XB GT ar­gu­ment set­tlers

Australian Muscle Car - - R-Rated -

Fol­low­ing on from the suc­cess of the XA model, Ford Aus­tralia re­leased the XB model in Septem­ber 1973. The XB GT was a more re­fined and tamed ver­sion of its pre­de­ces­sors, es­pe­cially when new emis­sion laws were in­tro­duced in 1975 rob­bing some of the power out­put, although Ford main­tained the same 300bhp rat­ing from pre­vi­ous GTs and HOs.

Mar­keted un­der ‘The Great Aus­tralian Road Car’ slo­gan, the XB GT was to be the last of this fa­mous line for al­most 20 years. The XB’s ag­gres­sive new for­ward slop­ing nose and di­vided recessed grille, the twin nos­tril bon­net scoops, con­trast­ing bon­net pan­els with match­ing high­lights around the wheel arches and door sills, all stamped this GT as some­thing spe­cial. Buy­ers took quickly to this new sleek de­sign with Ford Aus­tralia sell­ing 1930 XB GT sedans and 941 XB GT hard­tops by the time pro­duc­tion ceased three years later in 1976.

Con­tin­u­ing on from the Ford XA GT, the XB GT was also pow­ered by the re­li­able 351 Cleve­land V8. The XB GT came with the sub­tle but re­fined blacked-out lower pan­els and win­dow frames which were also avail­able in con­trast­ing colours, colour-keyed bumpers, quad-head­lamps with Hella driv­ing lights, in­te­grated bon­net pins, styled rac­ing mir­ror, flip-style rac­ing fuel cap and a twin ex­haust sys­tem with ‘rolled­edged’ rectangular ex­haust tips that still barked that men­ac­ing GT note. The dash­board was de­signed like a cock­pit, en­com­pass­ing full in­stru­men­ta­tion which made the driver feel more like a pi­lot. The ad­di­tion of rear-wheel disc brakes helped pull the brute to a stop. Stan­dard wheels for the XB GT were 6”x14” steel 12-slot­ters again.

A GT-HO ver­sion of the XB GT was never avail­able. Although

the sedan and hard­top ver­sions of the XB GT were launched of­fi­cially in Septem­ber 1973 with a pi­lot run of eight sedans and eight hard­tops, a lone pre-pro­duc­tion hard­top was built some two months ear­lier, in July. This ve­hi­cle was Yel­low Blaze in colour with black trim and a wind-back sun­roof, and was al­lo­cated to the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany (Code 3999) for promotional pur­poses. This same ve­hi­cle was used for the XB GT sales brochure.

The first XB GT sedan sched­uled to be built was an au­to­matic ver­sion in Cop­per Bronze with parch­ment trim loaded with op­tions such as power steer­ing, beige vinyl roof, air-con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows, sports road wheels, black hood, Su­per­fringe ra­dio and rear win­dow demis­ter. This ve­hi­cle was also al­lo­cated to the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany (Code 3999).

A to­tal of 2871 XB GTs were built in both sedan and hard­tops. Of these, 1496 were op­tioned with the ‘FMX’ 3-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, with the re­main­ing 1375 fit­ted stan­dard with the 4-speed man­ual floor­shift.

The most pop­u­lar colour or­dered was Yel­low Blaze with a com­bined 496 GT sedans and hard­tops made. This was fol­lowed by 416 in Red Pep­per, Po­lar White (295 ex­am­ples), Burnt Or­ange (269), Apollo Blue (179), Mul­berry (170), Tropic Gold (137), Emer­ald Fire (115), Onyx Black (93), Tango (90), Trop­i­cana Green (83), Sand­stone Beige B (59), Cop­per Bronze (51), Wal­nut Glow (45), Snow White(39), Deep Aqua (38), Kelly Green (34), Skyview Blue (30), Sand­stone Beige A (29), Gol­drush Metal­lic (20), Nep­tune Blue (17), Frosted Lime and Sher­wood Green (16 of each), Out­back Bronze (14), Mush­room Beige (10), Blue Steel (7), Banana Blush (6), Coolmint Green (4), Satin Brown (2) and one ex­am­ple in Yel­low Glow.

