Home-built 500hp 1971 Ford XY Fairmont

Long hours in a borrowed shed crafted a killer XY

Photographers: Mark Bean

EVERY night of the week all across Australia there are guys and girls slaving away on their own automotive masterpieces. Some make it all the way to fruition, some don’t, but it never ceases to amaze us how well some of these machines turn out considering that they were built in home garages.

This article on Adam’s XY Fairmont was first published in the July 2007 issue of Street Machine

Adam Francica’s XY is one of those cars. Built over a six-and-a-half year period, it’s taken a full quarter of his life to create a streeter that any of us would be proud to call our own.

It all started when Adam bought a Bronze Wine Fairmont from good mate Con’s brother. Packing a 302 Windsor and a dodgy pop-up sunroof, the old girl wasn’t too bad but it had been off the road for 17 years or so before Adam got his hands on it. At the time the idea was to turn the old Fairmont into a tough but legal Pro Streeter, with most of the work happening in Con’s parents’ garage.

“They were pretty cool about it all — Con’s built a few Falcons before so that kind of softened them up but without them it wouldn’t have happened.

“The project started out slowly but changed when I got engaged on 9 September last year,” says Adam. With the wedding date booked, the boys had to ramp up the work rate to have it ready for use on the big day. They made it with one week to spare.

Even though they had a schedule to keep, the guys didn’t rush a thing. Take a look at the finished product and you’ll see that this wasn’t a quick blow-over; Adam and Con put some serious time and effort into this build.

After stripping the whole car back they dealt with the rust, which had found its way into the doors, sill panels and just forward of the rear wheelarches. With the metallic skin-grafts completed the guys attacked the engine bay next, with plans to remove the battery tray, weld up all the holes and hide the wiring. But when the replacement panel showed up with no swaging lines they decided to go the whole hog and smooth out the inner guards completely.

The round peg in a square hole might look a little strange but the hole was cut for a Shaker hood scoop, essential to pass rego

They then turned their attention on that sunroof.

“The car had a glass pop-up sunroof, which I never liked. I found a wind-back sunroof from an XA Coupe, which was unpicked from the roof and put in by Dave Shaw Automotive,” Adam says.

After that it was time to check out the rear. “I wanted the car to sit as low as possible with the maximum tyre and rim sizes — but for legal requirements without moving the chassis rails.”

They planned to extend the factory tubs all the way out to the rails and move the rear leaves inboard of the chassis rails but a trial cut revealed that using extended factory tubs would still leave things looking a little tight.

“We went and saw Rod Andrews [Andrews Race Cars] about a new set of tubs but after seeing a mini-tubbed Capri with a four-link and coil-overs, and the fairly obvious track advantages with this set-up, I wanted to four-link the Falcon.”

Wanting to install the four-link and tubs themselves, the boys got Rod to make up the nine-inch diff to their specs then they bought all the necessary bits from him to do the job properly.

Adam and Con installed the tubs and four-link, and flat-sheeted the boot floor in Con’s parents’ garage

Anyone who’s been through it knows that mini-tubbing a car is a fairly big move — and a four-link is an even bigger job.

But with the rear end cut out of the Fairmont, there was no turning back. Working nights in the garage, it took the boys six months to finish the job but when they were done they had a neat four-link and new wheel tubs. As part of the job they also raised the rear end of the trans tunnel for tailshaft clearance, flat-sheeted the boot floor and behind the back seat, as well as adding bracketry for the battery and fuel cell.

Reading the list of all the work that has gone into this car, you start to get an idea of just how much work the guys took upon themselves. Lots of little things had to be changed too; when the boys tubbed the rear, for example, they had to modify the boot hinges and of course the springs didn’t work any more so gas struts were installed. It’s those little thing that always get you but these guys never missed a beat.

A rollcage was next and Adam had some specific requirements here: “I wanted to retain the back seats and have the car engineered as a five-seater, which meant a taxi-bar wasn’t allowed but that can always be added in if the car becomes more competition than street.”

Peter Cleary of Pro Racing was responsible for building up the ’cage and then the XY was dragged back home and bolted to a rotisserie where the boys went to town on the rest of the shell. Fill the holes, smooth the dents and then it was time for Mark Cassar, from MC Smash, to go through the final body preparation before applying multiple coats of Mazda Starry Blue.

With the XY back in the shed it was time to begin reassembly. Every part was rebuilt and detailed before re-attachment, with new brake lines made and hidden by Adam’s cousin, Daniel.

Trick and Mansweto Racing built up a solid 500hp 351 Clevo using ported 2V heads, 302 rods, hypereutectic pistons and a Crow solid cam. A 4500rpm Dominator converter and modded C4 give it a little zing on the street.

With the rear wheel tubs and raised trans tunnel encroaching on the back seat, the rear pew was chopped a little before the whole lot was sent to Pro Stitch. Off-white vinyl now covers everything from the dash pad through to the rear bench — it even wraps around a fair amount of the painted rollcage.

We spotted Adam and the XY at Summernats 20 scrutineering where he was planning to hit the Judging Hall in search of a Top 60 spot. The judges agreed that his Fairmont was worthy of a position. Not a bad effort for a home-built car!

Next he wants to get the XY out on the track to see how she goes but the proposed quarter-mile adventures are going to have to wait: “With a baby on the way, future mods are on hold.”


Colour: Mazda Starry Blue

Engine: Cleveland 351
Carb: Dominator 1050
Manifold: Active
Heads: 2V ported
Pistons: Hypereutectic
Crank: 4MA
Rods: Six-inch 302, ARP bolts
Cam: Crow solid
Ignition: ICE coil & distributor
Exhaust: Lukey, twin three-inch, dual mufflers, dual resonators

Transmission: C4, HD input shaft, race clutches, oversize pan
Converter: 4500rpm Dominator
Diff: Nine-inch, braced F100 housing, Detroit Locker, 3.9 gears, 31-spline Strange axles

Brakes: XY discs, XF calipers (f) XF discs and calipers (r)
Springs: Pedders (f), Strange coil-overs (r)
Shocks: KYB (f), Strange coil-overs (r)
Bushes: Nolathane

Wheel: SAAS
Seats: Std (f), modified to suit tubs (r)
Gauges: Mallory/Speco
Stereo: Pioneer CD and six-inch speakers
Shifter: B&M Pro Ratchet

Rims: Rodlite XP Series, 15×6 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Kuhmo 165 (f), Yokohama 275 (r)

Con for being there since we started and helping make it possible, and his parents who housed the car for six years in their garage so we could work on it. Cousin Daniel Falzon for all the advice and help sorting the car out. Special thanks to my wife, Krystina, for her patience and continuous support to get it finished. Trick & Mansweto Racing; MC Smash; Dave Shaw Automotive; Andrews Race Cars