1971 Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III: Quick History Lesson

Built to dominate Bathurst and demoralise Holden, for many the Phase III remains the greatest Australian car ever built

Ford Falcon XY GT HO Phase III

It’s the ultimate Aussie muscle car, but what exactly makes the Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III so special?

Strange as it may seem to Blue Oval diehards, the Phase III is now arguably more famous for its value than its abilities. Google ‘Phase III’ and you’ll receive hit after hit of examples being sold for enormous sums. As the name suggests, the Phase III was the third evolution of Ford’s Falcon GT-HO, or ‘Handling Option’.

Ford Falcon XY GT HO Phase III drive.jpgIt was also the ultimate evolution and, in 1972, the fastest four-door sedan in the world. A Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 could run it close to 100km/h and in outright top speed (at four times the cost!) but once rolling the Phase III was king.

In the hands of our sister mag Wheels the mighty HO, fitted with the 3.25:1 Bathurst diff ratio, recorded 0-97km/h (60mph) in 6.4sec, 0-161km/h (100mph) in 15.2sec and a 14.4sec quarter mile. Neck-and-neck at 100km/h, the Mercedes trailed by two seconds at the 160km/h mark.

Ford Falcon XY GT HO Phase III badge.jpgThe Phase III’s top speed was 228km/h, constrained by the 6150rpm limiter in top gear; race cars could rev to 7000rpm. Key to this speed was the upgraded 5.8-litre (351ci) Cleveland V8 under the bonnet.

Developments over the Phase II included an improved exhaust, sump baffles, larger 780cfm four-barrel Holley carburettor, tougher crankshaft and bigger radiator, all in the name of improved reliability. Another $250 bought you a QC (quality control) engine, built to virtually the same specs as the race engines.

Ford Falcon XY GT HO Phase III engine.jpgFord claimed the Phase III produced 224kW/515Nm, however, the blueprinted race engines were measured at between 280-285kW. Having driven an XY GT with a Phase III-spec engine, it still feels plenty fast today.

Higher rate springs and a thicker front anti-roll bar sharpened the handling and larger 15 x 7.0-inch Globe wheels became an option in 1972. Brakes were also upgraded, however, remained extremely marginal for the performance, particularly with soft road-spec pads.

Just 300 Phase IIIs were built and less than half are believed to survive. Vermillion Fire is the most common colour (68 built) with Onyx Black and Vintage Burgundy Metallic the rarest (one of each). Prices today hover around the $500,000 mark.

1971 Ford Falcon XY GT HO Phase III specs:
Engine: 5763cc V8, OHV, 16v
Power: 224kW @ 6150rpm
Torque: 515Nm @ 3400rpm
Weight: 1524kg
0-100km/h: 6.6sec (est)
Price: new $5250


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