Driven – FPV GT RSPEC

DSC_0178At Any Given Reason we’re all about actually driving our cars as their makers intended. However, as the speeding fine that came in the post this morning attests, this is not always a feasible thing to do anymore. As alluring as the dream of you, a GT3 RS and an empty hills road is, the harsh reality is seemingly blanket 80km/h speed limits and Orwellian laser detection cameras. I feel almost ashamed to say this, but I fear that so long as you value the possession of your license, driving a GT3 on said hills roads would, for the most part, be an extremely frustrating experience and a constant exercise in self restraint. So that raises the question – is it actually possible to have fun driving slowly?

DSC_0186To answer this question I’ve arranged a drive that is quite different to what I normally do. In fact, more than just arranging a drive; I’ve organised a bit of a social experiment, if you will. The car I’ve chosen just happens to be the fastest accelerating Australian car ever made, but on this drive I really just want to find out if it’s any fun to drive at 50km/h. We’re going to go and cut a few laps of the city on a Saturday night and see if we actually enjoy the experience. It could go either way, but somehow I suspect the FPV GT RSPEC is going to be the right car for the task.

DSC_0247I’m standing waiting on Grenfell Street’s footpath for our 11pm rendezvous, the bass line of the DJ’s tunes emanate from the pub across the road; a group of tipsy girls walk past me, hardly noticing my presence as they discuss their next venue. But it’s not long until another bass line roar can be heard echoing off the buildings, and as I look up from my phone the jet black FPV stops kerbside. And it’s an especially mean looking machine in RSPEC guise – the glossy black duco offset by red striping on the bonnet and down the side, red wheels and a red spoiler, with large ‘BOSS 335’ lettering in relief. I can hardly believe that it has more street presence than the 911 Carrera that passes by as we take in the details, but it does. The humble Falcon has come a long way.

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I jump in the passenger seat to begin with, Rundle Street our destination. Short bursts of clear road give us a quick chance to stab the throttle in first gear, giving the supercharged 5.0 litre, 335kw, 570nm V8 a chance to breathe a little. It’s properly quick, but what’s arguably more impressive is the noise. It’s the typical V8 rumble, just a little more refined. Unlike many modern muscle cars the factory exhaust doesn’t muffle the sound – easing off the throttle from about 4,500rpm elicits an intoxicating popping and cracking as the revs return to idle which is only enhanced by the echo of the tall buildings around us, and the thumbs up and cheers we receive from the footpath indicates that we aren’t the only ones enjoying the aural goodness.

DSC_0172Being stopped in traffic in Rundle Street allows a quick moment for a little bit of people watching. And I’m almost speechless because I’ve almost never (with one notable exception) been in a car that attracts so much attention. Groups of girls, groups of guys – it doesn’t matter. Even over the constant thrum of music, everyone glances at the GT as they walk by. Drunken guys stop and unashamedly stare, raising a flat palm and moving their wrists, motioning for us to give it a blip. We of course oblige, and they re-pay the favour with cheers and fist pumps in the air. It’s primal behavior and I’m sure the more refined East End patrons are looking down their noses, but who cares. We’re all having a good time.

DSC_0201The contrast is on Hindley Street, where the patrons there certainly don’t look down their noses and the GT is even more popular, especially when we pass The Woolshed. By this stage traffic has slowed to barely a crawl, so we stop outside Red Square for some photos. It’s past midnight by now and the place is pumping, and as I run out with the camera I face a barrage of questions from drunken people sitting on the outdoor tables, mostly just wanting to know about the GT’s burnout capabilities.

DSC_0220DSC_0225It’s been a while since I’ve been on Hindley Street at this hour, and I’m happy to get back into the safe confines of the car. As I do, a shifty looking guy drives past in a Lamborghini Murcielago. Why you would take something as precious as a Murcielago to Hindley street at midnight on a Saturday, one can only wonder.

DSC_0241It’s my turn behind the wheel now, and I aim the GT away from the CBD to get acquainted with the car. The engine is the highlight of the GT, and isn’t just any old V8, it’s Ford’s new quad-cam Coyote modular engine which in this supercharged form can also be found in the current Shelby GT500 Mustang. Its character is entirely different from the old 5.4 engine which could feel a little breathless at higher rpm; the Coyote pulls even harder the more you work it, its combination of smaller capacity and forced induction delivers the revs like no V8 Falcon before. It delivers power like no V8 Falcon before, too, and word is that these cars come ridiculously detuned, and that well over 400kw is just a few simple modifications away. But even in standard form we can’t begin to sample the power properly; it would be great to see how the GT would perform at Mallala.

DSC_0194The GT I drove was the RSPEC model, which means it has the same engine and power output as the regular GT, but with virtually re-engineered suspension. The dampers have been retuned, the front upper control arm bushes and suspension mounts are stiffer, spring rates are increased, the rear lower control arm is reinforced, the rear anti roll bar is larger, the transmission mounts are stiffer to reduce power train movement under load and the wheels are wider with stickier tyres. Unfortunately all of this is pure statistics though, as our city based drive didn’t allow us to really put the GT RSPEC under any significant cornering load. Shame, because it felt okay for a big car.

DSC_0235So going back to the original question – did we have fun driving slowly? The simple answer is yes; it was definitely one of the more memorable drives I’ve had in recent times and I had a genuinely good time. As a rule I don’t choose cars based on what other people think, but on this occasion it was a bit of a laugh being a centre of attention for a little bit. I never thought that cars actually had any real bearing on your popularity, but had we been looking for friendship or a little more, the GT RSPEC definitely would have got us there.

DSC_0204DSC_0212And in addition, I also never believed that girls were actually impressed by cars, but had we both not been in committed relationships, it would have been super easy. Although what you think of the types of girls that are that impressed by two blokes in a V8 Falcon on Hindley Street at 1am, I’ll leave that up to you.

DSC_0163 DSC_0168Truth be told, I think I’d still probably preferred to have taken the GT RSPEC into the hills, even despite the hidden traps. And cruising the city, like we did, in a GT3 RS? Well, quite frankly you’d look like a bit of a cock. But somehow the GT seems to be able to pull it off. Immature fun, yes. But fun nonetheless. And as a social experiment, I learnt a lot. Save the GT3 for the track; if you’re gonna go cruising, you need high horsepower V8.

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

Thanks to Daniel Scott at Jarvis Ford Hillcrest for providing the car

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Also driven on Any Given Reason: Toyota 86 GT, Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV, 2013 Ford Mustang Convertible, AMG G55

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Gilbert March 27, 2013 Reply

    Cool.. I have never been a big Falcon lover (although with the passing of time the XY's and XA's have an allure) but that car looks wild. It could just be your outstanding pictures but I suspect it looks pretty tough in the flesh too. Great read, awesom pics, thanks!

    • Andrew Coles April 2, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Tom! I'm in the same boat, they've never really been my thing but it's always fun to play with something new, and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then :)

  2. Adam Jones May 26, 2013 Reply

    Thank-you for your work here. It was quite enjoyable to read and it was well written, giving an unbiased view with some terrific photos of the good life. This is a machine that is claimed to achieve 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds making it the fastest Australian made car to date so I am looking at whether this particular model will become a collector's item. Given Ford's sad decision to leave Australia, ending the Falcon's brand, I think there is a lot of credibility in that, but I could be wrong. However, its status as the fastest is soon to be challenged with the arrival of Holden's 430kw GTS. I'm not sure if it will beat the 4.5 figure though there is talk that it does it in less time.

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