Dean Patch’s XA GT hardtop – flashback

A look back at Dean Patch's tough XA GT Falcon coupe

Photographers: Helmut Mueller

Scratch just about any 30-something street machiner and you’ll find a BMX rider underneath. In the 1980s, when Gen X-ers were in short pants, BMX was a Big Deal, and for young Aussies with petrol in their veins, it was a way to indulge their street machine fantasies long before they were eligible for their Ps.

First published in the July 2005 issue of Street Machine

Sure, there was the racing side of things but most important was the mixing and matching of parts. You could go and buy a top-of-the-line SE Racing PK Ripper but it was more fun making your own. My first BMX had a Redline frame, Landing Gear forks, graphite tuffs and Shimano DX pedals. It was like decking out your LJ Torana with a 350 Chev and a nine-inch and my love of modified machinery has lasted.

While BMX has drifted out of exposure in the mainstream media, the sport is as big as ever and professionals on the circuit can make some serious bucks.

Dean Patch, 32-year-old owner of this brawny GT knows all about that. He raced BMX professionally from 16 until 23, when injuries started to take their toll. In that time he won a heap of silverware including four state titles and second place at the 1988 World Championships in Chile. He rode for GT and Mongoose and travelled the world. Best of all, it earned him the dollars to buy this stunning XA GT when he was 19!

“My first car was a tunnel-rammed XB coupe but I wanted to upgrade to a GT, so I bought this. It had a rammed 351 and top loader and was good for 12s.” says Dean.

“It was a pretty neat car and I never intended to paint it but there was a little bit of rust in the doors, so I decided to tidy it up a little before Summernats. You know how it goes!”

So the job grew to a full respray and smooth-over, deleting the roof gutters, filling the holes in the engine bay, hiding the wiring and brake lines, and banishing uglies like the horn and washer bottle under the front guard. He also de-burred the block, ground it smooth and painted it in two-pack.

The body work and Cosmic Blue paint job were performed by Stylerod Panels. Dean was rapt with the work but he knew what to expect. Stylerod might be most famous for painting Peter Gray’s Camaro, but it’s also worked its magic on a host of hot rods and street machines, including Dean’s mum’s VH Valiant coupe — a former Iron Maiden car!

Inside is the original Saddle trim, adding only a B&M Pro Stick, some Auto Meter gauges, Billet Specialties tiller and a pair of Sabelt harnesses. There’s no monster sound system. “No need for a stereo when you have a blown engine!” Dean says.

The car already wore a set of classic Convo Pro rims but Dean wanted something a little different and decided on a set of directional Convo Webs. These are no longer made by Center Line, but he managed to score a custom-made set for an extra $100 per rim. The price of exclusivity!

While Dean may have stuck with the classic 70s muscle car visuals, under the bonnet he has gone for the state of the art in blown Clevo power. Regular trips to the States gave him ready access to a bunch of cool parts, including a stroker crank to push the cube count up to 383ci, Probe Industries forged pistons, Manley H-beam conrods and a roller cam from US drag racing guru Chet Herbert.

Even so, Dean did his bit for the balance of trade by purchasing some choice Aussie-made bits too, starting with a set of the world-renowned CHI 3V aluminium heads.

“I’d heard lots of good things about the heads. They were good value, so why not?” he says. “They’ve been on the car for three years and given no trouble. I’d swear by them.”

Also Aussie-made is the Newby blower manifold. The pump itself is a polished GM 6/71 with a Weiand snout, making 7psi and sucking through a pair of 750cfm Mighty Demon double pumpers. Fuel is supplied by a Mallory 140 electric pump and a Barry Grant four-port regulator, while an MSD 6AL ignition, MSD Pro Billet dizzy, MSD 8mm leads and a Mallory Promaster coil take care of the sparks.

Pacemaker four-into-one extractors, a twin 2.5-inch system and a pair of Walker mufflers form the exhaust. An Aussie Desert Cooler radiator, with a 1×16 thermo fan and two Camry thermos, keeps the temperature under control.

It’s a neat package that runs sweetly on premium unleaded and makes a dyno-proven 680hp. She looks pretty good too, thanks to a set of tough rocker covers from Vanel Products, plus a heap of chrome, polish and braided line. Steve from Valley Metal Polishing played a big part in this but Dean put in a lot of work himself — easy when your workplace has its own polishing shop.

