1976 (-78) Ford Falcon Cobra

The XA Falcon Hardtop in terms of design was the bastard son of the US 1970-71 Ford Torino, and the 1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Much of the mechanics were the same as the earlier series of Falcons, such as the drive-trains which carried over from the XY series. Mechanically they were a very different proposition though, with Australian Government restrictions limiting the power that the 'full-house' GTHO engines had produced.

What resulted though was arguably Australia’s best looking muscle car and definitely it’s most iconic, after the art director for a small film company found a customized version sitting in the front yard of a suburban home and cast it as a non-human character in Mad Max, and the sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

This illustration is the XC Ford Falcon Cobra

The Cobra was a limited edition of the Ford Falcon released by Ford Australia in 1978. It was based on the XC Hardtop (following on from the XA, and XB respectively). Originally it was a scheme to use up the 400 remaining completed Coupe body-shells which were filling up the Broadmeadows Victoria plant in 1978, before the radically redesigned XD Falcons were introduced. Several marketing ideas were considered, including a licensed Playboy style graphic. As a family company the idea was scrapped; and Edsel Ford II who was touring Australia at the time suggested the bright blue racing stripes and "Cobra" emblems, a throwback to Carroll Shelby's Mustangs of the 1960s (and today) that made the car easily identifiable as a Ford muscle car.

Each of the cars was given its own individual serial number and fitted with a sequentially-numbered plaque (from 1 to 400) in the dash. The first 200 produced were given the 5.8L 351 Cleveland V8, while the other 200 received the 4.9L 302 Cleveland. The first 30 cars were named the Option 97, fitted with optional parts to allow homologation for racing. This included twin thermostatically controlled fans, an engine oil cooler and racing seats. Easily identified from the other 370 Option 96 Cobras by a large rear-opening bulge in the bonnet.

Many pundits complain the car wasn't as toey as it's predecessors owing to a heavier build. However Falcon Cobras are still highly revered by car collectors across Australia. A mint example can be worth upwards of AUD$70,000.

1971 Ford Mustang fastback.

1971; ah, a good year.

The Ford Mustang is in industrial design terms as iconic and internationally recognizable as the Coke bottle or the AK-47. Even the uninitiated recognizes the car without any prompting.
Revolutionizing the muscle car industry and creating the Sub Genre known as the “Pony-Car”, it featured in its various incantations in such films as Bullitt and Gone in 60 Seconds. As the characters in Death Proof muse; “Not the Bullshit Angelina Jolie Version”.

Indeed, although the Nicolas “King of Crap Movies” Cage starring shocker is worth watching for a good look at the ‘Super-Snake’ Shelby Cobra driven in the film, dubbed Eleanor, another car-character within a movie.

This car has had such an impact on the automotive industry and design, that Japanese car companies built virtual poor-mans’ rip-offs (Mazda RX-3, RX-4, Toyota Celica A20/35 Series [1970-1977]). And you can’t tell me the 67’-68’ Chevrolet Camaro wasn’t heavily inspired by the Mustang also, as was the Ford stable-mate the first generation Mercury Cougar (67-70).

Both of these illustrations work well, but were done very early during a period I virtually taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator. Having developed my skills a lot further they make me want to sit down and churn out some better quality images of classic cars.

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