76 Tru-Blu like new

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

The famed Tru-Blu XD Fal­con is now it­self true-blue – as in back in the ex­act liv­ery it wore when it com­pleted Dick John­son’s fairy­tale. Get­ting it right was no sim­ple task. Theme song: John Wil­liamson’s ‘True Blue’. Is there any other choice?

Chicago-born Bill Bourke joined Ford Canada in 1956, be­fore head­ing to Aus­tralia to be­come the as­sis­tant man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in 1965. He be­came Ford Aus­tralia MD in 1967, with his fouryear stint here chang­ing the face of per­for­mance mo­tor­ing for­ever.

To­day we know Bourke as the fa­ther of the Fal­con GT. The XR GT was born out of the Cortina and Mus­tang GT’s suc­cess and was pitched at cashed up Baby Boomers.

The Mus­tang was such a hit, its styling cues and key mar­ket­ing traits soon fil­tered to our shores and into other Ford pro­duc­tion mod­els around the world.

This in­flu­ence was no more ap­par­ent than in the XR Fal­con range, launched in 1966. With the new Mus­tang V8 en­gine avail­able across the XR range, it soon found favour as a pow­er­ful po­lice pur­suit ve­hi­cle, with its four doors and abil­ity to outrun the aver­age sedan, which could man­age about 90mph. In a stroke of mar­ket­ing ge­nius, this soon mor­phed into the Fal­con GT.

Forty-seven years later, ‘blue bloods’ still en­gage in pub ar­gu­ments about the first GT. So here are, we hope, some ar­gu­ment set­tlers.

When it was re­leased in May of 1967 the XR GT came re­splen­dent in its own exclusive colour – GT Gold. Un­of­fi­cially though, there were a few more hues avail­able to those in the know, or those with cor­po­rate con­nec­tions such as Avis Rent-A-Car, the Gal­la­her cig­a­rette brand and those want­ing a stand-out car for the track. In to­tal, 13 XR GTs are known to be built in colours other than GT Gold.

There were eight (paint code Y166) Gal­la­her Sil­ver pro­mo­tional cars, one (paint code Y131) Avis White, one (paint code F) Sul­tan Ma­roon, one (paint code X) Ivy Green, one (paint code E) Po­lar White. Some of these raced at Bathurst in the 1967 Gal­la­her 500.

There was also one (paint code Z782) Russet Bronze XR GT which was Bourke’s com­pany car from April 1967. Whis­pers have it this car still sur­vives and has been in the same own­er­ship since the early 1970s.

The GT started life as a true limited edi­tion with around 250 built to the end of June 1967. De­mand was un­prece­dented and a sec­ond batch was quickly put into pro­duc­tion. There are two op­pos­ing tal­lies of how many XR GTs were built in to­tal. One is 684 and the other 596. Both are of­fi­cial.

So why the dif­fer­ence? The Ford Mo­tor Com­pany pro­duc­tion sum­mary states a to­tal of 596 were built. How­ever, when adding the monthly tal­lies up, the fi­nal fig­ure is that 684 GTs were built. The lat­ter to­tal may have in­cluded the fleet or­der po­lice spe­cials added into the monthly to­tals. We can’t be sure though, as de­tailed records were only kept from Jan­uary 1, 1968 on­wards. This was when CAMS got se­ri­ous about en­forc­ing min­i­mum build re­quire­ments that were the ba­sis for ho­molo­ga­tion cars for rac­ing. Prior to this, records are non-ex­is­tent. There were 41 XR GTs built in 1968, five of these were anom­alies pre­fixed with JG34 rather than JG33. They could have been Fri­day-built cars. We

all know the Fal­con GT was the first full­size Aus­tralian fam­ily car vari­a­tion to of­fer a to­tal per­for­mance and ap­pear­ance pack­age. This in­cluded the Mus­tang-bred 289 cu­bic inch V8 with Aus­tralia's first four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor, 4-speed ‘Hurst’ shift man­ual and sports sus­pen­sion with ra­dial 5.5-inch rims, green­glow­ing Ste­wart Warner gauges, steer­ing wheel im­pact pad, all as stan­dard.

There was no mis­tak­ing this car meant busi­ness from the get-go with its GT stripes down the sides and across the boot, dis­tinc­tive Mus­tang-sourced GT badges and grille black­outs which caused quite a sen­sa­tion when it was re­leased.

