As the successor to the XA model, with its 'coke bottle' shape and raked windscreen, the stylists at Ford gave it a Mustang Mach 1 inspired front end and grille. The result was a car that looked lean, muscular and fast.
Frank Hileay has owned his black V8 XB Ute from when he bought it new, on 10th October 1974. Since then he's driven it 400,000km and, according to Frank, "it has not missed a beat in all those years".
Frank signed the deal at the now closed Holmes Ford dealership in Melbourne. He selected the Falcon 500 trim level and the GS Rally pack, which gave him two air scoops stretching down the bonnet, gold GS stripes, additional driving lights, the GT dashboard and twelve slot wheels. He then added the five litre V8 (302 cubic inches) and automatic transmission.
"I had to wait six weeks for it to be delivered, because back then black was not a common colour" says Frank. The Ute cost $4,400 and he still has the original sales receipt showing the car is a factory ordered GS.
The patina of age is starting to show on the Ute's paint and chrome but this does not deter Frank from driving it almost every day. "I've used it in my roofing contracting business since new, and it has never let me down. It drives as good as anything else available today and it has never been in an accident", says Frank.
The car always attracts attention. "People come up to me and ask if it is for sale and tell me to call them if I ever intend selling", confides Frank. So, would he sell it? "No way" is his quick and forthright answer.
Ford pioneered the market in aggressively combing style, comfort and work space in Utilities, particularly with the XB. This appealed directly to the growing group of tradespeople who wanted more than a poverty pack work vehicle. The stylish design came from using the front doors and frameless windows of the two door Falcon hardtop rather than the more upright, pillared sedan doors. The massive rear cargo tray comes from the Ute to sitting on the longer Fairlane wheelbase.
The XB range was a big success for Ford. They sold 212,000 units during its almost three year production run and it helped move them ever closer to Holden in the sales race.
David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au