The Mighty Falcon XY GTHO
1970 was a time of conservative politics, with Sir John Grey Gorton as PM and Australia still prospering. Thankfully the fuel crisis was still a few years away, otherwise we may have never seen the emergence of arguably the best Falcon GT to date - the mighty XY GTHO
The fitting of seat belts to new motor vehicles became mandatory in 1970, but it would take a further 2 years for the government to legislate to make it mandatory for both driver and passengers to wear them. Indeed, 1970 can be considered the year the authorities became serious about reducing the road toll.
While this site is far from being an advocate of the ridiculous "speed camera
" revenue mantra adopted by many State Governments, the improvements in vehicle safety, driver education and the quality of Australian roads (although still deplorable by world standards) has seen the road toll for 1999 decline to be less than half that of 1970!
A Luxury Land Rover
While development of a "luxury" Land Rover
commenced in 1966, it was not until 1970 that the public had their first glimpse of the new luxury 4X4. Using Rover's 3.5 litre V8 engine was undoubtedly the reason for the success, as four wheel drives had been, until then, utalitarian in nature and had traded power for torque, usually by way of an underpowered 4 cylinder engine. The Range Rover
was a unique vehicle, combining excellent off-road abilities and refined around town manners - it quickly becoming a status-symbol of the affluent that remains to this day. Interestingly, it remains as the only vehicle to have been exhibited in the Louvre as a work of art.
However not everything to come out of the UK was golden. BMC were losing market share to the Ford Cortina
and Holden Torana
, and realised they needed a new mid sized car to replace their rapidly aging designs. And thus evolved the Marina, although using the word "evolve" is overstating it a little. Using running gear dating back to 1948, designers reasoned that the "all new" Marina would be accepted by the public by way of knowing its technology was tried and tested. Tried and Tested it may have been, but the appaling build quality was to become the main reason anyone would talk about the Marina - and non existant trade in valuations were soon to follow.
The Alfa Romeo Montreal
While BMC seemed to be hitting an all-time low, Italy's Alfa Romeo was to launch one of the finest cars of that decade, the highly sought after Montreal
. With aggressive styling by Bertone
, the car featured a delightful 2.6 litre V8 offering plenty of performance, but being so light as to give the car the feeling of being mid-engined. But many Journalists were disappointed with the Montreal, lamenting the fact that Alfa had not gone the extra step and made the Montreal a genuine mid-engined supercar - particularly given Alfa's astronomical asking price. So for devotees of the marque, the real news of 1970 was in the replacement of the wonderful 1750GTV
with the 2000GTV
. The new model carried over the wonderful styling and interior, but now offered better performance from a larger 2 litre motor.
Following previous racing events around the country, and most particularly at the Sandown 250, Ford were discovering much to their chargrin that the new Cleveland engines were not proving to be as reliable as they should have been. Ford went into the 1970 race with 14 Falcon's and an air of uncertainty about their engines, their brakes
and the potential of the opposition, particularly the Torana’s, which had done very well at Sandown Park. Then there were the new Chrysler Pacer's, an unknown at the race track, and featuring a sweet 4 litre 245ci straight six with a four-barrel carburettor.
was developed under the guidance of Leo Geoghegan
and, although slightly larger in size than the Falcon’s, it was, like the Torana
, lighter. In practice, Allan Moffat
won pole position with a 2 min. 49 sec. lap, and the other works-entered Falcons filled positions two and three on the grid. But practice did not increase Ford's confidence as the Torana’s had run all day with problem, whereas the Falcons had suffered a lot of engine troubles and overnight rebuilds were the order of the day for quite a number of them.
The first lap of the race gave heart to the Holden supporters as Colin Bond, who had already worked up from fourth on the grid, dived under Allan Moffat under brakes
to take the lead in his Torana XU1
. It didn't take Moffat long to re-pass Bond, however, and the Canadian stayed in the No. 1 spot for the remainder of the race. Behind him, however, a lot of Falcons were in trouble. The works car of Fred Gibson and Barry Seton had its differential seize and Bruce Hodgson, Gary Rush, David McKay, Kyrn Aunger and Bob Beasley all suffered engine failures. Bruce McPhee, also in a works car came in second on the same lap as Moffat, but the next Falcon home was the car of John Goss and Bob Skelton, who had driven a good race to come in seventh, theirs being the first non-works Falcon to complete the distance.
Porsche F1 Rumours
In mid 1970 there were also rumours about Porsche participation in Formula 1, given they had bought a Formula 1 Brabham BT33 chassis from Jack Brabham
himself. It was to be tested using a flat-12 3-litre engine. Rumour also had it that it was to be Jo Siffert
that would be driving the car regularly from the South African Grand Prix next March onwards. While on the subject of motorsport, Porsche took third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions in the Tour de France. The 1970 event, which took place from September 19-27, had an overall distance of around 2850 miles. The start was at Bandol on the south coast of France and from there the route led to nine different race circuits, 10 hillclimb venues and one sprint test interconnected by stages. So really the event was more of an endurance race than a rally.
