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An Australian muscle car oddity

Turbo developments quickly accelerated during the lavish 1980s and in Australia there was experimentation with the introduction of various models using this technology emerging on sale including a rare muscle car.

The Ford Falcon Dick Johnson Grand Prix was developed by the Country Dealer Team’s Jim Faneco featuring a 4.1-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine and twin side draught Stromberg carburettors of which it’s suggested only 30 were built.

Faneco had previously raced Geminis and was sued by the Holden Dealer Team at the 1980 Bathurst 1000 for copying the style of its logo. In a strange twist to the story, Brock collided with one of CDT Geminis early on during the race and as a result dropped a lap before Johnson infamously hit the rock.

Two years later, Johnson and Faneco linked up to provide a Ford rival to Brock’s burgeoning HDT Special Vehicles department. As Ford Australia pulled the V8 from its line-up, the market was open for a hot Falcon and adding a turbocharger ensured a different variant to what Brock offered.

It was also rumoured the model was developed to be homologated as a Group C option for Johnson to race, which was at time when the Queenslander was dominating the Australian Touring Car Championship.

Using a turbo system developed by David Inall and Garrett, the Grand Prix Special completed the quarter mile in mid-14s.

To strengthen the driveline, Ford’s single-rail four-speed manual gearbox and a heavy duty clutch, while the LSD rear-end from the V8 Falcon ESP delivered the power.

Other extras included a body kit reminiscent of the Group C touring cars of the day featuring front air dam, flared wheel arches and a rear wing, with BF Goodrich Comp T/A tyres fitted on Enkel alloys adding to the enhanced appearance, which was completed by Johnson’s Tru Blu paint.

The interior featured custom Scheel sports seats in Grand Prix grey fabric, extra gauges, a state of the art sound system for the time and DJ’s signature on the steering wheel.

Johnson never elected to race a turbocharged Falcon, albeit the art was perfected by his team when the Sierra was introduced during the late-1980s.

Ford itself elected to introduce a turbo Falcon through the XR6 Turbo when the BA variant was launched in 2002. This nameplate lasted until production of the Falcon stopped in 2016 and was much revered during its lifespan.