Ford Falcon GTHO becomes first Australian-made car to publicly sell for $1 million

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Photos courtesy Lloyds.

After several years and a number of attempts with some of the island continent’s most prominent vehicles, an Australian-built car has now sold for seven figures after an all-original Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III hammered for AUS$1.03 million at auction over the weekend.

Described by auctioneer Lloyds as “the holy grail of Aussie Fords,” the Phase III debuted in 1971 amid Australia’s supercar wars, during which Ford and Holden (with some input from Chrysler) battled to establish dominance at the annual Bathurst 500-mile endurance race. With a 351 Cleveland V-8 good for nearly 400 horsepower pulling around less than 3,000 pounds, the Phase III notched quarter-mile times below 14 seconds and top speeds of more than 140 MPH to become the fastest four-door production car in the world.

Those sorts of speeds kept the Phase III in the winner’s circle over the next three years with a win at Bathurst in 1971 with Allan Moffat at the wheel, wins in the Australian Manufacturers Championship series in 1971 and 1972 and wins in the Australian Touring Car Championship series in 1972 and 1973. Ford sold about 300 of the Phase IIIs for about AUS$5,000, well above the AUS$3,000 that a typical Falcon GT sold for at the time.

While Ford had a Phase IV successor lined up and ready to go, a June 1972 article in the Sydney Sun-Herald that heralded the coming of a generation of performance cars capable of 160 MPH included a quote that described the Phase IV and its competition as “bullets on wheels.” Almost overnight, Ford of Australia canceled the Phase IV project, securing the Phase III’s iconic status.

By the mid-2000s, the Phase III GTHOs were already commanding six-figure prices with one selling for AUS$750,000 in June 2007 and with private sale offers exceeding AUS$1 million.

The four-speed Track Red Phase III that Lloyds sold (serial number JG33LS88404K) not only remains original and unrestored with 20,968 kilometers on its odometer, its fully documented provenance includes about a decade in the collection of cricket player Jeff Thomson.

Lloyds promoted the Phase III as a potential million-dollar sale prior to the June 16 auction at Mount Panorama. However, both Lloyds and other auction houses had done the same before – the former with the first Holden Dealer Team 1969 Monaro GTS last year (which sold for AUS$500,000) and the latter most notably with Mossgreen’s anticipated AUS$2 million sale of the first Australian-built Holden in 2013 (which ultimately sold for $672,000). The Phase III’s sale amounts to about $675,000 in U.S. dollars.

In addition to the Phase III, the Lloyds auction also included a 14-kilometer 1977 Holden Torana A9X (another predicted million-dollar car) that sold for $500,000 as well as a prototype 1977 Holden Torana A9X that sold for $300,000.

For full results from the auction, visit LloydsOnline.com.au.

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