A Spur of the Moment
Just finishing dinner on a Tuesday night, the doorbell rang loud and long, on opening the front door I was greeted by my friend Des W. who said to me, “Quick! Jump into my car, come see the brand new XBGT that has just arrived at Harrigan Ford”
Clipping the seatbelt on, I found myself a passenger in a jet like drive in his 250 XL Cortina, yes it did seem to fly that night!!
Wondering if I would actually see the new car, or the inside of an ambulance,, we arrived in one piece, Des was actually out of his car before I undone the seatbelt!
Walking to the showroom plate glass window, I cast my eyes on a very dark shape, something about the front caught my eye, mean looking ‘’nostrils”, silver paint over a dark looking blackish colour, and silver running along the side, you couldn’t see much, as the showroom lights were all switched off!! Cars passing cast a light source over this beast, so you could catch a glimpse every time one drove past.
One thing was apparent, a large silver GT351 on the side guard seemed to glow as the passing car headlights illuminated the showroom.
“What do you think” Des asked, to which I commented , “can’t see much, but yea, looks ok!!!, but I don’t like the paint, it’s too dark!!!
At this stage I thought I might be walking home !!
So we left and parked at our “gathering place”, chatting to other friends about the car, and other distractions walking past that night!!
Next day I decided to drive to Harrigan Ford to have a look in the daytime, I arrived about 11.00am and walked into the showroom to be confronted by a shinning Apollo Blue 1974 Falcon GT in front of my eyes, it seemed to be looking right at me!
A salesman appeared asking if I liked what I was looking at, I asked why it looked lighter in colour now, and found out that it had been coated in a heavy protectant wax for the transportation from the factory, which made it look almost black the night before. Then the first opening of the drivers door, and sitting in this fantastic looking almost space age design, wrap around interior, full dash intruments, and that smell,
brand new, unexplainable, intoxicating, expensive!!! GT !! WOW!!! I was hooked!
After going through various checks for finance, payments, insurance and what it would cost , I was surprised to find that I could actually afford this,( JUST!!! ) an unexplained force was saying inside my head – BUY THIS CAR !!!! NOW!!!
So with the sign of a pen, a handshake from the salesman and a brochure of the XB range, I drove my faithful little 1972 1300 Escort home to ready it for the trade in the next few days.
Wednesday seemed so long!!
On Thursday I received a phone call from the salesman, who told me the car would be ready at lunch time, all detailed, registered, ready to go, and so was I !!
Arriving at 12.00 I drove into the carpark and there sitting in the open was the GT, so I parked beside it and switched off the Escort and removed the keys for the last time, and handed them to the salesman who then gave me the keys which would bring the GT to life, it was a totally unreal experience, as most of you GT owners would know.
I started the GT for the first time, and from that moment I have never forgotten the absolute rush that followed, put it in gear, foot on the gas ( very carefully!!!! ) and drove out onto the road for the first time, almost clipping the corner with the power steering being so light and different to the Escort!!!
Driving straight home and into the carport, switched off and out of the GT all that was going through the mind was ----- WOW!!!!!!!!
At this stage my friend Des who had first shown me the car had no idea what I had been up to, he lived about 10klm away from me, I drove to his place that night, stopped out side his house and just beeped the horn, (I phoned him to say I would pick him up) he expected the Escort, you can imagine what he said when he opened his door and came out!!
In fact he said very little… he was just blown away!! He just sat in the car and wanted to listen to that delicious note that only a Clevo 351 makes when driving.
The real fun began when we reached Wollongong , the main street ( Crown Street ) in those days you could drive straight through to the beach or park anywhere, and it was Thursday night late shopping, so driving the XBGT down the main drag was something of amazement, as no-one had seen the new model XBGT in Wollongong, people were looking mouths open, pointing fingers, you could hear the comments driving slowly past them, it was unreal, just about everyone driving past was looking at the GT, the street just about stopped!
So we parked right beside our local milkbar shop, keys out, windows down, and sat on the sidewalk seat watching the the antics, I must have answered the same thing when asked again and again, yes it’s MINE!! I am the owner!
And at my age and physical size certainly took quite a few people by surprise.
Even the local boys-in-blue driving past slowed almost to a stop eyeing the car over that was fun!!!
It was the 15th of August 1974, and I was 20 years old.
