Levin car enthusiast Paul Berkahn has confirmed he will be bringing his replica of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally class-winning Ford Falcon Rallye Sprint to January’s Taupo Historic Grand Prix.
The fifth rendition of the Taupo Historic Grand Prix will commemorate the Ford marque, with Berkahn just one of the showpieces on display for the weekend.
Berkahn’s car is a painstakingly constructed replica of the Falcon Graham Hill muscled around the narrow confinements of the Monaco countryside.
Given its less-than-compact body size, many cast aside their expectations of the Falcon performing well on the technical Monte Carlo course.
But the car would go on to finish a respectable 42nd overall on its debut run in 1963. Swedish factory driver Bo Ljungfeldt even managed to win all six times ‘Special Stages’ to please the team back home in the United States.
The following season Ford was locked and loaded with a star-studded driver line-up of Ljungfeldt, Hill, Peter Jopp and Anne Hall. The Falcon duly went on to win the ’64 iteration of the rally in the over 3-litre class and was second overall due to a handicapping system that favoured smaller engined cars.
The car also boasted several significant technical modifications, which included being homologated at a remarkably low 980kgs.
“In late 1963, Ford launched the new second-generation 1964 Falcon, sporting much sharper styling, and highlighted by bold bullet-shaped accenting that ran the length of the car along the bodywork flanks,” said Steve Holmes, author of Historic New Zealand Racing Cars.
“In a new set of homologation papers submitted to the FIA, Ford listed the vehicle weight at just 980 kilograms with body panels as being of ‘mixed construction’, and including bonnet, boot lid, doors, and front and rear mudguards made from fibreglass or aluminium. Remarkably, the FIA approved Ford’s submission, and the 1964 Falcon Sprint was homologated at an impossibly low 980 kilograms.”
The Falcon Sprint rally program came to an end with the launch of the new Mustang in April 1964. Though the Falcon would resurface for a handful of seasons of the British Saloon Car Championship where its light weight made it a winning machine from the onset.
Berkahn’s replica of the car Hill piloted the year of the storied Monte Carlo win will be out in action with the combined Historic Muscle & Saloon Cars (HM&SC) at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park.
Alongside the model livery on the outside of the car, the interior is also an almost identical copy to Hill’s car, including the front and rear seats, and the carpets.
“Group 2 regulations don’t actually require anything other than two front seats, and certainly no carpet.” said HM&SC group secretary Bruce Dyer.
“Paul has fitted the homologated fibreglass body panels but being racing panels, the panel gaps were terrible. So, he has spent countless hours perfecting the gaps.
“This is a car of true show quality. His emphasis right from the start has been for period correctness. Performance is much less of a factor. An appreciation by fans at Taupo next month will be justification for all the effort that has gone into this epic build.
“An FIA Appendix K historic racing car is one that has been built to the exact specifications provided by that vehicle’s FIA Homologation Sheet.
“Paul’s Falcon is the first FIA Appendix K V8 to be built for our group, a watershed vehicle, but it definitely won’t be the last.”
Other special Ford vehicles pencilled in for the Grand Prix is a GeeCeeEss, which was piloted by Auckland’s George Smith between 1951 and 1957, and an example of the last Formula One car raced by Denny Hulme; the Ford-Cosworth DFV-powered McLaren M23.
Categories for the meeting include the New Zealand Formula 5000 series, Historic Muscle and Saloon Cars, Formula Juniors and Sports Cars predating 1970.
The event will run from January 22 – 24 with qualifying on Friday and racing to be staged across Saturday and Sunday.