A SHORT HISTORY OF HO PHASE AUTOS
For the origin story, and more about the Phase 5 that started it all, read below.
THE STORY OF... THE PHASE 5 FALCON
It all started with a love of Aussie Motorsport. Wayne Draper’s first rookie job as designer at Ford was with Howard Marsden on the XY GTHO Phase III in 1970 (his job was the GT stripe). A super fan of the GTHO’s, Wayne was part of a young group of fresh-faced Australian designers who expected to carry the GTHO flame into the 70s and 80s. So Wayne was devastated when Ford dropped the GTHO program and then later dropped out of motorsport altogether.
Wayne Draper continued to develop his abandoned GTHO Phase 5 design, for the XD Falcon, and teamed up with drag racing guru, Bob McWilliam and racing drivers Garry Wilmington and Murray Carter to develop a Group C Falcon for the racetrack. They were a bunch of guys determined to race a Ford Falcon. Draper was a Ford stylist at the time, so with this all being done behind Ford’s back he kept his name off the books as much as possible, given FoMoCo's directive on racing the cars. Murray Carter pursued the homologation process with CAMS, Wayne recruited a few Ford modellers for some after-hours work and Bob McWilliam made the fibreglass bodykits, under Phase Autos for the road cars Murray Carter Racing for the race cars.
To ensure the XD was eligible to race, at least 25 XD Group Cs needed to be sold as a street-legal production vehicles. The problem was, Ford Motor Company had no interest in seeing the XD race, and actively discouraged drivers from pursuing the idea of racing it, including stern letters to the likes of Garry Willmington and Murray Carter (Garry apparently still has his letter to this day). Still... Phase Autos sold 22 Phase 5 Falcons, enough to keep CAMS happy. Since Wayne's design had started as a prospective Phase 5 GTHO, Wayne named the XD Group C the Phase 5 in its honour.
The initial styling for the Phase 5 had radical box guards and a massive rear wing, but CAMS squashed it, as they'd already knocked Holden back on a similar styling exercise for the VB/VC Commodore. CAMS wanted to follow Europe’s lead and went with arched flares, and deemed it illegal to have a gap between the decklid and spoiler.
Wayne, Bob, Garry and Murray went to great lengths with huge financial cost to keep Ford on the racetrack. The Phase 5 & 6 (XE) were sold as dealership specials and designed and built by Ford employees, who, unlike Ford’s upper management, actually cared about motor racing and its fans (the XD Phase 5 was designed to be a GTHO after all). “These cars not only look incredible, but they represent that raw fighting spirit from those days. To me, these cars are anti-establishment Aussie grit on wheels,” says Rob Draper.