52 Harry’s last Fal­con

Gen­uine works GTs with a Bathurst 500 race his­tory aren’t ex­actly thick on the ground. Which makes this XT Fal­con from the 1968 Great Race one very rare bird – more pre­cisely a phoenix that’s risen from the ashes.

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Gen­uine works GTs with a Bathurst 500 his­tory aren’t ex­actly thick on the ground. Which makes this ’68 XT Fal­con one very rare bird – a phoenix risen from the ashes. Theme song: Old Blue Eyes’ ‘Come fly with me’.

The 1968 Hardie-Ferodo 500 was a mile­stone in so many ways – a fa­mous new ti­tle spon­sor, the ar­rival of com­mer­cial spon­sor­ship and the first time that the might of Gen­eral Mo­tors-Holden went head-to-head with its arch neme­sis, the Ford Mo­tor Company.

Hav­ing won the 1967 Gal­la­her 500 with its brand new XR Fal­con GT, the pres­sure was on Ford to re­peat the feat in 1968 with the new XT Fal­con. The XT GT, with the 302ci (5.0-litre) Wind­sor V8 en­gine, faced far stiffer op­po­si­tion with the ar­rival on the scene of the works-sup­ported Holden Dealer Rac­ing Team (HDRT) and the daz­zling new HK Monaro GTS 327.

In Ford’s favour was a well-proven pack­age, while Holden had a quicker but un­proven and po­ten­tially more frag­ile car, cour­tesy of the Chevro­let 327ci en­gine.

Ford hedged its bets; with two of the three cars pre­pared and en­tered by last year’s win­ner Harry Firth and a third (white) car en­tered by the fa­mous rac­ing brothers Leo and Ian Geoghe­gan un­der the Cas­trol banner. Firth had a red au­tomatitc GT for Shell-backed driv­ers, Jim McKe­own and Spencer Martin, and a green GT for the pre­vi­ous year’s win­ner Fred Gib­son and Barry Se­ton, another for­mer Bathurst win­ner.

In the race the Geoghe­gan’s suc­cumbed to brake is­sues and the McKe­own/Martin au­to­matic GT broke a rear axle, leav­ing the Gib­son/Se­ton the last re­main­ing works en­try and in the lead. Alas, with less than 20 laps re­main­ing, it was forced to re­tire from the lead with head gas­ket fail­ure fol­low­ing a stone hol­ing its ra­di­a­tor. The race was won by the pri­va­teer-en­tered HK Monaro GTS 327 of Bruce McPhee and Barry Mul­hol­land. For Ford it re­ally was a case of the one that got away.

The full story of Bathurst 1968 was told in AMC #17 (and sub­se­quently reprinted in the Monaro one-shot), but one story that hasn’t been told is the post-Bathurst 1968 story of the Fred Gib­son/Barry Se­ton XT Fal­con GT.

This is the GT owned to­day by Syd­neysider Rob Mace­don that graced the pages of AMC back in 2005.

Here for the first time is the real story of this works GT’s colour­ful life as a sports sedan. In­cred­i­bly, the guys who raced it after Fred Gib­son didn’t twig to its Bathurst 500 her­itage!

It may have been light­ened and adorned with scoops, flares and spoil­ers, but it re­mained es­sen­tially an XT GT. The en­gine po­si­tion was never moved, the fire­wall never cut and it al­ways ran Ford com­po­nen­try.

This GT was twice sold as a rusty and rough rolling shell! That it has lit­er­ally risen from the ashes is such an im­prob­a­ble tale of sur­vival that we just had to tell it.

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