The real test will come at the Calder Park Off Street Drags. The car ran a high 11 in its aspirated form and Dean has all the right gear backing up the blown motor for when this day comes. The ’box is a strengthened C6 converted to full manual and fitted with a stage-three shift kit.

He rode for GT and Mongoose and travelled the world. Best of all it earned him the dollars to buy this stunning XA GT when he was 19!

The converter is currently an eight-inch, 5200rpm TCE unit, though this will be changed to a nine-inch, 4300 rev unit before any racing happens. Out back is a nine-inch fitted with 28-spline axles, 4.35 Strange gears and a mini-spool.

Dean has been to a few shows in the car since it gained the blower and has received mainly positive feedback — except from the hardcore restorers.

“They don’t like the blower and they tut-tut when they look at the compliance plate and see that the car should be white. But hey, it’s my car! I love to see a restored Phase III but I treat my car with the same respect as any restorer,” he says.

Even the constabulary have seen fit to leave Dean and his GT pretty much alone. “I got defected at Summernats for noise but apart from that I’ve been lucky, even though I’ve always had some hardware out the bonnet.” The GT sees plenty of road time — including the drive home from the photo shoot.

“The biggest problem is that people get mesmerised by the blower and start to drift into my lane — you have to watch for that!” says Dean.

Like any big build, Dean has a few people to thank, starting with Mum and Dad: “I grew up around cars. My parents have always been into hot rods and now Chryslers. They’ve been supportive over the years with garage space and all the noise late at night; I reckon most parents would hate it!” Other thanks go to Steve at Valley Metal Polishing, Grant at AUSAM imports, Paul from Allyworks, Paul from Quickstart Auto Electrics and Cameron ‘Big Worm’ Revell for the inspiration. Dean’s girlfriend Julie gets a shout too, as she puts a heap of effort into helping to keep the car looking its best whenever it ventures out in public.

Next on the agenda is something a little less temperamental.

“A ’62 Cadillac coupe, with 20 or 22-inch rims and airbag suspension. I’d leave the engine stock but detail the hell out of it. I’m a bit over the big horsepower thing now; I’m just happy to cruise. I love going fast but once you start chasing power, it’s hard to stop. Building a cruiser removes the temptation!”

That’s a good theory but if you see a slammed Caddy bagging it up at the drags, you’ll know what happened! .


Wondering what a Chet Herbert cam is? Chet Herbert began his career on the streets, riding a well-modified Harley-Davidson. Polio put him in a wheelchair in 1948 but that didn’t kill his need to modify machines and his bikes set track records on drag strips with other riders at the helm. He then bought a lathe and started making his own roller cams for speedway, land speed record cars and finally drag cars. Cars with Herbert cams set records all through the 60s.

He also built a whole bunch of radical drag cars, including a triple Chev six-powered, four-wheel drive dragster (best time 9.36sec in 1960) and a twin aluminium Oldsmobile-powered Fueller that ran 8.10 in 1962.

Chet’s family has an impeccable drag racing pedigree — his son Doug went on to become a four-time IHRA Top Fuel World Champ and Chet’s sister, Doris, was the highly successful publisher of Drag News.


Colour:Spies Hecker Cosmic Blue with Argent Silver
Engine:Cleveland, 383ci
Induction:GM 6/71 supercharger; twin Mighty Demon 750 double pumpers
Heads:CHI aluminium 3V
Camshaft:Chet Herbert roller
Crank:4MA, offset grind; Clevite 77 bearings
Pistons:Probe Industries 9:1 forged; Speed Pro rings
Conrods:Manley H-beam
Valves:Stainless; Isky collets and retainers
Oil Pump:Mellings, high-volume
Fuel system:Mallory 140; Barry Grant four-port regulator
Cooling:Aussie Desert Cooler; CSI water pump; triple thermos
Ignition:MSD 6AL; MSD Pro Billet distributor; Mallory Promaster coil
Sump:Modified High Energy
Exhaust:Pacemaker four-into-one extractors; twin 2.5in system; Walker mufflers
Gearbox:C6, full manual valvebody, stage-three shift kit
Converter:TCE eight-inch, 5200rpm
Diff:Ford nine-inch; 28-spline axles; 4.35:1; mini-spool
Brakes:Discs (f); 11in finned drums (r)
Springs:Reset Pedders (f); standard (r)
Shocks:Pedders 90/10 (f); Bilstein (r)
Rims:Center Line Convo Web, 15×6 (f), 15×10(r)
Rubber:Kelly Charger 215/65 (f), 295/65 (r)