H.O. Homologated Options began in 1978 and was started in order to build the XD Phase 5 race cars. The company Phase Autos had already built the XC Cobra spoilers and bonnet scoop. Wayne Draper who had worked at Ford creating many of the GTs had worked with Howard Marsden on the XY Phase III in 1970. He was part of a young group of designers would expected to carry forward the GTHO’s. Homologated Option was the 1st meaning of H.O. however Howard changed it to ‘Handling Options' so the press would understand it. After unsuccessfully trying to maintain the GTHO name with XA, XB and XC, Wayne decided to use it for the code name for the Group C XD when Ford had lost interest in racing. The rest is History. Wayne maintained the image that name represents to all Ford Falcon lovers, building custom performance Falcons as requested by their owners. After Wayne passed away in 2012, his son Rob and HO fabricator Denison Phillips continue the legacy.



A Short History Of Wayne Draper
and HO Phase Autos
Wayne Draper’s first rookie job as designer at Ford was with Howard Marsden on the XY Phase III in 1970 (the stripes). A super fan of the GTHO’s, Wayne was part of a young group of Australian designers expecting to carry the GTHO flame. So he was devastated when Ford dropped the GTHO program and then later dropped out of motorsport. Never one to give up, Draper developed his abandoned Phase 5 design after-hours and teamed up with drag racing guru, Bob McWilliam and race driver Murray Carter to develop a Group C Falcon for the racetrack. Draper was a Ford stylist at the time, and with this all being done behind Ford’s back he kept his name off the books as much as possible, given FoMoCo's directive about racing the cars.
To ensure the car was eligible to race, twenty-two Phase 5’s needed to be sold as street legal production vehicles.
So H.O. Homologated Options, under Wayne Draper, began in 1978 and was started in order to build the XD Group C race cars after Ford abandoned motor racing. Edsel Ford II had no interest in seeing the XD race, and actively discouraged drivers from pursuing the idea of racing it, including stern letters to the likes of Gary Willmington (who apparently still has it to this day).
Murray Carter tried to hide Draper on testing days but he was inevitably found out. Murray said, “Luckily, by the time Draper was caught, the XD was quick, so instead of firing him on the spot, Ford sold the Phase 5 as a dealership special to help HO Phase Autos reach the sales numbers needed under CAMS law”. Ford realised they could stay in motor racing without spending any money (they simply left that up to the privateers).
Homologation was the responsibility of the manufacturer, so the formation of HO Phase Autos was to "manufacture" the XD-based Phase 5, in the same way that HDT Special Vehicle claimed manufacturer status on the Holden side of the fence.
Contrary to popular belief, Draper never bought the HO name off Ford. They gave it to him to aid in the sales of the car, to make sure the Phase 5 made it to track. It originally meant Homologated Options, but Howard Marsden changed it to Handling Options so not to confuse journalists. Wayne changed it back to Homologated Options.
The initial styling for the Phase 5 had radical box guards and a massive rear wing, but CAMS squashed it, mainly as they'd already knocked Holden back on a similar styling exercise for the VB/VC Commodore. CAMS wanted to follow Europe’s lead and deemed it illegal to have a gap between the deck lid and spoiler.
Draper and McWilliam were responsible for defining much of the specification of the racing car, which Murray Carter pursued with CAMS on their behalf: the ridiculously-low homologated weight of 1360kg was a result of Wayne determining that the lowest-weight model in the XD product range was the taxi pack, and used that figure. Dad recalled, “CAMS didn't question it, and it wasn't raised as an issue until Johnson's Tru-Blu car was weighed at Calder at the ATCC round in 1981, and was found to be on the money at around 1381kg, where Carter's car was about 1600kg. Things got a bit more serious from then on.”
HO Phase Autos also homologated the XE - the Phase 6 - with the bodykit used on the race cars, although the rear wing design was altered for 1983 when most of the teams blamed poor aerodynamics for the handling issues. “They later realised it was a rear end suspension issue. The birdbath wing was just a sail to slow the car down”, Dad said.
After the Phase 5 came the Phase 6 for the XE Group C. HO then produced the XF Millennium Falcon show car, Indy Pace Cars, the rare Phase 7 and 8 E-series Falcons, and other show cars for Ford after Wayne went to be chief designer at Nissan in 1991. HO Phase Autos also worked with Allan Moffat to produce the Allan Moffat EB HO Falcon which was, for a while, the quickest sedan in the country.
After Wayne sadly passed away in 2012, his son Rob decided to continue the legacy. “Those early days after Dad left us felt were tough for HO. With the odds stacked against us, I received much appreciated help from many people. Namely, Phase Autos fabricator Denison Phillips, David Wyles, James Morrison, and Blue Power Racing Developments who made sure Dad saw his final build before he passed away. I remember getting Dad out onto the porch and we all wheeled out the big red Phase 6 and started it up for him. He died a few days later”.
Most recently Rob sought out fibreglass gurus Fraser and Michelle Vincent fron Alfa Motorsport Fibreglass in Victoria, who are now making all HO parts under license. “It’s been a long haul, with a bunch of speed bumps along the way, but now HO Phase Autos is as strong as ever”, says Rob.
Wayne, Bob and Murray went to great lengths with huge financial cost to keep Ford on the racetrack and the HO dream alive. Wayne named the first Group C’s the Phase 5 & 6 in honour of their history. The Phase 5 & 6 were sold as dealership specials by Ford, and designed and built by Ford employees, who, unlike Ford’s upper management, actually cared about motor racing and its fans (the Phase 5 was designed to be a GTHO after all). “These cars not only look incredible, they represent that raw fighting spirit from the early days. Dad’s cars are anti-establishment Aussie grit on wheels.”
......in fairness, Ford did end up supporting Johnson and other privateers on track after Johnson started winning on his own bat. Edsel Ford II also changed his mind and famously matched Johnson’s relief fund after he hit the rock at Bathurst.