Fresh 351: 1976 Ford Falcon XB Hardtop

While the owner of this 1976 Australian Ford Falcon XB Hardtop floats the idea of using the included parts to transform the vehicle into a Mad Max clone, there might be another option open to the next owner. If you want to own something different in the way of a Ford project car, then you will find this one located in Mayfield, New York, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking a firm $31,200 for the Hardtop.

The Falcon XB was introduced in 1973 and marked the first facelift for the 3rd Generation of the Australian Falcon. The update provided the car with a more aggressive frontal treatment and was a sales success for Ford Australia. The body of this one looks pretty reasonable, with the limited supply of photos showing no major rust issues beyond a spot at the bottom of the front fender on the driver’s side (remembering that the car is right-hand drive). These are of unibody construction, so rust in the floors can be a real headache for owners. However, an Australian company called Rare Spares does stock the majority of the parts that may be required if rust or accident repairs are on the horizon, and they do ship to the USA. Floors in these cars are not notorious for rust issues, but the rear pillars, the sections of the rear quarter panels just behind the doors, the section below the rear window, and the front door pillars are all areas to be aware of. Trust me on that, because I speak from bitter experience. One of the upsides of the Hardtop body is the amount of available space under the fenders because this allows the fitting of some pretty enormous rubber. I have seen road cars fitted with 9″ rear tires, while for racing purposes, 10″ was normal practice. Build numbers for the XB Hardtop was significantly lower than that of the 4-door sedan, and their survival rates were not high. That’s why I suggest that the “Mad Max” path might not be the best one to follow. If absolute originality isn’t key here, then with the specifications of this particular car, the next owner might be better served to build the car into an XB Falcon GT clone. This is actually a pretty easy process, and with only 949 XB GT Hardtops being built between 1973 and 1976, they were not a common car when new. Anyway, that’s something to think about.

The interior is a bit of a mixed bag, but it does appear to be largely complete. The bucket seats aren’t the original items but are very similar to the Scheel seats fitted to the original 30 “Bathurst Special” XC Cobras. As was common practice during the 1980s, it appears that a previous owner has had the rear seat recovered to match those buckets. The floor console is not a Falcon item, but it looks like it was from an LTD of the same era. This is highly likely because the Australian Fairlane and LTD of this era used the same floor pan as the Falcon. It appears that there is a full compliment of gauges in the dash, but these look like they have been sourced from a Falcon XC, which was the next facelift model in the range. Rather unfortunately, a square hole has been cut into the dash just to the left of the center. I’m not sure why, but that will need to be addressed. Once again, the majority of replacement interior parts are available from the company that I mentioned previously, although there are a number of other Australian companies that can help. A Google search will provide a surprising number of options on that front for the next owner.

The owner supplies this photo of the Mad Max body kit, but none of the engine. We know that under the hood is a fresh 351ci Cleveland V8, backed by a 4-speed top-loader transmission. If the Ford rolled off the line as a 351, then the chances are pretty good that it could also have a 9″ rear end. It was this mechanical configuration that led me to suggest the idea of building a GT clone, as this was the standard mechanical combination that was found in a genuine GT. The 1976 Falcon was the last one to wear the much-loved GT badge until 1992. Australian emission laws did not impact upon car performance as severely in Australia as it did in the US until the 1977 model year when the ADR27A laws came into force. As a result, in the 1976 Hardtop, the 351 produced an official 300hp. A year later, the same engine produced 217hp. It also meant that even though the GT Hardtop tipped the scales at 3,499lbs, it could still manage a sub-15 second ¼ mile time. Think about that for a moment, and try to think of a similar American car built in 1976 that was capable of those sorts of numbers. That’s one of the attributes that makes this such an attractive proposition. The car also comes with the right hood for the GT, featuring the twin “nostrils” as seen on the Mustang. Apart from the drive-train, the GT also came with 4-wheel disc brakes, and if this car doesn’t currently have them, they are easy to source. Otherwise, creating a GT clone comes down to not much more than some trim and badges, along with the correct seats and floor console.

If I owned this XB Hardtop, it really would be a no-brainer. Good, clean Falcon Hardtops are becoming quite scarce, and in their home country, they can command some very impressive prices. With their relative rarity today, it would seem a real shame to bolt a heap of aftermarket panels onto the car when they are a pretty attractive and tough looking car in original form. Creating a GT clone would be a pretty straightforward proposition, and would allow the car to not only retain its original appearance, but provide the next owner with some impressive performance figures into the bargain. In addition, if it became necessary, returning it to its original guise would be a lot easier if it was a GT clone. Besides, there are plenty of Mad Max clones out there, so why not take the opportunity to try something different?

 

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Comments

  1. Gunner

    Turn in the juice a little more Adam:

    https://images.app.goo.gl/vevtbHpMRRbzKPVt5

    You could go with a 351 boss, which was a Cleveland on steroids:

    https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/01/23/boss-mustang

    Nice write up!

    6
    • bog

      Gunner – good luck to anyone trying to find a “REAL” Boss 351 engine. I ordered/bought a brand new one in ’71 (installed in the Mustang, natch). Later found out they only made 1800 or so. I’ve seen the Autolite carb cost between $3500 – $5000 rebuilt. I suppose if cost was no object a person could find one, and it might actually be complete and functional. Ford racing even sells several versions of 427s built using a “Cleveland” type block that been bored and stroked. Don’t know anyone, personally that has one..

