CHRIS & COLLEEN BITMEAD
1976 XB FORD FALCON COUPE
BUILT to take the Yanks on at their own game, XBOSS needs no introduction. Short version: it’s high-end. Yet Chris and Colleen Bitmead didn’t sit at home sending cheques to a professional custom house; they not only nurtured a team of highly motivated individuals all hell-bent on US glory, they got in and got dirty themselves.
US designer Don Vierstra was entrusted with the initial renderings; the decision to use someone offshore was simple, Chris explains. “I figured a lot of the Australian artists had done XBs for years and I wanted fresh ideas.”
Not being familiar with the iconic Aussie coupe was both an asset and a hindrance for Don; he only had photos to go off until Chris posted him a 1:18-scale XB hardtop model to help out!
The team set about bringing Chris and Don’s vision to reality in the inauspicious surrounds of the Bitmeads’ shed rather than a stark and clinical specialised workshop. While there, XBOSS copped endless body mods: extended sills that meet the undercarriage, modern-style flush windscreen, understated roof chop, ridiculously tight gaps, a slick rear beaver panel and, perhaps most obviously, a subtly raised bonnet with a wiper-hiding extension, which lifts up and over the roof.
Interior-wise, the vision was to modernise the classic 1970s muscle car cockpit, with CL500 Benz seats and steel fabricated door trims featuring an X motif.
These changes, along with the blown Boss 290, C10 auto and Jag IRS rear end, are as detailed as any other part of the car; and are fitted to a body that’s comprehensively different to the factory machine.
XBOSS brought Aussie ingenuity, engineering and the classic XB shape to the American masses, winning a berth in the Ridler Award’s Great Eight at the 2016 Detroit Autorama – arguably the greatest accolade ever earned by an Australian car. But is it enough to win SMOTY, the ultimate peoples’ choice award?