600hp 1971 Ford XY Falcon – TUFFGS

Jason Grima's wife Angela watched on as he built himself two mega-tough Ford XY Falcons, so he thought it was about time she had a 600hp XY of her own

Photographers: Ben Hosking

This article on Jason & Angela’s XY Falcon was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Street Machine

XY FALCON #1 was black, tough and made the Summernats Top 60. A few months after its ’Nats success, its owner and builder Jason Grima was out for a drive with a few other cars and broke an axle. The car was written-off. “We were just driving along and it did a somersault,” Jason remembers. “It was a hard rollover; the roof was bent, the tops of the doors were bent, the quarter destroyed – it was a total mess. Luckily no one was hurt.”

XY Falcon #2 – aka TUFFGT – is a blue, a Summernats Top Sedan and two-time Top 20 car. It also graced the April 2006 cover of Street Machine and still takes pride of place in the Grima garage.

That brings us to XY Falcon #3 – the one you see here.

“TUFFGS was supposed to be a budget build,” Jason says, “a family cruiser for my wife Angela and the kids. But things went sideways. It’s the dog’s fault!”

True story; the dog was, indeed, to blame. Having built the blue and black Falcons up from nothing, Jason thought he’d save himself a ton of work this time by buying an unfinished project from a mate that essentially only required assembly.

What started out as a quick re-assembly of an unfinished project turned into a Summernats Great Uncover car after the family dog scratched the paint! But other than the 4in fibreglass cowl hood, the body remains stock. The rear guards didn’t even need modifying to accommodate the 15×8.5in Convo Revs and M/T rubber. Very sanitary and very classy!

“It was halfway together,” Jason says. “Then the dog knocked over the guard and scratched the candy apple red – I couldn’t match the paint!”

Rather than kick the dog, Jason chose to pull it apart and start from scratch.

TUFFGS now resides in the Grimas’ garage alongside TUFFGT. Sadly, their elder brother is no longer around to pose for photos after a broken axle ended its life

“We were able to fix up a lot of little things and take it to a much higher level,” he says.

While many things were changed as part of that process, the engine wasn’t one of them. It was built by none other than Ed Brodie – a Summernats and Street Machine legend who won Street Machine Of The Year in 1998 with his MR HJ Holden sedan.

Part of the rework included sandblasting and painting the boot area. “It’s as good as the exterior now,” Jason says

“When my mate gave up on the original build, the engine was still just a bunch of parts in boxes at Ed’s place,” Jason says. “I got a bargain and Ed agreed to finish it for me.”

The finished Clevo punches out 377ci and features CNC-ported heads, high-rise CHI inlet, solid-roller cam and 850 carby – enough for over 600hp on Jason Mansweto’s dyno.

Gear selection is courtesy of a Tremec Magnum six-speed. Based on the TR-6060 model, the Magnum is way stronger – rated to 1000hp. All it needed to look at home in the XY was a custom-made crossmember and an offset shift lever that sticks up though the factory hole in the GT console.

A lot of the smoothing work in the engine bay was done before Jason bought the car, but it’s been even further refined. SM legend Ed Brodie screwed together the 600-horse alloy-headed Clevo. The March serpentine accessory set-up not only looks a treat, it also neatly incorporates the a/c compressor and power steering pump

The new crossmember also enabled the collectors on the Pacemaker headers to be moved up 40mm, which created a lot more ground clearance for the three-inch stainless exhaust. Running the rear pipes under the diff required two neat tricks: a narrower fuel tank by Bain Racing, and Nissan Navara shocks!

“They mount up the same as Falcon shocks,” Jason says, “but they’re shorter, so that the diff doesn’t drop down and hit on the exhaust.”

After the black car’s broken-axle disaster, Jason takes no chances in the differential department these days. It’s a beefy 35-spline Mark Williams unit with 5/8-inch studs and 4.33:1 gears. While that may not sound like a highway-friendly ratio, when combined with the Magnum’s sixth gear, TUFFGS sits on a cruisy 2600rpm at 100km/h. Bringing it all to an abrupt halt are Wilwood discs and a non-boosted Wilwood master cylinder.

When it came to paint, settling on silver was easy; deciding on which silver was anything but.

“I wanted a good, clean silver,” Jason says. “I went through over 50 colour samples before deciding on this one – it’s a PPG colour.”

Although much of the interior is repro GT, look closely and you’ll see a tilt column, AutoMeter gauges, Tremec shifter and cool breeze from the Vintage Air a/c. Jason reckons that on a 40-degree day he can sit there with the engine idling and air con on and the temp gauge remains well out of the red. “What’s the point of having a/c that you have to switch off because the car is getting hot?”

Alex from Extreme Paint gets the credit for doing the final body prep and laying on the sumptuous paintwork.

As well as new paint, TUFFGS also has new glass all ’round. Peering through the perfect panes reveals a combination of repro GT items, leftover parts from the previous two builds, and a small selection of upgrades. Non-standard items include; the RRS tilt column, AutoMeter gauges neatly grafted into the GS dash fascia, a fuel gauge and fan controller down next to the shifter, and air conditioning. What you can’t see is the invisible audio system by Geoff Azzopardi.

In keeping with the factory look, Gizmo’s Auto Electrics modified the XY’s heater controls to operate the a/c, which blows through the factory vents in the kick panels, as well as a new, factory-looking vent atop the console. One part that’s not repro is the mega-dollar rim-blow GT steering wheel – it’s the real McCoy, beautifully restored.

A lot of effort went into making the Vintage Air set-up look as factory as possible. The interior unit sits up high rather than hanging down like an eyesore, while out in the beautifully detailed engine bay, the heater hoses run neatly along the valley and the a/c hoses are tucked up under the guards out of sight. Best of all, it works a treat; at full cold, it’s able to freeze the pipes!

It was a mad scramble to get the silver Falcon finished for Summernats 31, where it certainly impressed during the Meguiar’s Great Uncover and ended up making the Top 20.

“That was a first for me,” says Jason of the unveil. “Now that it’s finished, Angela reckons I’m scared to let her drive it. Truth is, because of the kids, it needs anchor bolts for the baby seat – and I don’t want to drill holes in the parcel tray. So, we keep taking the blue car.”

With Jason’s youngest Jordan not even four yet, it looks as if it will be a few more years before TUFFGS becomes the family truckster that it was meant to be.


Paint: PPG Silver

Brand: 377ci Cleveland
Heads: CHI, CNC-ported and polished
Inlet: CHI high-rise, 850 carby
Camshaft: Solid-roller
Ignition: MSD
Fuel system: Magnum
Cooling: Shaun’s Custom Alloy
Headers: Pacemaker
Exhaust: Stainless-steel 3in system

Gearbox: Magnum six-speed
Clutch: HD twin-plate
Bellhousing: Quick Time steel
Diff: 35-spline, Mark Williams 9in, Truetrac, 4.33:1 gears

Front: XYZ adjustable shocks
Rear: 4in lowered leaves, Street Cred CalTracs
Steering: RRS power rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood

Rims: Convo Rev; 15×6 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Toyo 215/65R15 (f), M/T 255/50R15 (r)