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Ford 351 badge revived for final GT Falcon

The GT-F is expected to be the fastest Falcon GT ever built.

Ford has revived the famous "351" badge from the 1970s for the last ever Falcon GT, as the company confirms that all 500 examples have sold out before the first one has been built.

The 351 badge is a reference to the supercharged V8's power in kilowatts, but also a nod to size of the V8 in the iconic 1970s model. It will be the most powerful Falcon to ever be built at Broadmeadows when the GT-F (for "final" edition) goes into production next month.

"I am delighted to confirm that we are going to deliver what our fans have being asking for: a vehicle that pays homage to the iconic Falcon 351 GT," said Ford Australia President and CEO, Bob Graziano, in a statement to media.

"Ford's 5.0-litre supercharged V8 is an absolute state-of-the-art V8 performance engine, and in the up-coming GT-F sedan will deliver more power and torque than even its larger capacity forebear. And we've been able to do all of this by simply unlocking the latent performance that's already there."

All 500 Falcon GT-F sedans destined for Australia (and 50 for New Zealand) have been sold to dealers and most cars already have customer names against them.

Dealers are now bargaining among themselves to try to get more cars because Ford has said it will not build more than 500. "Ford has massively under-called this," said one dealer, who asked not to be named in case it would affect his allocation of cars. "This is a massive missed opportunity."

When Ford unveiled a special batch of "Cobra" edition Falcon GTs at the 2007 Bathurst 1000 -- to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Allan Moffat and Colin Bond 1-2 finish -- all 400 cars were sold to dealers within 48 hours.

Dealers insist that all Falcon GT-Fs are being sold at the recommended retail price, of $77,990 plus on-road costs. "We're not allowed to charge over-the-odds for them, but they are all going out at full price," said one Ford dealer. "There is not a dollar coming off these cars because someone else will snap it up."

There will be five colours available, including two that will be exclusive to the GT-F -- a bright blue and a gun-metal grey. And all cars will come with a unique sticker pack.

Ford has also confirmed the GT-F will be based on the limited edition R-Spec version of the Falcon GT released 18 months ago, just before Ford Performance Vehicles closed its doors and Ford Australia took over the skeleton of the operation, namely the engine building team.

The GT-F is expected to be the fastest Falcon GT ever built. Thanks to its 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and wider rear tyres to help it blast off the line with a race-car style "launch" control, it should be able to do the 0 to 100km/h dash in 4.5 seconds.

Once the 351kW Falcon GT-F goes, the 335kW Ford XR8 will be introduced with the updated Falcon range from September 2014, until Australia's oldest automotive nameplate reaches the end of the line no later than October 2016.

Carsguide has been told there were secret plans to make the power output for the last-ever Falcon GT significantly higher than the 351kW high note it will finish on.

Confidential sources claim the now defunct Ford Performance Vehicles had extracted 430kW of power from the supercharged V8 while it was in development, but those plans were vetoed by Ford because of concerns about reliability -- and the ability of the Falcon's chassis, gearbox, driveshaft and differential to handle so much grunt.

"We were at 430kW long before anyone knew HSV was going to have 430kW on the new GTS," said an insider. "But in the end, Ford put the brakes on it. We could get the power easy enough, but they reckoned it didn't make financial sense to make all the changes to the rest of the car to handle it."

As it stands today the Falcon GT briefly gets up to 375kW in an "overboost" mode which lasts up to 20 seconds, but Ford is not allowed to claim this figure because it doesn't comply with international testing guidelines.

Meanwhile, the last of the Ford Performance Vehicles F6 sedans are due to be sold, with no more planned for production. "Once the dealer stocks sell out, that's it," said Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald. The fastest-ever six-cylinder turbo car made in Australia, the Falcon F6 won icon status among enthusiasts, and police.

In NSW, the elite highway patrol squad has maintained a fleet of unmarked F6 Falcons to target hoon drivers and high-speed criminals over the past four years. They are expected to switch to HSV Clubsport sedans when the F6 comes to an end.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

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