Tickford Vehicle Engineering
The "Tickford wings" badge
on a Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint variant
|Owner||Ford Australia, Tickford|
Tickford Vehicle Engineering (TVE) was responsible for numerous automotive projects and upgrades for Ford Australia between 1991 and 2002. In 1999, TVE setup Ford Tickford Experience (FTE) as a competitor to Holden Special Vehicles (HSV). In 2002, the operations changed to Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) coinciding with Tickford's global operations being bought out by Prodrive.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Falcon XR range
- 3 Falcon GT (EB & EL series)
- 4 FTE TE50, TS50, TL50
- 5 Other vehicles
- 6 Concept cars
- 7 Motorsport
- 8 See also
- 9 References
In 1990, 12 years since the last Falcon Cobra rolled off the line, Ford Australia started a worldwide search to find to engineering firm to establish a new performance arm in the same mold as rival to Holden Special Vehicles (HSV). The aim was to create a line-up of in-house performance cars that had been missing from the Falcon range since the 1970s. Ford Australia's last foray in this space was in fact represented by the 1982 XE-series "European Sports Pack" Falcon.
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, this performance void was filled by third party tuning companies such as AVO, Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) and Dick Johnson Racing (DJR). Both AVO and DJR had experimented with using turbocharged powerplants to boost the output of Falcon's venerable 4.0-Litre 6-cylinder, with DJR creating the Grand Prix Turbo based on the XE. DJR had intended his company to be set up as a performance arm not unlike Peter Brock's Holden Dealer Team (HDT), but Ford was wary of such modifications due to warranty concerns. This meant that sales of both AVO and DJR Falcons remained very limited. SVO had greater success in the creation of a range of cars, starting with the Falcon EA series SVO (a car that formed the template for the subsequent XR6), however, Ford still did not provide factory-backing. Ultimately, Ford Australia joined forces with Tickford, renowned in Europe for its modified Ford models.
In 1991, Tickford Vehicle Engineering (TVE) was thus established as a joint venture between Ford Australia. TVE was involved in the creation of the Falcon XR range that emerged in 1992 with the EB series and the return of the legendary Falcon GT. In addition, TVE was also responsible for other higher-specification Fords such as the Capri Clubsprint, and for the fitment of optional equipment such as LPG systems and sunroofs.
In 1999, aside from enhanving the Falcon offering via the sporty XR range, TVE also established Ford Tickford Experience (FTE) comprising a 3-tier sedan-only T series based on the then new AU series. Managing Director, David Flint, made clear this brand's intentions by stating: "Tickford have helped add further refinement, safety and confidence to the T Series range. It is very easy to build a car that just goes fast, but one that handles, performs and lends itself to outstanding driving dynamics is what we have aimed for'." In so doing, whilst the brand was an obvious attempt to combat the successful HSV products, FTE did not want to get into a "power war", focusing instead in providing a more sophisticated high performance product, making refinement its hallmark.
Aside from Falcon-based products, over the years, FTE was also responsible for a right hand drive (RHD) conversion of the fourth-generation Mustang Cobra and for promoting the European Cougar. In 1999, TVE also bought out Glen Seaton Racing to create Ford Tickford Racing – Ford's first factory-backed team in over 30 years.
With the purchase of Tickford by Prodrive in 2001, FTE was replaced by the new owner's Ford Performance Vehicles (badges as "FPV") with the introduction of the BA series Falcon range in 2002. Nevertheless, Tickford were still involved in the early development stages of some models including the BA Falcon XR6 Turbo, with early parts bearing the "Tickford" logo.
Falcon XR range
This range of models – not to be confused with the 1966–1968 XR series – has been a fixture of the Falcon range since 1991. From its second release in 1993, it has become characterised by, and is distinguishable from standard models thanks to, a signature quad-headlamp front styling.
In July 1991, just prior to the formation of TVE, Ford Australia itself launched the EB Falcon S-XR8 after its decision to offer again a V8 engine option for the first time since the 1982 XE-series.
In 1992, TVE became responsible of the whole range. The S-XR6 model was identified by a red rocker cover with the "Tickford wings" badge, a revised head and cam saw a power increase from 148 kW to 161. The S-XR8 was visually similar but was powered by the standard 5.0-Litre "Windsor" V8 engine. With the EBII, TVE launched an enhanced XR8 model. Both the 6 and 8 cylinder models were fitted with ABS, LSD, alloy wheels and a Momo steering wheel being standard on the S-XR6 and optional on the S-XR8.
