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Ford builds Falcon GT for first time in 37 years

They do make ’em like they used to. The iconic Falcon GT returns to Ford’s Broadmeadows production line today for the first time in 37 years.

Australia’s most powerful V8 sedan has been brought in-house after the company that did the final assembly work for the past 21 years closed its doors in December.

The last time a Falcon GT went down Ford’s main production line was in June 1976. It cost just $6200, a fraction of today’s $70,000 price tag.

Buoyed by a string of Bathurst victories Ford sold more than 12,000 Falcon GTs in the eight years from 1968 to 1976. As a sign of the changing market, however, it took 21 years to sell the same number of Falcon GTs from 1992 to 2012.

The GT’s return to Broadmeadows is an important and symbolic boost for the Falcon but it is unlikely to be the car’s saviour. The Falcon’s tally of 14,000 sales last year – including approximately 1500 Falcon GTs and other performance models – is the lowest since Falcon production began in 1960.

“The investment and effort we’ve put into bringing FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) back in-house proves our dedication to the brand and our customers in this segment,” Ford Australia President and CEO, Bob Graziano, told News Limited.

“We know they’re incredibly passionate and we know that there is still a market for these vehicles, which is why we stepped up and took the actions necessary to retain FPV and these iconic vehicles.”

Despite the new arrangements, the Ford Performance Vehicles branding and the cars are unchanged from last year’s models. Broadmeadows will initially fit the supercharged V8 engines stockpiled by the former firm until workers at the Geelong engine factory start building them by hand in April.

“Ford’s history with performance vehicles goes back a very long way and the FPV range of vehicles are warmly welcomed back in-house,” Graziano said. “FPV is the ultimate version of the Falcon and we are very excited to have taken over full production of these performance machines for our customers.”

Ford has made adjustments to the Broadmeadows vehicle assembly line to allow for the detailed fitment of the Falcon GT’s performance parts. But the company says the extra work will not slow down production of regular models. Instead, Ford has set aside an area at the end of the line to add the finishing touches.

Ford says it will recommence building regular models of the Falcon GT; the R-Spec released last year with wider rear tyres and retuned suspension remains a limited edition model.

Meanwhile, an update of the entire Falcon range is due next year, but no production plans have been announced beyond 2016.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Ford Falcon GT: making them like they used to

XR GT (1967)
Price: $3890
Engine: 4.7-litre V8 (168kW)
Bathurst: 1st and 2nd place
596 built

XT GT (1968)
Price: $4050
Engine: 4.9-litre V8 (172kW)
Bathurst: 7th place
1415 built

XW GTHO Phase I (1969)
Price: $4495
Engine: 5.8-litre V8 (216kW)
Bathurst: 2nd place
260 built

XW GTHO Phase II (1970)
Price: $4830
Engine: 5.8-litre V8 (224kW)
Bathurst: 1st and 2nd place
402 built

XY GTHO Phase III (1971)
Price: $5250
Engine: 5.8-litre V8 (283kW)
Bathurst: 1st, 2nd, 3rd  (1971), 2nd (1972)
300 built

XA GT (1972 to 1974)
Price: $5100
Engine: 5.8-litre V8 (224kW)
Bathurst: 1st (1973 and 1974)
1868 sedans, 891 coupes built

XB GT (1974 to 1976)
Price: $6203
Engine: 5.8-litre V8 (224kW)
Bathurst: DNF (1975), 31st (1976)
1950 sedans, 949 coupes built

Ford Falcon GT (2013)
Price: $70,790
Engine: Supercharged 5.0-litre V8 (335kW)
Ford Falcon's most recent Bathurst 1000 victories: 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Approximately 3000 built between October 2010 and December 2012.
Returns to Broadmeadows production line 18 February, 2013.

Did you know…

The Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III driven to Bathurst victory in 1971 by Allan Moffat cost $5250 when new, then a hefty sum. Moffatt told Ford executives at the time “no-one will ever pay that for a Falcon”. Decades later immaculate GTHO Phase IIIs sold for up to $700,000, although prices have settled back to about half that in recent years. Today, the racing legend says not buying a Phase III GTHO is his biggest regret.