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Fords through the ages

Experts say the orange Ford with less than 5000 miles (8000km) on the clock is worth more than $2million. It is one of only three remaining Phase IV Falcons, stillborn when the supercar scare of 1972 forced the carmaker to abandon its production.

You can see this rarest of Australian-made cars at the annual Peter Warren All Ford Day at Warwick Farm racecourse tomorrow.

The XA Falcon GTHO Phase IV with 300kW of power and a top speed of 270km/h was a road car planned to tackle V8 XU-1 Holden Toranas and V8 Valiant Chargers at the Bathurst 500 race.

In those days a certain number of road-going versions had to be built before a car couldqualify to race at Bathurst.

Heaps of power was the answer and the big three were building supercars for the event.

However, a scaremongering newspaper article suggesting such powerful supercars would be available as road cars to young drivers led to a parliamentary outcry. Amid the uproar carmakers backed down and abandoned their projects. The three Phase IV Falcons (a fourth was destroyed after a crash) are the sole survivors of the era.

Sydney's Paul Carthew bought this one in 1999, a second race car is in the Bowden museum in Queensland and the third, a green road car, is closely guarded by its owner, having not been displayed for many years.

“The Phase IV GTHO is a significant vehicle,” Carthew says. “Not only was it stillborn butthe furore it created in 1972 saw it featuredon the front page of our Sunday papers and mentioned in Parliament. It altered our motor-racing rules forever and Bathurst was nevergoing to be the same again.”

He says his car is the only unrestored Phase IV. “It has always been in the hands of collectors and has travelled just 4400 miles,” he says.

It will be one of more than 1200 Fords on display tomorrow. Another star from a different era is Eric Worner's So Cal Ford V8 Special that has been both race car and road car over the years. Worner says it is one of five Ford V8 cars built by George Reed of early Bathurst fame. A sister car won the Australian Grand Prix in 1951.

The So Cal was built just after World War II.

“My dad took the family to a race meeting at Bathurst in 1950. I was 10 years old and the So Cal was racing and being driven by Jessie Griffiths,” says Worner, who bought the car in 1977 - the 10th owner. “The car was on full rego, driven to and from race meetings and a daily driver, provingjust how reliable the car is.”

Worner has raced this piece of Australian motor sport history at Eastern Creek, Oran Park and interstate, and is glad he has.

“So Cal is a great car to drive, plenty of grunt, steers and brakes well but can be a bit skatey in the wet,” he says. “It's a great old car with plenty of history and you know what they say ... old Fords never die - they just go faster.”

One Ford that went very fast in its day - and still does - is Scott Willoughby's 1968 XT Falcon GT, celebrating its 40th anniversary at All-Ford Day. Willoughby, 22, joined the Falcon GT Owners Club of NSW in 2004.

“My car is a genuine 1968 XT Falcon GT,” he says. “It's about 95 per cent back to being totally original to how it was back in the day.

“It's an awesome thing to drive. With the little Windsor V8 up front, big comfortable lounge chair-style seats, plenty of body roll and shocking brakes, it's all good fun.”

As you can imagine, it is also fairly thirsty on fuel but he is not about to let that stop him.

“As long as fuel prices stay under $5 a litre I'll continue to drive it and enjoy it,” he says.

After Ford won Bathurst in 1967 the XT was built to increase its chances of back-to-back wins. Fred Gibson and Barry Seton went within 20 laps of achieving it before a mechanical disaster.

It was left to Holden, which built the V8 Monaro for the race, to claim the win. Tomorrow marks the 32nd running of the All Ford Day.

There will be 20 different Ford marques ranging from Mustangs to Model As, Capris to Cortinas and Fairlanes to FPVs. From small beginnings it has grown into a major event.

Organisers are again expecting a crowd ofup to 40,000 to attend the one-day festival.

It started with a Ford car club's display at Parramatta Park in 1977. In 1982 Peter Warren Ford took over the sponsorship and moved the show to its Warwick Farm dealership.

But it outgrew the precinct and was moved across the road to the racecourse in 2003.

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