During the final year of the XA-XB-XC body series, Ford was faced with a dilemma - the all new XD shape was almost due for release, but Ford still had 400 2 door hardtop bodies left.Coupe sales had begun to slide with the XB Series, as Ford performance buyers favoured the sharply styled XC Fairmont GXL, optioned with the 5.8 engine.
Edsel Ford II, then assistant Managing Director of Ford Australia, suggested building a special hardtop limited edition with an all white exterior and contrasting blue racing stripes (in the style of the Shelby Mustangs), adding special exterior and interior features, plus a numbered plaque on the dashboard. Named the 'Cobra', it featured the famous Shelby snake emblem on the front guards.
There was a choice of 4.9 or 5.8-litre V8 engines with manual or auto transmissions. The 400 cars were built and dealers were rushed with buyers. With their 15-inch Globe Bathurst alloy wheels, sports seats, special blue and black trim, ducktail rear spoiler that extended down the sides, front airdam, colour coded bumpers, quartz halogen headlights/ driving lights, black grille and 4-wheel disc brakes, these striking coupes were GTs in everything but name. Today, they command a premium amongst enthusiast collectors.
The XC Hardtop had already achieved notoriety at the 1977 Bathurst 1000, the year that Allan Moffat and Colin Bond staged the now famous 1-2 victory formation at the finish line.
The Cobra version successfully exploited the revival in interest in the model and while it didn't win the 1978 event, the road version was a real crowd pleaser as the Official Track Car.
The Cobra hardtop didn't suddenly lose 100 bhp over previous 351 Falcon GT models but the changeover to metric engine measurements allowed manufacturers to switch from gross figures to the more realistic net or DIN figures.
The special 5.8 Cobra "Bathurst" homologation version is a real prize with its bonnet-mounted cold air induction box, spring tower braces, spring tower reinforcement plates, thermo-electric fans, twin fan belts, transmission cooler, racing Scheel seats and close-ratio gearbox. Fewer than 50 XC Cobras were built in this specification.
Engines: 4.9-litre, OHV, V8, 4-barrel carburettor, 9.2:1 compression ratio, [email protected], [email protected]. 5.8-litre, OHV, V8, 4-barrel carburettor, 8.9:1 compression ratio, [email protected], 429Nm @2700rpm.
Transmissions: 4- speed manual, all synchro. Rear axle: 3.00:1 (manual) 2.75:1 (auto) limited slip differential.
Suspension: Front: Independent, upper and lower wishbones, coil spring over strut-type dampers and anti-roll bar. Rear: Live axle, semi-elliptic springs, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar.