Allan Moffat XY GTHO Phase 3
Allan Moffat XY GTHO Phase 3
The real life drama that surrounded Allan Moffat and the Phase III GTHO Falcon in their challenge for the 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) was more bizarre than a way-out TV thriller.
As the premier racing circuits around the country reverberated to the roar of the 450 BHP V8, incident piled on incident.
There was political challenge, protests and prangs, appeals, disqualifications, allegations of illegality, tyre troubles, and on one occasion the GTHO was even stolen! For three years Moffat had worked for the title in his impressive Trans-Am Mustang, but a change of rules for 1973 prevented the Mustang from competing in this class. The Falcon GTHO was a 'natural'.
The King Daddy of all GTHO Falcon's, Moffat was her master in 1973.
For Moffat and the Ford Special Vehicles (Competition Department) team, the Touring Car Championship was the highlight of nearly four years of work with a car that should have been outdated on the race track.
A Phase IV GTHO Falcon had been planned and prototypes built, but public opinion and government intervention stamped 'supercar' on this vehicle, as well as cars planned by other manufacturers for production car racing. Therefore any ideas on racing a Phase IV had to be scrapped.
This particular car was the very first XY GTHO Phase 3 ever built, job number one on the Ford internal build sheets. Dragged from a test-and-develop program at the Research Centre of the Ford Motor Company of Australia at Geelong. 65E (Moffat's '71 Bathurst winner) had crashed at the Adelaide International Raceway after a tyre blowout and a replacement GTHO for the number 1 works driver was needed. (The other two works cars were unobtainable with John French's car being given to Norm Beechy to race and Fred Gibsons being used and unavailable.) The test-and-develop vehicle was the last Phase III GTHO Falcon still in Fords possession.
The speedometer with 14,000 miles showing was ignored as a round-the-clock rebuild at Ford Special Vehicles went into operation. The Ultra White HO with Saddle (brown) interior was hastily painted Vermillion Fire (strangely not Brambles Red like the other work's cars that year ) and all the racing bits and pieces were swapped from 65E to the new HO. The hood-liner (which was tan in colour) was sprayed over in black.
It was first raced in the final rounds of the Australian Manufacturers Championship in series production form. With the new 1972 homologation allowances it was fitted with the new Bathurst Globe wheels as well as having both the front and rear spoilers taken off it, for greater top speed on the longer straights.
Bathurst '72 was not to be Moffat's year, he did place it on pole position, but after a spin at Reid Park it literally all went backwards from there. He had two 1 minute time penalties, a blown tyre and huge brake problems (not what you need in a Phase III) leading to an uncharacteristic 9th placing.
He was to win the last two rounds at Phillip Island and then Surfers Paradise, ending an era of production car racing in Australia.
The car was upgraded to the new Group 'C' specifications only weeks before the first heat of the ATCC at Symmons Plains, but the frantic preparation was contrasted by smooth operation on race day and Moffat won easily.
Racing fans had expected the new rules to turn more in the favor of the six-cylinder Torana XU1s, but they were left well behind in that first heat.
Moffat first and daylight second at Sandown's ATCC round.
As the series developed, the Torana improved to a stage where it was as fast as the Falcon. In the fourth round at Wanneroo, Western Australia, Moffat's Falcon and the Holden Dealer Team Torana, driven by Peter Brock, had a huge battle. they were side by side at the end of the race, with Moffat winning by the smallest of margins. Moffat still says it was the greatest race he ever had against Brock.
At Surfers Paradise Brock and Moffat had another huge race, and the Torana scored its first win, after the Falcons tyres went off in the last stages of the race.
In the Adelaide heat, the Falcon was stolen by a young joy-rider on the night before the race. His HO could not be found on the day, so Moffat was loaned the racing Falcon of Murray Carter for the race. It was a wet race and Moffat started from the rear of the grid, making his way through the pack to finish second to Brock and importantly hold his points lead for the championship. Says Moffat: "The incident was treated almost as a joke during the morning before the race, but as the start time drew nearer, the seriousness of the situation became horribly clear. But Murray Carter of Melbourne made his car available, and my second placing in that Falcon gave me the points I needed."
The HO was later found out the outskirts of Adelaide, relatively untouched.
One of the greatest images from 1973, the Oran Park championship race start.
Then Peter Brock in his Holden XU1 Torana downed Moffat in the second last heat, at Oran Park, in NSW, and the finish of the series was set for a thrilling climax. However, the Holden Dealer Team car was excluded from results because of an oversized measurement in the exhaust system.
Moffat leads the pack, on his way to victory.
But Moffat still had to fight for his points, as Stewards investigated a charge against Moffat's driving. Repeated viewings of the television coverage of the race finally put Moffat in the clear and the title was his, with one heat left to run.
Moffat working hard to keep the GTR XU-1's behind.
Ironically, Moffat covered only three laps of the final race, at Warwick Farm, NSW, before a loose radiator hose forced him to pull out....(Ford race mechanics report that a blown engine might have happened before the "official" report of the loose radiator hose).
Moffat was given the car by Ford when they pulled out of racing in 1972 and he kept it till selling it in '78 to a family outside Adelaide. they sold it a few years later to a Sydney man from whom David Bowden purchased it in 1995. The car was still in original condition but with many of the original '73 race parts missing. (No doubt fitted to the XB hardtops raced in the '74 season.)
In 1997 after much deliberation the car was given a new paint job. The original paint was literally falling off (remember the Vermillion Fire was painted straight on top of the white) and there were many more marks on it than when it finished racing in '73. All the missing race parts were found and put back into the car and the engine was rebuilt to Group C specifications The restoration was completed on the 11th of March 2000, when Allan Moffat drove the car to victory in a grudge match against Peter Brock in his original Holden XU1 Torana at the Australian Grand Prix.
The car now resides in good company with the Moffat's GTHO Phase I, II, IV and the 1969 Trans Am Mustang.
Race Winning Record:
1st TAA 1 Hour Race Calder 1972
1st Manufacturers Championship Phillip Island 1972
1st Manufacturers Championship Surfers Paradise 1972
1st Australian Touring Car Championship Symonns Plains 1973
1st Australian Touring Car Championship Calder 1973
1st Australian Touring Car Championship Sandown Park 1973
1st Australian Touring Car Championship Wanneroo Park 1973
1st Australian Touring Car Championship Oran Park 1973
Historic race images from www.autopics.com.au and Autopix.