604-cube big-block 1971 Ford XY Falcon

A bruising garage accident was the catalyst for an epic monster-cube rebuild of the Pirotta family's stunning Ford XY Falcon


IN THESE days of brain-hurting classic car prices, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time you could buy an old Holden or Ford without having to first tell your children that there will be no inheritance coming their way. Today, even the base models command prices that require re-mortgaging or a hefty personal loan.

This article was first published in the July 2019 issue of Street Machine

This relatively unassuming-looking XY GT-alike entered the Pirotta family garage way back in 1992 for the princely sum of $2500. “Dad purchased the car from a guy in Hallam, Victoria,” says Angus Pirotta, the enthusiastic young caretaker of the family cruiser in question. “My grandfather always loved old cars and had an original XY GS. That’s where my dad’s love of cars came from.”

Only 18 at the time of the auspicious purchase, Pirotta Sr started restoring the car straight away in the garage at home. In fact, the XY was even repainted in the shed in eye-catching Electric Blue, complete with GT stripes and Super Roo motif. “We knew the car was originally repainted in 1993, as the painter, Rolf Ruiter, painted the date in the passenger-side mirror, where it stayed until 2014,” Angus says.

That original rebuild also involved the fitment of a 351ci Clevo, and the interior was kitted out with bits and pieces obtained from all the 1990s-era sources like the Trading Post (remember those days?), swap meets and Rare Spares. Angus says that once it was complete, his dad just loved cruising around in it, and the car followed the young family when they upped anchor and made the move to Sydney in 2000.

The following year saw the purchase of a new house on an acre in Sydney’s south-west, where a nice big shed found itself playing host to the Falcon and a blown ’57 Chev. “We had a two-post hoist in there and the Chev was parked on the hoist side, with the Falcon on the other,” Angus says. “In between was a row of shelves loaded up with heavy stuff. In the process of moving one of the arms on the hoist, the shelves got tipped, which sent the contents onto the Falcon.”

Angus and his dad saw these Rushforth Livewire billet rims on display at the SEMA Show and fell in love with them. They measure 18×10.5in at the back, nicely filling out the factory wheel tubs and playing host to the big VTTR Racing brake set-up behind them

Once the dust had settled and the bits and pieces lifted off the car, the true damage became evident. The XY’s roof, boot and driver’s side were all dented. It may have been one of the more disastrous garage accidents to occur in the history of car ownership, but the decision was made to turn a negative into a positive. It was time for rebuild number two.

“First we met up with Glenn from The Repair Shed,” Angus says. “He did all the bodywork on the car and in the meantime I found the paint that we wanted. We had seen a Mustang in the USA known as Stampede, and Randy from Painthouse in Texas had designed the colour. He was pretty cagy about divulging the details of the paint and it was only after many emails back and forth that he agreed to send the paint code to Tony Naughton at PPG Australia.”

All the effort and negotiation was clearly worth it. The XY positively gleams in the Super Blue paint, which is like the old Electric Blue on steroids, with a brilliant mica under the surface that radiates when the sun hits it. The fact that it has been applied over the top of some truly flawless bodywork just makes it all the more impressive.

Lift the OE-style rubber boot mat and you’ll find the beautifully built Shaun’s Custom Alloy fuel tank that hides beneath. Unlike a large Bathurst-style drop tank, this one fits snugly under the bum

However, one glance at the front end of those GT-spec gold stripes will tell you that this car is about so much more than a nice paintjob. It’s really about prodigious displacement – all wrapped up in a very attractive package.

The 604 cubes jammed into the Falcon’s Electric Blue engine bay is impressive enough, but then you see the gorgeous array of billet trumpets sitting atop the Shaun’s Custom Alloy multi-throttle manifold that was custom-built to fit under the bonnet line. Yep, this mill has plenty of wow-factor

Willem Fercher at Winmalee Car Care (WCC) up in the Blue Mountains of NSW handled most of the actual rebuild, including the new engine build. Coming in at almost 10 litres, the 604ci behemoth is based around a steel Eliminator A460 big-block that’s filled with Callies and Oliver rotating parts, with a 4.625-inch piston bore and 4.5-inch stroke to make the magic number. It’s topped by a pair of Trick Flow alloy A460 heads and a beautiful billet-alloy eight-throttle injection set-up that was designed and built by Shaun’s Custom Alloy, including big XSpurt injectors and a MoTeC M84 ECU.

“Shaun’s attention to detail is amazing,” Angus says. “The size of the engine in the bay was a bit of an issue when trying to fit the trumpets, but Shaun worked around it and came up with a finished product that looked amazing.”

While power is untested, we’re guessing that the combo is making some serious torque, and it’s fed rearward through a Tremec Magnum six-speed to a sheet-metal nine-inch with 3.9:1 gears and a floating Race Products set-up with billet axles. These attach to a set of American-made Rushforth Livewire wheels that Angus and his dad found while attending the SEMA Show a couple of years ago.

It’s a pretty traditional affair inside the Falcon, with Winner Products repro seats, and GT-style accoutrements aplenty. WCC wired up the Auto Meter gauges into the original fascia, as well as the stereo, which comprises a vintage-look digital head unit and a pair of JVC coaxials in the kick panels

Willem was able to achieve a purposeful-looking stance on the Falcon with the 10.5-inch-wide rims, despite the car remaining untubbed. The body is held aloft by Koni/RRS struts up front and coil-overs under the bum, and all those cubes are brought to a standstill by six-piston VTTR Racing calipers front and rear, clamping down on 343mm front rotors and VE GTS rear discs.

“It took Willem over a year to painstakingly piece the car together after the paintwork was done,” Angus says. “We couldn’t have found a better person to do it. Will is meticulous with everything he does and it shows on this car.”

There’s a sweet symmetry involved with the completion of the Falcon, with Angus turning 18 around the same time as the last nut was turned on the XY – the same age his dad was when he bought the car. They’re both looking forward to putting plenty of kilometres on the clock now that it’s all done.

“We won Best Sedan at the Harry’s Cafe end-of-month meet, which is the only show we’ve taken it to,” Angus says. “We’re alreadythinking about the next project.”

Just what would a couple of dyed-in-the-wool Ford enthusiasts be thinking of building next? An LC or LJ Torana, of course! Go figure.


Paint: PPG Super Blue with gold GT stripes

Type: 604ci Eliminator A460 steel big-block
Inlet: Eight-throttle billet injected set-up
Heads: Trick Flow alloy A460
Rotating: Callies crank and pistons, Oliver rods
Ignition: MoTeC M84 ECU, XSpurt injectors, LS3 coils
Exhaust: Ceramic-coated four-into-one headers

’Box: Tremec Magnum six-speed
Clutch: Textralia triple-plate
Diff: Sheet-metal 9in, 3.9:1, Race Products full-floating set-up with billet axles

Front suspension: King Springs, Koni/RRS struts, RRS steering rack
Rear suspension: Koni/RRS coil-overs with King Springs
Brakes: Six-piston VTTR Racing calipers with 343mm rotors (f), six-piston VTTR Racing calipers with VE GTS rotors (r); RRS under-dash master and booster, custom brake and clutch reservoirs

Steering wheel: OE
Seats: Winner Products repro
Gauges: Auto Meter
Stereo: Digital Super Fringe vintage-style head unit, JVC speakers

Rims: Rushforth Livewire; 18×8.5 (f), 18×10.5 (r)
Rubber: 245/40/18 (f), 275/30/18 (r)

Randy from Painthouse, Texas; Tony Naughton at PPG; Willem at Winmalee Car Care; Glenn at The Repair Shed; Shaun’s Custom Alloy