351 CLEVO-POWERED XY GT REPLICA

Paul Cassar's XY Falcon

THE XY Falcon GT is the quintessential Aussie muscle car. No other home-grown tin-top before or since has captured the hearts and minds of enthusiasts and investors in quite the same way. We look back at Paul Cassar's stunner which was our cover car from June 2014.

XY-Falcon -16-right -frontThe bold colour combo is a winner in anyone’s language 

The model is forever etched into Australian motorsport folklore, thanks in no small part to the efforts of some Canadian bloke who steered it to Bathurst and Australian Touring Car Championship victories in 1971 and 1973 respectively.

Pristine, low-kilometre examples of the homologation special Phase III variant have been known to fetch prices in the realm of $750,000, and as a result, values of lesser XY models have also skyrocketed. Genuine GTs are now unobtainable for most enthusiasts, prompting a wave of replica builds.

XY-Falcon -15-left -rearIn fact, it’s been said that there are significantly more XY GTs these days than the 1557 originally built by Ford, as building replicas has become an industry all its own, fuelled by an insatiable demand from punters longing to have their very own ‘GT’ parked in the shed. That being said, very few can hold a candle to Paul Cassar’s magnificent example.

XY-Falcon -2It may come as a surprise to learn that such an inspired tribute to the XY GT legend is owned by a bloke who openly confesses to being a Holden man. “I’ve been a Holden and HSV fan most of my life and have had my fair share of Commodores and Clubbies,” says Paul. “But I’ve always had a soft spot for Aussie muscle cars in general, especially XW and XY Falcons. There’s something about the classic shape and the raw sound and grunt of a V8 that gives me tingles, and they remind me of cars my uncles and cousins had when I was younger.”

XY-Falcon -13-frontIn the end, Paul was compelled to jump the fence when he married into a family whose blood ran true blue. “It was only a matter of time before I’d have to toe the line and purchase a classic Ford,” he says. “Before I knew it, my father-in-law and I jumped on a plane, and then I was driving home from Sydney to Melbourne in an XW GT replica. I really enjoyed that car – I drove it everywhere, and it turned heads constantly.”

Paul grew very attached indeed to his XW, but when the opportunity presented itself to get hold of an XY and build it from the ground up exactly as he wanted, it was too good to pass up.

XY-Falcon -12-bonnetThe XY GT shaker had to be modified due to the higher-than-stock Edelbrock Air Gap inlet manifold, while the gauges on the cowl display engine oil pressure, water temperature and fuel pressure  

Paul is a building surveyor by trade and was assisting a mate by the name of Michael Agius with the planning of a construction project. Michael is the owner of an award-winning Track Red XY called HIGEAR, and inevitably, the topic of conversation turned to cars.

“He told me about a really clean XY Fairmont he wanted to sell, and my immediate response was: ‘Show me this car,’ as I know how fussy Michael is and the level of workmanship he puts into his creations,” Paul says.

XY-Falcon -17-left -rear“There it was: a bare body in high-fill. I knew that this car would tum out to be something special and I had full faith in Michael to produce a car that I could enjoy for years, so we made a deal. Michael would spray and assemble the car, and I would organise and fund the running gear. There was no way that car was getting a stock 351.”

Since the body had already been seen to by Michael, the first call that had to be made was the choice of paint colour. Paul had long been a fan of the iconic Falcon hue Wild Violet, but Michael suggested a custom-mixed Electric Blue that he reckoned would look an absolute treat with white interior and orange GT stripes. Paul didn’t take much convincing; he gave the nod and Michael went to town on the shell.

XY-Falcon -9-bootPanels were fabricated to box in the boot, and the boot interior was painted in two-pack, including the fuel tank and the fabricated battery box. All bolts are polished stainless steel

With the styling decided on, Paul had a chat with Eugene from Flowcraft Race Engines about a suitable combo to power the beast. Having already vowed that a stock Clevo would never find its way between the rails, Paul settled on a standard-stroke, solid-cammed 351, with Ross forged pistons, Scat rods, 4MA crank, Trick Flow alloy heads, Edelbrock Air Gap manifold and Holley Street Ultra HP carby. On the engine dyno it produced 502hp on the first pull, before jetting adjustments and further tuning yielded a credible 520hp at the crank.

