The stayer

Australian Muscle Car - - Bathurst Muscle -

Wild horses couldn’t stop the Bald­win Ford team from rac­ing in the 1971 Hardie-Ferodo 500. Lit­er­ally. Well, a horse run­ning wild at least. You see, a pad­dock es­capee’s dash for free­dom soon led to the nag’s griz­zly demise when it was struck by a bright or­ange Fal­con GT-HO Phase III on Syd­ney’s ru­ral out­skirts a month be­fore the Oc­to­ber clas­sic.

Need­less to say, the driver of the Phase III and his fe­male pas­sen­ger were lucky to sur­vive, with the ve­hi­cle de­stroyed. Thank­fully, the car’s rollcage stopped the roof from com­pletely cav­ing in and crush­ing the oc­cu­pants.

In­cred­i­bly, the re­place­ment shell was also in­volved in a high-speed crash en route from Mel­bourne a mat­ter of days later.

It was as if the rac­ing gods didn’t want the team, en­tered by Ford dealer Bryan Bald­win, to race on the Moun­tain.

That XY, driven on Oc­to­ber 3, 1971 by Damon Beck and Garry Rush, did make it to Mount Panorama. Im­pres­sively, given its pre-race mis­ad­ven­tures, it was run­ning well in­side the top 10 with just a dozen laps to go when the fron­tright wheel broke, rob­bing the seem­ingly cursed squad of a well-de­served re­sult at the end of a tu­mul­tuous month.

It’s re­mark­able then that this Phase III sur­vives to this day, es­pe­cially when you learn of its postBathurst life.

Even more ex­tra­or­di­nary is that the story of #61E from Bathurst 1971 has never been told in full. Un­til now.

It’s the colourful tale of an ill-fated at­tempt on Aus­tralia’s Great Race and the sad back-story sur­round­ing the North­ern Beaches deal­er­ship.

It serves to high­light Ford’s ef­forts to equip pri­vately-en­tered Phase IIIs, par­tic­u­larly those en­tered by its deal­ers, with the very best run­ning gear, to pro­vide backup to its works ef­fort.

The Raw Or­ange-coloured XY is now one of a hand­ful of the 13 Phase IIIs that con­tested the ‘71 event to sur­vive.

Its cur­rent owner only un­earthed its tworace com­pe­ti­tion his­tory af­ter he pur­chased it a decade ago.

The story also high­lights how a Phase III’s rac­ing his­tory is now revered rather than de­rided.

Read on for an in­sight into how a sub­ur­ban deal­er­ship got all ex­cited about a Bathurst cam­paign at the zenith of the mus­cle car era.

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