Australian Muscle Car

Tell ‘em the price son!

- Cars · Melbourne · Queens · American Motors Corporation · Hawthorn · Holley Performance Products · Holden Dealer Team

For any­one who hasn’t no­ticed, in this is­sue of AMC we’re cel­e­brat­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of the Fal­con XW GT-HO Phase II. Back in 1970 it was quite a ma­chine: with its close-ra­tio gear­box, all-new rear axle and the new Cleve­land 351 V8 en­gine, the Phase II was re­ally a race-ready tour­ing car mas­querad­ing as a road car.

It also showed how far things had come since the rst Fal­con XR GT of ve years ear­lier – from rest to 160km/h the Phase II was a full 13 sec­onds faster than orig­i­nal XR GT!

What not long ago was the bench­mark in af­ford­able per­for­mance cars was now, with the re­lease of the Phase II, sud­denly look­ing rather in­ad­e­quate.

But for any early-model Fal­con GT own­ers suf­fer­ing an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex (and who didn’t have the $4,700 re­quired to rem­edy that con­di­tion by get­ting them­selves into the new model XW GT-HO), there was a so­lu­tion.

To co­in­cide with the Au­gust 1970 re­lease of the Phase II, Paul Dan Au­to­mo­tive in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Hawthorn was of­fer­ing per­for­mance up­grade pack­ages de­signed to ex­tract ‘HO killing per­for­mance’ from old XT Fal­con GTs.

The sell­ing point was price. With a go­ing rate in 1970 of just $3000 for a good XT GT, here was the chance to own a late­model Fal­con with GT-HO per­for­mance at a sav­ing of more than a $1000 on the price of a new XW.

For a lit­tle over $500, a de­cent sec­ond-hand Fal­con XT GT could be up­rated to ‘Stage IV - Su­pe­rior to XW GT-HO’ speci cation, which meant a stand­ing the quar­ter mile in 14.8 sec­onds, 0-100mph in 16.5 sec­onds and a top speed of 145mph (the Phase II clocked the stand­ing quar­ter in 14.9s; did 0-100km/h in 16.7s and had a claimed top speed of 140mph).

The up­grade pack­ages were de­vel­oped from Paul Dan’s own ex­pe­ri­ence with his XT GT road car which he’d modi ed for use in club mo­tor­sport events such as hill­climbs. What he learned about mak­ing the XT as quick as pos­si­ble while still be­ing road friendly be­came the ba­sis for the Paul Dan Au­to­mo­tive Fal­con per­for­mance packs.

Start­ing with a 302 XT GT with de­cent com­pres­sion, the Stage IV pack in­cluded port­ing the heads and re­shap­ing the com­bus­tion cham­bers, Su­per Sports camshaft with solid lifters, Hol­ley 600cfm carby with hi riser man­i­fold, and Su­per Sports ex­trac­tors.

Peter Wher­rett tested Paul Dan’s own XT and re­ported that the en­gine didn’t have the lumpi­ness or the tractabil­ity is­sues of­ten found with modi ed en­gines, and that it gave real power all the way to 7000rpm.

We won­dered whether any of these wolf-in­sheep’s-cloth­ing Pal Dan con­verted Fal­con XT GTs sur­vive to­day.

As for Paul Dan Au­to­mo­tive, it re­mains a go­ing con­cern 50 years on, op­er­ated now by Paul’s son Matt and daugh­ter Tanya out of the Hawthorn premises into which the com­pany moved back in the early ‘70s – lit­er­ally right around the cor­ner, as it hap­pens, from the Queens Ave site of the old Firth Mo­tors.

That, of course, was the for­mer head­quar­ters of the Holden Dealer Team and be­fore that, the home of Ford’s mo­tor­sport pro­gramme – which in 1968 housed the works Ford team’s XT GT Bathurst Fal­cons.

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