Bendigo Automotive Restorations has turned out some epic factory resurrections and custom work over the past decade, so when do-it-all business owner Chris Frankling decided he needed a rolling billboard, it was never going to be run-of-the-mill. “We wanted one we could keep for ourselves,” he grins.
First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2023
This stunner is Chris’s second XR Falcon, the first being a neat 302-powered cruiser. “We decided it was too good to chop up, so we bought this one to start from scratch, knowing we were going to move away from standard,” he says. “We built it over two years from bare bones and ran the business too, so there were lots of late Saturday nights!”
Having worked on plenty of other speccy chrome-bumper stuff, including Jamie Hale’s XY (SM, Feb ’17), Chris had a pretty clear view of what he wanted to achieve. “It’s a demonstration of what we can do for customers,” he says. “We didn’t want it to look completely oddball – [we wanted] a whole lot of fairly big changes that were subtle, to make it look as complete as possible and like everything was meant to be on the car. We wanted big wheels without it looking like it’s a mile off the ground.”
To that end, the sills have been extended by two inches, while the quarter panels have copped an extra 4.5 inches of metal, all seamlessly flowing into a beaver panel under the rear bar. “It varies between people if they notice it or not – it depends how much they’re into Falcons,” Chris says. “They can pick it from the beaver panel across the back of the car, which hides the fuel tank and exhaust that you can often see on Falcons, especially when they’ve got big wheels. Then they realise that all the quarter panels and sills lead into it.”
There’s also a custom flat floor that extends from the back of the firewall to the rear bench seat, and custom bolt-in panels in the engine bay, while a matching engine cover extends through the bonnet, which has been skinned underneath to hide the frame. “We already took a bit off the intake manifold to get it closer to the engine bay height, and it was sort of borderline,” Chris says. “Once I started doing the engine bay panels, [the cover] started making sense instead of making everything ridiculously tight or raising the centre line of the bonnet, which has been done before but never really looks right.
“Reverse-cowl scoops have been done to death, so I thought we’d do something different, and it sort of flows into the engine bay; plus it still works when the bonnet’s shut.”
Chris’s primary trade is spray painting, and he agonised over colour options until his wife Lucinda picked the custom DeBeer grey mix. “The metalwork evolved quite easily in comparison,” he says. “We tried to keep a colour that was going to be subtle and not be ‘everything’.”
Pavtek Performance assembled the 434 Clevor, which wears a 950cfm Holley carb, CHI 3V heads and ICE ignition for 656hp and 600lb-ft of torque at the crank, abetted by Pacemaker extractors and a three-inch stainless system with cut-outs before the diff. “We’d dealt with Pavtek for other Ford
engines and have a really good relationship with them, and we’ll continue to deal with them; they’re great as a one-stop shop,” Chris enthuses.
A TCE 4200rpm converter, manualised reverse-pattern C6 and nine-inch diff with a Truetrac, 3.5 gears and Altra 9 billet axles finish off the driveline. There’s a lot of real estate behind the Schott 19×7 and 20×9 rolling stock, so Chris filled it up with 355mm discs and Wilwood six-piston grabbers up front, and 330mm and four-pots on the rear axle, all fed by a Wilwood booster and under-dash master.
Clevor aside, the interior was the only thing Chris outsourced. Bendigo’s A&H Trim modified a set of Honda buckets up front and retrimmed the rear bench to match, while the custom console and bolt-in dash are all wrapped in matching grey leather.
Everything is engineered, Chris having liaised with his go-to guy, Geelong’s Michael Petrovski. “We have the conversations at the start and it always works out at the end,” Chris explains, “and we can honestly say we didn’t have to back-track and change anything along the way.”
The XR was certainly one of the prettiest advertising pieces at Summernats 35, and it’s even more impressive when you consider the constricted timeline it came together in. “The reception’s been really positive, and it was an experience, that’s for sure,” Chris says.
“I think we’ll hook up the air conditioning system now, which is mostly in there, but we left out the compressor and stuff to do Summernats,” Chris says. “It’s gonna be used now for any weekend events, rod runs and whatever we want.”
1966 FORD XR FALCON
|DeBeer custom grey
|CHI 3V 225cc
|PWR radiator, thermo fan
|Pacemaker extractors, 3in system
|9in, Truetrac, 3.5:1 gears, Altra 9 axles
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES
|McDonald Bros four-link, Viking coil-overs
|Wilwood discs and six-piston calipers (f), Wilwood discs and four-piston calipers (r)
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Schott Tomahawk; 19×7 (f), 20×9 (r)
|Pirelli P-Zero; 225/40R219 (f), 255/35R20 (r)
GT Auto Electrical & Air Conditioning; A&H Trim; Simon Aldridge Stainless Repairs; Airbrushing by Tombstone; McDonald Brothers Racing; Body Shop Paint Supplies Shepparton; Bendigo Specialist Brake & Clutch; ATS Automatics; Michael Petrovski; Perrows Automotive Paints Bendigo.