Jason Thomas’s 1976 XB Falcon 500 sedan

Unfinished business saw Jason 'Tommo' Thomas give this stunning XB sedan the full works

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

It was unfinished business with an XB that he’d owned around 15 years ago that made it all the more important for Jason ‘Tommo’ Thomas to park this stunning 1976 Falcon sedan in his garage. This time, things would be different. “I bought that first XB all those years ago, and I rang my mate and he goes, ‘I’ve just found one too,’” the paint-and-panel shop manager explains. “We’d bought our XBs at the same time on the same day.”

First published in the June 2022 issue of Street Machine

Yet that Falcon soon fell victim to Tommo’s Ford-flipping addiction. “I was building that first XB up, and it got to a point where I was waiting for an engine to start getting built and I just lost interest,” he says. “I sold it as a roller.”

As time passed, Tommo went through plenty of Ford hardware – his first car was a ZG Fairlane, but the list of cars he’s owned since reads like a Blue Oval devotee’s bible – ZH Fairlanes; XF, BA and BF Falcon sedans; utes – name a Ford, he’s probably owned it. Most notable among these was a ground-up rotisserie build of a stunning XP coupe (Readers’ Rockets, SM, Mar ’19).

After Tommo posted a short clip of that build on Facebook, he was offered the right amount of cash, and the XP was gone. See, that’s the thing: he doesn’t keep his cars all that long (in fact, when we spoke to Tommo, he was organising the sale of his Ford Ranger). So the XP needed replacing, which meant it was time to return to unfinished business: it was time for another XB Falcon.

Tommo’s mate still had his, so a deal was done and his mate’s orange sedan was now his own. “Funny that I’d end up owning both the XBs we bought all that time ago,” he remarks.

The condition was pretty good when Tommo took ownership, with a 408-cube Cleveland under the bonnet and the car finished in the same Lambo orange it still wears today. Visually, there wasn’t much else out of the ordinary for a 1976 Falcon 500 sedan.

That changed after Tommo sharpened up the paint. “I spent two weeks rubbing the whole thing back, got it all flat, then cut and polished it,” he says. “You can see how good the paintjob is now.” Yet the paint wasn’t the only thing that needed attention.

“It had a bit of an oil leak, so I took it to a mate of mine, Tony at TDR Engines,” says Tommo. Then the dreaded call came through from Tony: “Mate, I’ve got some bad news. The crank’s stuffed.”

The 408 Cleveland V8 under the bonnet was no wimp, so it wasn’t a case of dropping the engine and packing in another. After pondering what to do, Tommo pulled the trigger: “I just said to Tony, ‘Do what you have to do.’”

The 408 was therefore given a big birthday. The motor was pulled out and a brand-new steel crank, new pistons, 3/8-inch pushrods, solid lifters, a roller cam and bearings were fitted. “Then we just went to town,” Tommo laughs.

Having the Clevo in bits saw not only fresh internals but everything in sight upgraded – including the nuts and bolts in the engine bay, the bonnet hinges and the brake booster.

Drenched in black to stand out against the orange paint, the 408 made 610hp at the flywheel for 430hp at the rear tyres, fed by a Holley 850 double-pumper. A C10 with a 4800rpm stall manages the punch, but the XB is a street cruiser, not a track tearer – so Tommo made sure it could handle the rough with the smooth.

“I thought, stuff it, I’ve gone that far on the motor, so I rang up GT Shop and had the front end rebuilt,” Tommo says. Indeed, everything under the skin from the bottom of the windscreen forward is brand new. “I also ended up converting the front brakes to XF slotted rotors and XF calipers,” he says.

And there’s more. “I pulled the diff out and had it rebuilt, and got all the leaf springs redone. Then the car was looking pretty good. So I thought, keep on going, and I ended up putting the GS stripe on it.”

Tommo then went all-in and sourced a bunch of GT parts to further dress the XB up, including the grille, dash, console and fuel cap – a process that took a good six months. “It was next level to chase that,” he declares. “And what you’re paying for that stuff!” The last piece of the puzzle was the GT steering wheel.

All those GT upgrades sit perfectly with the original well-kept Falcon 500 interior with its cream vinyl seats mixed with chocolate and black. There’s also a sinister black Aeroflow Pistol ratchet shifter angled towards the driver’s seat, along with a couple of Auto Meter gauges. No air con, though!

Of course, if you’re not sure of the XB’s intent from its relatively subtle cabin, that huge reverse-cowl bonnet says it all.

“I wouldn’t say it’s loud, but it does sound pretty angry!” says Tommo. “I drove the car around for probably two months, then took it to Tony and ended up putting Holley fuel injection on it. It’s just changed the whole car; it’s 100 times better than the carburettor. When you come to a set of lights, sometimes your carby goes up and down, but this thing just pulls to idle perfectly at 1000rpm. You hop in the car and it starts straight away – no bullshit pumping the accelerator pedal.”

With a fuel cell added since its Street Machine shoot, Tommo says the XB is now just how he wants it – a great cruiser. But that Ford-flipping habit is hard to break: “I’m thinking about selling it,” he admits. “I’ve just been looking at a 1974 LTD; I found one in Queensland with 50,000 kays on it – and it has air con.” Here we go…


Waiting for parts during a build can test anyone’s patience, and for Tommo, it’s what he hates the most. “I get kind of bored, and I’ve got to do something,” he admits. So what did he do while building the XB? Started another project, of course. “In the time I was waiting for the car, I bought a bike to keep busy,” he says. That bike? A custom Harley-Davidson V-Rod, and fittingly finished: “I painted the bike the same colour as the car.”


Paint: PPG Lamborghini Orange
Brand: Ford 408ci Cleveland
Induction: Holley Sniper EFI
Heads: AFD 4V
Conrods: H-beam
Pistons: SRP
Crank: Steel Scat 4340
Fuel system: Holley fuel pump
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler
Exhaust: Custom 3in dual exhaust, 2.5in over diff
Ignition: Holley Sniper
Gearbox: Mike’s Transmission C10
Shifter: Aeroflow Pistol
Converter: 4800rpm high-stall
Diff: 9in, 3.77:1 final drive
Front: Pedders Red shocks
Rear: Pedders Red shocks, King leaf-springs with CalTracs
Brakes:XF Falcon calipers and slotted rotors (f); standard drums (r)
Master cylinder: Standard
Rims: Billet Specialities Comp 7; 17×4.5 (f), 15×8 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26×6 (f), Nankang SP-7 Pro Street 275/60R15 (r)

My wife Sabina, who calls the car a money pit every time I come home with parts for it; Tony Di Biagio at TDR Engines in Geelong for all the engine work; Matt and Marcus at Speed Pro; Rob Guljas; James lsaacs