It’s 50 years since the first Falcon GT-HO model hit Aussie roads and racetracks. To celebrate this golden anniversary, issue 108 of Australian Muscle Car magazine presents the story of an early XW ‘Phase 1’ that played an important part in the development of the factory racing HOs. While its provenance is unquestionable, the car’s owner enlisted AMC’s help in learning more about its early history.
You’re going to have to get yourself a copy of issue 108 – on sale April 4, 2019 – to get the full story on this amazing car, but here’s a teaser…
It is a 1969-build GT-HO Falcon, what retrospectively is called a Phase I. But more than that, it’s a car that’s reportedly a graduate of the Ford Special Vehicles program, based at Lot 6 Mahoneys Road, and the very car Ford gave to Repco to develop the Falcons’ dual-plate clutch. It’s a car that has never been raced, and had just road use and 70,000 miles under its belt when found.
“When I first saw it, it had a drop-sheet over it and stuff stacked on top,” relates owner and restorer Grant about his early noughties find. “You couldn’t even see the car until you pulled it all off. I couldn’t believe that here was this GT-HO being used as a storage shelf.
“I’d looked around at a few GTs and HOs before but nothing really grabbed me, but when I heard the back story to this car I knew this was a special piece of Ford motoring history in Australia.”
Over the ensuing 15 years Grant has discovered a great deal about what made it special, but a few questions about its early history remained. He first contacted the magazine in late 2017 to discuss the possibility of an AMC story. We instantly knew we had an appropriate cover car for our 50th anniversary GT-HO celebratory issue – this very edition – if he was prepared to wait 18 months. He was.
It’s actually a car that AMC briefly mentioned in issue #44 from 2009, when marking the GT-HO’s 40th anniversary via an in-depth technical examination of the first XW HO and the Al Turner-led in-house factory Ford race team’s earliest activities. That story included a list of the ‘works’ cars from 1969. The list ran to five Brambles Red vehicles, two listed as GT prototype/racecars, two dedicated racecars and a Repco development car. Few further details were provided about the latter.
We are pleased we can now tell you more about that Repco machine! And help Grant fill in some more gaps about its history. Like all good tales, there remains an element of mystery about one or two aspects of its life – including the engine that has powered this beast since 1969 – as we explain in issue 108.
Beyond our cover car, we present stories on some intriguing characters.
Some said pairing the pragmatic Larry Perkins with flamboyant Peter Janson at Bathurst would be a disaster. They were wrong. AMC chatted to these two very different characters about their remarkably successful privateer partnership. They are not exactly two peas in a pod. One was an entrepreneurial Melbourne socialite, who was prominent at equestrian events one weekend, before enjoying the many delights of motorsport the next. The other was a no-nonsense, engineering-focused bloke usually absorbed in solving all manner of mechanical problems.
Janson was English-born and lived a showy lifestyle supported by an occupation he described as being ‘a gentleman’. Perkins, in contrast, grew up on a farm in Cowangie in the Mallee region of Victoria, and had doggedly forged a career in motorsport that took him all the way to Formula 1.
Yet, despite being motor racing’s odd couple, at least from the outside, their partnership produced a trio of Bathurst 1000 podiums in just four Mountain campaigns together for Janson’s part-time team.
Meantime, we’ve featured some good storytellers in the Muscle Man section over the years and Ron Gillard rates among the very best of them. Gillard is known today as one of the Great Race’s finest privateer preparers and team managers, but this issue, in the first of a two-part profile, he talks us through his own driving career.
For Chevy fans, we’ve got good news. Frank Gardner’s ’67 Camaro Z28 racecar has recently resurfaced in the UK, meticulously restored to its former glory. The big Chev boasts a racing history that spans no less than three continents, with strong connections to Australia. Its story is also told in the pages of AMC 108.
All that and a whole lot more in the nation’s favourite retro motoring magazine.