With this series, TVE dropped the 'S' from its range and introduced the Falcon XR's signature four-headlamp treatment, inspired by the European Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
The model range comprised the XR6, the XR8 – and from September 1993 – the XR8 Sprint. The latter featured a more powerful 195 kW version of the 5.0-litre "Windsor" V8 engine, courtesy of the performance upgrades fitted to the previous year's Falcon GT "25th Anniversary". The same GT also donated an improved suspension and brake package, whilst featuring unique 16-inch wheels. There was very little body alteration to identify it, other than a black (instead of red) side body strip, a pair of subtle front wheel arch moulds and "Sprint" badges on the boot and a front chin spoiler.
EF to EL series
The XR6 and XR8 models continued with the heavily re-engineered EF series Falcon, with more improvements to the suspension and driveline. At the end of the EL series, the XR8 gained a raft of engine upgrades, lifting total power to 185 kW.
In addition, all factory LPG systems for the EF and EL Falcon range were installed by and badged "Tickford".
With this new-generation Falcon, TVE retained the XR8 but split the 6-cylinder range into the XR6 HP and XR6 VCT depending on engine variant. The XR6 HP was equipped with a 164 kW version of the new Intech engine (as opposed to 157 of the standard engine) thanks to: unique cylinder head; reshaped inlet port; redesigned exhaust port; ‘open’ combustion chamber shape to restrict pre-detonation from hot spot areas; unique camshaft; higher fuel pressure; recalibrated EEC V engine management system. It also had a solid rear axle suspension setup unlike the independent rear suspension of the 172 kW XR6 VCT, which also featured variable cam timing. The VCT engine was an Australian-production first.
In 2001, TVE also built 125 units of the XR8 Rebel, which were characterised by a Ford Racing bodykit (instead of the standard Tickford version) and, more importantly, the 220 kW "Synergy 5000" 5.0-Litre V8 version of the "Windsor" engine from the FTE T series. With this limited edition XR8, Ford also provided a Sony PlayStation2 and a copy of Gran Turismo 3 signed by both Glenn Seton and Steven Richards as part of the package. The AU III series XR8 inherited the same 220 kW V8 engine as standard and the Ford Racing bodykit as an option to the standard Tickford version. A limited edition XR6 VCT Sprint also received the Ford Motorsport bodykit.
Falcon GT (EB & EL series)
In 1990, Ford Australia produced an EA Falcon concept that featured a 5.8-Litre (351 cubic inch) "Windsor" V8 and race prepared suspension to give it the handling to match its acceleration. This car, however, never reached production. The fitment of the larger "Windsor" engine required substantial alterations to the engine bay to fit the engine, making the exercise too costly. Nevertheless, with the launch of the EB series in 1991, and for the first time since 1982, a V8 returned to the Falcon range thanks to a 5.0-Litre version of the "Windsor" engine. With the return of this powerplant and with TVE on board, Ford deemed it an appropriate time to bring back the legendary Falcon GT model. Thus, TVE produced a 25th Anniversary and 30th Anniversary models based on the luxury-oriented Fairmont Ghia models, rather than the sportier XR. The result was a proper Grand Tourer, with considerable driver comfort, instead of the high-powered setup of its predecessors.
|25th Anniversary GT|
|Manufacturer||Tickford / Ford Australia|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||5.0 L Windsor V8|
|Predecessor||Falcon GT (XB series)|
|Successor||Falcon GT (EL series)|
Based on the EB series, the Falcon GT "25th Anniversary" was launched in 1992, after a month from the release of the S-XR6 and XR8 models. Production of this exclusive model totalled 265 units, 15 of which were sold in New Zealand. It commemorated 25 years since the introduction of the very first GT in 1967 (based on the XR series Falcon) and was also the first the badge was used on a production Falcon since the last GT of 1973 (based on the XB series).
The body was adorned by a full bodykit designed by Paul Gibson, who worked on the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. The bodykit was tested in a wind tunnel in England to ensure that the additions improved aerodynamic performance. The end product was reminiscent of the Lotus Carlton, which was based on the Opel Omega that formed the basis of the rival, second-generation Holden Commodore.
The GT received the Mustang Cobra version of the 5.0-Litre "Windsor", with Tickford adapting it for local conditions. The 200 kW was the result of changes to the camshaft, intake and cylinder head improvements. The rest of the drivetrain consisted of regular XR components including manual transmission, with the only changes being slightly different gear ratios and recalibrated shift points for the automatic transmission.
