disc brakes and a sporty twin scooped bonnet. The XB GT proved popular amongst buyers and went on to sell more units than any of the preceding Falcon GT models. Ironically, it would be 20 years before Ford Australia released another GT variant as they discontinued the GT at the end of the XB production run.
Ford Australia produced a total of 211,971 units of the XB Falcon range between September 1973 and July 1976 before replacing it with the XC Falcon in July 1976.