Now 30 years on, the car has seen two engine rebuilds, a few slight “bumps” but never a major shunt, a few panel resprays, has over 100,000 body miles, all original panels except the hood, not to bad a condition for my “work car” parked in heavy industry for over10 years, been down Castlereagh Drag strip numerous times in the 70’s, and been a wedding car 4 times.
It’s the 2nd car I’ve owned, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything else.
To all members of this great club, congratulations on your choices, all models old and new, nothing compares to a Falcon GT, and they are made in Australia!!
Xtra Beautiful, Xtra Brakes, Xtra Beastly! Yea im Xtra Biased !!
Phil C – XBGT
Model: 1974 Apollo Blue XBGT Sedan
(One) Owner: Phil
A follow up to my story 'A Spur Of The Moment', as my XBGT nears the purchase date again for another year, the 15th of August 2005 will mark 31 years of owning my car from brand new.
1974, the 15th August marked a great and heady time in my life,, by going to Harrigan Ford to enquire on price, payments and realising that I could just afford to own this 'time machine' and at 20years old it was a huge step, and my decision alone. No guantor, just my signature. After also buying my first car, a 1972 Escort from Harrigan Ford brand new on hire purchase, I had the perfect trade-in and a good credit name.
The cars in Wollongong throughout the 70's were great to see, all three Aussie makes, and others, V8's, Sixes and 4 cylinders, some hotted up, some customised, some XW/XY GT's, there was even a Dodge Charger complete with the BIG Daytona wing, Valiant Chargers, and Pacers, heaps of custom panelvans everywhere, and those Just-holden-together makes…… the really good thing was NO turbo's or rotary sounds,, just Aussie Muscle, cars that sounded like cars, even the 4 cylinders were better sounding than the riceburnners of today.
The morning after my purchase, with the GT parked under the carport, safely home from the night of it’s first outing in Wollongong, my Dad didn't seem impressed when he saw the 72 Escort had changed into this Blue and Silver rocketship, asking why the H*LL I bought a B***dy V8 !!, ''it will eat petrol faster than you can fill it'', “the coppers won't leave you alone” - ''what was wrong with the Escort?'',, I simply said to him,, ''would you like a drive??'' the words stopped, a thought provoking look formed on his face,, "Oh ok then,, give me the keys'', mutter mutter, it was quite funny really, from the time he got in and sat down nothing else was said, after looking at all those gauges he turned the key, the Clevo burst into life and he reversed onto the road, drove a short distance to the freeway, headed towards Mt Ousley, and as soon as the GT started up the mountain road, the foot went down the revs rose, the kickdown activated 2nd gear, the face and mind were transformed, '' yes, well, ....it does go good dosen't it ??'' yea, drives really well, steers nice'' hmmm,, he was hooked!!
The GT magic had got him.
I had to remind him the service dept at Harrigan Ford told me to run the engine in at the SPEED limit,, Im sure he was disappointed that he had to back off!!
A month or so later he bought himself his first V8,, an XA 302, !!! then later a GXL XC 302 Fairmont.
So much for B***dy V8’s !!!!
My XBGT in the first few days also had a very mysterious noise occasionally under acceleration and braking, or driving up a steep hill, or decending , something seemed to be loose somewhere on the right hand side of the car, you could hear something sliding somewhere, in relation to accelerating or braking,,, eventually by removing the alloy scuff plate on the drivers side and shinning a torch into the body cavity, I discovered - a 5 inch long screwdriver!!! it was sliding up and down the cavity as the car moved!
An optional extra????
I also found a Melbourne newspaper stashed under the spare wheel!! I wished now I had kept that !!
I wonder if the guy who was working on the car at the factory had to quickly dispose of his paper in the spare wheel well as the foreman walked over.......
I grew up in this car, both in driving and age, and it was my wedding car too,, the GT has taught me respect and caution, and the right way to drive this fabulous CLEVELAND V8 of 1974,..... the 4 wheel disc brakes when brand new could not be locked up, braking was phenomenal, and I just loved the way it behaved when driving through corners, the Appin Road is one example... I liked the quick response of the power steering too......the front chin spoiler was a must as the front got a little bit floaty at times around 100MPH..
I really miss those roadsigns on the open roads, the circle with the black diagonal stripe through it !
