Nine-second 1970 Ford XY Falcon

Steve Roussis’s XY Falcon is a nine-second rolling celebration of the life of a much-loved wife, mother and friend

Photographers: Ben Hosking

SELLING a 10-second XY Falcon is never an easy thing to do. “You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it. You’ll regret it,” Steve Roussis’s wife Ourania told him. She was right. “I sold it to a local guy, and within months I was saying: ‘Shit, I shouldn’t have sold it!’” Steve admits. But his eldest son, Dean, had a solution. “He said: ‘Dad, my mate’s got one; he never drives it. Do you want to have a look at it?’”

First published in the January 2021 issue of Street Machine

The replacement 1970 XY, Spring Frost in colour, shortly arrived at Casa de Roussis and the family started throwing ideas around.

“It was me, my wife and my three kids – we speak as a family. We discussed things like what colour we would paint the XY. That’s how we got the Raw Orange colour; my wife thought it popped the most,” Steve says. “We had a vision for what we wanted it to turn out like. We started stripping it at home, and pulled the engine out and everything at work.”

One significant part of the vision for this ‘new’ Falcon build was that it had to be even quicker than the old one. “I promised my wife that this car would run nines,” Steve says.

The family had its new project, the XY-sized hole in the garage now perfectly filled. Life was great again – yet the worst news possible came during the Falcon’s build. Ourania, who’d been battling cancer, was now terminally ill. The XY instantly meant more than any car before it.

“We had to step up,” Steve says. “Everything about the build now revolved around my wife.”

The family pulled together, as did Steve’s workmates at the workshop he runs, with favours, support and friendships tapped in the race to finish the car.

Aware of the circumstances, Johnny and the team at Marrickville Prestige Smash pushed the paint and bodywork to the front of the queue. The XY’s body was in excellent shape to begin with, which reduced prep time, before fitment of the reverse-cowl scoop, a GT-HO-look front and details including chequered-flag headlamp covers.

Steve also took advantage of the superb starting condition of the interior, blending old and new for classic yet elegant comfort, capability and performance. The interior is essentially Falcon GT, with the seats and iconic XY GT steering wheel matched to a GT dash pod completed with Auto Meter instruments. “Let’s face it: the standard tacho doesn’t work. You rev the engine and it can’t keep up!” Steve laughs. All in all, it’s a smooth blend of classic XY GT looks, with even the modern audio system cleverly concealed.

With time against them, Steve went to Pavtek in Melbourne for a ready-made powerplant solution. That meant a 461ci carby-fed Ford V8 pumping out 701 horses. A fully-manual C4 transmission with a 6500rpm stall converter sends drive to an aluminium tailshaft with Mark Williams ends and a nine-inch centre with a 4.11 final drive for racing, swapped to 3.9 for the road.

The black Weld AlumaStars are wrapped in Mickey Thompsons to rip into the quarter-mile and contrast with the orange paintwork. All settled at 30mm lower than stock and cushioned by Calvert shocks, there are King Springs and Wilwood brakes up front, with stock leaf springs (yes, Falcon six-cylinder leaf springs!) and standard rear drums at the back.

Mere months since Ourania’s diagnosis, there was good news: the Falcon was ready for her. “The second the guys at my workshop finished, Domenic from work drove it straight to our house,” Steve recalls. “We jumped in the car – my whole family. One of my friends took a photo of us in the car – my wife had a big smile, but she wasn’t well at all. We went for a cruise and she was just like: ‘We’ve done it. We’ve done it.’” Ourania passed away only days later.

Though devastated, there was still something that Steve and his three children had to do for Ourania, given that this XY replaced a 10-second example. “Remember, we promised her it would do nine seconds,” Steve says. “Originally, it was 701hp, and we just couldn’t get it in the nines. Then we gave it to Pavtek to put a bit more power into it, and with 750hp we got a 9.92. But to me, you might as well call it a 10 – that’s how I see it,” he says.

A full rebuild from Bill at BK Race Engines in Bankstown was the final offensive to get a ‘true nine’ for the orange XY, de-stroking it to 443ci. “It’s got 881hp now – you know, 750 to 881, there’s a lot more involved, but Bill’s got the combinations, and he’s very successful with them.”

At Sydney Dragway, with friend Neil Constantinou at the wheel, the new combo netted a 9.3@143mph, a time quick enough to get the flying Falcon kicked off for not having a parachute – something that’s since been sorted.

“Neil said: ‘Come on, we’ll get the young kid to drive.’ My son – mate, he was over the moon! He was glowing to drive the car. I said: ‘Dean, go for it!’” Dean posted a 9.5 pass, before Neil stepped back in for one last crack at it. They went home that night with the quickest number to date – a 9.17 @146mph – and a promise to Ourania resoundingly fulfilled.

Steve courageously admits that the one-and-only drive he and his kids shared with his late wife was surreal. “It was a wake,” he says. “Back then, the car wore the plates XYFORD. I wanted to get the plates ORANIA [for Ourania], but my wife didn’t want me to at the time. With her passing, it was time to put them on.”

Now, the Roussis family take the ORANIA XY out every weekend. “I go to buy bread in an 881hp car – it’s a baby to drive,” Steve laughs. It is a brilliant way for all of them to be together as a family, with those plates and Ourania’s memory proudly ingrained in the discussions, decisions and ideas that influenced the build.

“The truth? The whole car is my wife,” Steve says. “It’s known as ‘Ourania’. People say: ‘That’s Ourania’. People know the car from the rego. You get a bit emotional, but I love it.”


Paint: PPG Raw Orange

Brand: 443ci Ford Windsor by BK Engines
Carb: APD 1175cfm
Heads: Edelbrock Victor
Pushrods: Trend
Valves: Ferrea
Camshaft: 278/[email protected]
Conrods: Oliver
Pistons: Diamond custom with Total Seal rings
Crank: Callies Magnum
Oil pump: Melling
Cooling: Factory radiator fans with EL Falcon thermo
Exhaust: 2in mandrel-bent extractors, 3in dual exhaust
Ignition: MSD Grid

Gearbox: Full-manual C4, B&M shifter
Converter: 8in with 6500rpm stall
Diff: Ford 9in, 4.11:1 gears, Mark Williams ends

Front: Calvert shocks; King Springs, 30mm lowered
Rear: Calvert shocks; standard XY leaf springs, 30mm lowered
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r)
Master cylinder: Standard XY Falcon

Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 17×4 (f), 15×9 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR 26x6R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street SS 255/60/15 (r)

Robert Venticinque, Domenic Baiocchi, Dennis Gousetis and Sam Danaskos at Suttons Arncliffe; Johnny at Marrickville Prestige Smash Repairs; Julius at Franklin Smash Repairs; Bill at BK Race Engines; Jimmy at Speedy Diffs; Al’s Race Glides; Neil Constantinou; and especially my sons Dean and Tony and daughter Irene for all their support