44 XY Fal­con ‘K-Code’

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Our sec­ond wolf in wool has GT-like per­for­mance, but its (now quirky) ap­pear­ance also helps di­vert at­ten­tion from just how po­tent it is. Sadly, very few 1970s K-Code Fal­cons sur­vive, for rea­sons we out­line. Theme song: War­ren Zevon’s ‘Were­wolves in Lon­don’.

An al­ter­na­tive to the GT was Fal­con 500 with sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tions, but al­most in­vis­i­ble to the po­lice

and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies

TThe GT and GT-HO are the mod­els in the XY Fal­con range with ob­vi­ous bite and growl. There is, how­ever, an­other wolf lurk­ing in the cat­a­logue with fewer out­ward dis­plays of ag­gres­sion, a car that has slipped by rel­a­tively un­no­ticed – the ‘K’ code Fal­con.

The ‘K’ code Fal­con is a non-GT, fit­ted with a 351ci Cleve­land V8 (with a two-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor) iden­ti­fied by en­gine code ‘K’ on the tag. This en­gine could be paired with ei­ther au­to­matic or man­ual trans­mis­sions.

The Fal­con GT (and GT-HO) was the dream car of many young men in the 1970s. But the com­bi­na­tion of brute per­for­mance and younger, in­ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers meant the like­li­hood of an ac­ci­dent in­creased con­sid­er­ably. The GT’s de­sir­abil­ity also ex­tended to thieves.

Hence, the two letters ‘GT’ at­tracted a much higher in­sur­ance pre­mium, so much so that many po­ten­tial buy­ers could not af­ford to buy their dream car and also in­sure it.

Those same letters also at­tracted plenty of at­ten­tion from the lo­cal con­stab­u­lary who would keep a close eye on young driv­ers in fast cars.

An al­ter­na­tive to the GT was a Fal­con 500 with sim­i­lar spec­i­fi­ca­tions, but al­most in­vis­i­ble to the po­lice and the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

The kind of buyer who would or­der a ‘K’ code Fal­con was very aware of what it re­ally was, and what its po­ten­tial could be. Many of those who bought a ‘K’ code sourced larger car­bu­ret­tors, ex­haust head­ers and ex­trac­tors, and made sim­ple per­for­mance up­grades to help un­leash the beast within. Af­ter the up­grades, merely fit­ting a set of mag wheels made the car ap­peal­ing to look at and en­joy­able to drive, but en­sured the car blended in with the other stan­dard cars on the road.

For ex­tra dis­guise a front sun vi­sor could be fit­ted, guar­an­tee­ing to cam­ou­flage the car and turn­ing it into a true 1970s sleeper.

Over the years ‘K’ code Fal­cons have be­come quite scarce due to a num­ber of fac­tors. The main con­trib­u­tor to the di­min­ished num­bers was nat­u­ral at­tri­tion. As many of the orig­i­nal own­ers were young guys who wanted to drive them hard, plenty were crashed and wrecked. Add the con­sid­er­able num­ber of ‘K’ code Fal­cons turned into GT and GT-HO repli­cas and you ac­count for the ma­jor­ity of cars built.

A brand new ‘K’ code Fal­con 500 was much cheaper than a GT, to the tune of about $1500. This doesn’t sound like a huge price dif­fer­ence to­day, but in 1971 a brand new XY GT Fal­con could be bought for un­der $5000!

Thus, the ‘K’ code was far more ac­ces­si­ble

to those younger buy­ers who couldn’t quite af­ford some­thing more ad­ven­tur­ous.

Hid­ing un­der the more or­di­nary ap­pear­ance of the Fal­con 500, driv­ers could en­joy vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing that the GT had to of­fer with­out many of the neg­a­tives that came with own­ing the more eye-catch­ing XYs. And cre­at­ing GT repli­cas isn’t a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non, with plenty of ‘K’ code Fords turned into GT looka­likes from new, sim­ply by adding a shaker and stripes.

Un­like some other unique and de­sir­able cars from the ’70s, you didn’t need to be a com­pany in­sider or ‘in the know’ to or­der a ‘K’ code Fal­con. They were listed in the sales brochure! Al­though over the years a hand­ful of spe­cial-or­der cars for com­pany ex­ec­u­tives left the fac­tory fit­ted with all the fruit, any aver­age bloke could put to­gether enough cash to or­der and op­tion a ‘K’ code Fal­con for him­self.

For the price, it was hard to match the per­for­mance of a ‘K’ code Fal­con. The two-bar­rel 351ci V8 pumped out 250bhp (186kW) – plenty of go 40-odd years ago, es­pe­cially from a car that looked sim­i­lar to the car parked in next door’s garage. To buy an equally spec­i­fied Monaro or Charger would cost con­sid­er­ably more, mak­ing the ‘K’ code a rel­a­tive bar­gain. Whilst the val­ues of these cars have climbed sig­nif­i­cantly to­day, they are still placed well be­low the cost of a gen­uine XY GT Fal­con. This fact alone proves that even though more than four decades have passed, the ‘K’ code is still rel­e­vant to en­thu­si­asts for the same rea­sons that sold the car new – a cut price per­for­mance car that didn’t scream ‘look at me’.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, we weren’t able to find ‘of­fi­cial’ per­for­mance fig­ures. It ap­pears they were so stealthy that mag­a­zines of the era over­looked them for fea­tures and tests.

There is some con­fu­sion about the rel­e­vance of the ‘K’ when dis­cussing a fac­tory V8 Fal­con. Whilst the VIN num­ber of any XY Fal­con with a fac­tory V8 fin­ishes with the let­ter K (eg: JG32LY12345K), the cor­rect ref­er­ence to the ‘K’ rep­re­sents the ac­tual en­gine code of a fac­tory-fit­ted 351ci Cleve­land V8 that is found on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tag. The en­gine is not the same spec­i­fi­ca­tion as the ‘T’ code 351ci Cleve­land V8 (with a four-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor) fit­ted to the Fal­con GT, but it does share many of that en­gine’s char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The ap­peal of the ‘K’ code Fal­con to­day is largely thanks to the huge de­sir­abil­ity of the GT and GT-HO. Just like when it was new, the ‘K’ code of­fers a cheaper al­ter­na­tive to the more no­to­ri­ous name­plates, though men­tion­ing ‘cheap’ in the same sen­tence as XY seems il­log­i­cal. If you can ac­tu­ally find one in good con­di­tion you can ex­pect to pay up­wards of $25,000 for it, even more for GS op­tioned cars, and yet more again for a Fair­mont model.

The ‘K’ code Fal­con was also avail­able across the XA and XB range, and in the eyes of buy­ers it was a per­fect al­ter­na­tive to the GT for the budget con­scious. The later model ‘K’ code Fal­cons sold for the same rea­son that the XY ver­sion did, though they did not sell as well. The new-look bon­net vents on the XA and XB saw many buy­ers or­der cars with the GS op­tion.

The ‘K’ code Fal­con never won Bathurst. It was never the ‘fastest four-door car in the world’. And it won’t be enough to prop up your su­per­an­nu­a­tion in­def­i­nitely. But it is with­out doubt one of the first Aussie wolves that could hide amongst all the sheep in the traf­fic, with its un­der­stated looks and sur­pris­ing per­for­mance.

Top: The ‘Hawai­ian’ seat in­serts (and sun-vi­sor) help to di­vert at­ten­tion away from just how po­tent this K-code Fal­con re­ally is. Also note the lack of a cen­tre-con­sole. But there are hints that this Fal­con packs some se­ri­ous punch.

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