ANSWERS: 4
  • Falcon GT - style and substance (if you can find one) They must really enjoy anniversaries and birthdays at Ford - because it seems that only `special occasions' will coax them into releasing a Falcon GT. For the benefit of non-Australian readers, in 1967 Ford Australia invented what was then a new concept - the high performance family four door. Evolving from cars developed for police pursuit work, the basic Falcon sedan of the day was given nicer trim and bucket seats (bench seats were customary in `67), stiffer suspension and a 289 cubic inch V8 with 4-on-the-floor, finished off with a paint job guaranteed to inspire street cred. Those first XR-model Falcon GTs, in their bronze paint and black stripes, set the fashion direction of Australian cars for years to come, and the GT remained part of the Ford line-up until it was dropped from production in 1975. The Falcon GT became a memory until 1992, when Ford commemorated its 25th anniversary with an updated GT in the EB model series. 250 were built and sold, but Ford said it would not re-introduce it. Style and substance - Falcon GT circa 1997. Nice interior - but how many scallops can one wheel take ? Well, no, not as a production model - but that didn't mean they could not dust off the GT badge for the odd anniversary or two…. And so we come to 1997, the GT's 30th birthday and the EL Series II Falcon. Already developed into the best-handling Falcon to date, it made a good starting point for Ford Australia's high-performance partner, Tickford Vehicle Engineering. Slipped under the hood was a US-built 5 litre V8 pumping out 200kW of power, the suspension was lowered and stiffened, a full el-luxo leather interior placed in the equation, and the designers used assorted wings and scoops to ensure the new GT could not be mistaken for anything else. They succeeded - this is not a car to drive if you want to blend anonymously into the background. Entering it for the first time (and trying hard to look anonymous), we noted that the interior light has a long delay - one of the longest we have encountered in any car - which allowed us to fully appreciate the interior, a plush concoction of leather and suede. There is also a delay for power windows to be closed after ignition is switched off - a good idea. That luxurious ambience actually reflects that this more like a "Grand Touring" car than any of its early predecessors, which were by comparison just crude muscle-cars -- long on muscle but short on finesse with their drum rear brakes and vague steering. Falcon GT circa 1997 carries all the creature comforts that could be desired, from climate control air and power-operated everything to a sophisticated "Premium" 250-watt CD stacker sound system. Its ability to tailor audio ambience - anything from an intimate jazz club to the echo of a vast stadium - does justice to any musical taste. I was not quite so enamoured of the wood and leather steering wheel. It looks superb, but is not so great to hold with sculpted knobs and bumps dictating where one should grip it (what ever happened to steering wheels that were just round?) But the most important aspect of the GT is its performance which, put simply, is enough to make the standard cruise control a highly desirable feature. Anything more than a gentle nudge on the accelerator sets the big sedan into a headlong gallop, with the distinctive gut-rumbling growl that only a potent V8 can produce. Imported fully assembled from Ford's Cleveland engine plant, the Windsor 5.0 litre V8's "GT40" cylinder heads give it a compression ratio of 9.0:1, with peak output of 200kW arriving at 4700rpm (it is rev-limited to 6200), and a very respectable 420Nm of torque at 3700rpm. Yes, I know that logic says an overhead valve engine is yesterday's technology - but my mind is not listening, only my heart and the seat of my pants. The feel transcends any notion of mere `pose appeal', and not just in a straight line either. While the Falcon is still restricted to a rigid rear axle, full credit must be given to Ford and Tickford for the GT's uncanny ability to hug the ground in corners at speed. Those very grabby 17 inch 245/40 Yokohama tyres play their part in that. There is a price to be paid of course, levied at the same point which most appreciates the V8's grumble - the seat of the pants. Expansion joints on bridges, speed humps, anything even slightly rougher than a billiard table, you'll feel it when the GT finds it - those big Yokos stick to the bitumen like baby-cack to a blanket, but they absorb no bumps at all and leave that to the shockers. (After crossing railway lines, check any dental work.) The 5-speed manual gearbox fitted to our test car is best described (at risk of incurring the wrath of politically correct females) as a `real man's gearshift'. It responded best to a very firm grip, and didn't really appreciate being vaguely waved in the approximate direction. Certainly not in the class of the old top-loader 4-speed, but still baulky enough to make us wonder if this particular car had not been possibly abused a little in its short life. Driving at night, incidentally, the headlights are superb - those lights in the bumper do more than serve as a GT signature, as they have a confidence-inspiring high beam perfect for travelling through kangaroo country. They seem to be part of high beam, as I could not find an isolation switch for them (hmm, is that legal?.. no matter.) The ancient cliché about fuel consumption - "if you can't afford the fuel, you can't afford the car" - seemed initially to ring very true with the GT's first result of 17.6L/100km (16mpg), but it became evident that the major villain was my own right foot. Thanks to moderation (and some very acid comments by milady), I actually improved it to 12.7 L/100km (22mpg). Yes, the 30th anniversary Falcon GT looks impressive. And yes, it has power to match its appearance. And yes, it is a very desirable motorcar. But like the 25th anniversary model, a limited number (272 of them) were built at a recommended retail of $69,500. There are believed to be still one or three sitting in Ford dealer showrooms - but the last we heard, few were willing to talk under $85 thou. So, what's in a name ? Not much - unless that name happens to be Falcon GT.
  • Fordy McFalconton
  • I'm gonna go out on a limb, here.... Ford?
  • not sure, it wasnt me

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