V8's and GT's are in my blood, it got really serious for me at Oran Park back in 1972, watching Alan Moffat in the beautiful Trans Am Mustang, absolute muscle machine, and seeing Fred Gibson, John Goss, hounding those Phase 3's through BP bend, Goss breaking the rear right hand indicator/brake lense on the cement wall leading onto the main straight using just enough right hand lock to keep that blue beast straight,, the sight and sounds of this was just AWESOME -- that was the day-- I had to have a GT -- nothing else mattered!!!! I didnt know how - until that night when my friend Des took me to Harrigan Ford....
After my purchase in 1974 I had a plan, and that was trying to keep my XB as straight, clean and undamaged as possible, I have almost achieved this throughout the many years of kamikaze drivers trying to run into me...( and careful parking - I hate door dings! ) my most embarressing moment was reversing into the lightpole outside my garage just after we bought our house.......
It was my ''work'' car for 10 years driven everyday, then washed every afternoon or next morning depending on what shift pattern I was on, heavy industrial fallout wasn't kind to paint, I pumped so much fish oil into the car every cat in the area loved the car.....and my Dad did say I'd polish the paint off one day, to a degree - he was right...
October 1974 was especially good, after John Goss won Bathurst, driving past the sad *olden supporters gathered in their usual spot, what more could a 20 year old ask for? New XBGT, Goss wins Bathurst, couldn't help myself as I gave the car a nice rev going past them......
Also a great night when going to the local Drive-In to see Mad Max, the car had developed a whistle in the
carburettor, made me laugh when eyes stared wondering what was under the hood!!
I class my XBGT as a 70's mild custom, I fitted the Aunger Mag wheels after the warranty ran out, about everything else around 76/77, the rear window louvres which I believe have saved the interior from solar attack, the 12'' sports steering wheel, the white pinstripe between the blue and silver paint, and quite a few front chin spoilers. Edelbrock finned alloy rockercovers adorn the 4V heads.
The interior is all original except for the blue velour inserts I had fitted early 80's and two pieces of drivers seat vinyl, (the front inserts need redoing again!!) then headlight protectors about ’79 due to large pieces of coal falling from trucks....
The engine is has been rebuilt twice, the 1st due to the lower radiator hose blowing off in 1979, then as it was getting tired and a bit smokey, rebuilt in May 2002 along with rebuilt radiator and differential. The tailshaft was machined & balanced, the heads were also converted to run on straight premium unleaded pump fuel, although I still use a measure of Morey’s upper cylinder lubricant to help the valve seats just a little more.
The compression ratio is 10.3:1, it sounds magic when driving and has instant throttle response, will ‘’haul the mail’’ if asked to, and has that intoxicating noise only FORD V8 engines make.
The 2 1/2 inch X style custom exhaust system fitted complements the motor.
The engine builder, Jason from Southern Motor Works has done a fabulous job, he gives you 110% and thinks about what he is doing for you. He is the only mechanic in 30 years I have totally trusted in keeping my GT maintained. I would personally recommend him to anyone.
All the panels on the car are original, the only the hood has been replaced, ( not from an accident ) and three
headlights, (old age) - the last being purchased at Harrigan Ford Spares,- and it's JAPANESE MADE !!!
So much for genuine FORD parts............one day I will change that...
I still have the colour Ford Falcon model brochure ( print date 2/74 ) I brought home after looking at the car, on the 13th of August 1974.
In 1984 I retired the car from everyday driving.
I joined the GT Falcon Owners Club, around August/September 2000 after meeting a rather tall friendly guy on the Ford Rally, and again at Ford Day in Queanbeyan 2000, who asked "when are you going to join us" , you all know him, Peter J. with his Apollo Blue XBGT, always finds time to greet you on a run, so I did, and have enjoyed the company and comaraderie of the members of the Falcon GT OC NSW and the cars they own.
Now it’s 2005. The cars custom look hasn’t changed much since 1977. Some may not like the look, some may, that’s your choice. It’s my car and it’s my passion, from the day I bought it to today.
Each time I drive it I feel as though Im that 1974 era, it’s my “time machine”.
XBGT. A lot has been said on the model. Sometimes unfairly treated, put down and mocked, these cars should be given the respect they deserve and their place in Australian GT history.
The last of the true GT’s of the 70’s.
What does my XBGT mean to me? you should all know by now, I have supported FORD since I was a 16yo in 4th year high school, and my dedication to my XB is second to none, my main displeasure is not being able to have the minor bodywork fixed and the car resprayed, as my wants outweigh my bank balance!!
Keeping My Legend Alive, Proudly, The Best I Can.
- - - - - X B G T - FORD SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST !!! - - - - -