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1972 Ford XA Falcon GT-HO Phase IV


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#1 OFFLINE   Yeow Yi Fan

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Posted 14 June 2019 - 11:26 AM

This is a story about the Bathurst special that the public never got. A 4-door sedan with a race-spec engine and built-in roll cage. It was destined for racetrack glory but succumbed to a stillborn status owing to public outcry and political pressure. This is Phase Four of the Australian Ford Falcon ‘Get the Hell Off’ series.

The year was 1972. 15 million Volkswagen Beetles had been produced. The Godfather was released in theaters months ago. You could be a random bloke living in New South Wales, doing the usual routine of picking up your Sun-Herald on 25 June and got served a strong caffeine-free morning kick with the screaming headline of 160 MPH ‘SUPER CARS’ SOON.

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The girl has nothing to do with the headline.


As a car guy, your initial response might be excitement. Then you read on and your emotions throttled down a little by the Minister ‘horrified’ sub-heading.

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The Reaction Guys reacting to the Supercar Scare. Classic meme for a classic car.


25 June 1972 will forever be associated with The Supercar Scare of Australia. At the time when the American muscle cars were on the descent, Australian car junkies were hard at work crafting out their greatest weaponry to do battle on the local touring car championships.

To be eligible for the then-Group E races, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) mandated that an entrant must be homologated by selling 200 production units. The saying “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” held true even at the other end of the globe.

Holden was reportedly in the midst of stuffing a V8 into the mid-size LJ Torana GTR XU-1, which could have been an ‘FU-1’ to the competition. Chrysler was testing an upgraded V8 Valiant Charger to replace the sexy-sounding Hemi-6. And finally, the subject matter here, Ford was hard at work releasing a successor to the very successful GT-HO Phase III, a Phase IV (obviously).

Evan Green, a newly appointed motoring editor for The Sun-Herald, wanted to be the first in announcing the arrival of these homologation specials and he wanted to do so on a grand scale. Green approached the then-Transport Minister of NSW, Milton Morris, for his take on these cars. Milton Morris, who sounds like a recurring character in the realm of Peter Parker and Bruce Banner, labelled these as “bullets on wheels”.

Nothing sells news like a negative one, so within days this became a national matter. The XA Falcon had the distinction of being the first vehicle to be mentioned in parliament during the ensuing ministerial discussions. Intense media coverage coupled with governmental pressure led to the Big Three canning all development works of their “Bathurst specials”. There was even a ‘gentle reminder’ of fleet contract cancellations should any of the manufacturers persisted with selling these supercars to the general public.

What followed was CAMS dropped the homologation rules. Holden was reportedly relieved to cease their project as they had qualms about installing a heavier V8 at the front of the Torana. It would be another 2 years before the Torana received its first V8 powerplant in the LH SL/R 5000.

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The Holden Torana. To me one of the best sounding automotive nameplates, along with the Pontiac Firebird and the Jensen Interceptor, just to name a few.


Chrysler proceeded with a V8 Valiant Charger having already imported some US engines. Instead of an R/T, the 340 LA V8 was bestowed on a slightly luxury-oriented SE 770 with only a Torqueflite 727 automatic transmission.

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The Chrysler Valiant Charger, quite different from the Dodge Charger that most people recognize.


Meanwhile at Ford, the 200 sets of proprietary equipment would end up in the RPO 83 (Regular Production Option). Well, make that 196 since 4 cars were slipped out the production floor which brings our attention now to the titular vehicle.

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1 of only 3 XA Falcon GT-HO Phase IVs still in existence and 1 of 2 in Brambles Red. This is known as ‘XA-2’.


Only 4 XA GT-HO Phase IVs were made; 1 was a compliant vehicle in Calypso Green while 3 were prototype racecars in Brambles Red prepared by Ford Special Vehicles. The former is the only XA Falcon that was plated as a legitimate GT-HO. The 3 racing versions were meant for race drivers Allan Moffatt and Fred Gibson plus a spare car.

Unfortunately, only 3 are in existence now as 1 of the racecars was used in competition and destroyed. And you thought the GT40 was rare. Not at all as 105 GT40s were made. Making it more common than the Fairlane 427 R Code (57 made) and the Skyranger (less than 20 made).

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You are more likely to find a GT40 than a Skyranger.


