Surg­ing ahead

Australian Muscle Car - - Right Said Fred -

L– Part 2

ast edi­tion we started the story of Ford’s Phase III GT-HO Fal­con, the ill-fated Phase IV and the tran­si­tion to the two-door. My business at the time, Road and Track, work­ing with Wag­got En­gi­neer­ing up in Syd­ney, was play­ing quite a big part in help­ing Ford with en­gines in the con­text of the new 1973 reg­u­la­tions, but I was do­ing a fair bit of other work for Henry as well.

Much of it cen­tred on de­vel­op­ment for the twodoor Fal­con, which was go­ing to be ho­molo­gated with disc brakes on the back – the first Fal­con that had disc brakes as stan­dard on the rear. It went through the range even­tu­ally, but the twodoor got discs as stan­dard. That meant you could mod­ify the brakes to put a rac­ing brake on the back as well as the front.

Ford had a test car, an orange two-door, and Howard Mars­den prob­a­bly said, in his inim­itable way, “Oh, I’ll have one of those!” But as soon as that hap­pened the boys in­evitably grabbed it and started do­ing work on it. By the time we ran at Sandown for the ManChamp round in Septem­ber 1973, Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghe­gan co-drove this car with Bo Se­ton!

On the old Sandown cir­cuit, where you went un­der the bridge, I came through, lap five or there­abouts… and there’s the orange two-door up on the bank, with a wheel gone and the disc brakes out there for all to see.

Pete had lost a wheel, and we soon found out why: it was the first one fit­ted with race-spec disc brakes on the rear; the boys at the work­shop had to ma­chine the rear axles to ac­com­mo­date the brake set-up and one of the radii was too sharp, so it sheared off at that spot. It was a les­son learned, and I’ll never for­get that orange car in all its glory up on the Sandown bank­ing…

In his ex­clu­sive AMC col­umn, the Ford legend gives us the good oil on the works Fal­con two-doors in 1973 and the ob­sta­cles over­come.

In fact that orange two-door left us with quite a few tales to tell. I did lots of test­ing in it down at Calder and of course word gets around. David McKay, Aus­tralia’s first tour­ing car cham­pion and a well-known scribe in those days, was a good friend of mine, mainly be­cause we looked after all the Ford press cars – and David’s mother’s! He came in one day and said, “Fred, this car you’re test­ing, I’d like to have a drive of it, I’d like to be the first jour­nal­ist to drive it.” I said I would speak to HM and in the end it turned out quite strangely.

David and I flew down to Mel­bourne and went out to Calder so he could have a run in the Ford, which was almost a se­cret car, so there was no pub­lic­ity about it. “You should take me round,” said David. Then he drove – and timed him­self with a stop­watch round his neck! Can you imag­ine that? I thought that was re­ally unique. He said, “I’ll just get my watch,” and I won­dered what he was on about! He had been tim­ing me when I was blaz­ing round in the car on my own to make sure ev­ery­thing was all right. There he was, across the start-fin­ish line – ‘Click!’ on the watch, then when we came round, ‘Click!’ again on the watch. “Not too bad,” he said. From mem­ory, he was about two seconds slower than I had been.

Our first race was in Au­gust 1973 at Ade­laide In­ter­na­tional Race­way, the first round of the Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Cham­pi­onship. The best thing that hap­pened to us, prob­a­bly, was that it rained: we were quick any­way, but the big ad­van­tage we had was CAMS now al­lowed wider wheels so we could go to, say, Mof­fat’s Tran­sAm-sized wheels on it. Al­lan had the con­tacts at Goodyear so we had the good Goodyears, so to speak. At AIR it rained, we used his wets off the Mus­tang and blitzed them. We qual­i­fied on the front row, Al­lan had an elec­tri­cal prob­lem and I won the race – the first win for the two-door. After that we ran the rest of the ManChamp in the two-door car.

Mov­ing to Bathurst, that year I blew an en­gine at the top of the Moun­tain. I knew what the prob­lem was, hav­ing been in­volved in the en­gine de­vel­op­ment, but get­ting that in­for­ma­tion through was no sim­ple mat­ter. When you blew up at Bathurst back then you didn’t get brought back to the pits, you were stuck. I was up at the top, just be­fore Sky­line, be­fore there was any fenc­ing there: you walk over and it’s just the edge.

So I walked from the top of the Moun­tain right down the cen­tre of the Bathurst track right back to the pits. It took a bloody long time, I had black­ber­ries in my race over­alls, but I wanted to let them know what I thought the prob­lem was and how we were go­ing to fix it and keep go­ing. I said, “HM, I think we’re revving them too high: we need to drop the revs back to 6500.”

We did – and Pete Geoghe­gan and Al­lan won the race. So it was worth the walk!

Peo­ple laugh now, but back in the Phase III days you drove the car by the oil gauge: come into a cor­ner, turn, the oil surge would go away, the pres­sure gauge would go to nought, so you would have to put your foot on the throt­tle and wait, wait un­til the oil pres­sure came back again. Tell peo­ple that now and they look at you as if you were mad, but that’s the way we used to drive the car back then.

When the two-door came out, it had a big­ger sump but it wasn’t the fix. Howard’s idea was a pump at the front, out­side the en­gine; it was like a rub­ber ducky thing with hoses. When the oil surged left or right it picked it up and pumped it back straight on top of the oil pump. It wasn’t a dry sump pump, which wasn’t al­lowed, but it was in the reg­u­la­tions – just!

Two more races, both in Novem­ber, at Surfers Par­adise and Phillip Is­land, and the works team was no more.

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