A car enthusiast has had his pride and joy taken on the back of a tow truck – and put in storage for three months – after deciding to stretch the legs of his classic Ford Falcon GT on Australia’s most famous race track.

A rare 1970s Ford Falcon GT – recently imported from South Africa where it was sold as a Ford Fairmont GT – has been seized by police patrolling the iconic Mount Panorama race track after it had been driven by a suspended driver on the wrong side of the road at more than twice the speed limit while the vehicle was unregistered.

Police said a 49-year-old Sydney man was stopped by Bathurst highway patrol after local residents called to complain about the high-speed antics of the classic V8-powered muscle car, which was not displaying registration plates.

While Mount Panorama, Bathurst, is best known as the home of Australia’s most famous motor race – the Bathurst 1000 – it is a public road with a 60km/h speed limit when it is not being used for racing.

Indeed, the road is a tourist route and also provides vehicle access to residents who live on the mountain.

Above: An unmarked police car stops the 1970s Ford Falcon GT on the Mount Panorama road circuit. Source: NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Facebook page.

A post published on the Facebook page of the NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said, about mid-morning on Friday 21 January 2022, “police received a phone call from a member of the public advising that a green Ford Falcon with no registration plates was driving at excessive speed and on the incorrect side of the roadway on Mountain Straight, Mount Panorama Bathurst.

“Police attached to Bathurst Highway Patrol were already conducting speed enforcement on Mount Panorama at this time and quickly acknowledged the job. 

“Within moments, police observed the green XY Ford Falcon with no registration plates driving at high speed on Conrod Straight. The speed of the vehicle was checked at 125km/h.

“Police stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver. The 49-year-old Sydney man was breath-tested which returned a negative result. It was identified that he was a suspended driver as he had been caught drinking-driving by police two weeks earlier.

“The vehicle was unregistered, with the driver telling police that he had imported it from South Africa. He had picked it up in Melbourne a few days prior and was driving it back home to Sydney.

Above: This is what happens when a suspended motorist drives an unregistered car at more than twice the speed limit and on the wrong side of the road. Source: NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Facebook page.

“When asked why he didn’t have an unregistered vehicle permit, the driver stated: ‘They were closed’. 

“When the man was asked about his manner of driving and excessive speed, he replied ‘I’m just doing a re-enactment,’ referring to the Bathurst race. 

“Police impounded the XY Falcon for three months due to the excessive speed. The man was issued with a field court attendance notice to appear at Bathurst Local Court in March 2022 for the offence of driving whilst suspended. He was issued penalty notices for the offences of exceeding the speed by more than 45km/h and using an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.”

If the book is thrown at him, the driver faces fines in excess of $7000 ($2520 for exceeding the speed limit by over 45km/h, $697 for the unregistered vehicle, $697 for an uninsured vehicle, and $3300 for driving while suspended).

He can also be jailed for up to six months for drive while suspended (first offence), and jailed for up to 12 months (second and subsequent offences).

Above: The view police had of the ‘re-enactment’. Source: NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Facebook page.

The Facebook post has so far received more than 5000 comments, most of them supporting police taking the appropriate action.

Some commenters saw the lighter side: “It’s not the first time a Ford is on a tow truck at Mt Panorama,” wrote one follower of the page.

“Sell it at police auction, send me the date,” wrote another, presumably trying to pick up a bargain.

Some commenters were trying to defend the actions of the driver – allegedly caught travelling at more than twice the 60km/h speed limit and crossing to the wrong side of the road.

But most commenters supported the police, with one summing up the views of many: “It’s a residential area – lots of properties with driveways that aren’t easy to see. And when we (visited the circuit), there were lots of people walking/jogging/cycling the circuit, with little kids in tow. Good on the coppers.”

Joshua Dowling

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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