The two 3-litre racing Matra-Simca 650s of Jean-Pierre Beltoise
and Henri Pescarolo
scored a popular victory, these machines showing amazing stamina as well as superior speed. But third was Gerard Larrousse in a special Porsche 911S
built to Group 6 prototype regulations: by using glassfibre panels and keeping inside trim to a minimum, Porsche technicians pared the weight down to 1800 lb. The engine was increased from 2.2 to 2.4 litres to give 245 bhp at 8000 rpm. With special low gearing to give maximum acceleration on the hillclimb courses (where Larrousse beat the Matras on occasion) a maximum speed of 140 mph was claimed.
The German Grand Prix
The reasons why the 1970 German Grand Prix
was transferred from Nurburgring
to Hockenheim was clarified by a statement from Jo Bonnier
, president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. This was a little belated and the outcome of much adverse publicity for the GPDA, who previously have not issued any statements after their meetings. The statement said that on September 8, 1968
, a meeting took place at Nurburgring
at which a list was drawn up of the alterations required for the increased safety of both spectators and drivers. The Nurburgring
organisers approved the list and gave a verbal undertaking to complete the work over a period of two to three years.
When the GPDA revisited the circuit on July 8 1970, with a few additions to their list in the light of the additional knowledge gained in the use of guard rails and chain-link fences, they found that very few of the alterations promised in 1968
had been carried out, even though Herr Ludemann, of Nurburgring
later told the press that they had completed virtually everything, and that the work requested now was news to him and could not be carried out in time of the deadline of August 2. Bonnier continued, "In order to establish the facts, Herr Herbert Schmitz, of the Automobilclub von Deutschland, and I made a new and very thorough inspection of Nurburgring
on August 3. We found that the agreement of 1968
had not been respected by Herr Ludemann, as only somewhere between 25 and 33 per cent, of the work mentioned on the 1968
list had been done.
"There is no question that most drivers find Nurburgring a fabulous circuit and a great challenge, but it is only com-monsense that we should want to make motor racing as safe as possible for everybody concerned. "There could be no excuse whatsoever for an accident involving spectators, and as drivers, all we ask for is a chance of survival when a tyre
bursts, something breaks or we make an error."
While the Beatles topped the charts in 1970 with "Let It Be", Australians were to slowly adopt a wonderful new fashion sence, wonderful that is if you liked platform shoes, wide ties and even wider lapels. The "Safari Suit" would soon become our adopted National Uniform. And 1970 was unfortunately not without tradgedy. While many journalists refer to the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami as the worst natural disaster in living memory, surely the cyclone and resultant tidal wave that killed over 500,000 people in Eastern Pakistan on November 12 1970 could be considered even more devastating?
Back home, 1970 was the year an up and coming R.J. (Bob) Hawke would succeed Albert Monk as president of the ACTU. The International Terminal was at last opened at Sydney's Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Airport, and Melbourne's new Tullamarine Airport took over from the aging Essendon Airport. On November 12th, the Australian 8th Battalion was to return from Vietnam - and they were not replaced, no doubt due to the large Moratorium marches being held throughout the country.
The King Retires
Graham Kennedy decided to retire from GTV9 in 1970, only to return two years later. But perhaps the biggest news on TV from that year was at the studio's of HSV7, where their new Saturday night variety show "The Penthouse Club" was launched. The show featured a mixture of variety, comedy, harness racing coverage and Tattslotto. It was to run until 1979. On the 18th April, VFL Park was officially opened, with Fitzroy and Geelong contesting the first match. Come finals time, it was traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood that would line up in the Grand Final, in front of the biggest crowd ever at a sporting event. Collingwood were to lead for the first 3 quarters, but in an incredible and gutsy comeback Carlton were able to finish strongly as the Collingwood players ran out of fresh legs. Jump forward 35 years and little remains of "Waverley", the site now developed as a housing estate - Collingwood are not fairing much better.
Formula One Championship:
(Austria) / Lotus-Ford
1970 Bathurst Winner:
/ XW Falcon GTHO
NRL Grand Final:
South Sydney (23) def. Manly-Warringah (12)
VFL/AFL Grand Final:
Carlton (17.9.111) def. Collingwood (14.17.101)
Baghdad Note (E. J. Didham)
Margaret Court d. B.J. King (14-12 11-9)
John Newcombe d. K. Rosewall (5-7 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1)
- Love Story
- Best Picture - Patton
- Best Actor - George C. Scott (Patton)
- Best Actress - Glenda Jackson (Women In Love)
Barry Crocker and Maggie Tabberer
- Let It Be - The Beatles
- Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
- My Sweet Lord - George Harrison
- Song Of Joy - Miguel Rios
- In The Summertime - The Mixtures
- Airport Love Theme - Vincent Bell
- Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum
- Knock Knock Who's There - Liv Massen
- Yellow River - Autum
- Close To You - The Carpenters
- Victor Etienne Demogeot (French Racing Pioneer, most famous when behind the wheel of his V8 Darracq)
- Jimi Hendrix (Rock musician)
- Janis Joplin (Rock musician)
- Sonny Liston (Heavyweight champion of the early 1960's)