Anthony Caruana’s Summernats Street Champion XD Falcon

A quick Ford XD Falcon resto to replace Anthony Caruana's beloved first car somehow turned into this show-quality cruiser


Anthony Caruana has tucked yet another prestigious award under his belt, claiming the Street Champion trophy at Street Machine Summernats 34.

In the last three years the XD has won Top Ford at Showcars Melbourne, Top XD-XF at All Ford Day, Top Engine Bay (Street) at Summernats 32, and now Top Sedan (Street) and Street Champion at this year’s ‘Nats — just to name a few!

Anthony says the car remains virtually unchanged since our feature, barring the addition of a tailshaft loop. “We mostly entered to do the driving events this year,” says Anthony. “So to get this result I’m rapt!”

Anthony extends his thanks to Hightrax Restorations for preparing the car for its Summernats 34 campaign, mate Azza, and his wife and kids for their ongoing support.

This article on Anthony’s XD Falcon was first published in the January 2019 issue of Street Machine

WILL come as a surprise to no one that the build on Anthony Caruana’s sweet XD Falcon kicked off with a far tamer result in mind.

“It was supposed to be a quick rust repair and jam job, but it got out of hand after we went to MotorEx Melbourne a few years ago,” says Anthony. Soon, the initial budget was thrown in the bin and the XD went from stock S-Pack to the arrow-straight, dark silver cruiser it is now.

Anthony’s had a bit of a thing for the boxy lines of the XD since he was a young fella. “When I was 18, Dad gave me an XD for my first car,” he says. “In 2000 I stupidly got rid of it for a VT Executive because I wanted electric windows and air con that worked, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since! About five years ago my wife got sick of me whinging about it and said: ‘I’ll buy you a car if you shut up!’ The next day I picked up this XD.”

It must have been fate, because Anthony discovered the car just around the corner from his home. “It was a one-owner, 250 S-Pack. I ended up paying exactly the same amount for it that I sold my first one for!” he says.

The car was trucked to the guys at Hightrax Restorations, who soon had it blasted bare and mounted to a rotisserie. Thankfully it hadn’t suffered much of the rust that tends to plague 80s Fords, but Tommy from EZ Customs was called in to perform surgery on the few areas afflicted by the dreaded tinworm. Over its three-year stay at Hightrax, the boys transformed Anthony’s dream of a super-schmick XD into a reality. I’m pretty sure you could check rulers for straightness against those Magnetic Grey panels!

“It looks exactly how I wanted it to,” Anthony says.

It may surprise you to learn that this XD’s on the gas. No, not nitrous oxide – LPG! An Impco 425 mixer bolted to a Holley four-barrel base plate feeds the Clevo with the correct amount of flammable vapour. Supplying the mixer is an Impco B2 converter that’s stealthily concealed under the back of the air cleaner, and all the plumbing runs through the chassis.

Anthony bought the wheels before the XD was even delivered to Hightrax. “They said they’d fit straight under an XD, but when we test-fitted them a week before MotorEx the rears hit the guards,” he says. “We couldn’t lip the guards so we had 5mm machined off the inside of the wheels”

“My mate Aaron built this set-up for his XC,” says Anthony. “I told him I wanted the same thing and he said: ‘Here are the parts, go for it!’ People can’t even tell it’s on gas – when it went for the roadworthy the bloke had to redo all the paperwork because he thought it was on petrol.”

Underneath the bonnet is an exercise in careful detailing. “We went through six combinations of air cleaner bases, tops, nuts and filters in order to clear the bonnet, because the boys said it was too nice to cut up,” says Anthony. The battery – of Corvette origin – was chosen because the posts are hidden on the back side

Sunbury Cylinder Heads bolted together a bottom end that’s all stock 302 Clevo, along with stock 2V heads that have been rebuilt with LPG in mind, and a gas-friendly bumpstick. The burnt stuff is carried away from the engine by Pacemaker extractors and a twin 2.25-inch stainless system that dumps behind the passenger side of the rear bar. Behind the baby Clevo is a C10 with a 2700rpm converter, and the 3.45:1 LSD diff was pinched out of an XH XR6.

The MOMO tiller, B&M shifter and mostly hidden Alpine sound system complement the grey ESP trim nicely

It’s hard to ignore that mega-shiny CVF Racing billet serpentine system taking pride of place on the front of the motor. “I looked at the March kit when I bought the car and decided it was too pricey, but I ended up paying even more for the CVF set-up,” Anthony says. Still, it does mean that after 18 years Anthony finally has air con in his XD!

However, there’s more to keeping the occupants comfy than just ice-cold a/c. Though they look like ESP Scheels at first glance, the front seats are actually ED XR8 items that have been retrimmed in ESP fabric by Global Trim in Wodonga, as was the XD Fairmont rear pew. Tommy from EZ Customs was given free rein when it came time to add some tunes, so he built an inconspicuous all-Alpine sound system. The boot remains surprisingly roomy, considering there’s a gas tank and audio gear in there. While seats and stereo were being sorted, the rest of the interior trim was taken care of by DWP Motor Trimming.

With six months to go to MotorEx 2018, everyone pulled out all the stops to get the XD ready for display.

The cluster is the factory one, but the gauges were replaced with custom Speedhut items. Anthony says: “They’re much more accurate than the originals, but the speedo is GPS-based, so I have to be careful in tunnels!”

“All the boys put a lot of work into it to make MotorEx,” says Anthony. “We didn’t win any awards, but it’s just a cruiser, not a full-blown SMOTY build.”
The XD isn’t going to see much street time until after Anthony takes it to Summernats, but after that it’ll be out for regular cruising.

“I just want to jump in it with my wife and kids to go get ice creams – we won’t be eating them in the car, though!”


Paint: Axalta Cromax Pro Magnetic Grey

Brand: Ford Cleveland
Capacity: 302
Induction: Impco B2 converter, Impco 425 mixer, Weiand X-CELerator manifold
Heads: 2V
Camshaft: Mild
Conrods: Stock
Pistons: Stock
Crank: Stock
Oil pump: Stock
Cooling: Re-cored XD radiator, FG fan
Exhaust: Pacemaker tri-Ys, twin 2.25in stainless system
Ignition: Bosch coil, MSD dizzy, ICE leads

Gearbox: C10
Converter: 2700rpm
Diff: XH XR6 LSD, 3.45:1 gears

Front: King springs, Gabriel shocks
Rear: Reset leaves, Gabriel shocks
Brakes: Ultra Performance Components discs (f), stock XH discs (r)
Master cylinder: Stock

Rims: Boyd Coddington Junkyard Dog; 18×7 (f), 18×8 (r)
Rubber: Sailun Atrezzo; 215/40/18 (f), 245/40/18 (r)