Gudge’s 393-cube XY Falcon ute

Having long parted with his first yellow XY Falcon, Mat 'Gudge' Budaj decided to build another - this time with fewer doors

Photographers: Ellen Dewar

MAT ‘Gudge’ Budaj remembers how it all started: “When I was 15, I pitted for Manuel Galea, who raced an RX-4 with a 400ci small-block. His brother had a plain yellow XY.”

This article was first published in Street Machine’s 2020 Yearbook. Photos: Ellen Dewar

That teenage XY vision made such an impression on Gudge that he ended up building his own yellow sedan with a GT interior, Center Lines and an avgas-slurping 351 Clevo with closed-chamber 4Vs and 12.5:1 comp.

In the early 2000s, Gudge parted out the car and sold it off, but the itch to build another never left. When a friend mentioned an XY ute he’d seen rusting quietly out the back of a panel beater’s in Werribee, Gudge thought he’d have another crack at it.

“It was a Ford parts delivery car, and it was pretty rough!” he says of the now-splendid ute you see here. The lower sections of the quarters had been replaced shoddily and covered with bog, but there was more nastiness still to be discovered. The shell was handed to Geoff from Street Tech Fabrications to be fitted with mini-tubs and a new tray floor, but two days later he called Gudge with the bad news. “It ended up staying with Geoff for 300 hours!” he says. “He replaced the lower sections of the quarters, wheelarches, floorpan, tray floor and radiator support.”

Along with repairing the damage, Geoff moved the chassis rails and springs in to make room for the 12.5in-wide Mickey Thompsons, added the mini-tubs, mounted the diff, deleted the battery tray and made the all-steel reverse cowl.

With the ute now ready for panel and paint, Gudge was introduced to Ali at Kanjo Kustoms. Ali straightened out the shell and poured on the sweet yellow Glasurit jam, and Gudge is ecstatic with the result: “I fitted the Center Lines to it as soon as it came off the tilt-tray and just sat there looking at it for a while.”

Gudge had noticed some people shaving the mounting bolts and overriders from their cars’ bumper bars in the pursuit of tidiness, so he asked Geoff if he could do the same. Geoff removed the bolts from the front bar, but had to fabricate the rear bar from scratch. The team at AA Vinney’s then plated and polished the bumpers and the rest of the brightwork

There’s quite a bit going on underneath all that yellow steel. Up front, Gudge and Geoff binned the factory Ford suspension and steering in favour of an RRS set-up. The upper arms, springs and shocks are gone, replaced by RRS coil-over struts and reinforced lower arms. Along with the massive suspension upgrade, the vague old steering box was turfed and replaced with RRS’s manual rack set-up. Down the back, the diff is suspended by reset XY leaves (and we mean really reset), with CalTracs to aid in putting the power down and Viking coil-overs to control the travel. “It didn’t ride nicely and sat on the bump stops, so Geoff installed the coil-overs, which improved the ride a hundred times,” Gudge says. Stopping duties are handled by RRS’s twin-piston PBR calipers and 297mm discs on the front and E-series Falcon discs on the rear.

You may have noticed Gudge’s name emblazoned on those tasty Plazmaman billet rocker covers, but it’s also in place of the original Falcon badge on the tailgate. “The engraving on the rocker covers was only an extra hundred bucks, so I thought: ‘Why not?’” he laughs. “Carmen had the badge made for me – a lot of people don’t notice it straight away”

When the time came to choose the propulsion system for his ute, Gudge had only one thing in mind: a cranky Clevo. One of the only parts left over from his first XY was the block, which had already been filled with resin up to the water jackets, so it was handed to his good mate Slubber with instructions to build something angry and streetable. While Gudge was working interstate, his wife Carmen and Slubber took care of the engine build. To the prepped block they added a Scat stroker crank, Scat rods and Aero pistons, with a main cap girdle for extra rigidity. A second-hand set of CHI 3V 225cc heads and matching single-plane intake were procured and bolted on, with a Quick Fuel 950cfm carb topping the mill. Gudge doesn’t know exactly what specs the big hydraulic-roller cam has, as he left its selection up to Slubber, but he’s extremely happy with the combo. “It’s very responsive,” he says. “It’s crazy on the street, but I’ll drive it anywhere.”

