June 20, 2008

Horse 888 - FG, the end?

These are the official pictures of the brand new "Nitro Blue" FG Ford Falcon V8 Supercar. Jointly developed between Ford Performance Racing, Stone Bros. and Triple 8 Engineering, the car from outset was designed to be cheaper to build but as competitive as the current BF Falcon.

I suspect that V8 Supercars has a distinct problem. Ford's FG V8 Supercar which was unveilled last week, may have the misfortune of being the last of its kind. The problem revolves around the fact that come 2011, there might not be a locally produced replacement for the car. Ford North America pulled the pin on Fairlane and LTD by denying Ford Australia an export market for the long-wheelbase variant, and now with the cancellation of the aging inline-6 that's pulled the car for 42 years, coupled with rising petrol prices, the market might dry up for the next model code-named "Hunstman" (BF was code-named "Orion") like it did for the ill-fated Mitsubishi 380.

Project Blueprint went part of the way by defining standard gearboxes and suspension componentry and FG relies less on welded panels for strength than the BF, which allows for swifter removal and replacement of damaged panels, so the whole car acts more like a zip-on and zip-off affair.
Ford teams had agreed that the FG had to be less expensive to build as a new shell as well as being cheaper and quicker to repair after an accident and to further reduce costs, the FG was designed so that the maximum amount of BF mechanical components could carry over into the new chassis.

All of this sounds great in theory until Ford abandon production of the car. What happens then? Does V8 Supercars move to something like NASCAR's "Car of Tommorrow" where the cars are shaped identically and even the grill and headlights on the front are stickers? Or does it shift to something smaller, perhaps taking up the WTCC's Super 2000 regulations? In terms of asthetic looks, the 2008 Vauxhall Vectra still looks like a very angry motor car.

Whereever Australian motor racing goes, I don't think it will be a problem so long as the manufacturers agree to supporting it. The only reason why Group A finally bit the dust in 1992 was that Ford and Holden had a collective dummy spit when Nissan built a better car and so they had to throw the baby out with the bath water. If they decide something new, how tetchy would they be about letting someone else play with them? NASCAR seems to have survived with the addition of Toyota.

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