Clinton Leayr’s 10-year journey with his beautiful, home-brewed XL Falcon started rather frantically. “I’d been looking for an XL for a while, and one afternoon on my way home from work my brother-in-law let me know this one had popped up for sale,” he says. “There were already three other people looking to buy it, so we raced down there with the cash and managed to grab it.”
First published in the August 2022 issue of Street Machine
That purchase unintentionally kicked off what would become one epic home-built street machine. But it went through a number of changes before culminating in what you see today.
“I drove it around for a while in its original blue paint and with the 221ci six-cylinder, but then that spat the balancer off one day,” Clinton says. “A mate of mine had my old Vortech-blown AU XR8 ute that’d been crashed, so I grabbed the running gear from that and started a V8 conversion on the XL.”
After Clinton had mocked up the V8 in the engine bay, the car went in for its first colour change – a grey pinched from a Renault van. “I just wasn’t a fan of the blue,” he says.
The AU motor ran in aspo tunnel-rammed form for a little while, and then Clint tried to squeeze the Vortech blower kit into the XL’s tight bay. That didn’t go too well: “The headers in particular were a real nightmare,” he says. “The log manifolds for a turbo kit fit a lot easier, so the decision was made to go turbo.”
As part of that, the old AU 302 was swapped for a fresh Ford Motorsport 302 combo, which uses the same basic Windsor architecture as the AU mill. The engine was built by Sedge Auto Restorations and stroked out to 347 cubes using a Scat crank, Scat rods and forged SRP pistons. Sealing it up is a set of ported Ford GT40P heads, topped with a super-cool Edelbrock Performer intake manifold taking force from a Proboost S400 turbo.
Fuel is E85 fed by an Edelbrock fuel rail and 1000cc injectors, while engine management comes from an old-school EMS 8860 ECU. “That’s one of the things I’ll actually be looking at upgrading shortly,” laughs Clinton. “The engine is built to handle plenty from that turbo, but the EMS doesn’t really give us the control we want, so it’ll get a Haltech Elite pretty soon.”
Even so, the combo still made 510rwhp on 11psi. “Once we get a new ECU in, I’ll be looking to put 14-16psi into it, which should see it at the 600rwhp mark,” Clinton says.
Behind the engine is a Ford C4 auto, sporting a reverse-pattern valvebody, transbrake and a TCE 3500rpm converter. The rear end is a shortened nine-inch with billet axles and Truetrac centre, which gives Clinton just enough room to squeeze the 15×7 Weld RT-S wheels and 235 tyres under the factory tubs.
So we know how the car got its baller drivetrain, but how did it go from grey to the Ford Broadmeadows Green it sports now? “We found a few issues with the body, so we started doing some panel beating in my shed.
When it came time to paint it, I was happy to just go grey again,” Clinton says. But his dad, who was on spraygun duties, suggested a change. “We ended up going with this green, which is an original colour for this type of Falcon,” Clint says.
The whole car was built at home in Clinton’s shed with the help of friends and family, taking around five years to complete. Now it’s done, Clinton’s not shy about getting it out and about. “We use it most weekends. I take the family out in it, and there’s also a group of us that go cruising in our modified Aussie classics – it’s a good time,” he says.
And while it makes for a great cruiser, that 510rwhp quickly turns the XL into a monster if poked the right way. “It’ll fry the tyres in top gear with no problems, especially on the street rubber,” he laughs.
Clinton’s sent the XL down the drag strip, too, clocking a PB of 11.6@127mph, but that’s set to fall pretty soon. “That time was set with the old AU BTR four-speed that it had beforehand, which had no transbrake, so the 60-foot sucked,” he says. “Now, with the transbraked C4, the 60-foot is way better, so with that mph on the 11-second run it should go into the 10s pretty easily.”
We’re also told we’ll be seeing the XL in the lanes at Drag Challenge Weekend when our three-day drag-and-drive rodeo makes its return to Queensland. We can’t bloody wait!
1963 FORD XL FALCON
|Duxone Ford Broadmeadows Green
|347ci Ford Motorsport 302
|Edelbrock manifold, 75mm throttlebody
|Comp Cams hydraulic-roller
|Walbro pumps, 1000cc injectors
|XY radiator, electric water pump
|3.5in stainless steel
|9in, 31-spline, 3.25:1 gears
|King Springs, Calvert shocks
|HQ discs (f), EL XR8 discs (r)
|Weld AlumaStar 15×3.5 (f), Weld RT-S 15×7 (r)
|Nankang CX-688 165/80R15 (f), Nankang AR-1 235/60R15 (r)
Mick at Pizzi Automotive; Jeremy Webber; Sedge at Sedge Auto Restorations; Greg Larsen at Gravelrash Bluetooth; Batlow Fab; all my mates; my dad Gary; my brother Rhys; my wife Jamie and my kids Havana and Harry.