The supercar battles of 30 years ago are set to be rejoined. Ford is readying a new V8 to headline the next Falcon, due in September.
Holden, through its Holden Special Vehicles performance arm, set the successful market pace with its brawny models and kept the V8 contest simmering. Ford has already squared off with increased clout in its Tickford performance line-up.
But Ford Australia president Geoff Polites has signalled there's more to come.
Ford was the heavyweight of the historic supercar stoushes with its Falcon GT HO series 30 years ago. Then it stepped out of the ring for nearly 10 years in the 1980s when it dropped its V8 and pulled out of touring car racing, leaving the game entirely to Holden.
However, with the arrival in September of the new "Barra" Falcon and its new V8 engine, Polites predicts: "[Holden] won't be kicking sand in our face."
The all-new 5.4-litre Ford V8 will be imported from the US, as are Holden's Chevrolet-built V8s.
According to a report in Motor magazine this week, the power of the Ford V8 is expected to range from 220kW for the staple sedans to 260kW for the XR8 sports sedan. A 240kW turbo six is also expected to power the XR6.
HSV currently has the upper hand in the power battle with its 300kW models but it has confirmed it won't be going to the extent of building a 300kW Maloo ute to overtake Ford's 250kW 5.6-litre XR8 Pursuit Ute. The current Maloo R8's 255kW from its 5.7-litre engine is considered enough.
"How much is too much?" says HSV's sales and marketing manager Mark Behr. "You've got to draw the line somewhere. The car has different weight distribution and we believe traction could be an issue with 300kW.
"Maloo buyers are our youngest buyers and if we built a 300kW ute the Maloo would cease to be an entry model."
Meanwhile, a similar battle is being waged in the US. As Congress threatens to raise fuel-economy standards, and as OPEC manipulates the flow of oil and petrol prices to increase petrol prices, the car makers' response has been to boost horsepower.
Earlier this year Ford US announced a reincarnation of the 1960s Le Mans-winning GT40. And Dodge's performance arm, set up in January, has unveiled a 370kW-plus Ram pick-up. The engine is a beefed-up version of the Viper sports car's V10, which originally came from the Ram.