FORD XC COBRA
Posted on Mar 1, 2015
The Cobra was a limited edition of the Ford Falcon released by Ford Australia in 1978. It was based on the XC Hardtop (Coupe).
In 1978, Ford Australia unveiled plans for an all-new Falcon, dubbed the XD, that would be released in 1979. Unlike the current XC, the new model would be offered only as a four-door sedan or station wagon, meaning the two-door XC Hardtops of 1978 would be the last of that design.
In December 1977 Ford built 13 special order XC Falcon GS Hardtops. These cars were specially modified in the "Parts and Accessories" or P&A workshop, at Ford's Broadmeadows factory. All vehicles were modified and fitted with the body mods and mechanical specifications (including the "evolution" upgrades) approved byCAMS for homologation. Changes were mostly designed to enhance race durability, these vehicles, often referred to as "Pre-Cobras", were intended to be raced by teams in the 1978 ATCC season. The changes made in these Hardtops later formed the basis the 30 Option 97 Cobras.
When final production of the XC Hardtop at the Broadmeadows Assembly plant ended in March 1978, 400 body shells were left unsold and Ford Australia faced a dilemma of how to market them, rather than scrapping them or attempting to sell them to customers who would otherwise wait for the XD. When an original proposal to turn these cars into Playboy-themed cars (complete with "bunny" decals) was rejected as sending the wrong image for a family car company, Ford turned to Edsel Ford II, then the Deputy Managing Director of Ford Motor Company who was touring Australia at the time. He and a local design team elected to capitalise on Allan Moffat and Colin Bond's crushing 1-2 finish at the 1977 Bathurst 1000 by creating a road car with a "totally American" look that could be homologated for racing, while at the same time offering enthusiasts the opportunity to own a street-legal version of Moffat's race car. The first prototype was built in late April 1978 and production began that same July.
The cars were painted bold blue and Olympic blue racing stripes and finished with snow white and "Cobra" emblems, a throwback to Carroll Shelby's Mustangs of the 1960s that made the car easily identifiable as a Ford muscle car. Unusually, the bodyshells were painted blue first, the intended blue stripes then masked and the white coat painted over the top. Each of the cars was given its own individual serial number and fitted with a sequentially-numbered plaque (from 1 to 400) in the dash. The first 200 produced were given the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8, while the other 200 received the 4.9L 302 Cleveland (the exception Build number 1 was a 302 and Build Number 351 was a 351).
Cobras were available with either automatic or manual transmission. Standard equipment included four-wheel disc brakes and limited slip axles, 15-inch Bathurst Globe wheels, front & rear spoilers and dual exhaust. The interiors were fitted with sport cloth seats in black with blue inserts and based on the 1978 Ford Falcon GS Coupe. From number 2 to 31 were known as Option 97, were fitted with optional parts to allow homologation for racing, including twin thermostatically controlled fans, an engine oil cooler and racing seats. They were identified from the other 370 Option 96 Cobras by a large rear-opening bulge in the hood. Allan Moffat raced a "look a like" Replica in 1978 Bathurst 1000.
Falcon Cobras are still highly revered by collectors across Australia and most still exist. A mint example can be worth upwards of $100,000.