Imagine owning a vehicle which everyone within the hobby knows your identity and your chassis code. Each of the 3 prototypes were given designations by Howard Marsden, who was the ‘Skunkworks’ head at Lot 6 Mahoney Road, Ford Special Vehicles. XA-1 (#JG33MC78489K) belongs to, at the time of writing, a collector named Paul Carthew, who almost sold it at auction for a record AUD 2 million in October 2018. The deal fell through when the winning bidder faced some financial difficulty.

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‘XA-1’ was originally designated for Australian racing legend Allan Moffat. Current owner Paul Carthew has an amazing collection of American and Aussie muscles.


XA-2 (#JG33MC76429K) was first sold to Queensland-based rally driver Keith Goodall. It is now part of the famous David Bowden collection. David Bowden is the founder of Bowden’s Own premium car care products. He too has an awesome collection that focuses primarily on iconic Australian touring cars. A worthy mention is that XA-2 is now under its 2nd ownership under Bowden as it was sold to a Rod Mann who then sold it back to Bowden. There is a short and grainy YouTube video on XA-2 which featured Mann, further validating his once stewardship.

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‘XA-2’ amongst many other touring car legends in David Bowden’s fleet.


XA-3 (#JG33MC78488K) was sold to a rally driver named Bruce Hodgson. Probably the most used of the quartet as it was subsequently rallied in competitions and destroyed when it collided with a Holden Commodore. Some believe XA-3 was not written off completely and that the chassis and some parts remain salvageable for a complete resurrection.

Which leaves only 1 left and is the ‘one of one’ Calypso Green with a white interior. This sedan was fitted with many factory options such as laminated windscreen, stereo/cassette player, electric windows, air-conditioning and even a sliding sunroof. Ownership of this Phase IV is perhaps the most intriguing of all with the current and 4th owner known simply as ‘The Dentist’. The Calypso Green Phase IV is in Sydney and is rarely seen in public. There is a dedicated section at Quinfo which detailed each and every owner of this Phase IV (https://www.quinfo.c...phase-iv_5-9745) but since this scale model is not based on that actual car, please browse the link at your discretion. It makes for a very interesting read.

Amazingly, the entire restoration process of said Phase IV has since been shown on social media and you can even visit a dedicated Facebook page at https://www.facebook...77156856075229/ where we all can guestimate who the real owner is. Recently in a Ford event, it was displayed alongside its “estranged” XA-1 sibling.

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The Calypso Green Phase IV was finally shown to the public in an All Ford Day after a thorough restoration, on the right is XA-1 of Paul Carthew.


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This Falcon GT-HO Phase IV is now back to its resplendent Calypso Green hue after gotten resprayed in a darker paint earlier in its life.


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Literally the only one of its kind. You could get a 1:18 scale version of this by Classic Carlectables. Good luck finding one!


What we have here is a respectable replica in 1:18 scale by Classic Carlectables. This is actually the brand’s 3rd variant of the same model having released the XA-2 in 2008 and the production-compliant Calypso Green in 2014. The newsletter may have incorrectly stated that this Brambles Red sans racing livery is based on XA-3 since it was supposedly wrecked in the past. My investigative research would suggest this is based on XA-1 that belongs to Paul Carthew before he re-applied the racing livery for the 2018 auction.

As Classic Carlectables Newsletter No. 074 states, this Phase IV was originally delivered to McLeod Ford, then the workplace of John Goss, another Australian racing icon. However, Goss did not race the Falcon and it was eventually sold off to another owner before finding itself at Paul Carthew’s collection in 2002. This will be consistent with the timeline of XA-1 as detailed in various sources, not XA-3 as the newsletter stated. Another possible evident for the correct reference vehicle is that this model comes with 2 side mirrors. Bowden’s XA-2 has only the driver’s side mirror while Carthew’s XA-1 has both sides mirrored. In scale modelling, inaccuracies are bound to occur. In a past interview, Carthew acknowledged that the fire extinguisher on his XA-1 is behind the passenger seat for weight distribution however the sample here has the extinguisher, in yellow, placed behind the driver’s seat. This was also acknowledged by some collectors in the Classic Carlectables forum and might be a source of discontent for some.

