Raw Orange: The XW Ford Falcon van loaded with clever thinking

We check out a tres-cool custom van unveiled at Rockynats 2024

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

Eight killer cars and one bike were unveiled at Rockynats 4 and one of our favourites was Allison and Jaime Cramp’s intriguing XW Falcon van. The XW has stacks of immediate impact, but dig a little deeper and you’ll be amazed at the technology and thinking that has gone into the build under the skin.

The van originally belonged to Jaime’s dad. “It was a white poverty-pack Falcon van, not even a 500,” he says. “It was white, a six-cylinder and three-on-the-tree, though dad put a 302 Cleveland in it at some stage. Dad gave it a bit of a resto in the 90s, but as a panel beater, he made a great cabinet maker [laughs] and some sins started showing through.”

Jaime eventually took custody of the van, using it as a daily, before it went off the road in 2000. “Being such a basic car, we felt like we had a blank canvas to work with. We didn’t want a GT or GS replica, we wanted to have that classic vanner vibe, without being cheesy.”

Jaime and Allison sell beds for a living and they used their expertise to create the van’s crowning feature – and fully-adjustable electric bed that the vanners of the 70s and 80s could have only dreamed about!

“Most household beds are too thick to work in a vehicle, like 200m,” says Jaime. But one of my suppliers had a prototype he was working on for use in motorhomes that was only 90mm. Perfect!

“The van was trimmed by our mate, Darren Kemp. He’s a marine trimmer and doesn’t really do cars much these days, but when he heard we wanted to do a van, he was in!”

The build itself was handled by a Anton Duval and his team at Muscle Car Restorations on the Gold Coast. And boy, they have worked hard to deliver the couple a van that not only looks trick and goes hard, but will be super-nice to live with.

“One of the things Allison and Jaime wanted to do with the van was to take it to the drive-in, so I suggested we put electric air-con in the car so it would actually be comfortable,” says Anton.

The A/C is a conventional automotive set-up, but instead of the compressor being powered by the engine, it is driven by a 12V unit out of a Tesla that has been mounted under the front left guard, with its own lithium battery under the rear of the van. Not only that, but the factory heater sliders have been fitted with microswitches to operate both the air con and the conventional heater.

The rear also features subtle lighting, nicely-integrated speakers, a padded seat on the tailgate and fabric palm-tree scenes adorning the interior panels. The finished effect is almost concept-car like.

Anton and the crew also put a lot of thought into reducing NVH (noise, harshness and vibration) as much as possible. “I spoke to a guy who works on acoustics for BMW,” says Anton. “He came up with a design for the whole interior, using varying materials and thicknesses, extra bracing in the hoodlining etc. There is a lot more to it than just slapping in sound-deadening.”

Bodywise, the van needed plenty of work, before being lavished in a solid 2K Raw Orange duco. “I spent over 200 hours blocking the van,” says Anton.

The XW still runs the 302C fitted by Jaime’s dad, but it is now out to 351 cubes, with a set of 3V alloy heads and Sniper EFI. The Clevo is backed with a Top Loader four-speed, with a 3.5:1 9-inch. The exhaust has a cut-out that is operated by the V8 badge on the dash. As Anton says, if you want V8 noises, just push the button!