The Fab Four

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

It’s May 1967. The Bea­tles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ was top of the charts and this amaz­ing photo shows four brand new XR GT Fal­cons dis­played in front of C.T.G. Smith Mo­tors, the Ford deal­er­ship in Shep­par­ton, Vic­to­ria. It was taken only a few weeks af­ter the of­fi­cial re­lease date on May 1.

The photo was sent in by Max Keys who now owns the Fal­con on the right, the one with sales­man Peter Mitchell lean­ing on the roof.

The other gent shown is the deal­er­ship’s sales man­ager John Mann stand­ing proudly on the left. The car on the ex­treme left was the com­pany demon­stra­tor which he was driv­ing at the time. Yes, that’s the same John Mann who raced all man­ner of tin-tops back in the day and also his­toric Mus­tangs for many years.

The car sec­ond from the right, reg­is­tered with num­ber plates, be­longed to the dealer prin­ci­pal.

As Max says, not many deal­er­ships would have re­ceived more than one GT from the fac­tory, let alone four. There were only around 250 pro­duced in that first re­lease.

He’s since spo­ken to John Mann about this who ex­plained that they had ar­ranged with other deal­ers in the re­gion to swap their al­lo­cated GTs for other cars in their show­room. He knew that they would sell quickly in Shep­par­ton and he was right.

The car on the right – with­out num­ber plates or aerial – was soon passed on to the E. Coxon & Sons deal­er­ship in nearby Nu­murkah. C.T.G. Smith and Ted Coxon were close friends and Ted wanted one for a good cus­tomer of his, Neil Nel­son.

Neil kept it in good orig­i­nal con­di­tion un­til 1994 when it was listed for sale as part of his es­tate. This means that Max is only the sec­ond owner. It’s still in re­mark­able con­di­tion, down to the Coxon deal­er­ship sticker on the rear win­dow and all the orig­i­nal books and keys. It hasn’t been mod­i­fied in any way and still hasn’t even been fit­ted with a ra­dio. The fac­tory gold duco is still on the car, even on the fuel cap, and that’s a rar­ity. De­spite its long life it has only done 130,000 miles. The photo was given to Max by Shep­par­ton mo­tor­sport iden­tity, Tino Leo, known for build­ing and driv­ing some im­pres­sive sports sedans. He helped pre-deliver the car.

“I al­ways won­dered where it went to,” said Tino when he spotted it at the 2006 XR GT Round-up in Wagga. What hap­pened to the other three GTs in the photo is a mys­tery.

A real trea­sure handed over when Max Keys bought the Fal­con, was a copy of the rare XR GT sup­ple­ment book­let. These were sup­plied many months af­ter de­liv­ery and not many found their way to the orig­i­nal own­ers.

Max Keys’ copy of the sup­ple­ment is ex­tra spe­cial. He’s had it signed by Harry Firth at Wake­field Park and by Leo Geoghegan at the 2013 Bathurst GT Na­tion­als. These are the driv­ers who came first and sec­ond in works Fal­cons at the 1967 Gal­la­her 500 (or, ac­cord­ing to some, sec­ond and first). Leo was amazed to see the sup­ple­ment. “You know, I’ve never seen one of them, ever!” he told Max. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to study this clas­sic photo. Note that the cars in the used car lot are still priced in the old pounds ster­ling, de­spite the in­tro­duc­tion of dec­i­mal cur­rency more than a year be­fore. In May 1967 you could have bought one of those GT Fal­cons for $3890.

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