The Rarest Shelby? 1970 Ford Falcon XY GS

For Australian performance car enthusiasts, it seemed that the closest they ever got to a homegrown classic with a link to the legendary Carroll Shelby was the 1978 Ford Falcon XC Cobra. While it wore the iconic white paintwork and blue stripes, it was little more than a styling exercise that allowed Ford Australia to find buyers for 400 surplus Falcon XC Hardtop bodyshells that were taking up valuable space. However, there was another link between Shelby and Ford in Australia, and it has gone largely unnoticed until now. This 1970 Ford Falcon XY GS is 1-of-5 Australian Falcons to receive Shelby upgrades, and it is the only one of those cars that rolled off Ford Australia’s production line in GS form. That makes it a truly unique vehicle, and the owner has decided that the time is right to part with this automotive unicorn. The Falcon has been listed for sale here at Lloyds Auctioneers & Valuers, and the bidding has reached A$80,500 with nearly three days left on the listing.

Sometimes, tracking the history of a particular classic car can be difficult, but it appears that this Falcon has left a decent trail behind it that helps to tell its story. It was sold new by Wright Ford in Sydney, New South Wales. It saw active duty as a daily driver for many years before it found its way to the seller in around 2010. A previous owner performed a cosmetic restoration of this rust-free classic, repainting it in its original shade of Onyx Black. However, this wasn’t a completely faithful restoration. The Falcon originally rolled off the line wearing what was referred to by Ford Australia as a Continental Vinyl Roof. This is a landau-style vinyl top, and in this case, it was in contrasting White. While I like to see cars like this restored to their original state, I can’t say that I’m sorry that the vinyl has disappeared. The “GS” was a Rally Pack option offered across most of the Falcon range. It was essentially a cosmetic package that brought unique chrome wheel covers for the steel wheels, along with bucket seats, upgraded gauges, and a few other creature comforts. This car rolls on what would’ve been the correct wheels and caps when it left the factory, but as we will see, there is a story behind these. It’s also worth noting that the original owner ordered this GS with the relatively rare factory sunroof. Overall, the vehicle’s presentation is excellent, with no apparent issues or problems for the buyer to tackle.

Wright Ford had a strong involvement in motorsport and had fielded several entries in the famous Bathurst 500 race before this car had even rolled off the production line. They were a dealer that lived by that old adage of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” and they derived some significant sales from their very visible involvement in the sport. The dealership forged a working relationship with Carroll Shelby and became the Australian agent for Shelby performance parts. Customers could walk into the Parts Department, hand over their cash, and walk away with a handful of Shelby parts to bolt onto their blue-oval toy. Alternatively, they could do what the original owner of this Falcon did. Buyers could purchase a car from Wright Ford, clock about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) behind the wheel, and then hand it back to Wright Ford to receive the complete Shelby treatment. The 351ci Cleveland V8 was pulled, stripped, with the short block being blueprinted and reassembled. The heads were despatched to Waggott Engineering, where the valves were relapped, and Shelby rocker guide plates were fitted. Once the heads had returned to Wright’s, they were bolted back onto the engine that also received a Shelby camshaft, hardened GTHO pushrods, a dual-point Shelby distributor, a Shelby Hi-Riser intake, a modified Holley 600 CFM carburetor, and a Shelby air cleaner and valve covers. Once bolted back together, the engine was reinstalled into the car, tuned, and the vehicle placed onto the dyno. Wright Ford took horsepower measurements at the rear wheels, but the boost equated to around 25%. So, the Falcon rolled into the Wright workshop producing around 300hp and rolled out with approximately 375hp. That wasn’t the end of the story because the illustrious Mr. Shelby also specified some suspension upgrades. The factory shocks were given the flick in favor of upgraded items, while Shelby-spec front and rear swaybars were added by Wrights. The steel wheels and decorative hubcaps that Ford fitted were removed, and Shelby specified 14″x7″ Magnum Eliminator alloy wheels in their place. The ones for this car have disappeared over the years, and since they are no longer produced, potential buyers might need to scour sites like eBay to find a set that are fit for restoration. As an interim measure, this GS rolls on its factory-correct steel wheels and hubcaps. The final touch was to fit harder brake pads to reduce fade. Interestingly, Shelby insisted that Wright should produce these Falcons without the luxury of power steering. To put it politely, the power steering that Ford Australia offered on the Falcon at that time was vague and lacked anything resembling feel or feedback. Shelby insisted that these cars should be a total package, so power steering was deemed unavailable on a Shelby Falcon. This GS is a numbers-matching car that is in sound mechanical health. Bolted to the back of that 351 is a 3-speed automatic transmission, and I believe that that makes this the only automatic Shelby Falcon ever built. The seller has treated the engine to a rebuild, but it still retains its Shelby components. It runs and drives well and is ready to be enjoyed by a new owner.