Spe­cial or­ders and cor­po­rate fleet colours were also avail­able with some of the rarer colours be­ing Ultra White (5), six ex­am­ples of each in Sogo

Port Wine and Bram­bles Red, four of each in Cor­po­rate Blue, Lime Glaze, New Look Grey, Roth­mans Blue and Blaze Blue. There were three in Deep Ivy, and two of each in Bud­get Green, C.U.B. Brown, Daim­ler Blue, Eu­clid Green, Kwika­sair Vi­o­let, New Eng­land Green, S.T.C Yel­low, Vin­tage Bur­gundy and Thorn Red (Mof­fat Rac­ing). The rarest colours with only one of each made were Betta Prim­rose, Cos­mic Blue, Di­a­mond White, Fanta Or­ange, Hughes Blue, Pepsi Yel­low, Roth­mans Fil­ter Blue, Royal Um­ber, Smoke Blue Metal­lic, and Surfer Or­ange.

A va­ri­ety of six trim colours were avail­able for cus­tomers to se­lect from. They were black, brown, saddle, parch­ment, chamois and white. All of these were avail­able with the cloth in­sert op­tion. Some of these had a spec­trum coloured in­sert com­monly known as a ‘Hawai­ian pack’. Iden­tifi

cation for an XB GT is sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous XA GT model, the hard­top’s VIN num­bers were also pre­fixed with JG66 in­stead of the JG33 which was re­served for the sedan. For the XB GT, three iden­ti­fiers should be present. The first of these three iden­ti­fiers is the JG33 or JG66 num­ber which should be stamped on the pas­sen­ger side shocker tower. The sec­ond iden­ti­fier is the en­gine num­ber which is also pre­fixed with ei­ther JG33 for the sedan or JG66 for the hard­top, and can be found on the pas­sen­ger side of the en­gine block, above the fuel pump. The fi­nal iden­ti­fier is the al­limpor­tant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion plates which are af­fixed with riv­ets to the pas­sen­ger side of the bulk­head fire­wall. All three iden­ti­fiers should match.

For the GT, the en­gine code on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags should be a ‘T’ de­not­ing the four-bar­rel 351 en­gine. A man­ual GT is stamped with an ‘L’ in the space for the trans­mis­sion code, whilst the let­ter ‘B’ in­di­cates an au­to­matic. The model code stamped on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tag is 18338 for the XB GT sedan and 18318 for the XB GT hard­top.

While all XB GTs came stan­dard with the 351 Cleve­land V8, early GTs with man­ual gear­boxes were fit­ted with the ‘Big Port’ 4V heads. All other GTs were fit­ted with 2V ‘Small Port’ heads and 4-Ven­turi car­bu­ret­tors. XB GTs built in 1973 came fit­ted with 4-speed ‘To­ploader’ man­ual gear­box, from May 1974 on­wards the 4-speed ‘Sin­gle-Rail’ man­ual gear­box was used ex­cept on a spe­cial run of 60 XB GTs that were fit­ted with 31-spline To­ploader man­ual gear­boxes in late 1975 for ho­molo­ga­tion pur­poses. The build­sheet for these XB GTs stated “Fit GT-HO Driv­e­line Com­po­nents”. Diff ra­tios for the XB GT were 2.75:1 for the au­to­matic and 3.00:1 for the man­ual. All XB GTs came with five-leaf rear springs.

The orig­i­nal price for a brand new XB GT sedan was $6002, while the au­to­matic ver­sion cost an ex­tra $315. An XB GT hard­top with the 4-speed man­ual cost $6113, the au­to­matic ver­sion was $6428.