5-speed manual transmission (source: Wheels, November 1992)
- 0–100 km/h in 7.57 seconds
- 1/4 mile in 15.48 seconds
- Top Speed: 222 km/h
- Units sold by colour
- Black Pearl (J4): 109 of which 4 were exported
- Cobalt Blue (J9): 88 of which 5 were exported
- Cardinal Red (G5): 68 of which 6 were exported
Trim option: Ironbark (G3)
|30th Anniversary GT|
|Manufacturer||Tickford / Ford Australia|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||5.0 L Windsor V8|
Launched in 1997, this commemorative model was an evolution of its 1992 predecessor, this time based on the then new EL series. Production of the Falcon GT "30th Anniversary" totalled 272 units (150 manuals; 122 automatics), comprising 11 development cars (build allocation P001 to P011), 239 (build allocation 001 to 239 and with a limit of 4 per dealers) for Australia, 20 exported to New Zealand (build allocation NZ01 to NZ20) and 2 exported to South Africa (build allocation 240 and 241).
The EL GT was quite well known for its outlandish looks, penned by then Ford Australia's design chief, Steve Park (also responsible for the ill-fated AU series Falcon). His original sketch had a silhouette akin to that of a Batmobile with a wilder wing consisting of a circular stop light mounted on a protruding centre post. However, Ford engineers opted for a more balanced approach to form and function.
One of the most distinctive and polarising features was grille consisting of a vertical stacks, which lead the automotive media to name this car "Darth Vader". Again, the bodykit was not just there for looks but was developed at the Monash University (alongside the EL Falcon race car program) wind tunnel to improve aerodynamics. The rear wing was said to greatly reduce aerodynamic lift at speed, and unique bonnet vents were placed in a low pressure area to help engine cooling. Wheel arch extensions were used to cover the wider EL GT 6-spoke alloy wheels.
The 5.0-Litre "Windsor" engine was locally developed in TVE's workshop. It featured a significantly re-calibrated ECU, bigger SVO GT40 cylinder heads and new 42mm headers. As a result, it produced 200 kW's and 470 nm. TVE had considered using the 351ci version of the "Windsor" found in the EA series GT prototype, and a higher displacement version. Both projects were shelved due to the associated high costs. One of the unique features of this GT model was the special adaptive mode of its 4-speed automatic transmission developed by BTR. A computer monitored a number of inputs to select one of 5 different shift protocols, adapting to the driver's own style. To allow 30th Anniversary GT to be driven in excess of 180 km/h, a carbon-wrapped aluminium tailshaft was installed to eliminate the flex commonly found in standard Falcons. In July 1998, Wheels magazine reached a top speed of 232 km/h.
The car featured a front end setup unique to the model, consisting of re-shaped cast uprights to allow the use of larger discs (328mm instead of 287mm on regular falcons). Twin pot calipers were also used in place of the standard single pot.
5-speed manual transmission (claimed)
- 0–100 km/h in 6.97 seconds
- 1/4 mile in 14.97 seconds
- Standing km: 208.8 km/h
- Top Speed: 230 km/h
4-speed adaptive automatic transmission (claimed)
- 0–100 km/h in 7.73 seconds
- 1/4 mile in 15.65 seconds
- Standing km: 201.8 km/h
- Top Speed: 226 km/h
- Sparkling Burgundy (B5): 157 of which 14 were exported
- Heritage Green (E3): 63 of which 5 were exported
- Navy Blue (N9): 52 of which 3 were exported
Trim option: Mako Grey (G3)
|Owner||Ford Australia, Tickford|
FTE TE50, TS50, TL50
This V8 sedan-only range consisted of three levels: the short wheelbase TE50 and TS50 and the long wheelbase TL50. A distinguishing feature of the T series was a "FTE Premium Assist" package to enhance the ownership experience.
Broadly speaking, the TL50 was based on the Ford Fairlane and the TS50 on the Fairmont Ghia. They all featured a "Premium" braking system. By contrast, the T1 and T2 series TE50 was based on a Fairmont (down to its velour-trimmed interior), however, in T2 series the TE50's braking system was downgraded to that of the Falcon XR8 (the "Premium" braking system becoming optional but standard again on the T3 series), and the T3 also inherited the Falcon XR8 dashboard but with a leather-trimmed only interior. An upgraded "Premium" braking system was otherwise standard on every TS50 and TL50.
The first FTE followed the launch of the brand-new AU series Falcon a month later, in October 1998. The controversial looks of the donor car were lessened courtesy of better designed bumper bars and larger wheels, as well as more luxurious interiors, at least on the TS50 and TL50 models.