As the spare vehicle, XA-1 was the least completed Phase IV. It was delivered to McLeod Ford and sat there for almost 2 years under a cover as Howard Marsden was keen to get rid of the 3 racecars. For a time, XA-1 was in Armadale, Western Australia with a John Hewitt. Hewitt owned it for almost 2 decades and XA-1 rolled only 200 miles before he agreed to sell to Carthew. Interestingly, Carthew drove the Falcon home and covered more mileage in that journey than Hewitt had during his ownership.

The packaging comprises of 2 parts; the outer corrugated box and the inner laminated paper box. The outer shell is a simple black and white affair with only the Classic Carlectables logo, model name and model code.

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Packaging is protected externally by this corrugated box.


The inner shell has one key element that is not present in every brand; artwork. It may be trivial but it might just influence whether you keep or dispose of the packaging. Generally, I would dispose of those window-type packaging.

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Every Classic Carlectables comes with artwork on the inner packaging. Every single model is limited production.


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Packaging provides sneak preview of what you are getting.


With both inner and outer packaging removed, you get a Styrofoam shell that is clasped by a paper band and on top sits a booklet plus your Certificate of Authenticity.

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I suspect my booklet and Certificate pack may have been placed the wrong side up.


The whole unboxing process is easy and fuss-free especially since the model is not screwed to the base. For some, this may be a cause for concern and rightly so as I was about to find out.

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Remove the upper Styrofoam shell and take in the splendor of the vibrant Brambles Red body color.


There is some minimal protection to keep the model in place via some plastic fixtures and hard sponges.

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Soft papers, hard sponges and plastic fixtures provide some minimal protection. No unscrewing required.


If you look at the last photo carefully, you might notice an out-of-place chrome piece. That is part of the car seat assembly for the front passenger. My passenger seat back was completely detached and the chrome piece is 1 of the 2 that affixes the seat back to the seat base whilst providing a pivot joint. Let’s just call these the seat recliners. A welcome surprise was that both front seats have adjustable back and sliding base.

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Can you imagine the impact needed to totally detach the seat back? As far as the eyes can see, this is the most fragile part of the entire model assembly.


To attach both the back and base, both the recliners have studs or doles. One stud on the right was completely broken and remains within the dowel hole of the seat back.

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The front seats are assembled via studs on the recliners. Studs on the detached left recliner is undamaged. Dowel holes on the seat serve as both installation and pivot points.


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Main stud of the right recliner was fully sheared. At least this allowed me to have a great view of the seat belt buckle.


It was relatively easy to reinstall my passenger seat back in spite of my fat fingers. I will have to keep in mind that the right side is now not as secure as it should be when ‘reclining’ the seat from time to time.


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Interior back to factory spec. The seat base slides too.


With this minor disruption addressed. The proper model review commences.

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When you first lift the Phase IV from the lower Styrofoam shell, make sure you have a steady grip as it has some serious heft to it. I recommend the wheel arches as the ideal gripping points.

The XA Falcon in sedan form measures 4,737 mm in length (186.5”), 1,900 mm in width (74.8”) and 1,369 mm in height (53.9”). Basically, it is just whiskers longer than the latest BMW G20 3 Series but sits lower and wider. Owing to its 4-door body-style, it does not immediately strike you as “loud” like the most iconic American muscle cars of the late 60s and early 70s. As you survey more though you begin to pick up the classic design cues such as the long hood, narrow front fascia with dual headlights and of course the Coke bottle styling.

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Nothing is more 70s than having a pair of dual round headlights on a full-width grille. There is a tasteful amount of chrome on the actual Phase IV that is generally well applied on the scale model. Though, if you look hard enough you might find the chrome strips to be thicker than should be.

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The Phase IV has only a few subtle badging and callouts; “FORD”, “GT” and “351 GT”. All these are fully accounted for by Classic Carlectables.

One thing I observed missing is the vertical rear fender lights/reflectors.

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The rear trunk on the actual Phase IV opens to a near upright position but this is not possible in the replica. With the exception of the spare wheel and rubber mats, you get a well-replicated rear compartment including the monstrous 36-gallon fuel tank.

Operation of the trunk doglegs is great. Smooth yet sturdy, almost industrial-grade. The trunk also closes with a solid ‘clink’ but try not to shut too hard.

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The interior of the Phase IV in reference is all-black except for some silver detailing and wood-trimming on the steering wheel and shifter console. The steering rim of the model is too thick, almost comical, while the spokes could be a little slimmer and longer. One commendable feature is the full instrumentation you get here.

