Rusty

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

Fal­con hard­top’s seven sea­sons as Ford’s front­line tour­ing car fighter are well doc­u­mented. Three Bathurst 1000 wins (1973, ’74 and ’77) and back-to-back ATCC ti­tles (’76 and ’77) means the big birds are as fa­mil­iar as Al­lan Mof­fat’s Cana­dian ac­cent. But what of the Fair­mont hard­top’s time in Group C rac­ing?

You’re ex­cused if you’ve over­looked the Fair­mont hard­top’s only tour­ing car start, in the 1977 HangTen 400 at Sandown, the XC model’s rac­ing de­but. AMC most cer­tainly had – un­til we spot­ted the im­age above at au­topics.com.au

The rec­tan­gu­lar head­lights on the mean­look­ing Rusty French/Leo Leonard car that week­end, Septem­ber 10-11, 1977, had us do­ing a dou­ble-take.

We didn’t have to go far for an ex­pla­na­tion. The French XC was built for Rusty French’s Morley Ford-backed squad by Dale Sud­holz af­ter he left the Mof­fat Ford Deal­ers Team, the fo­cus of is­sue #83’s cover story. Just as he helped fill in some gaps in that Bathurst 1977 1-2 story, Sud­holz ex­plained why the black beast de­buted look­ing like a Fair­mont hard­top.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the va­garies of Group C ho­molo­ga­tion cou­pled with con­fu­sion over what XC model would race fol­low­ing the GT’s demise con­trib­uted to this one-off ap­pear­ance. As did one

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