T Series write up in Drive.com.au
Tickford TE50 and TS50
By David Morley
Tuesday July 20 2004
Tickford's take on HSV stars put performance Fords back in the running, writes David Morley.
Ford (and FPV) seems to have its performance act together these days with the dual-overhead-cam XR8 and the popular XR6 Turbo, but just a few years ago it wasn't as rosy a picture.
HSV was giving Ford's performance cars a hiding in the sales race, thanks to its Chevrolet-derived 5.7-litre V8. While Ford played around with its T-Series line-up of Falcon-based performance sedans, buyers decided the subtle styling cues and older V8 engine were not for them.
The AU Falcon in XR6 trim was doing OK, the XR8's 5.0 litres and 200 kW were seriously off the pace, and Ford -- or Tickford (as it was known) -- was in a bit of a spot.
The solution was to take HSV on at its own game, namely come up with a bigger-displacement V8 that could crank out some bigger numbers for the sales brochures.
So Tickford began local development of a version of the old Windsor 5.0-litre with a longer-throw crankshaft that stretched capacity to a much more marketable 5.6 litres.
It devoured more than a few development dollars, but as the ultimate interpretation of the old Windsor V8, the 5.6 took some beating.
Power jumped to 250kW at 5250rpm, and torque was a tugboat-like 500Nm at 4000rpm. From just above idle in the Ford there was a strong surge of torque that made the car very quick.
The car could trot around the suburbs using just third and fourth gears most of the time. But stir the engine up and it really started to hammer along, with performance similar to the best a current XR8 can deliver.
It was a good cruiser, too, and would be a welcome companion on any interstate jaunt, were it not for one thing: its incredible thirst.
Even driving sedately on the freeway, don't expect to use any less than about 12 or 13 litres per 100km. Around town, especially if heavy with the accelerator, you could easily see 20 litres per 100km as average consumption.
The engine's other big downfall was its vibration. Possibly because they were hand-assembled, some seem smoother than others, but even the best is noisy under load and fairly coarse during hard acceleration. Of course, for many owners of high-performance cars, a bit of noise and harshness only contributes to the involvement.
Transmission choices were a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, and, given the massive torque available, the automatic is entirely viable.
The 5.6-litre engine was made optional in Tickford's TE50, a more upmarket, Fairmont-based TS50 and in the Fairlane-derived, long-wheelbase TL50.
Unlike the XR6 and XR8 versions of the AU Falcon, you don't get the quad headlight treatment, but you do get a more restrained presentation that is still different enough to separate the cars from their non-Tickford-badged relations.
Standard equipment was in line with the pricetag. The Tickford suspension tune gave the car enviable manners for such a big vehicle, although the ride can be choppy over short and sharp bumps.
But the steering is light and accurate and the big engines in the Tickfords were, and are, handy driver's cars.
Given its lighter weight (still a tad above 1700kg), the TE50 is the real performance tool, especially if you can find one with the Brembo brake package ($5000 more at the time) and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Whichever version you choose, the car will probably be one of the thousands affected by the recent Ford recall of a large chunk of its AU Falcon production. So check with the seller that the car has had the recall work done.
Other problems can include warped front brake rotors on cars without the optional Brembos, and the odd automatic transmission that might be reaching the end of its road.
What to pay
A TE50 with the big engine will still fetch around $30,000 to $40,000 and maybe even a bit more if it's fully optioned. The 5.6-litre engine doesn't seem to add a whole lot of value compared with the 5.0-litre, 220kW version, which is still all right in its own right. The better equipped TS50 is closer to $50,000 in its final, Series 3 form, which was also the AU Falcon's finest hour. The long-wheelbase TL50 is so scarce that it's worth precisely what somebody is prepared to pay for it.
In terms of big, powerful Australian sedans, only HSV's range of hot rods really comes close. But thanks to the Tickford's lesser reputation, it's the bargain of the two and, in many regards, the better vehicle.
Prices and details correct at publication date.
Proud TQE Operator
1999 Black Manual AU XR6HP
Unichip equipped by Autotech Engineering, Granville
Cam install by Crescent Motorsport, Liverpool