Evolution of the Revolution
When the XT GT arrived in May, 1968
, it was obviously a continuation of the theme - although it was available in a greater range of colours, and introduced driving lights to the grille, a feature that was to become a trademark for all subsequent GTs.
Speculation had been rife as to what shape or form the 1968
XT Falcon GT would take after the release of the XT Falcon
models earlier that year. There was talk of Ford introducing the massive 390 cu. in. engine, but this was dismissed by most people on the grounds of understeer.
Others believed the existing 4.7 litre V8 was far from fully developed and that the new XT would feature this engine in a higher rate of tune; Racing Car News, for example, predicted twin four-barrel carburettors and 300 bhp. Indeed the engine size was increased, to 302ci (4.9litres), raising power output to 230hp - only 5 bhp more than the XR GT
The compression ratio was increased to 10.0:1, and a limited slip axle was available to put the power to the ground. There was an increase in the rim width to 6 inches, although 185 x 14 tyres
were still fitted. These changes, along with some minor revisions to the suspension
(including a front anti-roll bar
), made the XT a taughter, but more comfortable drive than its predecessor.
The brake setup from the XR GT
was carried over, which meant 11-inch front discs and drum rear brakes, although the XT used a dual hydraulic system. For the first time an automatic transmission
was available as an optional extra. With a top gear giving 24.25 miles per hour per 1000 rpm the theoretical maximum speed attainable worked out to be 126 mph at 5,200 rpm, and drivers believed 130 mph would be within reach on the long Conrod Straight at Bathurst
1968 London - Sydney Marathon
In competition the XT GT was not a resounding success. Suprisingly enough, the car's biggest success came in the field of rallying, specifically the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon, where a three car works entered team led by Harry Firth won the team's prize and the Vaughan/Forsyth/Ellis car finished third.
The great strength of the body and the reliability of the engine and transmission
had been convincingly demonstrated.
The first major track outing of the XT GT was at the Datsun 3 Hour Trophy at Sandown Park, where an XT GT in the hands of Don Toffolon and Tom Roddy scored fourth place. The big test awaited at the 1968 Hardie Ferodo 500
. But after only 35 minutes of racing the
M.Savva/R.Wilkinson Falcon showed signs of overheating, which did not auger well for the others. In fact, things went very badly for the Fords, with brake troubles, tyre
troubles and overheating troubles.
Despite all this, the Gibson/Seton Falcon was in the lead with only 15 laps to go. But overheating struck this car as well, and finally the car blew a piston
and the Monaro of Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland swept to victory.
The first Falcon home was, ironically, the 1967 XR GT
of Stacey and McIntyre, which came in seventh, one place in front of the Brauer/Harrod XT GT. The first works car was that of the Geoghegan brothers, who finished 10th.
With a fastest lap of 2 min. 58 sec., the winning Monaro was five seconds per lap quicker than the Falcons were in the 1967 Hardie Ferodo 500
, and three seconds faster than the Gibson/Seton car in 1968. Also, the Monaros were achieving 125-128 mph on Conrod Straight, whereas the Falcons could only manage around 121 mph, 4 mph slower than 1967