Crying Out For A V8 - 1989 Brock Ford Falcon B8

 
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The name Peter Brock is synonymous with Holden. All of his record nine Bathurst 1000 victories were achieved in Toranas and Commodores. His three championships were also won in Holdens.

Peter Brock bought the Holden Dealer Team in 1980, having raced for the team on and off since 1968. Holden had lost interest in touring car racing, but Brock and a group of dealers wanted to continue. At the request of the dealers sponsoring him, and to homologate V8 Commodores for racing, Brock entered the road car business and established HDT Special Vehicles as part of his takeover of the race team.

Brock initially had Holden’s support. Brock was allowed access to Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground and Holden would honour their factory warranty on any HDT model.  Over 4000 HDT Commodores and Statesmans were built between 1980 and 1987. They were sold through the Holden dealers that sponsored HDT.

It all went pear-shaped in 1987. Brock had been working with his wife’s chiropractor, Eric Dowker, on something called the Energy Polariser. The Polariser was a small box of crystals and magnets mounted at the back of the engine bay. It was said to realign the molecules around the car and improve performance and handling. Holden wrote it off as pseudoscience and threatened to cut its ties with Brock if he released a car fitted with a Polariser. Brock did just that with the 1987 Director and Holden cut off his supply of Commodores.

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Forced to abandon HDT Special Vehicles, Brock needed something new to keep his road car business going. He found an unlikely replacement in the Lada Samara. The newly-renamed Brock Organisation became Lada’s external consultant. “From this springboard we will be taking some exciting steps forward”, Brock said at the Samara’s 1989 Australian launch. His involvement quickly extended to putting his name to a Samara. The Lada Samara Sedan Brock Delux featured retuned suspension and a body kit and cost $3,000 more than a standard Samara. The Lada venture only lasted a few months before Brock sold his interest in the project.

In 1989, Team Brock split with BMW, and started running Ford Sierra RS500s. This alone was cause for outrage. Although drivers switching manufacturers was nothing new (Allan Moffat, Colin Bond and Jim Richards being high profile examples), Brock had been more closely involved with Holden than any other driver had been with a manufacturer. Holden wasn't supporting him anymore, so Brock was free to drive whatever car he wanted. The fastest car available was the Ford Sierra.

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Ford was keen to milk its new Brock connection for everything it was worth. Ads with the tag line “Brock and Ford, a Winning Combination”.

This brought a new road car sales opportunity. In the late 1980s, there wasn’t a Ford Falcon equivalent to Holden Special Vehicles. There wasn’t even a V8 Falcon. Renaming his road car business again to Austech, Brock, with no official support from Ford, sought to fill that gap. He wasn’t alone. Dick Johnson had the EA DJR Falcon and there was former Allan Moffat engine builder Mick Webb’s Falcon SVO. Another company offering a modified EA Falcon was APV, a company made up of former HDT Special Vehicles employees. All of them ultimately wanted to be to Ford what Tom Walkinhaw’s HSV was to Holden.HSV’s John Crennan said of the situation, “Ford’s doing it easy at the moment, they won’t commit themselves, but they’re sitting back getting all the publicity anyway.”

Brock's B8 Falcon followed a straightforward formula very similar HDT. The B8 name referred to it being the eighth generation Brock model  Modifications were kept simple enough to make ADR compliance easy. A new intake, extractors and a performance exhaust were enough to lift power to an impressive 164kW. This was up from the standard EA’s 139kW and more than the APV SR3900, which only had 154kW. It wasn't just the most powerful Australian six cylinder, it compared favourably to Holden's V8s. It fell only 1kW short of a Commodore SS. Car Australia magazine described it as the "the best modified Falcon we've driven". Brock’s B8 was available as a Falcon S, Fairmont Ghia and long wheelbase Fairlane.

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Alongside the Falcon, Brock offered performance upgrades for the Maverick 4WD. The Maverick was a rebadged Nissan Patrol. The Maverick EIII didn’t have any extra power, and made do with RV sports tyres, colour coded grille and bumpers, wheelarch flares and an optional bullbar.

In 1990, the single-model Brock’s B8 became the Executive Performance package with  three specification levels. The EPI missed out on the engine upgrades, gettting suspension enhancements and interior treatment only. The EPII added the 164kW engine and 15 inch alloys and the EPIII got16s, performance tyres and a subtle bodykit. Above the EP models sat the SE, which had leather seats and optional woodgrain trim.

Work began on a V8 prototype in preparation for the EBII Falcon and it’s 5.0L Windsor. Brock said in 1990 that the V8 would be much easier to produce, with components readily available in the US. He reported that his prototype V8 was producing 216kW.  

The problem the Brock Falcon faced was that while it could match a Commodore SS for performance, it cost almost $8,000 more than a HSV Clubsport. That was assuming you used a basic Falcon S as a donor car.  It handled very well, better than a Clubsport, but it didn’t have the engine it deserved. The lack of a V8 engine or any support from Ford meant that finding performance gains was expensive.

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In the end, Ford didn’t go with Brock, Johnson or Webb. Ford, it turned out, was looking for a special vehicles partner who could fund the entire project themselves. None of the local efforts could do this. It was UK company Tickford who got the job. Tickford underwrote the full UK development of the Falcon XR6. The XR8 used an engine unchanged from the standard V8 Falcon.

The V8 Falcon S-XR8 matched the Brock B8’s power output but cost $10,000 less. Tickford followed the S-XR8 with the cheaper still, 161kW S-XR6. The S-XR6. The S-XR6 that came a year later in 1992  was lighter than the S-XR8, and faster than it and the Holden Commodore SS. Brock’s Falcon business was rendered irrelevant. Only a tiny number of cars were built. The B8s and EPs were numbered out of 500, but only a collective 126 Falcons and Fairlanes are believed to have been sold. There were only five SEs built. These were joined by 18 Mavericks, 11 Fairlanes and possibly 5 Telstar TX5 EPs.

After this, Brock abandoned road cars and returned to racing Commodores with Larry Perkins in 1991. The B8 is now largely forgotten. It puts Peter Brock in a very exclusive club. He is one of only two drivers,(the other being his protege Craig Lowndes) to have his name on both a Commodore and Falcon road car.