1971 XY GT-HO PHASE 3
Genuine GTHO Phase 3 Group C Improved Production racer.
Owned by 1 family from new.
All original and unrestored.
Built to race by one of Australia's greatest engineers.
Aussie icon and an unrepeatable purchase.
Any XY GT HO Phase 3 is a very special piece of kit. Only 300 of the homologation specials were made, with an estimated 200 remaining and about 150 - 170 of those, being proper ‘pucker’ cars, of that 150 - 170, it is the original and unrestored ones that get people in a lather. These are not only visual delights, telling stories about the life they have lived, but they are also the ones that you can safely put your money into and not have any sleepless nights, wondering what you have really bought. Yes, there’s a good reason why this is the first GTHO Falcon Ecurie Bowden has agreed to sell; I value my clients trust and my sleep. An original, unrestored race HO is certainly an automotive holy grail of sorts. So to think that there was one of them, that was both a Series Production and Improved Production racer, that was still owned by the original family and was unrestored from its very last race, plus, it was built to be a Superfalcon of sorts, by the engineering legend Ron Harrop and was at Easter Bathurst 1972? You would likely be a bit dubious that such a car has remained “off the radar” until 2018… We have kept an eye on this particular GT HO since the early 1980’s, but we never realised just how special it really was. But before we get into that, let’s digress to the legend of the XY GT HO:
The 1972 Supercar Scare and the 73 OPEC crisis made sure that the “Shaker HO”, was to be the all-time reigning champion of Australia’s roads. Sure, a handful of XA GT Phase 4’s and 260 RPO 83’s snuck out, but they don’t have the charisma of the bawdy Phase 3; that brutal, boxy exterior, teamed with those stripes and hypnotic shaker hood, it just can’t be beaten. For pure ‘in your face’ street presence, the XC Cobra certainly comes close, but courtesy of the smog laws of the late 1970’s, she is a bit tame… the Texan term “all hat, no cattle” comes to mind. The Phase 3 however, had an absolute stonking 351 4V engine and a supporting driveline, which could handle the grunt all day. Any GT-HO had lots of hat and lots of cattle.
So much has been written about the mighty HO’s and I agree entirely with both the praise and any detractions they have received over time, as even the negatives of them being a bit rough, is a huge part of what makes them so awesome. I have been blessed with being able to have experienced all manner of Australian muscle, in circumstances they were created for. Taking those experiences into perspective, I certainly still see the XY GT HO as the high watermark of Australia’s motoring heritage. The A9X, with a Gp C Spec L34 engine and MC7 Super T-10 gearbox, is the only Aussie made car that beats it for sheer pace, but that car, like the also quicker Phase 4, never really existed, did it? The Phase 3 is simply a road-going beast, that oozes grunt from any angle and we all, as a nation, should consider ourselves lucky that we have them. Come 1972, the Australian Motoring scene changed dramatically and certainly not for the better; The Muscle car tide quickly receded and the Phase 3 has remained at the highest point.
In 1971, if you were a likely lad with a quid in your pocket and a keen desire to show Mr Allan Moffat and Co that you could steer, you could go buy yourself a road car, cage it and tweak it (All within the rules of course…) and go race in Group E, Series Production.
Mr Kingsley Hibbard was such a lad and ordered through Wright Ford Sydney, a stripped out Yellow Glow XY GT HO with the following options;
* EZ820 (Special order fleet colour “Yellow Glow”)
* EZ903 (Black Stripes)
* 46GR (Goodyear G800 Red Sidewalls)
It turns out that our likely lad, Kingsley, was a VERY unique human being. And in a uniquely Kingsley manner, he picked up the HO, NSW registered CIF 246, from Wright Ford on a Friday afternoon and proceeded to drive to Melbourne, so he could compete in the Sandown 250 that very Sunday.
He only had 48 hours to break in the car and race prep her for the prestigious Man-Champ round, so he thought he had better get down there very quickly… Kingsley told David Bowden in the early 1980’s, when he was buying the Ex Geoghegan Superfalcon from him, that the police 1st tried to stop him just outside of Sydney, but they stopped the pursuit and he thought nothing of it; so press on. That can’t be confirmed; however, what is a fact is that in Victoria, at Pretty Sally Hill, constable Colin Pavey spotted a bright Yellow XYGTHO travelling at excessive speeds. Constable Pavey took his interceptor up to 135mph, but Kingsley pulled away from him… Now THAT is how you break in a GTHO 351 Cleveland hey?! Constable Pavey radioed ahead and a police blockade nabbed Kingsley at Broadmeadows, straight out the front of FOMOCO Australia’s headquarters… Nice one Kingsley.
I could go on and on about the legends and circumstances that surround that car chase, but let’s just say it was yet another nail in the “Supercar” coffin, with the 1972 media scare just around the corner… Nice one Kingsley.
To the guys credit, he managed to please the authorities enough to get released and get the car race prepped (With a works looking XY cage I must add?) and onto the grid at Sandown. In true Kingsley fashion he lunched the engine, which was perhaps due to her extremely rigorous break in procedure? Anyway, his Man Champ number of 63E was a DNF. His entry for the next round, the seminal 1971 Bathurst 500 was rejected by ARDC boss and tough ex Police Officer Jack Hinxman. Kingsley was likely aware that his chances of glory (Bathurst was & is the big one!) in Series production were now limited. So, with his new found mechanic Ron Harrop, yes, THE Ron Harrop, decided to prep her for Group C Improved Production, as per the mighty HO Superfalcon that was still being sorted by Ford Special Vehicles.
Ron’s clever engineering abounds in this car and it has been both an honour and a pleasant surprise to crawl through her. I can only draw parallels to the Superfalcon, Moffat Mustang and Beechey Monaro that we own and this car certainly sits well with them, from an engineering perspective. Don’t let Nathan Duff’s pretty photos fool you, she looks every bit as tough as them too. Damn tough actually!
In Improved Production guise, the Yellow GTHO only raced 4 times, but proved its pace with sporadic outbursts of pure speed; timed at 182 Mph down Conrod Straight is a prime example. Unfortunately, things between Kingsley and Ron were not good and getting worse, every bit as fast as the GTHO in question.
Those two ended up in court over monies outstanding and the car went into a legal limbo, for many years. It wasn’t until circa 1978 the car was released back to Kingsley and by then, she was completely obsolete, as a front running car. It is dripping in irony that what ended her chances of greatness, created this incredible survivor we see today. Her greatness, or what sets her apart from all other racing Improved Production cars, is that she is as is, where is, from 1972… Just amazing.
After getting her back, the HO has been kept in dry storage, supposedly awaiting the day Kingsley got the time to resurrect her and show everyone what a Ron Harrop prepped Superfalcon could do! Alas, those days never came and with Kingsley having passed a few years ago, she is now, for the first time in her nearly 47 years, for public sale.
But what do you do with such an amazing, one-off car? The only genuine XY GT HO Falcon, which raced as a Series Production and Improved Production car. This original, unrestored jewel, with Ron Harrop’s engineering DNA all with less than 5000 (albeit hard) miles under her belt. Do you recommission her and get her running? Do you build a glass case and keep Cinderella sleeping? Both are the right answer and I certainly know everyone will have a valid opinion, I just hope the new owner understands they are buying a true Australian icon, that must be treated with due consideration and respect.
+++ Please read the full story on this amazing car, in issue #101 of Australian Muscle Car Magazine!! +++