Apart from a replacement carpet set, the Falcon’s interior is original. The seller also treated the rimblow wheel, which was optional on the GS but standard on the GT, to a refresh. The Gold Mist upholstery is unrestored, and its condition is excellent for a vehicle of this age that has survived Australia’s harsh UV rays. The dash and pad are in good order, and the buyer won’t need to spend any money addressing issues or problems. While the standard Falcon interior featured a bench seat, column shifter, and a basic set of gauges, the GS pack brought some welcome upgrades. These included bucket seats, a short console, a floor shifter, and a sports gauge cluster that included a tach. Add in the sunroof and a factory AM radio/8-track player, and this was a well-appointed interior for an Aussie car built in 1970.

Carroll Shelby’s intimate knowledge of Ford products is widely known, and Wright Ford’s considerable involvement in motorsport made for the perfect collaboration. Shelby wasn’t merely interested in sending a few parts Down Under to be sold. He was interested in allowing Wrights to create a package that he could endorse. In the end, it appears that the production totals were extraordinarily low. It is believed that Wright Ford fitted the Shelby package to four examples of the Falcon XY GT and one example of the GS. This is that car, and no others have ever emerged that could prove these figures wrong. Maybe the illustrious Mr. Shelby didn’t build these cars himself, but his engineering input and the parts he supplied should make this 1970 Ford Falcon XY GS the rarest Shelby ever built.

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Comments

  1. wayne gallant

    station wagons any make thanks and cheers

  2. Bamapoppy

    Wow! Simply wow! I do want to ask about one thing; the automatic shifter looks a LOT like the one in my ‘65 Mustang that had a V8. Would anyone agree?

    Like 1
    • Chris Webster

      Agree. Ford Australia had long tradition of running to Daddy in Dearborn for parts. The wheel trims are imports too.

    • OzyJohn

      Well probably, they’re both Fords BUT, $80k for a GS? I’ll pass

  3. Johnny Gibson

    Nice feature, XW/XY are my favorite model. Those steering wheels used to drive me nuts, easily end up in a road rage incident with some short fused twit these days.

  4. Will Fox

    And to think Australia’s hottest and scarcest of these models was nothing more than a glorified `68 Falcon sedan…..

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Isn’t that the Falcon XT? Looking at the front of that car, I can’t help but look at our 1966 Ford Falcon.

      Like 1
      • Donald D

        Had a 66’ four door Falcon for my first ride.
        Someone had used a 7” roller to apply the paint. 🤷‍♂️ Straight six ran well.

        Like 1
    • Chris Webster

      A tarted up Fairmont with a crate motor. Over rated new, over priced now.

      • Car Nut Tacoma

        I have to agree. I’m not into that kind of thing. I like original survivors. If it came from the showroom floor with a V8 engine, that’s okay. But I’d be happy with a six cyl. engine, as long as it’s been maintained and carefully driven.

  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. I’d buy a Ford XY Falcon if I lived in Australia or in New Zealand. The Falcon came in different trim levels, such as the Falcon 500, the Falcon GT, the Fairmont, 4 door Sedan and station wagon body styles. I’d buy a Ford XY Fairmont wagon with a straight six engine with almost every available option one could order.

  6. JoeNYWF64

    A comparison to the USA falcon – completely different dash & tailites …
    http://findclassicars.com/ford/176397-1970-ford-falcon-futura.html
    Maybe 40% of parts shared? Why not more?

  7. FireAxeGXP

    Cars like this are exactly why I read Barn Finds every day. Awesome car. Love Australian rides and own one myself. Well written story. Nice work all around!

    Like 3
  8. t-bone BOB

    nice

  9. Jeff Fenwick

    I used to own a XY GT from Wright Ford with all the SHELBY gear and badges, it was Vermilion Fire and it was an Automatic too.

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