In Oc­to­ber 1967, the real rea­son for its cre­ation be­came ap­par­ent as the new GT Fal­con

took the ‘King of the Moun­tain’ ti­tle at Bathurst, thereby es­tab­lish­ing the leg­end. The win­ning car, driven by leg­ends Harry Firth and Fred Gibson, was painted in Ivy Green.

Front lap/sash style seat­belts were manda­tory on all XR GTs built, how­ever a few were op­tioned with lam­i­nated wind­screens, and some had vinyl roofs which could have been dealer fit­ted.

En­gine num­ber se­quence for the XR GT be­gan with LD51001C. Power steer­ing wasn’t avail­able of­fi­cially on the GT model, how­ever the en­gine num­ber range from LD52001C was ap­plied for in Ford’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion records as a 289 4V man­ual with power steer­ing. None are known to have been reg­is­tered though.

There is also a ru­mour that at least one spe­cial or­der XR GT was made with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, but this too has never been con­firmed. Of­ten these spe­cial or­ders were done post-pro­duc­tion and still carry the LD51001C man­ual des­ig­na­tions, with au­to­matic trans­mis­sions retro-fit­ted in Ford’s garage work­shop.

The ini­tial batch of XR GTs was sup­plied to buy­ers with a stan­dard Fal­con owner’s man­ual. It wasn’t un­til Oc­to­ber 1967, that a ded­i­cated GT Fal­con owner’s man­ual be­came avail­able.

A lucky few own­ers have been sur­prised over the years to find a 302ci in their pride and joy, in­stead of the 289ci V8. These were Wind­sor en­gines pre­fixed by LD515_ _C, built around Oc­to­ber 1967. The up­graded 302 was avail­able in Mus­tangs by this stage, and Ford Aus­tralia had ac­cess to these for their fu­ture de­vel­op­ment plans, with the first 302-pow­ered XT GT off the line just some three months away.

The Ford Mo­tor Com­pany de Mex­ico also man­u­fac­tured a limited run of around 100 two-door Fal­con GTs in 1967. Fit­ted with the early Mus­tang-sourced 195bhp 260ci V8, four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor, a 3.54:1 rear end ra­tio and dual ex­hausts, the Mex­i­can GT packed the goods. They too were fac­tory fit­ted with a sports in­spired in­te­rior com­pris­ing bucket seats, con­sole and fac­tory tachome­ter. The sidewinder stripes were bro­ken up with a GT badge on the front guards, and the grille was unique to the GT. Dual band red-wall tyres sim­i­lar to a K-code Hi-Po Mus­tang were also avail­able.

Un­like the Aussie ver­sion, the Mex­i­can GT came stan­dard with a 3-speed man­ual;

“There is also a ru­mour that at least one spe­cial or­der XR GT was made with

an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.”

the 4-speed man­ual floor­shift, or au­to­matic trans­mis­sion avail­able as an op­tion. Other op­tions were power-as­sisted front disc brakes, power steer­ing and vinyl tops. All of these GTs were man­u­fac­tured just for the left-hand drive do­mes­tic Mex­i­can mar­ket.

Let’s back track a step, to when the Ford Mus­tang was first badged as a GT in 1965. In­tro­duced as the ‘GT Equip­ment Pack­age’ it in­cluded a 289ci 4-bar­rel V8 en­gine, quicker steer­ing ra­tio, grille mounted fog lamps, rocker panel stripes, dual ex­hausts and disc brakes as stan­dard equip­ment. In the in­te­rior, the GT op­tion added sports in­stru­men­ta­tion, but a colum­n­mounted tachome­ter was an op­tional ex­tra which was called the ‘Rally-Pac’.

Most early Mus­tang GTs were the A-code 289ci 4-bar­rel ver­sion, but a K-code 289cid Hi-Po V8 ver­sion was also avail­able. The Mus­tang GT was avail­able as a hard­top, fast­back and con­vert­ible. 1969 was the last year for the Mus­tang GT op­tion, un­til it was rein­tro­duced in 1994 with the fourth gen­er­a­tion Mus­tangs.

Our own XT GT Fal­con would be fur­ther in­flu­enced by the Mus­tang on many scales, and would go on to be­come a worldly suc­cess in its own right. But the XT GT how­ever is a topic – sorry, ar­gu­ment set­tler – for R-Rated for an­other day.

Bill Bourke

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