Removing spent gases from the engine is left to a set of Pacemaker four-into-ones with two-inch primaries and a twin three-inch system. Behind the donk are more components left over from Gudge’s first XY: a 5000rpm stall converter spinning a toughened C10, both of which were checked over before they got put back to work. The Clevo’s estimated 550hp is delivered to those fat Mickey Ts through a nine-inch with 4.11:1 Richmond gears and 31-spline axles.

Inside, things are mostly GT-spec, with GT buckets, wheel and door trims in the ubiquitous black. All the factory gauges have been swapped out for Auto Meter Sport Comps, and there’s a B&M QuickSilver shifter for choosing gears. There is a stereo, but let’s face it: the rumble of the nasty Clevo is probably all the soundtrack Gudge needs.

The bay is neat and functional, with lots of black items to contrast with the searing yellow of the body. The job of cooling the Clevo is taken care of by an Aussie Desert Cooler aluminium radiator with twin thermos, and a CVR electric water pump controls the flow. The dizzy is a ridgey-didge Bosch electronic one that’s had its guts removed by ICE so that spark is controlled entirely by the MSD ignition box under the dash

With the XY out on the road on a weekly basis, the next project in the Budaj stable is Carmen’s LX hatch. “Carmen loves cars; she’s Holden through and through,” says Gudge. “The hatch has mini-tubs, a four link and 305/35/19s in the back, but she’s undecided on the engine. One thing’s for sure: It won’t be an LS!”


GUDGE always wanted one-piece windows for his XY. “They look way cleaner than the originals, and the vent windows always leak air,” he says.

While browsing this very mag one day, Gudge came across pictures of ZERO’D, Mick Fabar’s crazy diesel-powered XR Falcon (SM, Sep ’12), and noticed that the front windows were one-piece items. He managed to chase down the fella who made them through Knight’s Garage, and purchased a set while on his way back from Summernats.

Gudge then spent many long hours in the shed getting the windows fitted with the help of his mate Jazz Desira (SM, Dec ’20). They’re electric, too – the handles are just switches.

“A lot of people don’t really notice it has them, but when they do they want to know how we did it,” says Gudge. “I can’t picture the ute without them; they were definitely worth the work.”


Paint: Glasurit Yellow

Block: Cleveland
Capacity: 393ci
Carb: Quick Fuel 950
Manifold: CHI
Heads: CHI 3V 225cc
Camshaft: Slubber special hydraulic-roller
Rockers: Ford Motorsport
Rings: Speed Pro
Bearings: Speed Pro
Pistons: Aero
Conrods: Scat
Crank: Scat
Sump: Milodon
Exhaust: Pacemaker extractors, twin 3in system
Ignition: Bosch distributor, MSD ignition
Radiator: Aussie Desert Cooler

Gearbox: C10
Converter: 5000rpm
Diff: 9in, 4.11:1 gears, 31-spline axles

Front: RRS coil-overs
Rear: Viking coil-overs, reset leaf springs
Brakes: RRS discs (f), EB Falcon discs (r)

Rims: Center Line Auto Drag; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 26×7.50×15 (f), 28×12.5×15 (r)

Geoff at Street Tech Fabrications; Ali at Kanjo Kustoms; Joe at La Rock Electrical; Alex for the brake lines; Jazz for the hours helping get the windows operational; AA Vinney’s for all the chrome work; the guys at Speed Pro; biggest thanks to Slubber at Tullamarine Auto Electrical & Mechanical and my wife Carmen for all those hours and cans in the garage