Letters from readers, February 1975

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Information Required

Sir,

I have been an avid subscriber to your magazine for the past three years. During this time I have acquired a Lotus Eleven Le Mans. It is a Series I with a wide Sebring frame. I have a few questions and I thought you might be able to clear them up. The main problem is the frame shows every indication of being produced in early 1956, however the scuttle appears to have been relocated to later spec. All of the bodywork fits perfectly which implies to me that it was rebodied at the factory. The gentlemen at Norwich claim to have lost their records concerning most Eleven oriented items. The car has no chassis number and no engine. I am having trouble pinning down any specifics, any history on this car. I am searching for a few essential parts. If you can give me any leads I would appreciate it. I need a set of original gauges, cold air box, and coolant expansion tank. If you have any information on file concerning Elevens I’d be happy to reimburse you for photostat copies. [No we haven’t—Ed.]

Can you supply me with any information concerning Jaguar XKSS? Especially engineering drawings and photographs.

Indianapolis, USA BRETT JOHNSON

[Can any readers help?—Ed.]

Australian-American Supa-Car

Sir,

I am writing to tell you the story of an incredible motor car, the Ford Falcon GTHO.

In 1966 a Cooper “S” won the classic Bathurst 500, Australia’s premier race for sedan cars. Ford had already decided something had to be done about the “Flying Bricks”, hence the inception of Australia’s first Supa-car, the XR GT Falcon. Two hundred of these virtually hand-made cars were produced and registered to enable them to take part in the Bathurst Race.

The XR GT came in one colour: GT gold with black stripes and interior trim. Powered by an uprated 289 cube V8 with a 600-c.f.m. Holley four-barrel, backed by a very heavy clutch and four-speed box, power output was 220 b.h.p. The car weighed in at 28 cwt. and had a 16-gallon tank. My father bought one of these cars brand new in July 1967 for $3,800.

Acceleration of the XR (11″ was stunning by the then Australian standards. It clocked 16.7 sec. over the standing ¼-mile and hit 60 m.p.h. in 8.4 secs. Quite up to 4.2 XJ6 standards. It ran 11¼ in. dia. front power-assisted discs, 5½ in. steel wheels, and somewhat inferior Australian 185 x 14 radials.

Roadholding of my father’s car on “XAS” was excellent, although handling was a little on the heavy side. Of the 90 or so still in existence, this car is one of a handful still in standard form and its classic car value cannot be underestimated as a good example will fetch $5,000.

It might be added at this point that the XR GT won Bathurst in 1967, pipping a 1.6 Alfa GTV for line honours by 4 sec.! It had done what it was intended to achieve.

1968 came round and out came the XT GT Falcon, available in red, green, silver, white and, of course, GT gold. Eight hundred auto XT GTs were sold and the customary 200 four-speed cars. The XT GT ran a 302, again with 600-c.f.m. Holley and cowkick clutch. The XT was the quickest ever GT Falcon (although nowhere near as quick as the later 110s). The XT put out 230 b.h.p. and ran a 16.3 sec. standing ¼-mile. But this year GM had entered the Supa-car field and won Bathurst with their 327 Monaro (a two door fastback Holden). The Falcon’s chances ending with a holed radiator whilst leading late in the race.

In 1969 the XW GT was unveiled, apart from a major face-lift it was also a heavier car, and now using the 351 cube “Windsor” V8. About 1,100 autos were sold and 400 manuals. It ran a 600-c.f.m. Autolite carbie, dual exhausts and again a 16-gallon tank. But in June Ford pulled a trick out of the bag and introduced the “HO” pack; 240 “HO” packs being fitted to XW GTs. Hence the Phase I Falcon GT1-10 was born. Two hundred four-speed HOs (again 200) being produced.

The HO pack cost about $600 and contained secret valve gear and cam, 650 c.f.m. Holley, bigger stabiliser bar at the front and a rear one. High-performance disc pads and a front spoiler. 1969 was the only year auto HOs were available, but due to badly chosen racing rubber, a first lap pile-up and numerous blow-outs Ford again lost Bathurst, this year to the “350” Monaro. A privateer, Bruce McPhee, finished second in an HO on bald “XAS”. The Phase I GTHO ran a 15.7 sec. standing ¼-mile and 60 m.p.h. came up in 7.7 sec. The standard car good for 130+ m.p.h.

GTs were now being produced like hotcakes and in July 1970 out came the Phase II HO, 200 being produced and costing $4,800. The Phase H ran the “Cleveland” 351, Salisbury LSD, a close-ratio four-speed box, either hydraulic or solid lifters, a ¾-race cam, Kelsey Hayes ventilated discs at the front, huge drums on the rear, a 1 18-in. front sway bar, 58-in. sway bar on the rear, American Torino front suspension, and was 2 in. lower than the GT. It was fitted with a 36-gallon tank and a 780-c.f.m. Holley. Power output was 340 b.h.p., rear-end ratio 3.5 to 1, and weighed in at 31 cwt. Standing ¼-mile was 15 sec. flat and 0-60 came up in 6.7 sec. Top speed was 140+ m.p.h. ERTO radials rode on 6-in, steel wheels. My father bought one of these brand new and it is now valued at $5,000+.

The Phase II HO won Bathurst (from the Holden Torana XUI), this year running on a better suited type of rubber and clocking 153 m.p.h. down Conrod straight. All this at a quarter the price of the comparably performing BMW 3.0 CSI!

The year 1971 saw the new Phase III GTHO, a very similar car to the Phase II HO in that it again ran the Cleveland 351 with 780-c.f.m. Holley and the same close-ratio four-speed box. But the rear-end was now 3.25 to 1 and in racing form it ran 15-in. Globe alloy wheels. Power output was 390 b.h.p., 0-60-m.p.h. time 6.1 sec.; standing ¼-mile 14.6 see. This was to be the last and most famous “HO” of all.

The Phase III HO won Bathurst in 1971, taking the first three outright placings! 1972, last year for the racing Phase III, saw them beaten by a Torana XUI at Bathurst.

In 1973 the Federal Department of Motor Transport put an end to the production of the proposed totally new Phase IV GTHO after a careless article by a Sydney motoring journalist claimed it was “a 160-m.p.h. car available to any idiot with the money needed to purchase one”.

This letter was written totally from memory, therefore it might not be totally accurate, but I have done my best to ensure that it is not misleading in any way.

MARTIN PETTITT

Mondale NSW, Australia

Maxi v. GS

Sir,

I was interested in Mr. Jenkins’ letter in your January issue, as I bought a GS 1220 Estate in September 1973 as British Leyland were not able to supply me with a Maxi without a long wait.

My GS has now covered some 22,000 very satisfactory miles. I grant that it is inferior to the Maxi in some respects and in particular it is a most unpleasant car to drive for a short distance from cold, but not for several miles Mr. Jenkins! The GS pulls strongly after about one mile, without flat spots and returns at least 35 m.p.g. overall, 40 m.p.g. being quite easily obtainable on long runs. At 2,000 miles Mr. Jenkins’ GS is barely run in; it obviously requires some knowledgeable attention.

Ringwood ANTHONY HORNE