Classic GT Falcon flies the coop

Rare ‘barn find’ could go for record price at auction.

A famous Aussie muscle car that comes covered in dust and bird droppings could enter the record books for rare classic car sales when it goes to auction later this week.  

The 1973 Ford Falcon XA GT RPO 83 is the very definition of what classic car enthusiasts call a “barn find,” having been parked in a shed where it has been gathering dust for the past 32 years. 

The car is one of the rarest and most sought-after of all Ford Falcons, having been part of a group of GT coupes and sedans that were built clandestinely by Ford Australia, following the infamous “160m/h Supercars” scare of 1972.

Ford had planned to release the hotly anticipated XA GT HO Phase 4 as a homologated competition-car replacement for the now legendary XY GT HO Phase 3, until a 1972 Sydney newspaper report trumpeted the news of “160m/h Cars Soon”.

The resulting political furore, spurred on by the steeply rising road toll, prompted racing rivals Ford, Holden and Chrysler to back down on their plans, lest they lose valuable government fleet contracts.  

However, Ford had already built four Phase 4s, cars which are now akin to unicorns among Australian muscle car fans, and the company had stockpiled parts for another 250 cars, which they quietly released to the market as the RPO (Regular Production Option) 83, effectively building the banned supercar in secret.

Writing for Unique Cars magazine, classic car specialist Cliff Chambers said of the RPO83: “Judged against purely logical criteria, an XA is the best Falcon GT to own and an RPO83 is the best XA. The XY with its evocative ‘shaker’ air intake is the more recognisable car but an older design and today more expensive than an XA.” 

This particular one-owner RPO83 has been handed the moniker the “Chicken Coupe” by enthusiasts, thanks to its unusual back story. 

The car’s now-deceased owner purchased the rare GT as a low-mileage demo from Brisbane’s Coachcraft Ford in 1973 for $7000, and drove it for 15 years before skyrocketing insurance premiums prompted him to park it in a shed surrounded by chicken wire.

According to a statement from Grays, a large number of prospective buyers have attempted to buy the south-east Queensland car over the years, but the sentimental owner had been unwilling to sell, as the GT had been his wedding car.

Now, with the passing of its proud owner the “Chicken Coupe” is being offered for auction on behalf of his family, say Grays. 

“This car is as Australian as it gets,” said Rian Gaffy, Classic Car Specialist at Grays.

“From its accidental birth after the supercar ban to its decades in a shed surrounded by chicken wire to its (MacRobertson’s Old Gold) colour scheme that honours a local chocolate company, it’s a uniquely Aussie story surrounded by rumours and legend.

“We’re very proud and excited to offer it for auction.”

The Chicken Coupe goes up for auction in its original “barn find” condition, complete with flat tyres, cobwebs, dust and rat droppings, in the Grays July Classic Car Auction, which starts at 5pm 24 July.

Bidding starts from a mere $9 but an independent expert we spoke to suggested this rare an exclusive piece of Aussie automotive history should fetch a final price between $150–$200,000.