A rare Ford Falcon that created national panic when it was built 46 years ago could set a new record for an Australian-made car, just a fortnight after Peter Brock’s 1980s Bathurst race Commodore sold for more than $2.2 million.
When the Ford GTHO Phase IV was built in 1972, as part of Ford’s plan for supremacy on Mt Panorama the year after Allan Moffat won the ’71 race with a XY GTHO Phase III. Ford dominated the race with eight of the top 10 places.
But the fight with Holden and Chrysler went pear-shaped when the Phase IV appeared on the front page of a Sunday paper under the headline “160mph ‘Super Cars’ Soon – Minister ‘horrified'” and the then NSW transport minister reportedly called them “bullets on wheels”.
It was an era when there were no speed limits on some rural roads and the maximum speed was 70mph (113km/h) across Australia.
The story became known as the “supercar scare” and by the end of the week, Ford had abandoned plans for the Phase VI. Just one road car and three Phase VI prototype race cars, designed for Moffat and co-driver Fred Gibson, were built.
Brock won the ’72 Bathurst race in a Holden and within 12 months, Chrysler would depart the Bathurst race. Moffat boycotted the journalist, Evan Green, for years.
V8s eventually became a race staple in 1974, but just three of the XA GTHOs are believed to survive.
Current bidding on this car stands at $1.56 million ahead of this weekend’s auction – already well above the $1,030,000 paid for a GTHO Phase III in June and there are estimates that the car could go for up to $3 million.
A fortnight ago, Brock’s HDT VH Commodore, which won back-to-back Bathurst 1000 races in 1982 and 1983, smashed auction records when it sold for $2,257,500 (inc. buyer’s premium), $500,000 above estimates. It now holds the record for the most expensive Australian-made car ever.
Lloyds Auctions Chief Marketing Officer Brett Mudie, whose company sold a Phase III once owned by fast bowler Jeff Thomson earlier this year for more than $1 million, said this is the first Phase IV to go under the hammer.
“If you look at the number of records broken over the last six months in particular, you can definitely see a trend in demand for a secure yet enjoyable investment,” he said.
“Cars in original condition, with chrome bumpers, celebrity affiliation or prominent history seem to be the ones that are rising in value first.”
The auction will be held on the Gold Coast this Saturday at 7pm, with drivers Allan Moffat and Fred Gibson at the event.
The auction will also feature two more Phase IIIs, as well as a 1973 Ford Falcon XA GT RPO83, the car produced after the supercar scare.
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