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My 1972 Ford XY Fairmont GT

Over there they became known as Super-Rhino Fairmont GTs. Now they are a highly sought after car among Aussie collectors, pushing prices up as high as $80,000. This white 1972 XY Fairmont GT is one of about 1800 that was exported to South Africa by Ford Australia after production ended in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, in 1971.

Proud owner Pat Richter, 52, stumbled on the rare Fairmont GTs through a website devoted to the car. 

"When I started there were only about half a dozen people on the website,'' Richter says.

"Now there are more than 300. It's got huge in the past few years.

"The interest is inflating their value because they are starting to get more known and highly sought after.

"I did a bit of research and got in touch with Ford Australia and they verified they were genuine.''

He explains that South Africa had imported Falcons from the US which had a poor reputation, so when Ford Australia exported these models, they rebadged them as Fairmont GTs, but with Futura trim.

Richter's search for a South African GT led him to Queensland and an ex-pat who imported four. He bought the GT in 2006 for $18,000.  "It was in poor condition. It was mainly the panel work there was no rust but there wasn't a panel that wasn't damaged and the paint had been touched up here, there and everywhere,'' he says.

Mechanically, the car was pretty sound and intact. It is powered by a 5.7-litre 351 D block Cleveland V8 with four-valve heads and all the genuine GT running gear such as a nine-inch differential. However, the four-speed manual had been replaced with a four-speed C4 auto.

Together with his friend, Grant Brown, the machine operator stripped the car to its bare shell over two years, costing $30,000. 

"It would have cost a lot more without Grant's help,'' he says.

He kept the auto but swapped the original red trim for an Aussie black GT trim, replaced the gauges with metric models and added a modern stereo and Bathurst five-spoke Glove wheels. The finishing touch was the Super-Rhino sticker replacing the famous Super-Roo.

"The sticker was made by members of the ( forum website because of the nickname the car had in South Africa,'' he explains.

Richter has since shown the car and won  "a couple of trophies''. 

"It drives absolutely beautiful,'' he says.

"It's pretty powerful. I had it at a Western Sydney drag club day and it runs 13s. Not bad for a cruiser.''

Richter doesn't consider himself a strictly Ford man, but he also bought a 1969 Mustang Coupe Grande with a 351 Windsor two years ago for $23,000 and his 25-year-old daughter, Jessie, owns a '74 XB Fairmont GS.

"We're keeping it in the family,'' he says.

"When I migrated from Ireland in 1978 I fell in love with the big cars here.

"I used to frequent Bathurst every year and camped on the hill waving the blue oval flag. But I haven't been for a few years as the cars today are too far removed from what we have on the streets.

"Back in those days you could walk into a showroom and buy pretty much the same cars that were racing around Bathurst.''

At a glance


Year: 1972
Price when new: about $750
Price now: $80,000 (insured)
Engine: 351 Cleveland 5.7-litre V8
Body: four-door sedan
Transmission: 4-speed auto


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