XB Ford Falcon GT (1973-76)
The XB Ford Falcon GT is an icon of Australian performance cars. Produced between 1973 to 1976, it was the last of the original run of Falcon GT models that Ford Australia manufactured. Cosmetically, the XB GT differed only slightly from its predecessor the XA GT. The XB GT had a more angular front end, which when combined with its lowered stance, gave it a stronger resemblance to the Ford Mustang than its curvier forerunner the XA GT had. The XB GT model received a revised grill with a deep inset, plastic honeycomb design and a large central divider. It featured larger air scoops and its bonnet had a wider bulge than that of the XA model.
The XB GT was available in both sedan and hardtop body styles. The hardtop was a two-door coupe version of the Falcon four-door sedan. The front end was identical to the sedan, but a fastback-style rear, with extended doors and smaller rear side-windows.
The heart of the XB GT was the 351(cu) Cleveland V8 engine, which from 1975 was entirely cast and built in Australia at Ford’s Geelong plant. The 351 engine in the GT was a modified version of the stock 351 available across the Falcon range. It was rated at 300bhp with 380Ib-ft of torque and had a compression ratio of 11:1. The stock 351 engine produced 260bhp with 355Ib-ft of torque with lower 9.7:1 compression ratio. The increased output of the GT engine was achieved with a four-barrel carburettor and less restrictive exhaust system.
The 351 engine was paired with a floor-mounted, four-speed manual transmission as standard, but had, as optioned, Ford’s FMX 3-speed automatic gearbox. The XB GT was the first Ford Falcon to be fitted with front and rear disc brakes as standard. With a top speed of 120mph, this was probably a welcome necessity considering many Australian roads had no speed restrictions at the time. The XB GT came with lowered competition-type suspension, stiffer heavy duty shocks and wide oval tyres.
Inside, the XB GT featured a wrap-around dash and comprehensive instrumentation that far exceeded that of the standard XB models. The new features included speedometer and tachometer, as well as ammeter, oil pressure, temperature and fuel gauges. The interior was trimmed in “luxury” vinyl that covered the padded dash, as well as the seats and side door panels. The seats were fully reclining high-back bucket seats and had inertia reel seat belts, which were by now a legal requirement.
The XB GT was available in a wide range of finishes with Red Pepper, Polar White and Apollo Blue being the most common colours. There were also numerous but very rare factory-finished one-offs.
Although all the Falcon GT models were highly sought after and collectible, the XB GT may be the most internationally well known. An XB GT hardtop took center stage in the 1979 movie “Mad Max,” as well as in its 1981 sequel. The heavily modified XB GT, which was called the “Interceptor,” had previously been a Victoria police car. The XB GT was also the subject of a 2009 documentary by Australian actor Eric Bana entitled “Love The Beast.”
The XB GT would sell more units than any of its Falcon GT Model predecessors. The XB models popularity with the car buying public ensured a long production run for the XB range as a whole. Although it had been selling well, the XB GT would be the last of the original run of the Falcon GTs. Since the last production of XB GT, the Falcon GT model would not surface for the next 16 years until Ford released the model’s 25th anniversary edition in 1992.
Between 1973 and 1976, Ford Australia built 2,899 XB Falcon GT units, which were composed of 1,950 sedans and 949 hardtops.