XW Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 2 (1969-70)
The XW GT-HO Phase II was Ford’s second high output Falcon GT model. The Falcon GT-HO models are some of the most sought after and collectible of Australian cars, regularly commanding high prices when they appear at auction. The Phase II, which was a homologation special like its predecessor, took over where the Phase I left off.
By 1970, the competition for sales and market dominance between the big three Australian car manufacturers Ford, GM-Holden and Chrysler had made its way onto the race track. The three companies each produced rival performance cars with the hope that victory on the track would translate to greater sales of their flagship models. The GT-HO models are considered by many to have been built with the main purpose of winning the Hardie-Ferodo 500 race at Bathurst, which was the highlight of the year’s production series races.
The GT-HO Phase I and II were built on the XW Ford Falcon sedan body and their successor the Phase III was built on the XY model sedan. The Ford Works factory team had originally raced its stock GT models in production series races, but stiff competition from GM-Holden’s Monaros and Chrysler’s Valiants pushed them to bring increasingly high powered vehicles to the market. The GT-HO models were built to push the envelope as far as possible and were usually produced in sufficient numbers that would just qualify as production cars. The meaning of HO, which was originally High Output, was later changed to Handling Option to evade the high insurance premiums associated with high output vehicles.
Though the Phase I and II GT-HOs were both built on the same XW body, the Phase II featured a longer list of upgrades than its phase I forerunner had. Whereas the majority of Phase I models had the Windsor 351 (cu) engine, all Phase II models were fitted with the Cleveland 351 (cu).
Both engines had the same 5.8L capacity and were small-block V8s, but their fundamental difference was the size of their ports and valves. The Cleveland had larger ports and valves, which provided better airflow and greater headroom for increased horsepower. The Holley four-barrel carburettor was once again the carburettor of choice for the Phase II, but it utilised an air flow of 750cfm, which was an increase from the previous 600cfm model. Even with these modifications, the Phase II had only slightly increased power over the stock model GT. The engine compression ratio was increased from 10.7:1 to 11.0:1, and output from 290 bhp to 300bhp, while the torque actually decreased from 385Ib-ft to 380Ib-ft.
The Phase II was fitted with a close ratio gearbox and a 9-inch Daytona differential with 3.5:1 rear axle ratio. The front wheels had power-assisted 11.25-inch disc brakes but without the dust shields. The rear brakes were 10-inch drums that were finned to assist with cooling, as overheating and ineffective brakes were a continuous problem for the GT-HOs when racing.
The Phase II had a successful year at Bathurst in 1970. Two Ford Works team cars driven by Allan Moffat and Bruce McPhee would take first and second place. The Phase II glory days were short, however, and by 1971, the Phase III was in production and became the production series racing model of choice. The Phase III was a superior car to the Phase II, and the 1971 Bathurst saw five GT-HO Phase III cars finish in the top 10 taking the first, second and third places.
Of the GT-HO models, the Phase II had the shortest production run. Between 1970 and 1971, Ford Australia produced just 287 units of the GT-HO Phase II, before it was replaced with the GT-HO Phase III.