Pro Street ZJ Sportsman Fairlane

Cruisin' in luxo style with a 350 horse ZJ Fairlane

Photographers: Andrew Gartside

First published in the Jul/Aug 1989 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Gartside

Trevor McKay hears it all the time. “Why’d you do it? It’s a luxo car — you shoulda left it that way!” That kinda talk about the car you love can really hurt a guy. But talk doesn’t worry Trevor. “It’s my car and I like it that way,” he says matter-of-factly. “I enjoyed building it and I like driving it. I wanted something different and this is it.”

At 20 years of age, Trevor’s already something of a south Queensland strip racing veteran and a self-confessed jack of all trades. And if this doesn’t tell you how much Trev’s achieved with his short time on earth, his radical 350 horse Fairlane should give you a fair indication of this young guy’s talent and dedication. A maintenance man for a good sized chunk of Brisbane real estate, Trevor says he learned his obvious car building skills from watching his car-knowledgeable mates and from doing most of the work himself.

Trevor’s 1979 ZJ limited edition Sportsman Fairlane came in to his life after he’d sold his crossflow 4.1 XC ute. He was looking for what he called “something different from your everyday XD Falcon” for a build-up car. The luxo Fairlane was the answer.

The original alloys off the Sportsman pack now hold his father’s Falcon off the ground. The rest of the Fairlane has been rebuilt, with Trevor sending specialist work to people like Brisbane’s now-departed Horsepower Shop, which built the dyno-proven, 350 horse, bored Cleveland, while Bill Mann Performance beautifully handled the extensive machining work.

Trevor bought most of his parts from people like Phil Jack, American Race Imports and other speed shops around Brisbane. His lovingly-specified Clevo reads almost as good as it sounds: Shotpeened 4MA crank with radiused oil holes; standard rods with ARP Hi-tensile bolts; Sealed Power 11:1 forged pistons and chrome moly rings; Crane billet cam with 282 duration, 530 intake and 560 exhaust; Sealed Power hardened pushrods and hydraulic lifters; Sealed Power VS717 valve springs; 2V heads with three-angle valve job; and … well, the list just keeps going.

And look how well it’s all put together! Everything’s properly done. For starters, the TRW drive has quality custom made Gilmer drive pulleys. And the oil’s effectively distributed (via those dazzling Earl’s braided lines) to the dual remote oil system with a Sealed Power high volume pump and Pennzoil filters. And the classy specs just keep coming: Weiand tunnel ram atop two Competition 660 Holleys; 2.25-inch Genie extractors and Lukey mufflers; Mallory dual point, mechanical advance ignition; heavy duty, triple-core radiator. Phew! And just when you thought you’d checked it all out, there’s a false boot floor, built by Brisbane’s Trailer World, which hides a Barry Wraith Alloy Products 93-litre fuel tank.

Those certified 350 horses get to the Fairlane’s shapely tail via a 2500-stalled C4 with a B&M shift kit and Mr Gasket V-matic shifter. From there it travels to an XY GT tailshaft, driving a nine-inch diff shorted to six inches by Gold Coast Diffs. This meant shortening the beefy 31-spline axles, of course.

The drastically-shortened diff also had consequences when Trevor replaced all the shocks with Monroe gas-pressure items, installed Lovell’s front springs and had the Gold Coast’s King Springs reset the rears. “I already had lowering blocks under the car,” Trevor says. “They were partly to keep the disc brake calipers out of the way of the springs.

Wheels are American Center Lines: 15 x 5.5s (wearing Kleber C1s) up front and 15 x 10s (with Yokohama 352s) behind. Brakes are standard-issue ZJ Fairlane. Trevor says they’re well up to the job of pulling up the potent, well-handling, but heavy car. Not that the laws of the Sunshine State want to know anything about Trevor’s handsome hauler. This doesn’t stop Trevor though: “I drive it at night every so often. You just get the urge. You build a car and you just have to drive it.”

No prizes for picking the guy behind the attention-grabbing paint job. Trevor farmed out the work but watched over every layer of Spartan acrylic primer and the finish coats: of Midnight Blue and Diamond Luster Silver.

The Fairlane might light up the Yokohamas with feather-light attention to the throttle but it’s still luxo inside — and very safe. Seats are full-on Recaros, with harnesses, and that’s a Barry Wraith-built four-point cage. The ear-melting sound’s thanks to a Fujitsu Ten radio-cassette, with six speakers and two power amps. The lads at Brisbane Car Sound did the big-decibel handiwork there. The only major addition to the instruments cluster is a Mallory rev limiter tacho, set loud and proud atop the steering column.

Trevor plans to eventually get rid of the tunnel ram in favour of a B&M forced induction, under-the-bonnet blower. “A mate’s going to the States and is going to bring it back for me,” he says. “It’s more practical. A lot of people stick a blower through their bonnet but can only use it once a year. I’d rather have something I can drive.”

Trevor hasn’t got any big plans for his tough Fairlane. This year’s Summernats was its first show and now he’s got the show bug, having been to the Logan City Street Machine Show, the Early Holden Club Show and the Brisbane Street Machine and Hot Rod Show since then. “I’ll just keep the car, take it to a few more shows, and see what happens,” he says. “A lot of people just build up cars for the Summernats and then sell them. I’m not one to do that. I’ve fallen in love with the car.”

And if you’re impressed with his Fairlane, wait till you see Trevor’s ground-up resto F100 tow truck. He saved that from a rolled and rusted wreck and was working simultaneously on the truck and the Fairlane to get them both ready for the Summernats. The thing’s showroom-new and just another example of Trevor’s no-nonsense approach to hard work and tough cars. They both make the world go round, he reckons.

Trevor McKay
1979 Ford ZJ Fairlane

Capacity:Ford 355
Induction:2 x Holley 660
Intake Man.:Weiand tunnel ram
Cam:Crane billet
Pistons:Sealed Power forged 11:1
Crank: 4MA
Ignition:Mallory dual-point
Exhaust:Genie extractors, 2.25-inch
Trans.:Ford C4
Diff:Shortened Ford nine-inch
Springs:Lovell’s, reset stock
Shocks:Monroe gas
Front brakes:Stock
Rear brakes:Stock
Front tyres:Kleber C1s
Front wheels:Center Line 15 x 5.5
Rear tyres:Yokohama 352s
Rear wheels:Center Line 15 x 10
Paint:Midnight Blue, Diamond Luster Silver
Build time:Three years