Australian Muscle Car
Tell ‘em the price son!
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.