XY-Falcon -4-enginePaul spent an entire weekend hand-polishing all the stainless-steel bolts, and the engine bay gleams as a result. The Flowcraft Engines-built 351ci Clevo makes 520hp at the crank

The C10 auto was shipped off to Ray Caruana who rebuilt it, fitted a stage-two shift kit and prescribed a Dominator 4200rpm stall converter. A disc-brake nine-inch diff was sourced from a Fairlane, and then Adrian from Taverna Chassis shortened it. The housing was then painted in two-pack, and fitted with new bearings, 3.9:1 gears, and a rebuilt centre and calipers.

XY-Falcon -5-interior -2The cabin is full of concours original equipment, trimmed in white vinyl which was fitted by Paul's mate Brian

Wheels can make or break any car, and Paul says this was probably the hardest decision he had to make. “With my other projects I have always been able to take the car down to the wheel centre and try different wheels against it,” he says. “This time I had to just go with my gut feeling and a bit of Photoshop on my PC.”

Chris and Tony from Showwheels sorted Paul out with their latest catalogue, and after much deliberation he locked in the Intro SW3s. “Once we got them fitted I was really happy with them. They looked great; they finished off the car perfectly and I knew that I was one of the first in Australia to have them.”

XY-Falcon -6-dashThe radio might look like an original XY Superfringe, but the fascia actually controls an Alpine source unit, Soundstream amp and Alpine speakers 

The build was progressing quickly, but as the deadline of the 2013 Geelong All Ford Day loomed ever-closer, there were plenty of late nights and skinned knuckles as Michael and Paul thrashed to get the car finished in time. In the end, they had a win.

“The car made the show and attracted a lot of attention as the colour combo of Electric Blue, white trim and orange GT stripes wasn’t very common,” Paul says. “To Michael’s credit and everyone else who helped put this car together, it was awarded runner-up in the category of Best XW-XY.”

XY-Falcon -7-interior -rearIt’s since gone on to score trophies for Best Overall at Westfad Car Show and Best Modified at Keilor Village Car Show, and Paul is keen as mustard to take it to Summernats.

But it begs the question: has Paul’s love affair with Falcons turned him off Holdens and onto Henrys for good? “Not really; I just love muscle cars,” he says. “I still own a couple of HSVs and a ’57 Chev, so to me it doesn’t matter if it’s American or Aussie, Ford or Holden – as long as it’s tough.”

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DISCUSSION

5 Comments
  • Ozi muscle cars are pulln more *** an cash then any yank tank bro I no koz iv afew old cars Ozi and yanks I gt a xa fairmont gt rep an a xy f gt rep both running a 351 v8z one windsor manuel an one clevo c4 auto both single turbo blow thru carb style an have a59 ford ranchero a 60 star liner a 67 mercury a 61 star liner An had 3 63 impalaz a60 impla two 62 impalaz sold the Chevs kept the fords Lolz old is gold buddy
  • Nice az **** bro
  • I know this car, I am a painter myself, the body work and presentation is extremely detailed. The car has a good twist in the colour choices, it has looks and power!!! Beautiful job !!!
  • Well the comment was a let down. Armchair comments about a car im guessing you have never even driven in. Stick to your prius.
  • Without a doubt "THE" most over rated car ever to exist. australians cannot stop going on & on & on & on,,,,, & on about this boring four door family car. "The fastest four door car in the world at the time", that's because everybody else was making two doors with nice flowing lines. "Pure australian muscle", There is more American in those cars that australian. Engine, transmission, differential, shaker scoop, spoiler, stripes, even the kangapoo decal was a cheap immitation of an American decal. The body was designed in the United States. Hmmmm is there anything left? Nice cars but ridiculously over rated. Not at all saying "Yeeeeeeey America", just saying "Hello, reality check rednecks".