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God knows what the engineers were thinking when they decided to base their racecar prototype on a 4-door sedan, instead of the coupe. Anyway, even though this Falcon was never meant to carry any passenger behind it is comical to see seat belts are still provided here.

Full marks to Classic Carlectables for using fabric for the seat belts and nicely detailed buckles instead of molding everything to the rear seat. Speaking of the seat, they feel squishy and rubbery to the touch, almost like actual vinyl seats in miniature form. Very satisfying to touch and press against.

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Now, when a model comes in both coupe and sedan body-styles it is usually not difficult to spot the one with the more awkward proportions and where it really hurts. The XA Falcon is not immune to this.

I like the silhouette of the Phase IV but there is just something about the rear doors’ beltline that seems odd to me. The rising beltline lends the second row a cramped profile. To be honest, the beltline of the actual car seems to rise more gently while the one on the model appears ‘too fast’.

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If I could give my 2 cents; increase the glass area marginally and reduce the gradient of the beltline incline slightly. Also, make the trunk section slightly longer in proportions.

Take a moment to appreciate the inclusion of the door lock pins.

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The wheels on the Phase IV measure 15 by 7 inches which are an inch bigger in both diameter and width than the Phase III. The rims look very familiar don’t they? That is because they were patterned after the Ferrari Daytona wheels and were made by Globe Products from South Australia. Being fully cast mag wheels, unsprung weight on the Phase IV is reduced with the additional benefit of reduced braking temperatures.

No licensed or scripted rubber here though it is nice to have some redlines. The wheels look amazing with very intricate detailing down to the valve stem.

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As with most high performance vehicles, the engine is the heart and soul. The same argument applies to a diecast replica even though the hood will remain mostly shut during the collector’s entire ownership.

The engine is the same 5,765 cc ‘351’ Cleveland V8 as the Phase III and was rated at ~320 hp though some sources report close to ~400 hp. The most significant upgrades were the revised intake manifold, wider track, revised rear suspension geometry and reduced axle ratio for the Detroit Locker (3.25 to 3.00). The main objective of the Phase IV was primarily on improved handling, stability at high speeds and greater flexibility in the engine power and torque delivery.

I’d say Classic Carlectables have done an excellent job in the engine bay. The V8 looks a masterpiece and the attention-to-detail is top. Even the radiator cap is not missed out. Similar to the trunk operation, the hood opens and closes with an assured feel of sturdiness. This is helped in no small part by the excellent hinges.

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The XA Falcon was significant in being the first to be fully designed and manufactured in Australia, but with assistance from the US headquarters. US influences are clearly visible even though production of the American Falcons had ceased after 1970. No surprise then that the front fascia has such strong hints of the contemporary Ford Torinos.

By leaps and bounds, the most impressive aspect of this 1:18 Phase IV is the front fascia. I have always loved cars from the 70s with dual round headlights. The cool factor is always elevated when they are set deep within the front fascia, almost consumed by the full-width grille. Detailing of all 4 headlights is amazing and the red “GT” emblem gives just enough hint of its performance credentials. A mugshot to die for but there are some flaws present. Again, the chrome strips are too thick but I understand it can be a challenge to fully replicate the dimensions in scale. Also, I noticed some of the assemblers can be a little  ‘touchy’ with finger prints galore on the chrome parts like the front bumper. Perhaps wear some gloves next time?

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It is not difficult to spot similarities between the XA Falcon and the 1969 Ford Torino Talladega.


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Influences can be seen on the 1971 Ford Torino too like the deep-set headlights.


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Moving to the back, everything appears to be fully captured. Even the trunk key hole is an individual piece, not molded or a cheap sticker. The dual exhaust is well finished and presents great, not obscured despite being set low beneath the sizeable bumper.

The Phase IV started life as a regular GT with options deleted and added down the production line. Sound-proofing was deleted, the windows were fully-tinted due to absence of air-conditioning, the vinyl seats have cloth inserts to prevent driver slide. Obviously, a built-in roll cage was added and for body strengthening,  there was extra spot- and seam-welding.

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The rear passenger space is perhaps the most questionable lot. Firstly, if we presume the correct reference vehicle is XA-1, the fire extinguisher should rightfully be behind the front passenger seat. It also appears that the color is incorrect. Maybe, just maybe, this is not based on XA-1? Historically though, only XA-1 was ever delivered to McLeod Ford. This shall remain a mystery for now.

