Thursday, July 30, 2020

the 'supercar scare' of 1971

At the time car manufacturers were building faster and faster sedans, and the Australian government had safety concerns.

"Ford had released the fastest sedan in the world in 1971, the Phase III GTHO Falcon," said Bill Freeman, head of classic cars at GraysOnline auctioneers.

"The government ended up saying to Australian manufacturers, 'If you produce 160 mile-an-hour supercars, we won't give you fleet orders.'

only 120 super cars were built after that .


  1. When this went down, the big three( Holden, Ford and Chrysler) all had goodies in the pipeline.
    The government fleets, especially the Police fleets were hotly contested by all.
    A delegation visited all three and told them, "We cant tell you what to do but..."
    And just like that it was all over.

    Phone calls were made and overnight all manufacturers rounded up their stock and brought it all back to the respective factories.
    The only privately owned Phase four was pushed out of the gates before the truck arrived to take it away with the others.

    Fords Phase 4 program was disbanded and run out as RP83's.
    They also gifted the commonwealth some special Police cars as highway pursuit vehicles.
    Some were more special than others.
    One in particular was a white Falcon 500 stuffed full of Phase 4 bits.
    In their day, they ran a small lit "Police" sign on the roof and a siren on the hood.
    This particular one is referred to by the Ford guys as "the twin siren one"
    It was the only one that required two sirens.
    It also carried more fuel than anything else on the road and didn't care if it was a car or bike. It could outrun anything.
    Sadly one morning it backfired through the carb and burnt to the ground.
    Even in Mad Max the pursuit special, is said to have Phase four heads.

    While Ford was running with their "Super roo" GT's, Holden embarked on two programs.
    One was converting their GT beating 6 cylinder Toranas to V8.

    "Harry Firth had three V8 prototypes built from brand new XU-1s, then Evan Green’s story came out [Sun Herald, 25 Jun ’72] and all hell broke loose. Around 11am Monday morning I went and had a look at the three cars; they were pink, orange and dark green. Some say one was white but that was another car that Harry made as a mule."

    "Anyway, after I’d had a look I went to lunch and while we were eating we heard that [managing director] Bill Gibbs had simply said: “Get rid of them.” I rushed back and all three were gone.'
    Leo Pruneau.
    GMH head of design.

    That "Mule" was also pushed out the gate quickly. A phone call told them a truck was coming to pick them up, so all the necessary parts were tossed inside the mule and it left the grounds, truth is, it was parked in the street outside.

    Holden upgraded their HQ series to a Fuel injected Pontiac 400 small block GT killer.
    Named "The EMU" or "Old man Emu"(after our national flightless bird), and a popular song chorus of the day,
    "He can't fly but I'm tellin' you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo".

    Although Holden engineered their models to accept any engine GM had in production,
    the 454 was too heavy and so the Pontiac small block proved the best choice.
    It was to be available in a Ute, Sedan and Coupe.

    "These cars were our response to the rumours we’d been hearing about the Phase IV. I was worried Holden would be left behind and non-competitive. While the cars had 350 decals on them, industrial espionage was alive and well, and the decals were on there to throw Ford off the track — the plan was to fit a 400ci fuel-injected motor in Old Man Emu. It’s a pity it never got the chance to run the wheels off a Super Roo!"
    Leo Pruneau.
    GMH head of design.

    Here's the ute.

    Here's the 350/z Monaro coupe and the injection carb in a one off show program.

    Heres the EMU coupe.

    1. wow.... thanks for the page of info!