406ci Cobra Jet Ford XW Falcon GT replica – TUFFOX

Looking back on Dean Capuano's loud and proud XW GT replica

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

This article on Dean Capuano’s Falcon was originally published in the November 2012 issue of Street Machine

MODIFIED car owners usually like to keep a low profile. Some might try the old spy trick — hiding in plain sight — but driving a classic Ford with a bonnet scoop the size of Bert Newton’s head and an exhaust that might as well be plugged into a Marshall stack is taking things a bit too far.

In-ya-face cars are normal for Dean Capuano. His father Tony has had a string of GT Falcons, among them a Phase III; his brother Rodney pilots a tough XY ute. If you’re in the Capuano clan, tough Fords come with the territory.

For these guys, it was normal that Dean bought his first Ford — a Diamond White six-cylinder XY — when he was 13. A Bronze Wine XW Fairmont soon followed, before he settled on an XW GS replica.

Diamond White and powered by a 351 Clevo mated to an FMX auto, the Falcon wore a set of L-plates and provided the youngster with his first taste of freedom.

His 18th birthday couldn’t come soon enough. Licence day. He passed the test, put the P-plates on, went for a cruise and within two hours the police had kicked the XW off the road, claiming it was too low and too loud. Plus it had gauges on the bonnet.

Realising the P-plate/Falcon combo was cop-bait, he made the heartbreaking decision to park the XW for a while and cruise in a less provocative Chrysler Sigma.

But sacrifice has its rewards — driving the Sigma and working the night shift allowed Dean to buy his first home. The Falcon took centre stage under the carport and out of sheer boredom, he began pulling it apart one day. By the following morning it was down to a bare shell but the Falcon’s resurrection would consume the next six years of Dean’s life.

The body and panels were sent off to the blasters, which revealed that much of the sheet metal was just so much scrap. Happily, the body and floor were in great shape and Dean worked on the body whenever time and money permitted, exposed to the elements and risking hyperthermia during Melbourne’s bitter winters.

After two years the bodywork was complete and the big Falc wore etch primer for another 24 months while Dean saved up for fresh paint. In the meantime he put in plenty of real and virtual legwork, accumulating parts to finish his dream machine and selling off unneeded bits where possible on eBay and at swap-meets.

DJ Automotive & Towing got the nod to hit the body with Dean’s favourite colour, Silver Fox, and the boys came up with a custom mix that’s so deep you want to dive in. While they did that, Dean decided the carport could do with some walls and a roller door to protect him and the car from the elements.

With the best performance parts, the Ford Cobra Jet block packs 406ci, makes 659hp on PULP, and sounds brutal through the Blitz Exhaust system

Snug and warm in their new surroundings, he set to work like a man possessed: “I had the interior, chrome and glass all in that night. I stood back admiring the car with its freshly laid-down paint and orange GT stripes when it occurred to me that something was missing — wheels and an engine.”

A set of Billet Intro rims fixed one problem and a visit back to DJ Automotive for advice on a motor led to the purchase of a Cobra Jet D block, CHI heads with matching manifold, a Pro Systems 1000cfm carb and MSD ignition. That combo ripped off 659hp on the dyno but in case that isn’t enough, there’s a 150hp nitrous kit standing ready too.

The boot’s decked out in leather. The spare wheel made way for an RCI 57l fuel cell, Magnafuel pump and filters. Battery and isolator switch are easily accessible at the rear of the TUFFOX logo. Best of all, Dean stitched it himself

Only just back on the road, disaster struck. The accelerator jammed, wedging the throttle open. The Falcon tore the studs off the right rear wheel, which escaped through the quarter panel, ripping out the fuel line and damaging the diff housing as the Falcon slid 60 metres down the road in a shower of sparks!

Devastated, Dean called the boys at DJ Automotive. “I’ll be forever grateful to them — they allowed me to come down and work on the car, they replaced the damaged quarter panel then painted the whole car.”

The nine-inch rear went to Pro 9 Race Cars, where the leaf supports were braced, bigger end bearings were added and Dutchman billet axles were fitted, with a Strange centre and 4:11 gears. For peace of mind, sturdier 5/8in wheels studs went in too, so now when Dean plants the right foot he gets plumes of white smoke rather than a shower of sparks from the new Convo Pro rims.

So yeah, he has to admit the XW is still cop bait. And while he just loves to cruise and enjoy the admiring glances, he does get some added satisfaction by spanking anything that’s not wearing a Blue Oval badge.


Colour: Silver Fox

Engine: Cobra Jet, 406ci
Heads: CHI 225ci
Inlet: CHI
Crank: Eagle
Rods: H-beam
Pistons: Mahle forged, 12.1:1
Cam: Custom grind
Carby: Pro Systems 1000cfm
Ignition: MSD

Gearbox: C4, manual valvebody
Convertor: 5000rpm
Diff: Nine-inch, 4.11 Truetrac

Front: 90/10 shocks
Rear: Oz Trac traction bars
Brakes: XE discs (f&r)

Rims: Convo Pros
Rubber: Nankang 165/60 (f), ET Street Radials 275/50 (r)