Horsepower wars S.M.H
Power struggle for supercar crown
By Joshua Dowling, Motoring Editor
September 6 2002
The "supercar" rivalry of the 1970s reignited yesterday with Ford announcing the resurrection of its GT Falcon, 35 years after the legend was born.
The new GT Falcon, to be revealed at next month's Sydney Motor Show and on sale early next year priced about $70,000, is expected to have as much power as the 300kW GTS built by Holden Special Vehicles, the most powerful locally produced car.
But it is expected to overtake the Holden flagship in engine torque, the key to performance.
Some months ago Ford Australia president Geoff Polites said: "There won't be a power war, because we'll be so far above [Holden] it won't matter."
But yesterday both Ford and Holden tried to downplay the performance of the cars for fear of a safety backlash.
"We have been at a significant disadvantage in the past, but that won't happen any more," Mr Polites said. "We're not in a kilowatt war, we're in a car war."
He said the revival of the GT Falcon would not spark a supercar scare (which put an end to cars such as the Bathurst-winning Falcon GT in the '70s amid public safety fears) because "there are now plenty of other cars out there with that sort of performance".
"The cars might be more powerful [than the original GTs] but they are also heavier and have much more safety equipment," Mr Polites said.
The managing director of Holden Special Vehicles, John Crennan, said the new Commodore, due out next month, would not exceed 300kW. Mr Crennan also said "we're not in a power war, we're in a marketing war".
The tension between Holden and Ford is at a peak given both brands are on the eve of releasing the new Commodore and Falcon, Australia's two biggest-selling cars. Figures released yesterday by industry statistician VFACTS show Holden has beaten Ford for a record 60 consecutive months.
The car industry also powered on to record sales. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries announced 69,647 new vehicles sold last month, 5.5 per cent more than the 65,998 sold in August last year.