1987 Ford Falcon XF Baja 1000 Ute

This heavily modified XF Falcon ute was built by Sydney racing driver and aeronautical engineer Jim Hunter. After competing in the 1986 Baja 1000 desert race in a Chevrolet Blazer, Jim decided to build his own car to race in the following year’s classic.

The Baja 1000 is regarded as the toughest off road race in the world. Unlike the Dakar Rally, which is a stage race allowing overnight stops and rebuilds of competing vehicles, the Baja is non-stop, taking about 22 hours to complete. Jim and his American co-driver, Randy Salmont not only finished the race but won their class, an incredible achievement!

Based on a Ford Falcon XF utility “shell”, the car has been considerably strengthened and front and rear torsion bars used instead of springs. By using these torsion bars, the overall wheelbase has been lengthened assisting the “travel” of the car. The gearbox has been centrally mounted to even out weight distribution. The engineering in the car is quite outstanding with strategically placed shock absorbers allowing the car to negotiate some of the roughest terrain in the world with relative ease.

A Ford Cleveland race engine was fitted which allowed the car to reach speeds of over 200kph. The Americans were impressed by Jim’s achievement and a lot of his ideas found their way into cars being built for subsequent races.

We thank Chris Wallace, the previous owner, for saving this unique piece of Australia’s motorsport history. It was recently named in the top 25 Australian Muscle Cars of all time.

National Motor Racing Museum collection