Some car buffs love all types of vehicles, some love a particular make, era or even a particular model. Ben Chesterfield fits into the latter category. His car of choice? Ford’s classic XW Falcon. Ben confessed that he’s owned a lot of nice cars over the years, but the XW Flacon’s have that special something – that ‘X Factor’.
The Queenslander isn’t content at having just one example of his favourite ride, though. Ben owns six XW Falcons, including some very desirable versions.
The Reef Green 1969-model XW GT pictured was first purchased by Ben 25 years ago. It didn’t stay in his possession for long back then, but such was Ben’s passion for XW GT’s, and this car in particular, that he tracked it down and bought it back.“I bought the car back in 1990,” Ben explained. “However, after a couple of years, I had to sell it, as I needed the money for some equipment for my panel shop.
“I always regretted it, so after 17 long years, I found it and bought it back – the inflation hurt though,” Ben said. That inflation? Almost nine times what he originally paid for it back in 1990 – ouch!
Through his own research, Ben believes the car has had five previous owners, while an ACCHS reports (Australian Classic Car History Services P/L) confirmed the car was finished in Reef Green with a black vinyl interior from the factory. Under the bonnet was the XW GT’s standard 351 Windsor V8, hooked up to a toploader 4-speed manual transmission (a 3-speed FMX auto was optional for the GT at this time).
One of 66 XW GT’s built with this particular paint and trim combo, the ACCHS report also showed that Ben’s car was one of the only six to share the same build specifications and that the car had been originally delivered to Harrigan’s Ford in Wollongong, NSW, on 20 August, 1969 – only a couple of months after the XW GT had been released.
Hard to imagine now, but when the XW GT debuted in June, 1969, it’s bold, aggressive appearance came in for criticism from some quarters for being a bit too lairy. Against the more subdued XT GT, the XW was identified by broad stripes, locking pins and an offset-scoop (designed to cool the brake master cylinder) on the bonnet, with bolder side stripes and the now iconic ‘Super Roo’ emblems on the front guards.
That emblem had been previewed in early 1969 on a motor show “ideas car” commissioned by Ford Australia’s then Managing Director, Bill Bourke, and based on an imported US 2-door Falcon.
Inside, the GT was trimmed with a Fairmont-spec interior, but added additional gauges in an instrument panel that had been resigned for the XW series. One knock on the XW GT interior was that it dropped the genuine wood-rim steering wheel of the previous two GTs for a plastic lookalike unit.
Under the bonnet, the new GT may not have had the stonking 427i (7.0-litre) V8 from the Super Roo showcar, but it did pack a 351ci (5.8-litre) ‘Windsor’ V8. ‘351’ badges on the guards and bootlid let everyone know that what was under the bonnet was an upgrade from the XT’s 302 (4.9-litre).
With add-ons like hydraulic valve lifters, a 450cfm Autolite carburetor, and an 10.7:1 compression ratio, the difference in power was 290hp (217kW) against the XT’s 230hp (172kW).
Over a regular XW Falcon, the GT also added power-assisted Kelsey Hayes disc front brakes as standard, a twin-plate clutch and limited-slip diff, as well as a fuel tank that, at 36 gallons (164 liters), was more than double the capacity of the previous tank.
All these features, of course, were designed with the racetrack in mind, but the GT-HO was even more specific; its combination of parts was designed solely to deliver victory for Ford at Bathurst.
Considering he’s something of an XW fanatic, it’s no surprise that Ben’s got an XW GT-HO, as well.