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Driven: Ford’s Falcon GT goes out with a 351 bang

Fast Ford: FPV’S 351 GT F marks the end of the line for Ford’s local hero, the Falcon GT.

Most powerful Aussie Ford in history brings curtain down on local Falcon GT

10 Jun 2014

THE final chapter of an Australian thriller was written at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground today when Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) wheeled out its most powerful, fastest and last GT Falcon.

The FPV 351 GT F – the F stands for final – closes the door on 47 years of Aussie Ford V8 GT excitement that started with the original XR Falcon GT in 1967.

When the last of 550 GT F limited-edition sedans and 120 GT F Pursuit utes roll off the Campbellfield production line in Victoria in the next few weeks, the Falcon GT nameplate will be mothballed, probably forever in Australia where Ford will cease local production in October 2016.

The GT F is also a last hurrah for the current FG Falcon, which will be replaced by a facelifted model later this year to carry it through its final two years. However, no GT will be offered in the replacement range, just a born-again XR8.

To celebrate the end of the GT line, FPV engineers have turned up the wick on the 5.0-litre Boss V8’s locally developed Harrop-Eaton supercharger, adding an overboost function that ramps up power by about 15 per cent.

This takes the peak power from the standard FPV GT’s 335kW to 351kW – a figure chosen as an homage to the iconic Cleveland 351 cubic inch (5.8-litre) V8s of the GTs and GTHOs in the late 1960s and 1970s when, in race-homologated 224kW GTHO Phase 3 guise, the Aussie Ford was the fastest four-door car in the world.

Back then, the Falcon GT’s lustre was polished by four victories in the Bathurst 500/1000 (1970, 1971, 1973 and 1977) plus three Australian touring car championship crowns (1973, 1976 and 1977), all involving Allan Moffat.

That GT era ended in controversy amid claims that local car-makers were building insanely fast road cars to qualify to production car racing.

By comparison, the latest iteration is much more powerful (and safer), but still not the most powerful Australian car – rival Holden Special Vehicle’s 6.2-litre supercharged GTS boasts 430kW and 740Nm.

FPV says that under the right conditions, engine power could exceed the 351kW figure, with the potential to reach up to 420kW in cooler conditions.

Officially, the GT F’s V8 torque is unchanged at 570Nm – the same as the FPV GT and GT P – but FPV’s engineers say the peak can reach 650Nm in the right conditions such as a cool day at low altitude, for short bursts.

Before it even hits the streets, the GT F is regarded as the most collectible Aussie car in years, with the bulk of the 500 sedans to be offered in Australia already pre-sold at $77,990 (plus on-road costs). Another 50 of the GT F sedans are bound for New Zealand.

The new $53,990 GT F Pursuit ute is not as powerful as the sedan, armed with a 315kW version of the supercharged Boss V8. Like the four-door, the ute can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Each GT F will be numbered, with a Gold Coast enthusiast winning a random draw for the coveted 351 build number.

The build number of each vehicle appears on the touchscreen at the top of the centre stack upon start-up, as well as featuring on a plaque in the console.

FPV chief program engineer Peter de Leur said his team’s goal was to create the best vehicle it could, one that “pays respect to the Ford GTs of old”.

The powertrain control management software was recalibrated to allow the supercharger to go into overboost, kicking in at 4000rpm in each of the six transmission gears except first. If conditions are too hot, an override limits the overboost to 15-20 seconds.

Mr de Leur said FPV was mindful not to impact the overall driveability of the car.

He said mechanical changes extended to the rear suspension where camber bolt adjustment was added for track-day adjustment.

Body-wise, the GT F is a mere cosmetic makeover of the current FG Falcon-based FPV GT, with no sheetmetal changes.

Seen in its entirety for the first time today, the GT F has a blacked-out bonnet panel that extends over the roof and boot.

Instead of the matte black plastic trim of the regular GT, the GT F gets gloss black in areas such as the “racoon eye” headlamp clusters, mirrors, doorhandles and rear diffuser.

Orange detailing has been used the highlight the GT F badges, instrument dials, seat stitching, start-up screen and so on.

Four additional auxiliary gauges, including a G-metre, can be selected by the driver via the centre stack touchscreen.

On the sides, “stealth” stripe decals hark back to the 1970s glory days of the GT. The stripes will come in either matte black, white, metallic gold or silver on the GT F, which will be available in five body colours – white, blue, black, orange and dark grey.

The interior gets a fresh palette, with darker trim tones.

The GT F also gets FPV’s R-Spec performance package that includes a launch control system, front and rear suspension modifications and nine-inch wide rear wheels with 275/35 R19 Dunlop Sports Maxx tyres.

Stopping power will be provided by six-pot Brembo front disc brakes and four-piston discs at the back.

2014 FPV GT-F pricing*
sedan (a)$77,990
Pursuit ute$53,990
Pursuit ute (a)$53,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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