Ford Falcon Phase III sets new Australian auction record
Incredibly rare Falcon once owned by cricket star Jeff Thomson becomes first Australian car to breach AUS$1million mark during public sale
Described by auctioneer Lloyds as ‘the holy grail of Aussie Fords’, an all-original Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III has broken the Australian seven-figure auction record. Hammered away for AUS$1.03million, the 1970s V8 cruiser pipped some of Australia’s most prominent vehicles to the coveted achievement.
The Falcon Phase III arrived in 1971, at a time when automotive war was breaking out on Australian forecourts. In what could have been the real-life inspiration for Mel Gibson’s Mad Max, Ford and Holden battled to cement their market dominance during the annual Bathurst 500-mile endurance race.
- Hot rods star at National Motor Museum’s latest exhibition
- LAT Archive: Melbourne’s time hosting the Australian Grand Prix
- Great Australian classics for sale!
Churning out 400bhp from a 351ci Cleveland V8, Ford’s Phase III destroyed the quarter-mile in little under 14 seconds. Top speed was claimed to be in excess of 140mph – a remarkable achievement for the time. The insanely powerful drivetrain propelled the Falcon into the record books as the fastest four-door production car in the world, making it the pin-up motor for the young and the young at heart.
It was this comfortable ability to destroy all competition that kept the Phase III deep within the winners’ circle for three further years, including victory at Bathurst in 1971 with Allan Moffat at the wheel. Further wins included the Australian Manufacturers’ Championship series in both 1971 and 1972, and the Australian Touring Car Championship series in 1972 and 1973.
Costing AUS$5000 each, far more than for a typical Falcon GT, around 300 examples of the Phase III were sold. However, time has seen a large number off to the scrapyard, suffering terminal rust. Already rare and eye-wateringly expensive, the model’s ownership is now granted to only the privileged few. Fewer than 100 examples are thought to still remain, making for strong demand on the contemporary collector market.
By the turn of the new millennium, GTHO Phase IIIs were already commanding six-figure prices. June 2007 saw one example selling for AUS$750,000. While private sales did find asking prices exceeding $1million, it was a different story come auction time – apparently no one in the audience was ever willing to rehome such a model.
The specimen sold recently – a four-speed Track Red Phase III (serial number JG33LS88404k) – was largely original and unrestored, and boasted little over 20,000km on the clock. Its full documentation revealed that celebrity cricket player Jeff Thomson was custodian for about a decade.
Previous attempts at breaking AUS$1million
Lloyds auction house promoted the Phase III as a potential candidate to smash the AUS$1million barrier prior to the June 16 sale, held at Mount Panorama. Audiences were sceptical, however, as Lloyds and other auctioneers had predicted such an event before.
The first was a Holden Dealer Team 1969 Monaro GTS, which in the end sold for AUS$500,000. The second was an eagerly awaited sale for the first Australian-built Holden in 2013, expected to sell for over $2million. The final hammer price instead sat at a ‘lowly’ $672,000.
However, it’s finally happened! For conversion’s sake, the sale price amounts to US$675,000. For all that heritage and racing pedigree, it’s far more exciting and far less money than any Ferrari 250 GTO.
What happened to the Phase IV?
The car’s hotly anticipated Falcon Phase IV successor was developed and ready to go, but contemporary press coverage sent Ford into a tailspin. Realising automotive journalists were heralding the next generation of performance vehicles capable of breaching 160mph, Ford retired the lineage to secure the model’s iconic status rather than try to make it compete with newcomers. The concept of seeing its breadmaker trounced in public found no favour in the boardroom.
Pictures courtesy of Lloyds Auctions Australia
Classic Cars for Sale
Model History Like other manufacturers, after World War II Fiat continued producing and updating pre-war types. The first blank sheet design was the 1950 1400, the first with unibody Fiat, which took the place of the 1935 1500. Fiat's intermediate offering between the 1500 and the diminutive 500 was the 1100 E, the last evolution of the 508C Nuova Balilla 1100 first launched in 1937. Its replac
Keeping in line with the Ferrari 'tradition' of that time, the 250 GT Lusso was designed by the Turinese coachbuilder Pininfarina, and bodied by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. Although the interior was more spacious than that of the 250 GT, the 250 GT Lusso remained a two-seat GT coupe, unlike the 250 GTE. The car was manufactured for just eighteen months, from early 1963 to mid 1964, and was the last mo
The Aston Martin DB4 was first unveiled at the 1958 London Motor Show, to rave reviews of the public. The car proved to be a significant achievement for the then small British manufacturer. The monocoque punt-type chassis, developed under Harold Beach, featured coil-over A-arm front suspension with an anti-sway bar and a live rear axle, which was located by trailing arms and a proper Watts linkage