  2. Paul Drane

    Square hole in dash would of been for A/C vent.

  3. Pretzel

    Great write up – Good to see an Aussie muscle car in the USA…

    The dashboard and console are from the Landau version of the XA/XB which was the 2 door LTD using the same body style with longer front panels/bonnet and a revised rear panel using LTD/Fairlane rear lights, same dashboard and console as the 4 door LTD of course, but someone has re-covered the console as it looks to be furry and not the factory leather. This dash/console was a very common upgrade, as was bolting on the LTD/Fairlane front panels (not on this one)

    The square hole in the dash is one of the factory A/C vent holes so if this car has the complete Landau/LTD dash, heater box and plumbing, an adjustable direction vent should push in there to complete the hole

    Looks like a very solid car and would be a great car either as a Mad max replica or original (my vote is make it original, as Adam said… there’s enough replica’s out there)

    The front of the car looks to be sitting very high so either odd (high) springs or the motor may not yet be fitted.

  4. Jwinters

    no need to try to make this a mad max clone. that’s what everyone is going to think it is just how it is

    6
  5. Chris In Australia

    31K USD for that? There’s plenty of American iron and fibreglass that I’d have for that kind of coin. The vendor could have at least bolted the RHF wheel on.

    3
  6. Doc

    Time to lower the zeros on that listing.

    2
    • Davo

      These are one of the toughest looking cars when done right!
      Wont pick a nice one up for under $70k here in OZ, Rare here, let alone in the US.

      1
  7. steve

    Looks like a cross between a 69 GTO and 71 Torino, send it back Oz if you want 30 large.

  8. ACB

    In stock form, XB Falcon GTs couldn’t manage a sub-15 second ¼ mile time. Except for the first few which used leftover stock of US-built Cleveland 351s with 4V heads, the XB GT was fitted with the Australian-built 351s with 2V heads (all XB onwards Australian 351s were 4Bbl with the 2v heads).

    This one is a mix of this and that; the interior is from an early (73-76) Australian LTD or Landau which, in the fake wood dash, includes a 24hr clock instead of a tach but the parts interchangeability (not just the XA/B/C) of the various generations of Falcons, coupled with their mechanical simplicity, means they’re easily rendered into just about any iteration.

    They now sell for high prices in Australia. As late as the 1980s, they were a bit of an orphan and not in high-demand. Most folk though they looked a bit ungainly; unless those big rear wheel wells are filled, it’s an odd look.

    1
  9. sir mike

    Needs to go back to Australia where it will be fixed correctly and loved.

    1
  10. djjerme

    Was just watching some vintage Bathhurst 1000 races with these. I’d build it as a full on track car – screw the Mad Max theme. These cars were meant to take on Mount Panarama.

    https://youtu.be/4_kNFGezgQI

    Or just do this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oab6LYNOKpM

    1
    • Tricky

      XB/XC Cobra’s have been done to death….

      As previously stated, 2-door hardtops are widely sought-after here in OZ, along with XW and XY GT’s.

      For what its worth, they were quite heavy, but had good power, and looked the part. The mad max films just helped increase their desirability.

  11. Jeff T.

    they are very similar in looks to 70-73 mustangs ,same running gear engine trans etc,getting big dollars now here in the southern hemispere,dont know why any body would want to mad max it ,waste of time and money,quite a rarity in the US i would think ,ebay the mad max junk,resto parts out of AUS wont be to bad cos of difference in US $ TO AUS $ mite be worth the effort.sell it back to the aussies they LOVE EM.

    1
  12. markp

    I vote make it another “Last of the V8 Interceptors”

  13. TimM

    Nice car but who put the steering wheel in the passengers seat???? I’m not in the know at all about these cars but a 351 and a 4 speed top loader are a pretty good setup!!

    2
    • Dave

      Mirror image?

  14. David Ulrey

    Nothing against this particular one but I wish I had the $ to buy a really nice one. Love these!!!!! If money wasn’t an object I’d fly to Australia to car shop and have it shipped. Maybe one of the wicked 4 door Falcons too. :)

  15. Steve

    Search Netflix for loving the beast.

    1
  16. Troy s

    Looks like it could be a pretty sharp machine without any cloning. It would feel very odd for an American like myself to try and drive from the right hand side, Especially a manual transmission. Neat car.

    1
    • David Ulrey

      It’s actually not as difficult to get used to it as you might think. I drove a RHD Jeep Cherokee mail delivery vehicle. Takes no time to get used to it. Don’t underestimate yourself.

      1
  17. IAN BLACKFORD

    Its relatively easy to drive on either side.Here in New Zealand we drive on the left (the British side) as does Australia,most of Asia,Japan,India and other countries scattered around the world.I have a Falcon RHD and a Mustang LHD and dont have any problems.You Americans drive on the French side (the right).Our side goes back to ancient Rome and its all to do with most people being right handed.The left side was normal for centuries and a law in Britain until then Napoleon Bonaparte moved Europe to the right side and Henry Ford who being Irish (Anglophobe) would only make model T’s in the French format (LHD).

  18. Tex260Z

    I also drive right RHD vehicles in Oz, but have absolutely no problem driving in Europe, in fact I love it because the drivers are so much better at actually driving, much more sensible and courteous. No one in France would dream of holding up the fastest cars by driving in the far left lane, and when passing an on ramps on the freeway everyone pulls into the middle lane regardless if someone is entering the freeway or not! BTW, there are virtually NO autos in Europe, all stick.

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