What is not a mystery but for ease of manufacturing is the installation of the rear seat belts. By studying the reference picture, we can clearly see that both the belts and buckles are fitted on the seat base. The belts should not extend from the C-pillar, unlike on the scale model.

Frankly, I can live with these inaccuracies simply because the interior looks ridiculously badass with the built-in roll cage. The roll cage is the reason why I chose the Phase IV over the RPO 83 when I had yet to research the significance of the Phase IV.

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Not many brands nowadays like to draw attention to the undercarriage. Classic Carlectables is one of the few that is committed to give the most detailed at the price point. Starting at the front, the detailed engine sump looks the standout given how everything else is black. All the major suspension bits and pieces are there. Even the dampers are given a different color (yellow) just so you can admire them.

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Going to the opposite end, you will notice the driveshaft but sadly this is a static piece as it does not rotate. On the plus side, finishing on the leaf springs is praiseworthy. Similar to the front, the rear dampers are colored here, albeit in red.

With no references and contemporary photos to look at, it is impossible to argue if the undercarriage is factually accurate. This does not detract from the fact that this is an impressively crafted part of the model that will be less observed than the engine bay.

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The Phase IV tips the scale at 1,047 grams which makes it 3% lighter than its Phase III predecessor.

To anyone from Classic Carlectables reading this, the day when your model drops below 1 kilo is when I start questioning my allegiance to your brand.

Up till this point, I have covered mostly the positives while occasionally dabbled on areas that could have done better. I mentioned that the people who assemble the model seems rather heavy-handed. While there is no questioning the dedication of the engineering and design team, I reckon the production team could use some improvement initiatives. This will make what is already a highly-recommended product to be potentially ‘bucket list’ status.

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Apart from the presence of finger prints on chromed surfaces, there are areas where the assembly could be better or at least the adhesive application gets done with more finesse. What irks me a little is that the front windshield is not applied flush to the body shell and a cluster of dried adhesive is clearly visible.

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It is no surprise that what sells best nowadays are the supercars and hypercars but I believe there is a handful of collectors that simply prefer high performance 4-door sedans (or saloons depending on your speak). It is always a treat to open the 2 extra rear doors and inspect what is fitted to the trunk space.

I also think it is more demanding to make a sedan with full accessibility than a 2-seater supercar.

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I wonder if the Certificate is assigned in the correct sequence or just randomly…


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The Certificate is packaged with this fascinating booklet.


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Hopefully someone will shed light on the correct Phase IV that the model is based on.


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Just a wishful thinking but wouldn’t it be awesome if the actual collector was credited here? Or maybe he prefers to remain incognito but that makes no sense as all 3 owners have been identified.


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Though the Phase IV was ultimately canned, in a surprise twist, the surplus parts were eventually channeled to the RPO 83 build. In total, Ford built 130 sedans and 120 coupe.

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The Phase IV served as a surprisel segue for another Ford special, the RPO 83, available with either 2 or 4 doors!


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Remember when car advertisements were simpler and less forgetful? Remember when car advertisements were not about fuel mileage, infotainment system and all the electronic features?


As a bonus feature, I decided to do an outdoor shot with no filtering and no fiddling with camera settings using only my iPhone. This paints a more realistic picture of how the model actually looks like.

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This last shot was taken as rain started and a group of umbrella-wielding ladies walked pass. I will not let dignity stop me from taking a shot of raindrops on a matt black hood.


I highly recommend this amazing piece from Classic Carlectables. Suggested retail price is AUD 250 but some hobby stores do give 5% to 10% of discount. Shipping from Australia might not be cheap for some of you but this will fit in nicely to any theme of your choosing; muscle car, 4-door sedan or vintage Ford.

This will not look out of place in your collection.

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The GT-HO Phase IV: The car that never was.


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One of the Phase IVs at Ford Special Vehicles, Lot 6 Mahoney Road.


Congratulations. You have made to the end. :yahoo:

Thank you for reading.

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#2 OFFLINE   Numark83

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 06:08 PM

Thank You for posting this great review!

#3 OFFLINE   Yeow Yi Fan

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 09:26 PM

View PostNumark83, on 29 October 2020 - 06:08 PM, said:

Thank You for posting this great review!

Thanks! It was quite exhausting and I never want to write such a piece anymore. :giggle:




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