Each model featured a styling kit that consisted of unique front and rear bumper bars and side skirts. A key distinguishing feature was the large chrome-mesh grille and "T" badges throughout. To identify the separate Falcon-based models, each had a unique front fascia, with the TS50 gaining driving lights in place of the brake ducts of the TE50. The TE50 had 17-inch wheels whereas the TS50 and TL50 went up to 18-inch. Aiming for a more sophisticated look compared to its rival HSV, FTE fit only low-profile rear wings on the Falcon-derived models and no wing on the more luxury-oriented TL50. Paint options were limited to Silhouette (black), Liquid Silver and Sparkling Burgundy on the TS50; Galaxy (metallic dark blue) and Venom Red on the TE50.
All T Series models used the familiar Windsor V8 Engine renamed "Synergy 5000", but was hand built to provide more power over the XR8's standard 185 kW and it also feature an engraved plaque with the signature of its builder. The TE50 and TL50 models were equipped with a 200 kW version, whilst the TS50 gained aluminium cylinder heads to produce 220 kW. The TE50 was available with a 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission. This transmission was the only choice on the TS50 and TL50. Along with being combined with traction control, the 4-speed automatic had ESS (Electronic Sports Shift), which was an Australian-production first by providing buttons on the steering wheels allowing for manual gear shifting. Inside, each car featured Momo steering wheels and gear levers.
An upgraded Premium braking system was standard on all models, and both the TS50 and TL50 benefitted from Koni suspension components.
- 0–100 km/h in 7.3 seconds
- 0-400m in 15.2 seconds
- 0–100 km/h in 7.1 seconds
- 0-400m in 15.2 seconds
- TE50: 104
- TS50: 54
- TL50: 43
This second series was sold in parallel with the AU II series Falcon of 2000–2001, which benefitted from structural and interior upgrades. The TE50, for example, could now be had with the previous car's suede-velour interior or a new leather trim with either red or blue inserts and embroidered logos, matched to the Momo steering wheel, gear knob and door trim. In addition, bumper inserts, rear wing and multi-colour interiors were a delete option. For the first time, these models could also be optioned with satellite navigation.
The look of the T2 series was revised side skirts bearing each model's insignia, accent grey inserts on front and rear bumpers, plus body-coloured headlight bezels. The TE50 now featured the Falcon XR's rear wing as standard, while the TS50 still carried a low-profile model as standard. Wheels sizes did not differ although any model could now be optioned with the new Azzurro 18-inch wheels. The following new colours were introduced: Winter White and Narooma Blue (which replaced Galaxy Blue midway through the series) while Liquid Silver was dropped.
All these FTE models now featured the 220 kW engine previously reserved for the TS50. In addition, the latter could now be had with a 5-speed manual transmission. The TE50 was downgraded to Falcon XR8 brakes, with the Premium package becoming optional.
- 0–100 km/h in 6.7 seconds
- 0-400m in 14.7 in seconds
- TE50: 141
- TS50: 46
- TL50: 12
This third and final T series was sold in parallel with the AU III series Falcon of 2001–2002. At this time, with the "Windsor" being replaced by Ford's "Romeo" modular V8 architecture worldwide, FTE received the last allotment of these engine blocks allowing FTE to produce 248 units of the Falcon XR8 Pursuit 250 Ute, which was sold as a Ford. The TE50 and TS50 also suffered some interior downgrades: the former lost its Fairmont dashboard for that of a Falcon XR8; and the TS50 lost the same luxury seats it shared with the TL50.
The T3 abandoned the original sophisticated look, to deliver a more powerful look. In fact, all models were now equipped with 18-inch wheels and an all new V8 Racing-inspired bodykit, which consisted of a deeper chin spoiler, tall boot mounted wing and chunkier side and rear fascia extensions. For the first time, the TE50 was fitted with foglights. The rear wing was claimed to offer more rear end grip above 100 km/h. With this bodykit, FTE departed from Ford's internal guidelines regarding defined manufacturing parameters such as departure angles. The result was the most visually aggressive Falcon vehicles since the GT 30th Anniversary of 1997. Blueprint, Congo Green and Monsoon Blue were three new colours offered across the range.
The TE50 now featured the Azzurro alloy wheels as standard, and it could also be optioned with the Koni suspension components fitted to the TS50 and TL50. The TL50 continued with little success, given the slow death of the donor Fairlane by that time.
All T3 models were now fitted with a 5.6-Litre "stroker" version of the "Windsor" block. An all-new crankshaft, ported cylinder head and a three-piece high flow inlet manifold and conical air cleaner, resulted in engine outputs rising to 250 kW and 500 Nm. As a result, these models are renowned for being the fastest, most powerful naturally-aspirated Falcons ever, since the GTHO Phase 3.
