Manuel Darmanin’s Candy Apple 351-powered XA coupe

This Candy Apple creation is the result of plenty of bux and heaps of...Manuel's labour

Photographers: Phil Matthew

One of the best aspects of street machining is that there are so many potential vehicles. But the greatest satisfaction usually comes from picking your favourite and then taking it to the limit, putting your own personal stamp on the design you’ve always liked.

First published in the Oct/Nov 1985 issue of Street Machine

That’s exactly what longtime Street Machine reader, Manuel Darmanin has done with his cherished XA coupe. “I’d wanted one since I was about 15,” he says. “Originally I wanted a black one and that’s what I finished up getting.” By this stage Manuel was 20. OK, so how come the XA coupe staring at you is Candy Apple Red?

Don’t blame Manuel. It wasn’t his idea. His good friend, Bill Johnson, one of the best guns in the painting business, talked him into it. “This car,” he said sternly, “would look better in Candy Apple Red.” It must have been a strong friendship, because Manuel allowed himself to be talked into the conversion. “At first I hated it,” he says. “I love it now, but it certainly took a long while to grow on me.”

When Bill recommended Candy Apple, he wasn’t talking of a bite here and a bite there. This was no Garden of Eden job, but the whole fruit — body, underbonnet and, yes, even the engine itself. First Bill fired six pepperings of undercoat at the XA, followed by four layers of silver base. Then came no less than eight coats of Candy Apple and a dozen coats of clear just to lock all that lustre in.

Manuel chose red and black as the dominant tonings for the basically stock interior. This car was not a GT when it rolled off the Broadmeadows line back in ’72, but it now sports most of the GT goodgear, including the dash. Darren Stamford can take the credit for retrimming the seats in black vinyl with red velour inserts and for fitting black cut pile carpet on the floor and black velour on the ceiling. There’s no overkill here, just a neat, clean statement of style.

But beneath that Candy Apple bonnet, enough serious work has been done to enable Manuel’s XA to storm the quarter in 12.9, reaching 116 mph in the process.

Ne prizes for guessing the basis was provided by a Cleveland 351. It runs TRW 10.5 to one pistons with chrome Speed Pro rings. The crank and rods have been balanced and blueprinted. The cam is a 990X solid Sig Erson. Manuel opted for ⅜ inch Mantey pushrods and Crane solid lifters. Originally the coupe carried Crane roller reckers, but one otherwise ordinary day the jerks from Midnight Spares got to work on Manuel’s machine.

He replaced the Crane rockers with one of the new Yella Terra sets. These created a bit of a problem, but Yella Terra supplied a new lot gratis and Mancel’s really pleased with them. “I find them pretty good,” he says and coming from a street machine perfectionist that can only be regarced as high praise for Dyno Dave and his team.

Sig Erson valve springs prevent the Falcon GT titanium intake and exhaust valves from self-destructing. And a pair of Boss rocker covers keep the top end looking street smart. The heads themselves were given an extensive massage by Paul Rogers and Mick Bonacini of R. C. Automotives, Campbellfield. Oh yeah, they did the rest of the engine too.

While Ford never gave the Falcon GT more than one Holley, Manuel reckons there’s safety in numbers. So he opted for a pair of 600 Holleys with vacuum secondaries. Fair dinkum carbs need a serious intake manifold, so Manuel figured a Weiand Tunnel Ram item should be up to the task. Af the other end of the firing line, a set of Genie headers get rid of the waste product.

Before we gently close the hood, let’s just check the other details. There is a Mallory ignition system. All the wiring was channelled by Gladmans of Pascoe Vale. The abundant braided line was produced by Earls. And as for the chromework, best you just check the pics. It’s gotta be one of the prettiest engine bays you’d ever want to envy!

A trusty FMX autobox transmits the power and it is controlled via a standard XA T-bar. The rearend is naturally a nine-incher with 4.11 gears in an XY housing. Why an XY housing? Well, it’s about an inch and a half narrower than the XA unit and this gave Manuel plenty of space to stick his 10 x 15 12-slotters — no point in crowding the mechanicals!

The rear springs are standard six-leaf Falcon GT semi-elliptics with damping from a pair of Monroe-Wylie GT 130s. Up front, Selby lowered coils hold the nose off the tarmac, helped by Monroe 180 Magnums. It’s not a no bars hold job either, but Manuel decided that the factory front bar was quite good enough for his candy car. The 12-slofters up front, incidentally, are 8 x 15s.

The braking system remains the way Ford Oz designed it and works well, even with the extra horses getting toey up front. Grip comes from extra wide Mickey Thompson N50/15s at the rear, while the front tyres are good old GR50/15 BFG T/As.

And there are a few other little details too. Like the Voxon stereo and Hella driving lights. And the fact that this car took out the trophy for Best Ford Street Machine at the Werribee Street Machine Show this year and was proudly displayed at the ’85 Melbourne show where it won Best Custom Paint. Nice labour Manuel!