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The Falcon 351 GTHO Phase Four

After two successive Bathurst victories, Moffat, Howard Marsden and Ford began working out their next Bathurst challenger based on the completely new and much sleeker XA series.
This Phase 4 GTHO would have been a superb car, but was stillborn before a racing version ever turned a wheel in anger.

A short time before the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo, Australian motoring enthusiasts were shocked and angered with the treatment the new Chrysler, Holden and Ford cars for the race were getting from the daily press.
The Chrysler Charger V8, the Holden Torana V8 and the Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 4 were set upon in editorials and articles, the journalists responsible (or perhaps irresponsible), applying the descriptive phrase "supercar" to the new cars and making very loud noises about how these "supercars" could all top 160 mph in road trim, and how, with homologation regulations requiring 200 of each to be built, a lot of the general public would certainly be either killed or injured if they were ever allowed to drive them.
A lot of newsprint was dedicated to the cause of ensuring these cars were never built, and unfortunately for the manufacturers and motor sport followers, the average man-in-the-street believes what he reads in newspapers and it didn't take very long for general public opinion to swing against the cars.

The Government decided that all these "supercars" would not do at all, the legislation must be passed, that the carnage on the road was bad ,enough as it was. According to some reports they even went as far as threatening to stop Government contracts for fleet vehicles if one or any of the manufacturers didn't drop the cars at once.
The manufacturers had no choice; they had to stop development of the cars as the threatened loss of Government contracts meant a huge loss of sales, plus, of course, any public reaction - and after all, what are car makers in business for?
It seems the moral of this story is "the pen is mightier than the Ford", but it was all so ridiculous.

The Phase Four was to have even further engine work done, as well as further refinements in the suspension department.
An extra 40 horsepower in street trim alone was claimed and potential of the machine in track form was enormous.
Unfortunately the Supercar furore put an end to all that and Ford quickly went about stretching the Phase Three's life for another season while Holden added a 202 engine to the XU1 to turn that into a winner.

Tyres were becoming a big problem for the Falcons.
Moffat had written off one car at Adelaide when a tyre failed so Marsden enlisted Globe Products in Adelaide to produce a new batch of new wheels to cure the problem.
Suddenly the old 14-inch diameter steel wheels were replaced by beautiful seven inch wide, 15-inch diameter alloy wheels styled like those from the Ferrari Daytona.
Apart from curing the terrible tyre flexing problems which were the root of the Falcon's troubles, the new alloy wheels reduced the unsprung weight, better brake cooling, increased strength and also allowed for the fitting of even wider rubber.

They first appeared at Sandown for the 250 and proved immediately effective. Although Moffat retired from the race with gearbox failure, John Goss brought home the goods for Ford with Gibson second and Carter third.
Pit stops for fresh rubber and blow-outs were noticeably rare and the Phase Three was looking good for another Bathurst win. Moffat went three seconds faster than the previous year to score yet another pale position for the Hardie Ferodo and had another three Falcons backing him up at the head of the grid, but race day put a different outlook on things.
For the first time in years the rains came to Bathurst in October and the pendulum seemed to swing in favour of the smaller Holdens.
Ford lost Gibson early in the race when his Falcon rolled at the top of the Mountain while Bond did a similar thing in his Torana. This left Moffat in the lead and Ford's major hope for another victory while Brock headed Holden's hopes.

But things were not to go Ford's way this time around and it started looking bad for Moffat when he spun away his lead. Then he was given a minute penalty when he started the Falcon's engine while it was still being refuelled at the first pit stop.
Then Moffat started to have brake trouble, nearly causing him to lose the Falcon at the end of Conrod, going very close to giving the fence a blow.
At the next pit stop one of the front brakes was disconnected on the Moffat car and, at the same time, another minute penalty was given for starting the engine too early again. His chances were now zero for victory but Moffat continued to drive hard trying to make up some ground, despite his obvious braking disability making every lap an adventure.
That he finished eighth was a superb effort under the conditions as well as driving solo again.


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