XB GT argument settlers
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.