Saturday Sleuthing: Moffat's 1977 Bathurst 1-2 Winner

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 04/10/2014
  • By V8 Sleuth

It's that special time of year again - the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is almost upon us and this week Saturday Sleuthing is building up to The Great Race by tracing the story of one of the most iconic Bathurst-winning cars.

Ford's legendary 1-2 in the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 is remembered as one of the greatest moments in Bathurst history, and today we're profiling the car that led the famous form finish - the #1 Moffat Ford Dealers XC Falcon of Allan Moffat and Belgian Jacky Ickx.

This car and the #2 Falcon driven by Colin Bond and Alan Hamilton dominated the '77 race, finishing one lap ahead of the third-placed Torana A9X of Peter Janson and Larry Perkins.

In the closing stages, team leader Moffat imposed team orders on Bond - not only to orchestrate the form finish but because Car #1 was also struggling with brake issues.

This was the car that Moffat drove to the last of his four Bathurst victories, while Ickx - a six-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hour and legend of world motorsport - became the last driver to win Bathurst on debut until Nick Percat drove to victory with Garth Tander in 2011.

While its triumph at Bathurst in 1977 stands out above anything else, this very special Blue Oval racer is notable for a number of other great successes and stories during its history, including a remarkable Australian Touring Car Championship title in the face of adversity.

Built as an XB Falcon GT in 1976, it was completed in just eight weeks as a replacement for Moffat's previous XB Falcon, which was dramatically burnt to the ground in a transporter fire on the way to the ATCC round at Adelaide International Raceway.

Moffat was leading the ATCC at the time and the fire seemingly devastated his hopes for a second title, but the Canadian hopped into fellow Ford hero John Goss' car for two rounds while his Melbourne-based team put together our featured car.

The team's new creation - appropriately codenamed 'Project Phoenix' - was completed in time for the Hang Ten 400 at Sandown, where it debuted under the Moffat Ford Dealers banner with a new white and multi-coloured stripe livery.

Australian international ace Vern Schuppan joined Moffat for Bathurst (though they retired with engine dramas) and consistent results in the endurance races (all races except Bathurst counted towards the ATCC that year) helped Moffat to secure the Championship.

The new Ford was updated to XC GS500 Hardtop specification for 1977 and Moffat dominated that year's ATCC to record back-to-back titles with this car and the third of his eventual four championship crowns.

Moffat took out seven of the 11 rounds in 1977 (in fact he missed the last round at Phillip Island) - including the first five in succession - which together with the Bathurst 1-2 capped off a dream year for Ford.

This car remained Moffat's for the '78 ATCC but it was a tough season blighted by unreliability and feuds with officialdom, as Moffat's team pushed its 351 Cleveland engines to the envelope to match the new Holden Torana A9Xs.

The #1 car became a XC Cobra from the Hang Ten 400 at Sandown onwards and Ickx returned to partner Moffat at Bathurst, but a refueling fire and then low oil pressure put the defending champions out of contention.

Moffat also ran this car in the endurance races at Adelaide and Surfers Paradise at the end of the '78 season, the last for the Moffat Ford Dealers name.

Ford pulled its backing in 1979 and Moffat continued in this car (repainted black) for a limited ATCC program with backing from Federation Insurance.

Moffat returned for Bathurst and signed Englishman John Fitzpatrick as his co-driver. The pair ran second - albeit a long way behind the dominant Holden Dealer Team Torana A9X of Peter Brock and Jim Richards - until the big Ford retired from its last race after 136 laps.

Internal components from the XC were then transferred to a new XD Falcon, which Moffat raced for the first and only time at Bathurst in 1980, while the chassis itself lay idle throughout the 1980s. Moffat later donated the car to the National Motor Racing Museum at Bathurst, where it has remained for the best part of the last three decades.

It has appeared at a number of special events over the years, most recently at the Gold Coast 600 in 2010 where Moffat and Bond recreated their Bathurst 1-2 finish as part of the Pirtek 'Australian Legends' demonstration.

It also provides the perfect backdrop to today's special Allan Moffat episode of Shannons Legends of Motorsport on 7mate at 5.15pm in all Australian TV markets.

It's one of many Bathurst-winning cars that will not only live forever in the memories and iconic images of our greatest race, but also still live on in the flesh for younger generations to admire.

Saturday Sleuthing takes a break next weekend for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 but we'll be back on Saturday October 18 to rev up for the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 with a look back at Mark Larkham's 1998 Mitre 10 Gold Coast-winning Falcon - we're on the hunt for it!


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