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Opinion: Should Ford have revived the GT-HO to send-off the Falcon?

By Dylan Campbell, 25 Mar 2019 Features

Opinion Ford revived GT-HO Falcon feature

What could have been a fitting finale of the Falcon is now a sorely missed opportunity

Ford could have built its own W1, it has emerged. A 483kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8, four-door sedan with a revised chassis and wider rear tyres, potentially Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 to rival the HSV GTSR W1’s Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R. They say the quickest way to know the true intent of a car is by looking at its tyres, and the sticky Michelins are found on things like a Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari 488 Pista.

This is not to say the humble Falcon had the potential to be mentioned in the same sentence as these cars (unless you were, of course, talking about tyres), but if the car on our cover is any indication, there was scope within the XR8 Sprint to take another step in performance. Or another leap.

In the March issue of MOTOR magazine (on sale now), we’ve tested the car Ford Australia could have built. It’s called the Premcar Holy Grail, and while the name doesn’t quite have the same menace to it as HSV GTSR W1, it’s an important car. Built by effectively the same people who developed the 5.0-litre Miami V8 for Ford Australia, this team has, independent of its former paymaster, gone full skunkworks on the engine to show its ultimate OE-trim ability.

And that is the aforementioned figures – 483kW and 753Nm, an Australian designed and built powerhouse with a 7000rpm cut-out, that could have rivalled The General’s 474kW/815Nm 6.2-litre supercharged LS9 as seen in the mightiest HSV.

As basically the former engineering brains behind Ford Performance Vehicles, Premcar didn’t stop there, revising the rear trailing arms to accommodate 20mm wider rear tyres to help put all that extra grunt to the ground. Melbourne-based suspension experts Shockworks sorted the springs and dampers to unlock even more ability from the ol’ Falcon chassis.

Classic MOTOR: FPV - The Last Blast

The March issue also details the full engineering tale and how the set-up transforms an FGX XR8, but finishing the story, one’s imagination can’t help wonder what this package could have looked like if Ford Australia had taken it and gone all out.

Revised front and rear styling, different seats, aggressive new wheels, bigger brakes, a couple of new hero colours and, if we were feeling particularly dreamy, new steering. Ford Australia could have charged $150,000 and sold every single one. Particularly if they had resurrected four of the most sacred letters in the annals of Australian performance motoring.

The nameplate GT-HO gets people fired up quite unlike any other. I’ve witnessed entire debates just around how it’s properly spelt – GT HO with a space in the middle, GTHO hard-up or GT-HO with a hyphen? We’re talking borderline pub brawl stuff. (Hyphenated seems to be the way to go.)

MOTOR feature: GT-HO v FG XR6

Could Ford have brought back this legendary badge for a 483kW factory-special Falcon? Or should they have?

As much as I believe one should let sleeping dogs lie, from the outside it seems Ford Australia missed a genuine business opportunity in not tapping into the huge equity of the GT-HO brand for one last, expensive hurrah.

Sure, no matter what you threw at it, the last Falcon platform could never dynamically match the newer Zeta that underpinned the VF Commodore (and W1), but the people who may have stumped up for a GT-HO would not have been shopping these two cars together.

It is what it is, and we should count our blessings we got the XR6 and XR8 Sprint. But in a parallel universe somewhere out there, as they drive around on Aussie roads, HSV tragics are quietly scanning for W1s, and Ford fans, the reborn GT-HO.