Thursday, 28 February 2019

XF-YEAH!

Something a little different from the National Motor Racing Museum in Bathurst, NSW... 
The utility variation of an Australian-engineered local-market model from an American manufacturer - briefly re-badged as Japanese - heavily modified to rocket around Mexico in the late 80s...

Oh yes, it's the 1984- Ford (Australia) XF Falcon Ute built by Australian Jim Hunter to compete in the "Presidente Sauza SCORE Baja 1000" in November 1987!

Not only does its existence make clear it survived that adventure (and the following decades!), the Australian and American driver team of Jim Hunter and Randy Salmont successfully completed the day-long ~700 mile loop from Ensenada to Ensenada and won their class (Class 6). Impressive pace and durability for the car's first attempt...

Essence-of-Falcon: while most of the bodywork appears as you'd find on an XF Falcon Ute, the view from the back starts to reveal there's some serious work lurking beneath...

...that's assuming you'd overlooked the stratospheric ride height (both ends good for ~15" of travel) up to this point!

No leaf-sprung solid-axle here!
Chrome-moly tube space frame, rear-mounted GM TH400 and a now-independent 9" diff fitted with inboard Jaguar disc brakes...

...while the intricate rear suspension has seemingly, conveniently, been coloured in order to highlight the different components!
It consists of a pair of large transverse torsion bars (in yellow) bolted to the chassis' main RHS behind the diff by a fantastic gusseted combination bracket (yellow) that also secures the similarly large diameter swaybar (silver/grey). The swaybar ends with links (black) sky-high above the back of each torsion arm (black), with even longer links (also black) running vertically down to the top of those very serious looking hubs.
Each hubs is located by five chrome-moly tube links (all painted blue): a pair of long trailing links running longitudinally from the back of the cab to the 5 and 11 o'clock positions on the forward side of the hub, with a trio of transverse links - two lower and a single upper - running to the 12, 4, and 8 o'clock spots, each topped by long-travel Rancho shock (all white) tasked with ensuring there's no unwanted rotation or load on that hub/wheel!

Further forward, the rear-mounted 45 gallon tank fed the Falcon's ~400HP warmed-over 351ci Cleveland.

On an interesting tangent, while this motor is right at home under the bonnet and here sits in its original position, the XF Falcon actually marked the point where Ford Australia stopped fitting these V8s to the Falcon! The previous XE and XD revisions of the same 1979- fourth-generation Falcon came equipped with both 302ci and 351ci Australian-manufactured variations of Ford's "Cleveland" V8..

The huge (particularly for a 2WD Utility based on an early-eighties passenger car!) 35x12.5R15 BF Goodrich Mud Terrains. The large diameter and chosen gearing seeing the car push ~140mph (225km/h) flat-out.

Geography humour.
The "II" of "Down Under Thunder II" being Jim's second attempt at the Baja 1000 after competing the year before in a Chevy Blazer (and well, again in June 1987 in the Baja 500 in a Chev C20)...

*arm at maximum extension*
Unfortunately this was as close to the cab or front-end as I was to get, with the car penned in and roped off on all other sides; so that's a "no" for a glimpse of the interior or front suspension here... 
So a step back it is; things could be worse!
One thing's for sure: has inspiration been hurled into the too-hard-basket here?! It's instantly apparent that nowhere near enough X-series Falcon Utes are given the Prerunner / Trophy-truck look!

We're done anyway. Hopefully you enjoyed the brief look this potentially-forgotten piece of motorsport history as much as I did. What an awesome bit of gear...

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