Greg Xerri’s 351 Clevo-powered XY GT replica

Whatever you fancy, this GT's up for it

Photographers: Helmut Mueller

Red light, Cleveland St, near Sydney’s CBD. Greg Xerri’s in his XY Falcon, his mate, Laurie, is in a similar Ford next to him — and they’re stirring each other. Greg stalls up his GT replica, which begins to strain against the brakes. Laurie stalls his in response. Greg decides to be a smart arse and, as the lights change, he smokes his Falc off the line. Laurie gets the hint and follows suit. Yeeha!

First published in the August 2004 issue of Street Machine

Through the haze behind him, Greg sees lights, flashing red and blue. Bugger. That red VX Commodore had looked so innocent in his mirror a minute earlier. He pulls over and the cop screams at him, “You stay the f*** there!” and charges away to collar Laurie. Not good. Several more cops arrive within moments. Number one cop is really, really pissed off and tells the guys they’re about to lose their cars.

“Just shut up and don’t say nothing,” Greg whispers to Laurie, who’s fuming, as they try to turn on their best behaviour. Ultimately, they get hammered with tickets, enough to kill their licences, but somehow they get to keep their Fords. In this day and age of near-totalitarian penalties, they’re bloody lucky. So Greg’s red ‘rager’ spends a few months parked. He’s frustrated.

“I couldn’t stand just looking at it,” he said, thinking back to that time last year. “I had to do something to it and it’d been on my mind since I bought it.”

He’d bought it well painted and running, with a strong 351 in place, so he was already ahead in the car-building game.

“But you buy somebody else’s car and it doesn’t feel like yours,” he explained, “that’s how I felt. I wanted to make it look more like mine.” That thinking turned a run-of-the-mill GT replica into a street machine that Greg put to the Elite Hall judges at the Street Machine Summernats.

The interior is the centrepiece of what is now, unquestionably, Greg’s car. He mulled over his ideas with his mate, the well-renowned Colin Sultana of Precision Motor Trimming, and ended up with a full ivory leather interior with suede highlights and roof lining. When was the last time you saw an XY with anything but a black dash, eh? It really stands out.

“You see a lot of cars with the original dash, but if I’m going to change it then I like to change the whole lot,” said Greg. “The dash was probably the hardest part, trying to get it all spot-on. Colin, man … he’s number one. That guy really, really does do a schmick job.”

The dash was the first thing to go in, but under the fluorescent light of Greg’s shed the colour looked shocking, not at all like the ivory he’d chosen to complement the red paint. Everyone commented, but Greg resisted. With the car wheeled into the sun, he was vindicated.

The FPR logos in the doors were Greg’s idea — to add a contemporary touch. He also wanted one of those red start buttons in the modern GT, but it was “some stupid price” and, besides, it couldn’t be delivered in time for Summernats.

The boot is another story. Greg’s brother, Chris, spent a lifetime on it, even redoing the draws for the battery, up behind one of the subs, ten times before being happy.

The rest of the car, which already had the JG33 plates (even though its tag numbers are actually JG34) needed very little. Greg tidied and detailed the engine bay, added thermos and better intake, carb and ignition. Drag racer Joe Polito had apparently built the engine for the car’s previous owner, but Greg doesn’t know what’s inside it. After adding his bits and having Spiro at Autotech Engineering tune it, he got 324hp at the wheels and pulled a stonking 12.6sec pass on street tyres.

“It was pretty funny because all my mates were laughing at me as I’m Armor-Alling my tyres and everyone else is putting slicks on,” laughed Greg, who’s hoping to pull a high 11 on slicks at the Street Machine Supernats. “She goes good and sounds mad. At idle you wouldn’t pick it, but when you get up around four grand, when the cam comes in, she’s pretty f***ing awesome, eh?”

His also fitted a C4 auto with Stage III shift kit and lower 3.9 Richmond diff gears to get the Falcon launching a little harder. He bought skinny 3in front-runners to match the existing Weld wheels, but kept the wider fronts for when he needs them, like when he’s driving for weddings or formals — something he’s having heaps of fun with.

“I’ve done four weddings so far this year and I’ve got another two coming up,” he said. “If you’ve got a couple of XYs and a few Harleys, it’s awesome, eh? People look at you and cheer, blow horns and stuff. It’s unreal. The last one, the bride loved my car. She wasn’t supposed to, but she came with me. I had her, the old man and her mother in the car — and I pulled out of the driveway sideways.”

Summernats Blues

“We busted our arses to get it to Summernats,” said Greg, who was 90 per cent sure of making Top 60. “When we got there and went into the judging, I knew straightaway I had no chance. That was a bit of a bummer.”

It’s not that Greg’s XY wasn’t good. No way, but the quantity of quality cars at Summernats 17 reached a new peak and Greg hadn’t attacked the underside of his street-driven car in enough detail to make the higher grade.

After the initial disappointment, and once he realised he was far from being alone in it, Greg ended up happy. He’d given it a decent shot and knew where he stood; his focus was reset on the street awards for future shows. Besides, the accolades from the crowds outside the Elite Hall lifted his spirits right up again.

Apart from getting a tap on the shoulder from Street Machine’s resident car spotter, Simon Telford, Greg was rapt with how many people praised his Falcon.

“They loved it,” he said. “It makes you feel good. A lot of blokes came up to me and asked me about it. It’s something I’d never done before. It spun me right out!”


Colour:Track Red
Power:324hp at the wheels
Carb:Barry Grant Demon 750 DP
Manifold:Active Hi-Rise
Cooling:Triple-flow alloy rad, twin EL thermos
Ignition:MSD dizzy, Accel coils
Exhaust:Genie 4-2, twin 2.5-inch stainless
Shift:Manualised Stage III
Torque converter:Kaver 3900rpm
Diff:9in, Richmond 3.9 gears
Wheels:Weld 15×3 front, 15×10 rear
Seats:XR8 buckets
Wheel:Billet Specialties
Trim:Ivory leather
Gauges:Auto Meter
Shifter:B&M Pro Ratchet
Sound:Pioneer 12-stacker, two MTX amps, Pioneer 6×9 speakers and two-way splits, two MTX 12-inch subs

Colin, Precision Motor Trimming, Richard, Active Automatic Transmissions Blacktown, Autotech Engineering Auburn, Mirror Finish Moorebank, brother Chris, mates Philip, Steve and girlfriend Leanne.