While the 12-slot rally wheels came stan­dard on the GT, some were or­dered with the sports road wheels (Op­tion 52), a two-piece wheel with an al­loy cen­tre and steel outer rim, or 15-inch ‘Bathurst’ Globe al­loy wheels (Code 54) which be­came avail­able in 1975 with the larger hub size.

The last XB GT sedan to roll off the pro­duc­tion line, in De­cem­ber 1976 (see be­low), was an Apollo Blue ex­am­ple with black trim and cloth in­serts, fit­ted with a 4-speed man­ual and op­tioned with a lam­i­nated wind­screen, stereo cas­sette, tinted side and rear win­dows, and rear win­dow demis­ter. This car was sold new by Cam Daw­son Ford in Gee­long, Vic­to­ria.

The last XB GT hard­top to roll off the pro­duc­tion line, in De­cem­ber 1976 (see be­low), was a Yel­low Blaze car with black vinyl and cloth in­serts. It was fit­ted with a 4-speed man­ual and was fully loaded with op­tions such as power-steer­ing, wind-back sun­roof, lam­i­nated wind­screen, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows, black hood, styled pas­sen­ger side rac­ing mir­ror, stereo cas­sette and rear win­dow demis­ter. This car was sold new by Kear­ney Ford in Vic­to­ria Har­bour, South Aus­tralia.

Ac­cord­ing to the late Ford his­to­rian Adrian Ryan, the last three XB GTs were sup­plied to cus­tomers in De­cem­ber 1976 well af­ter the XB model had fin­ished (June), as a set­tle­ment for those pay­ing for a GT and re­fus­ing to ac­cept an XC in lieu.

Op­tions were aplenty with the XB GT model range, with some of the more un­usual ones in­clud­ing three sedans and three hard­tops fit­ted with the blue vinyl roof (Op­tion 78), and five sedans with the green vinyl roof (Op­tion 79). In­ter­est­ingly, 112 XB GT sedans were fit­ted with front quar­ter vent win­dows (Op­tion 86).

Other more com­mon op­tions were pow­er­steer­ing, wind-back sun­roof, lam­i­nated wind­screen, beige or black vinyl roof, in­te­grated air-con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows, dual rac­ing mir­rors, 28-gal­lon long range fuel tank, Su­per­fringe ra­dio or ra­dio stereo cas­sette player, fac­tory tinted side and rear glass (late XBs with A/C had tinted win­dows as stan­dard), and rear win­dow demis­ter. Sur­pris­ingly, front and rear spoiler were no longer avail­able as a fac­tory fit­ted op­tion more than likely due to tran­sit dam­age. These were avail­able as an af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sory from the dealer.

Ac­ces­sories such as mud­flaps and vene­tian blinds were also dealer fit­ted. There was no ‘delete stripe’ op­tion avail­able for the XB GT how­ever with pres­sure build­ing from in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and the gov­ern­ment about fac­tory pro­duced ‘hoon’ cars, Ford Aus­tralia of­fered the ‘Colour Coded Hood’ bon­net as sep­a­rate op­tion (Op­tion 55) on the code sheets, thus mak­ing the stan­dard XB GT more dis­creet. Pro­tec­tion Pack (Code 04) XB GTs were fit­ted with side pro­tec­tion moulds, chrome bumpers and chrome bumper over­rid­ers, while all other GTs came stan­dard with colour coded bumper bars with no over­rid­ers.

Aus­tralian-built XB GTs were ex­ported abroad to New Zealand (162), the UK (23), Hong Kong (2) and Fiji (1).

The XB GT was the clos­ing chap­ter of the clas­sic era of the Fal­con GT. The XC Fal­con Co­bra hard­top was to be Ford’s last hoorah with a ded­i­cated pro­duc­tion per­for­mance ve­hi­cle af­ter this – but this is an ar­gu­ment set­tler for an­other R-Rated seg­ment.

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