Elite 693hp 1965 Ford XP Falcon

From nightmare to sparkling deep red Summernats Top 60 stunner, this XP Falcon's remarkable resurrection has been a huge group effort

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

IT WAS only ever supposed to be a street car. That’s the refrain of many a street machiner whose project has got inexplicably but wonderfully out of hand, and it’s one Adam Cecil, owner of this stunning Mica Red XP Falcon, knows well.

This article on Adam’s XP was first published in the May 2019 issue of Street Machine

Rear mini-tubs and an Alfa Fibreglass reverse-cowl bonnet are the XP’s only body mods. The slick bodywork and stunning paint is all thanks to Tony James Car Restorations; the colour is Mica Red from a ’91 Nissan X-Trail

“Once the body was finished and I saw Tony’s fantastic workmanship and attention to detail, my original plans of using all the old running gear and interior went out the window,” he says. The Tony being credited is from Tony James Car Restorations; he’s the maestro responsible for the XP’s gorgeous panel and paintwork.

Adam tells the story: “I bought the car back in 1992: stark white, 289, C4, 83/4-inch diff and a shaker. It stayed that way for about five years before getting a tough alloy-headed 302 Windsor, plus Toploader and nine-inch. This little combo was driven hard for a number of years until the XP’s nose got crunched in an accident. I stripped it down to assess the damage, but it ended up sitting in the corner of the garage for the next eight years.”

Having owned the car since his teens, Adam had plenty of sentimental reasons not to let the Falcon go, which is why it lay dormant so many years. Finally, after selling off his V8 XP ute, Adam had the funds and the urge to rebuild his beloved XP.

Enter Peter from Lewis Chassis Works, who pulled the car’s frame straight before Murph at Top Notch Race Cars mini-tubbed the rear. On went fresh front sheet-metal and off went Adam in search of a painter.

That’s when he found Tony, whose advice was to strip the lot back to bare metal and start afresh. Soon after, the Aussie Falcon was bolted to a rotisserie and blasted top to bottom.

“What a can of worms this revealed,” says Adam. “I’m glad I took Tony’s advice. He was great; his work set the standard for the rest of the build, totally changing its direction.”

This included the engine. Starting with a Dart Iron Eagle block, John from Powerhouse Engines assembled a big-inch small-block filled with bits from the best in the go-fast business.

Bolted to the back of the 438-cuber is one of Ford’s big cast-iron C6 autos. The sheer bulk of the C6 required grafting in a larger XA/XB tunnel.

With nearly 600hp up front, no chances were taken out back. The McDonald Brothers four-link, Strange alloy 31-spline 9in and full-floating hubs have no trouble planting the 295-wide rubber

Even the existing nine-inch diff was given the flick. In its place went an all-new nine-inch from Extreme Driveline. It features an Eaton Truetrac centre and 3.25:1 gears for effortless highway cruising, and 31-spline axles and full-floating housing ends for added reliability.

“I’d driven another Falcon with the RRS struts, which turned and handled really well,” Adam says. “I decided to go the same way.”

He opted for the manual RRS rack and under-dash brake booster set-up. At the rear, a McDonald Brothers triangulated four-link got the nod, while stopping duties are taken care of by 300mm vented rotors all ’round clamped by RRS (front) and Skyline (rear) calipers.

Dressed to impress, the grunty 438ci Windsor has a lot more room to move thanks to the RRS front struts and optional notching kit

Going to RRS struts enabled the fitment of the RRS optional shock tower notching kit. This really opened up the engine bay, which was needed for Dave at Hally’s Headers, who fashioned a custom set of deep-breathing stainless extractors and free-flowing full stainless system. After the TIG was switched off, the whole lot was sent to Chris at HPC for coating.

To fit the hefty twin thermo fan set-up, chunky Race Radiators cooler and a/c condenser, Powerhouse Engines had to machine up a custom crank pulley

On the inside, the custom interior by Cookie at Sale Motor Trimmers is pure class. It features Mustang buckets up front on XP runners, re-sculpted rear seat, Buckskin carpet on the floor and sumptuous leather everywhere else – all done in the same style as the original XP.