Because of the short development period of 10 months, all T series models no longer featured traction control, which was previously available only on the automatics. They could nevertheless now be optioned with a Brembo braking system, which was superior to the FTE "Premium" package.
- 0–100 km/h in 5.86 seconds
- 0-400m in 14.18 seconds
- TE50: 204
- TS50: 224
- TL50: 3
In 1992, one of the first projects assigned to TVE was to improve the Australian built "SA30" Ford Capri. The resulting Capri Clubsprint was based on the Turbo XR2 version but with added suspension upgrades to improve handling, and a bespoke bodykit (making the car strictly a 2-seater) with larger 16-inch alloy wheels. In total, TVE built 200 units.
Fairlane by Tickford
In 1998, TVE made a number of improvements to the NL series Fairlane Ghia marketed the resulting car as the Fairlane By Tickford. Using the upgrades from the EL series Falcon GT "30th Anniversary" of 1997 and Ford Motorsport parts, the engine received different heads and an intake manifold resulting in a power output of 195 kW's, up from standard Fairlane's 165 kW's. The FBT also benefitted from the said GT's bigger brake package and an sportier interior. A total of 106 were produced, only available in Navy Blue or Regency Red.
In 1999, the Ford Cougar was imported to Australia to capitilise on the sports coupe market, since the departure of the Ford Probe. Sales, however, were low due to shrinking demand and lack of public awareness of the Cougar name. In August 2000, FTE released 100 units of the Cougar Eibach, which featured sportier suspension and a bodykit based on a US market item, but further modified by Tickford for the Australian market. This FTE model was discontinued in April 2001. The Cougar range was discontinued in March 2004.
Mustang SVT Cobra
In 2001, to combat the release of the third-generation Holden Monaro, TVE set out on a massive project to re-engineer the fourth-generation Mustang SVT Cobra for Australia. This involved substantial revisions to the body, electronics and drivetrain. More than 250 changes were made by the time a RHD conversion was finished. The process started on the assembly line in the US, where a windscreen that conformed to the Australia Design Rules (ADR) was fitted in addition to revised wiring for the seat electronics. Other parts – such as for the lights and exhaust – were swapped in favour of Japanese specification items given they required lesser revisions to meet the ADR. In total, 250 units were sold between 2001 and 2002.
One of the biggest challenges presented by this project was the floor pan, since in left hand drive, the driver had the most space available. The engine and gearbox offset had to be reversed with the use of Tickford engineered brackets, and unique floor pan sections, to achieve the necessary space for the driver in RHD. In addition, an all new dashboard and interior trimmings had to be installed. In effect, TVE re-manufactured the Mustang at a cost of A$4 million remaining the biggest ever project for Tickford in Australia.
Sales did not meet expectations, including due to a very high A$85,000 retail price.
TVE also developed a range of concept cars for a variety of automotive shows around Australia. These cars were developed not only to grab attention in favour of Ford products but also to display various technological features.
- Falcon XR8 Sequential sedan (EL-series): powered by a modified 200+kW 5.0-Litre V8 engine, its key feature was a Harrop-engineered and built sequential shift transmission; it also received a re-trimmed leather interior, upgraded brakes and suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, twin bonnet air scoops and Mexican Fire paint that changed from gold to red depending on light conditions.
- Falcon Predator sedan (EL-series): based on a Falcon Futura sedan, it was powered by a supercharged LPG version of its 6-cylinder engine boosting output to 230 kW; it also received a re-trimmed Momo-leather interior with upgraded sound system, upgraded brakes, 18-inch wheels and it was painted in Orange Copper.
- Mustang V10 convertible (4th generation): created in conjunction with Herrod Automotive in 2001 as a Ford Racing Australia exhibition car for use during V8 Supercar and other motorsport events around Australia, it had its standard 4.6-Litre V8 replaced by a Ford Modular 6.8-Litre V10 engine from the American F truck series but fitted with a Sprintex supercharger.
In 1999, Glenn Seton's V8 Supercar racing outfit was bought out by Ford and rebranded Ford Tickford Racing. It expanded to a 2 race car operation, with Neil Crompton the second driver. This marked the first time since 1973 that Ford officially backed a team into the Australian touring car championship. Eventually, Ford diverted attention to Gibson Motorsport, leaving Glenn Seton to run without factory backing, until his team was acquired by Prodrive at the end of 2002, to become Ford Performance Racing.
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Ford Australia automobile timeline, 1980s–present
|Full-size||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon|
|Fairlane / LTD||Fairlane / LTD||Fairlane / LTD|
|Falcon Ute||Falcon Ute||Falcon Ute|