XA GT-HO Phase IV - The Second Owner
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Name: Robert 'Bob' Lahood (Lahood Motors Pty Ltd) Purchase Date: 31/10/1978
Purchase Price: $6000.00
Words By Roy Velardi
Robert Lahood, better known as Bob, was a used car salesman and had a car yard on Parramatta Road that specialised in buying and selling muscle cars. Bob had first heard of the Phase IV back in the early 1970s when all the hype was surrounding the supercar scare. Like every muscle car fan back then, he read in the newspapers that the big three manufacturers had dropped their supercar plans. For Ford this meant the Phase IV program. You could imagine Bob’s disbelief when good friend Paul Bianco called him up one day saying that the one and only Phase IV was up for sale.
Paul was first offered the car by Hemphill but couldn’t come up with the dollars at the time so he decided to offer it to Bob. Bob recalls saying to Paul that there wasn’t such a car made. Paul convinced him that it was the real deal and that if he was interested he would pass his details onto Hemphill. Not long after Hemphill called Bob and offered the car to him for $6000.00. Bob asked Hemphill several questions about the car including if it actually had a compliance that correctly identified it as a GT-HO. Naturally Hemphill confirmed it was a genuine GT-HO. Hemphill had the car transported from Fred Gibson’s workshop. It arrived safe and sound and Bob didn’t wait for it to be unloaded, rather he climbed up, popped the bonnet open and focused his eyes on the compliance plate and gleefully read the letters XA GT-HO. That was the deal maker for Bob, "if it didn't have GT-HO on the tag, I wasn't interested in it," says Bob.
When Bob quizzed Hemphill about the reasons behind the car being for sale, there was a simple answer given, that being that the 3.0:1 differential ratio was perfect for the Bowral to Sydney commute, but too tall for the city driving duties. Personally I’m not convinced that that was the only reason for selling the car. After all, Hemphill had gone to the extent of having the engine rebuilt along with some other additions, so why wouldn’t he have just swapped the gear ratio to a more user-friendly one? Bob bought the car to be used as personal transport, he had it serviced, detailed and never really had any intentions of reselling it. He too found the original ratio to be too tall, so he said he had Craft Differentials in Granville replace them with 3.25:1 gears. He continued to enjoy the Phase IV for a few more years and would tell anyone who asked about the car how hard it accelerated through the gears.
Bob used to take bets that the car would do 90mph in first gear. Bob would take you for a spin, and if it didn’t do what he said you scored $5.00. If it did, then you owed him $5.00. It was easy money according to Bob. Bob didn’t like the blackouts against the Zircon Green as they didn’t stand out, so he decided to have them done in silver instead. Bob eventually heard that there were more Phase IVs around, so he thought that his one wasn’t all that special. He decided to sell it and so he advertised it in his car yard. Most people recall that famous photo of the Phase IV up on car ramps for sale wearing the RL-166 plates and signwritten windscreen.
Bob says the car drew plenty of attention in the yard, with many prospective buyers walking away from the car believing it to be a fake. Then one day a hard working man by the name of Kirk Gostevsky came along and enquired about the Phase IV. He checked it out, then Bob took him for a flamethrower drive and Gostevsky just had to have it. He then went away and sold his other cars so he could buy it. According to Bob, he sold the Phase IV for $20,000.00. Back then Phase IIIs were selling for around $16,000.00, so he figured he had done well. Bob reluctantly admits that he should never had sold it at all let alone twice! Yes twice, more about that later...