“The build was coming together pretty well; then in early August 2017, I came up with the idea of getting it to Summernats 31,” Adam says. “I got the main guys together: Tony, Peter, Terry and Cookie. They were all on board, even Peter’s wife Tracey, who kept the crew well fed.”

Lewis Chassis Works stiffened up the XP with this burly strut brace, which has been welded into place

The big push included Peter, Tony and Adam working on the car on Christmas Day as well as Boxing Day. Terry from Lund’s Auto Electrical was also there, redoing all the wiring over the Christmas period. In the end, the final engineer’s report, roadworthy and rego were all completed on the day before heading to Canberra – now that’s cutting it fine!

The front seats are modified Mustang pews. Adam didn’t like the factory buckets, as he sat too high. Cookie retrimmed them to make them look like factory XP units

“At the time of year when people are normally looking to kick back and relax, it was incredible how they all put their hand up and got it done,” Adam remarks. “It was a massive effort; I can’t thank them enough for all the work they’ve done on the car.”

The car wasn’t 100 per cent finished at Summernats 31, so, having gone through judging, the team was apprehensive as to whether it would make the Top 60.

“Well bugger me, when we saw our number go up, we couldn’t believe it! We were all pretty chuffed,” Adam beams. “And we made Top 60 again in 2019!”

As grateful as Adam is to the guys who banded together to get the car done, he’s equally thankful for the patience from his wife Kim and sons Owen and Harry – especially over the last few months of the build. “They were great,” Adam says. “They never complained about me not being around, particularly over Christmas. Work doesn’t let me get the car out too often, but when I do, they love going for a cruise.”

Rather than re-engineer the XP’s classic-looking dash, the additional accessory gauges and a/c controller are housed in a trick, one-off under-dash panel. Lewis Chassis Works made the mould, and Alfa Fibreglass laid it up. It blends in very nicely with the high-class interior

One special cruise that Adam was very grateful to be able to make was taking his mum for a drive before she passed away last year. Both Adam’s parents gave him loads of encouragement and support throughout the build.

“It’s the one thing he treasures more than anything else,” says Adam’s wife Kim. “You couldn’t wipe the smile off both of their faces!”

Adam’s other rides include a ’63 Compact Fairlane and a supercharged FG GT.

“The FG is a lot smoother,” says Adam, “but the XP is more ballsy – old-school, just the way I like it.”


Paint: PPG Mica Red

Brand: Dart 9.5in-deck Windsor
Heads: CHI 225cc 3V
Inlet manifold: CHI high-rise dual-plane
Carby: Holley 950 Ultra
Ignition: MSD Pro Billet and 6AL Digital
Camshaft: Comp hydraulic-roller
Lifters: Morel
Springs: K-Motion
Conrods: Callies Compstar
Pistons: SRP
Rings: Total Seal
Crank: Scat 4340
Bearings: Clevite H
Sump: ASR Custom
Oil pump: Melling
Fittings/hoses: Speedflow
Cooling: Race Radiators & Spal fans
Exhaust: Tri-Y full stainless
Preferred fuel: PULP 98
Power/torque: 595hp/568lb-ft

Gearbox: Ford C6 three-speed
Converter: TCE 4500rpm stall
Diff: 35-spline 9in, full-floating axles
Centre: Strange alloy, Eaton Truetrac, 3.25:1 gears
Tailshaft: G&J heavy-duty 3in

Front: RRS struts, coil-overs
Rear: McDonald Brothers triangulated four-link, coil-overs
Brakes: 300mm rotors (f & r); RRS calipers (f), Skyline calipers (r)
Master cylinder: RRS under-dash

Rims: Center Line Convo Pro; 15×7.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: 205/65R15 (f), 295/50R15 (r)

Tony (Tony James Car Restorations); Peter (Lewis Chassis Works); Terry (Lund’s Auto Electrics); Cookie (Sale Motor Trimmers); John (Powerhouse Engines); Chris (Speedpro); Rod & Jason (Race Radiators); Pat (Extreme Driveline); Chris (HPC Coatings); Dave (Hally’s Headers); all the boys and close mates that helped out; Kim, Owen and Harry for all the support and patience, along with Mum and Dad who always said: “Just do it”