A thoroughbred is born
Baldwin Ford’s Bathurst weapon rolled down Ford’s Broadmeadows production line in July 1971 bearing Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) JG33LS89735K.
It was one of a batch of four Phase IIIs earmarked for dealer-entered race teams that came down the line together, hence they had consecutive VINs.
The Raw Orange machine was the fourth in line of these four cars built specifically for Bathurst duty and sported the 3.25:1 rear-end and the open ratio spline box.
The first was the Harding Ford-ordered Vermillion Fire car with black trim, #59E, driven by Murray Carter.
Next was a white car with saddle interior. It was set to race in the hands of Finnie Ford-backed David McKay, until one of the dealership’s best customers spotted it in the workshop and decided he just had to have it. Finnie Ford obliged and a second machine was ordered for the race and was driven to a fine third place on October 3.
Third was a Track Red vehicle earmarked to be the car entered by McCluskey Ford, as #56E, for Ian Geoghegan/Brian Michelmore, which didn’t front for the race.
Our cover car was also specified with an unlikely option, a radio and 8-track tape player, the Bathurst classic’s only Phase III to do so.
The reason it was ordered as such is unclear, however all nine (!) of the Phase IIIs ordered by Baldwin Ford had either the Super Fringe radio or the 8-track tape player fitted from factory.
Closer to the race, the team received one of the special build ‘US QC engines’ that Ford Australia’s outgoing Special Vehicles Manager Al Turner had initiated before returning to the United States.
Turner described these 2025 blueprinted units as enabling “dealers to be more competitive than in the past at the Bathurst 500” by providing an engine “that would have greater durability than they are capable of producing themselves.”
Each of the dealers entered for the 500 duly received an early Christmas present, as driver Damon Beck describes.
“In the weeks prior to the event, Howard Marsden sent Baldwin’s a Ford race-prepared engine with the instruction “use this” on the packing slip. As we had good horsepower from the engine the
team had already prepared, it was with some reluctance that the new one was installed. I’m glad we used it because it was faultless.”
The Baldwin racer was the 202nd of the 300odd Phase IIIs built and one of between seven and 10 XY GT-HOs produced in the fleet colour of Raw Orange.
Baldwin Ford ordered and received at least one other Raw Orange GT-HO Phase III, which acted as a mobile spare parts bin over race weekend. AMC was unable to confirm reports of a third Phase III allocated to Baldwins in the distinctive colour to capitalise on the dealer’s expectations of a promotional bonanza from winning the race. However, a third unknown ‘fleetcoloured’ Phase III was received by Baldwin Ford and it may well have been Raw Orange.