THIS classic XP Falcon coupe has been part of Ange and Mitch Wallace’s family for a very long time. Ange’s father, Bob Westwood, purchased it in the mid 70s for his wife Judy. It was her first car and she learnt to drive in it. Many years later, Bob helped out Ange and her husband Mitch by swapping the XP for Mitch’s car, which had finance owing on it. The generous deal helped Ange and Mitch shake some debt and buy their first home.
First published in the September 2021 issue of Street Machine
Fast-forward a few years, and Ange and Mitch welcomed their son Brenton into their lives. Somewhat ambitiously, Mitch also decided to give the XP a rebuild. He disassembled it in the garage and it sat that way for more than a decade.
By the time 2014 rolled around, the Wallace family had grown by two more, with the arrival of Ryan and Jamie. However, they were now in a great position to reignite the stagnant XP project with the help of fabricator Luke Kinsmore and his brother Troy.
“Luke had worked on my mate’s ’57 Chev,” says Mitch. “His work is great and he’s an easy guy to get along with. He worked with us the whole way to achieve the look and feel we were after.”
The car was always going to run a grunty V8, which is a pretty tight squeeze in an early Falcon. Chopping out the towers creates a ton of extra space, so out they came and in went a complete Rod Shop Mustang II-style double A-arm front end with adjustable coil-overs.
The other must-haves for Ange and Mitch were the old-school 15x10s out back, which had zero chance of fitting under the standard rear tubs. Luke remedied this with a pair of mini-tubs along with the installation of a McDonald Bros triangulated four-link. The kit is designed to be mostly bolt-in, but it was welded in for a cleaner installation.
“With the four-link, you can feel the tyres bite and just grip,” says Mitch. “Thanks to the engine, you can get them loose if you want to, but it gives you so much more traction.
“This was always going to be a driver. With the adjustable coil-overs all ’round, we could drop it further if we want, but at the moment it gets over speed humps no worries.”
Screwed together by Luke Forder and tuned by Riverside Motors, the 440hp, 302ci Windsor small-block is plenty tough. Go-fast goodies include RHS alloy heads, Keith Black pistons, Comp Cams bumpstick, Cobra Jet crank, Victor Jr intake, Holley 650 carb and ICE ignition system. With sensible gears in the nine-inch, the three-speed C10 auto and 4500rpm-stall converter make for effortless cruising.
When it came time for body and paint, Luke’s brother Troy stepped up to the plate.
“I was impressed by his work and I hadn’t heard a bad word about it,” says Mitch. “Also, Luke and Troy’s workshops are close by, which made things really easy.”
Again, things went very smoothly, with Troy doing a stellar job. The only hiccup was with the original colour choice.
“We were on vacation in the UK with Bob and Judy,” says Mitch. “Troy phoned us and said we should come home ASAP as this colour is terrible. We got off the plane and went straight to Troy’s, despite being jet-lagged from the 20-hour flight. When we got there, he had mixed up a few different variations on the original colour and had done a few spray-outs. All three of us pretty much pointed at this colour all at the same time!”
“When you look out at the ocean, that’s our colour,” says Ange. “It has elements of both the sea and the sky in it.”
Two key elements of the interior are the custom console and under-dash air conditioning. “I didn’t want to ruin the original dash by adding extra gauges,” says Mitch, “So Luke came up with the custom console, which he hand made out of steel.”
Same story with the Palm Air a/c. “Lots of people were telling me to cut holes everywhere for a Vintage Air-style system,” says Mitch, “But I didn’t want to cut into it.”
“We’re a bit old-school and wanted the car to look the same way,” Ange adds.
When Scott Green from SG Auto Electrics commented that an under-dash system delivers better efficiency, it was a no-brainer. In addition to fitting up the a/c and stereo system, Scott also fully rewired the car.
While the front buckets are definitely old-school Ford, their exact origin is unknown. “I thought they were XP, but they’re not,” says Mitch, “and they’re not Mustang, either.”
Nonetheless, Rod’s Trimming Service re-skinned them and the rest of the interior in blazing white vinyl. It looks kinda factory, just a lot better. The finishing touch is the retractable seatbelts, making the coupe both safe and user-friendly.
The car was completed in 2019 and the Wallace family has since racked up plenty of hassle-free miles in their pride and joy.
Given their history with the XP, Ange’s parents were involved throughout the build process. “Mum and Dad still feel like it’s their car as well,” says Ange. “They had input all the way. They love what we’ve done.”
Only time will tell which of Ange and Mitch’s three boys will become the next custodian of what is now a treasured family heirloom.
END OF THE LINE
AFTER 47 years of manufacturing wheels for drag racers, street machiners and hot rodders, Center Line abruptly closed its doors in April 2017.
Founded by Ray Lipper in 1970, the closure of the California-based business took the industry by complete surprise. The Pro Stocks on Ange and Mitch’s XP are one of the last sets made.“We got them about three months before the company went bust,” says Mitch. “I’ve been offered more than double for them. They can offer all the money they want; they’re not getting them. I don’t want to put any other wheel on it!”
Understandably, the desirability and value of old Center Lines has exploded, with several websites dedicated to buying and selling them. Mint sets of satin Auto Drags have fetched as much as AU$4000. If you’ve got any lying around in the garage, you may be sitting on a gold mine.
ANGE & MITCH WALLACE
1965 FORD XP FALCON
|Camshaft:||Comp Cams 282-280|
|Conrods:||Toyota Twin Cam|
|Cooling:||Aussie Desert Cooler|
|Front:||Rod Shop double A-arm|
|Rear:||McDonald Bros four-link|
|Steering:||Rod Shop rack-and-pinion|
|Column:||Flaming River collapsible|
|Brakes:||Wilwood discs & calipers (f|
|Rims:||Center Line Pro Stock; 15×6 (f), 15×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||185/65/15 (f), 265/50/15 (r)|
Luke Kinsmore (fabrication & assembly); Troy Kinsmore (body & paint); Luke Forder (engine); Riverside Motors (tuning); Castlemaine Rod Shop; Scott Green (SG Auto Electrics); Rod’s Trimming Service; Loud Pedal Engineering