In just his third Bathurst 500, Fred Gibson achieved victory partnering the legendary Harry Firth in the first V8 victory at The Mountain for Ford and its Falcon.
During his early career Gibson was a loyal deputy to Ford star Allan Moffat, but it may have been a different story if a star driver of the day was unable to return from overseas, opening up the opportunity to race for the Blue Oval.
“Frank Matich was going to drive,” Gibson explained.
“Frank couldn’t come back from America so I got the drive with Harry and I was very fortunate to do that. But the whole thing was, even back in those days, Harry built a very special car.
“He said to me one year, ‘cock, I’m going to Holden next year, how about you come with me?’ I thought the best way to go about it as a person was to stay with someone in the sport, and that’s when Ford where in the sport, so I stayed.
“Harry went to Holden, then he picked up Brock.”
What followed was a long partnership between Gibson and Barry ‘Bo’ Seton spawning five out of six years, which failed to garner a result although the XW, XY and XA models were more than competitive against the Holden counterpart as the power struggle continued.
“The thing is, the ’67 and ’68 Falcons were a good car against the Monaros,” said Gibson.
“I suppose the pleasing thing to me as a driver was when the 350 Monaro came out, the year Bo [Seton] and I nearly won the race until we cooked an engine, that was a really satisfying race in some ways because the 350 Monaro had so much more grunt than what we had.
“It’d just blow the socks off us up The Mountain and down the straight.”
In between, the infamous Supercar Scare occurred ending Ford, Holden and Chrysler’s developments for the race, but Gibson played down the saga.
“It was all journalist stuff,” said Gibson. “The Phase IV wasn’t a better car then the Phase III it was a more refined car.
“It wasn’t going to be much quicker than the Phase III and with the regulations change it became more of an Improved Production car where we were running 550bhp. But the whole thing was Evan Green stirred the shit and sowed the seeds about this ‘supercar’ coming out, but the car was virtually a Phase III with the latest bodyshell.
“It was really a beat up and all of a sudden the car got banned, then Ford pulled the plug.”