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Join Date: Aug 2006
In December 1977 Ford built 13 special order XC Falcon GS 2dr Hardtops. These were specially modified at Ford's Broadmeadows factory to Australian Group C touring car standard. The modifications that featured in those 13 cars formed the basis of the specification for 30 Cobra Hardtops built in 1978.
When final production of the XC at Broadmeadows was scheduled to end, in March 1978, more than 400 body shells were unsold and Ford Australia faced a dilemma of whether to shift or scrap them.
An original proposal to turn these cars into black and gold Playboy-themed cars (with "bunny" decals) was rejected on grounds of sending the wrong image for a family company. Ford 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 "Shelby Mustang" 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 Falcon Cobra was built in late April 1978 and production began that July.
The cars were painted Bold Blue with an overlay of Sno White, with Olympic Blue accent stripes separating the two colours ... "Cobra" emblem decals, a throwback to Carroll Shelby's Mustangs of the 1960s, were affixed to the front fenders, along with a name decal at the rear.
Unusually, the bodyshells were painted blue first, the intended area of blue stripes and sills 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 001 to 400) on the dash. The first 200 Cobras produced were given the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8, while the other 200 received the 4.9L 302 Cleveland.
Cobras were available with either automatic or manual transmission. Standard equipment included four-wheel disc brakes, limited slip differential, 15-inch Bathurst Globe wheels, front & rear spoilers and dual exhaust. The interiors were uniformly black, with Cobra specific cloth seat inserts in black with blue stripes that match those on the outside body.
Cars numbered from 002 to 0031 were known as Option 97 specification, the so-called "Bathurst Cobras", fitted with parts to allow homologation for racing, including twin thermostatically controlled radiator fans, an engine oil cooler, suspension bracing and reworked rear wheel body housings. They were most easily identified from the other 370 Option 96 Cobras via their large (and functional) rear-opening bonnet bulge. Allan Moffat's "Moffat Ford Dealers" race cars of late 1978 shared the same body paint decoration as the road cars.