Gurney Eagle-equipped XR Ford Falcon

A pro street toughie with vintage race-bred Windsor bits under the bonnet, Bernie Roeschmann's XR launched straight into the Summernats Top 60


Between his day job as a workshop manager for Rare Spares and his long-running friendship with trailblazing street machiner Ron Barclay, Bernie Roeschmann is well-equipped to build a tough, tasteful car. Even with that in mind, it’s hard to believe that his stunning gold XR came to him as a rusted-out freebie.

First published in the September 2023 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Chris Thorogood

The shell had been sitting in a mate’s backyard before Bernie dragged it home, where he discovered it was in far worse condition than anticipated. “All the floors and boot had been fibreglassed, so when we stripped it back, there was virtually nothing underneath,” he recalls. “You should’ve seen it! It wasn’t complete when I got it, so finding everything was one of the hardest parts of the build.”

Bernie’s brother-in-law, Joe ‘Pep’ Recupero, played a starring role in helping Bernie resurrect the body, while Ed Miller at Darred Bodyworks re-gapped the panels before treating everything to a coat of PPG Sage Gold.

Beyond its eye-catching paint and panel, another focal point of the XR is its rare Gurney Eagle-headed Windsor engine (Mill of the Month, SM, Dec ’22), which wasn’t even in Bernie’s plans to begin with. “I had a 408 stroker ready to go in and then this came up, but I didn’t have any money,” he says with a laugh. “I took a minute, got on the phone, sold the 408 and bought this!”

It’s all gotta be custom when dealing with these heads. There’s one place in the States doing head gaskets, and that’s it!

Legendary drag racer Joe Pirotta, of ‘Satisfaction’ Cortina fame and much else, built the Windsor in the 80s. Starting with a 351, he hung Chev rods and high-compression pistons off a steel crank for a 372-cube displacement. “It was detuned with smaller air venturis in the injection to make it easier to drive on the street,” Bernie explains. It originally ran a solid flat-tappet cam, but when Stef Radovanovic at SR Engines pulled it down for a refresh, he slotted in a custom John Marshall solid-roller for low-fuss street duties.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Eagle heads, they’re the brainchild of mega-successful 60s race driver, builder and team owner Dan Gurney. Gurney-Weslake engines, topped with the spicy alloy heads, took the Ford GT40 to Le Mans wins in 1968 and ’69. Gurney later developed the design to create the more street-friendly Gurney Eagle pieces featured here. “They use shaft-mounted rockers,” Bernie explains. “The heads are way taller than standard Windsor heads and the rocker covers are only about five centimetres tall.” They’re super-scarce – Bernie only knows of four other pairs in Australia, and he reckons they aren’t easy to come by in the northern hemisphere, either. “It’s all gotta be custom when dealing with these heads,” he says. “There’s one place in the States doing head gaskets, and that’s it!”

The heads are fed via Weber-style EFI throttlebodies – rather than sharing a traditional one-piece intake manifold, each throttle essentially bolts straight to its respective head port – and it’s all controlled by a MoTeC ECU. “As far as I know, Pirotta was best mates with Richard Bendell from MoTeC, and that was one of the first systems they put on in the 80s,” Bernie says.

Hugo Di Gianvincenzo at Race Glides knocked out the custom extractors, which are hooked to twin 2.5-inch pipes by Robbie Taverna. Much to our joy, Bernie doesn’t muffle the glorious induction noise from the custom trumpets unless absolutely necessary. “I’ve gotta put some filters on them for a roadworthy inspection soon, but that’s only for a day,” he says. “I might put them on for a really long drive, but that’s it!”

On pump 98, the rev-happy Windsor spat out 570hp at 7500rpm. Running through a TCE converter, C10 auto, and custom billet-housing nine-inch diff with 3.9 gears, it should be enough to run 12-second quarters comfortably.

Seven different wheel and tyre combos were sampled over the course of the build before Bernie finally settled on 17×4- and 15×9-inch RC Comps wrapped in 26×6 and 255/60 Mickey Thompson radials to nail the pro street vibe. An RRS strut front end replaces the stock Falcon geometry, while the rear sits on slick Motor Fab split mono springs with traction bars and billet adjustable shocks. Wilwood brakes feature on all four corners.

A glance inside the cabin reveals an exercise in restraint, with just a few subtle twists. Dave Rizzo trimmed a pair of XW front bucket seats and XR door cards as per stock, but there’s a smooth, hydrodipped carbonfibre finish where you’d normally expect faux woodgrain. Extending all the way across the dash, it’s repeated on the seat adjuster covers and even the bonnet struts. The gauges are all Auto Meter items, packaged as they would be in a standard XR GT. “It’s all been done so somebody could take it back to original if needed,” Bernie says. “You could change the carbonfibre dash back to woodgrain and run some steel wheels with hubcaps.”

After everything was put together in Ron Barclay’s shed, the seven-year build culminated at Street Machine Summernats 35, where the XR featured in the Meguiar’s Great Uncover and earned a Top 60 place. “You can’t ask for much more than that,” Bernie enthuses. “In the end, I didn’t care if it came out as a shitbox; I just wanted to get it done.” The XR also landed a Top 5 place at Showcars Melbourne 2023, which makes it a pretty high-end shitbox if you ask us.

Bernie’s not quite done with the XR yet, having lined up a 427 big-block to drop in. As for the Gurney Eagle-headed Windsor, he reckons it’ll make a pretty exotic coffee table.


Paint: PPG Sage Gold

Type:Ford 372ci Windsor
Induction:Weber ITB
Heads:Gurney Eagle
Cam:Marshall Custom Cams solid-roller
Crank:Ford steel
Fuel system:VE Commodore in-tank pump
Cooling:Race Radiators, twin thermo fans
Exhaust:Custom extractors, twin 2.5in system
Diff:9in, 3.9:1 gears, Strange billet axles
Rear:Motor Fab split mono-leaf
Brakes:Wilwood discs (f & r)
Master cylinder:Wilwood
Rims:RC Comp; 17×4 (f), 15×9 (r)
Rubber:Mickey Thompson; 26x6R17 (f), 255/60R15 (r)

My brother-in-law Joe ‘Pep’ Recupero for helping me with the metal and bodywork; Ed Miller for taking the body to the next level and the paint; Race Glides for the extractors and machine work; Ron Barclay for his mentorship and assembly; Stef Radovanovic at SR Engines