The old adage that a project car is never done can’t ring any truer for Danny Debono. His tough-as-teak XT Falcon spent more than a decade copping plenty of enthusiastic use before he decided to give it a small birthday, which ended up being a rather more extravagant celebration than he’d planned.
First published in the March 2023 issue of Street Machine
“I painted the car white with GT stripes 12 years ago, and after 10 years of smashing tyres off it at Summernats, Powercruise and Supernats, it was due for a freshen-up,” Danny explains. “I spoke with Kresi Basanovic [SM, Aug ’14] and we decided to just give it a quick tidy-up and a fresh coat of white, so I stripped the car in my shed and dropped the shell at his place. That was when he said to me, ‘Why are we painting it white again?’”
More on that later, but first, a bit of a history lesson.
Under Danny’s care, PROXT had evolved from an aspirated 11-second cruiser to a blown, nine-second monster. And it had a long history on the quarter-mile before that.
“I’ve had the car for 12 years,” Danny recounts. “It used to be a Hercules drag car and had the ’cage, CalTracs and nine-inch, but it was a roller. The reason I bought it is because I was going to do a huge rebuild on my first car, an XW ute, and my friend Chris Eggleton suggested I look for a roller, as it would be easier than the huge repairs the ute needed. I raced the XT with an aspirated engine for a few years and did an 11.5@121mph.”
That aspirated 351 is long gone now, replaced by the current blown set-up. Amazingly, while the Clevo looks freshly built, it actually dates to nearly a decade ago! The late, great Sam Fenech from Westend Performance screwed the mill together, and it breathes through a Blower Shop 8/71 and swings 393ci. It put down 975hp on the engine dyno running 11psi and E85, which was a lot of snot for 2015.
The good fruit in the donk includes an aftermarket Arrow four-bolt block, JE slugs with Callies rods and crank, a custom blower cam, Crower bushed lifters, Manley pushrods, PAC springs and CHI 2V heads. The stroker is backed by a manualised, transbraked C4 auto and a stout nine-inch diff for a classic Blue Oval drivetrain. “It made big power for the time and has gone 9.9@134mph so far,” says Danny.
PROXT will be quite a sight once it returns to the strip thanks to the comprehensive rebuild Danny ended up undertaking after that fateful conversation with Kresi. While the bodywork has largely been left alone, the undercarriage came in for plenty of attention.
“After speaking with Kresi, the next day I rang Seb from Johnston Speed Shop and booked the car in for mini-tubs and a raised [transmission] tunnel so we could slam it on the ground,” Danny laughs. “He squeezed me in and knocked it out in just two weeks, plus he organised the custom wheels for me. After that, it was back to Kresi’s to finish off the bodywork while I went down to TSR Smash in Tahmoor to speak to Bejay, Nick and Bryce about laying the colour on it.”
Finding an unusual colour for an XR-XY Falcon is harder than picking a broken nose, so Danny had a bit of work to do to nail the look he wanted. “I started out wanting Wild Violet, but after doing a test spray, I didn’t like it, so we added a heap of silver, which lightened it up to where I wanted it,” he says. “TSR Smash then laid the colour on, and it was back to my shed to bolt it all together again.”
Reassembling projects with an eye on a deadline isn’t new, but Danny’s crunch was spicier than most, as midway through the project, Kresi decided to move to Queensland, and Danny decided he’d follow him there, relocating from south of Sydney to Hervey Bay. The thrash was on to get the car sorted before the big move.
“Kresi and I got the car back together before we both left NSW, as I didn’t want to move it in parts,” Danny says. “We’d start at 3am on Saturdays just to try and get it done.
“Once it was reassembled, I dropped it to the trimmer just as we left to come up to Hervey Bay, so I didn’t have to think about it while settling in. I came back two months later to pick it up with the trim done and brought it up here.”
Now he’s got PROXT back together, Danny is keen to get his family involved in the sport. For some, that might mean weekends spent cleaning and polishing, but for the Debono clan, that means driving!
“We’re about 15-20 minutes out of the main esplanade of Hervey Bay, and we’ll do a brekkie run on the weekends,” he says. “The kids love it, and they love helping out in the shed every time I’m out there.”
Rockynats is the next stop for Danny and the rowdy Falc, and then he plans to bring it south to Powercruise at Queensland Raceway later in the year. He’s also considering trying some drag racing in 2024. One thing is certain: Danny isn’t scared of using his XT!
“I don’t like doing big static burnouts, but I love doing big tip-ins and stuff like that,” he says. “My dad hung around with the Thirlmere Fryers since back in the day, and I’ve always hung around them. I was only a kid when they started, but my brother-in-law and everyone is in there. You won’t see so many tough pro street cars in one spot anywhere else.”
Well, thanks to Danny’s sterling XT, there’s now at least one tough pro streeter pounding the bitumen in Hervey Bay!
1968 Ford XT Falcon
|Paint:||DeBeer custom purple|
|Induction:||Blower Shop 8/71blower, Newby manifold|
|Carburettors:||Dual Holley 850cfm|
|Camshaft:||Custom blower cam|
|Oil system:||Melling pump, High Energy sump|
|Fuel system:||Aeromotive Eliminator pump|
|Cooling:||PWR custom three-core radiator, twin thermo fans|
|Exhaust:||Four-into-one extractors, 3in X-pipe|
|Ignition:||MSD 6AL and distributor|
|Gearbox:||Transbraked, manualised C4|
|Diff:||9in, 31-spline axles, 3.5:1 gears|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||King Springs, 90/10 shocks|
|Rear:||Seven-leaf pack, adjustable shocks, CalTracs|
|Brakes:||AU Falcon discs (f), stock drums (r)|
|Master cylinder:||RRS under-dash booster and master|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Custom 15×4 (f), custom beadlocked 15×8 (r)|
|Rubber:||Hankook Optimo 165/80R15 (f), Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 (r)|
Kresi Basanovic; Bejay, Nick and Bryce at TSR Smash/Tyrepower Tahmoor; Johnston Speed Shop; Paul at Aqua’s Auto Skinz; Chris Eggleton, Pete Robins, Bejay Irwin, Nick Baker, Daniel Tribe, Kresi Basanovic and Daniel Wood from Thirlmere Fryers; Neil Conway; Hervey Bay Graphics; Al’s Race Glides; Westend Performance; my wife Sarah for letting me loose on our bank account, and my kids Marlee and Rocky.