Full Metal Jacket: Troy Hillier’s XP Falcon hardtop

It's low, loud and totally insane. But you can drive this sucker!

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

It’s the sound of jaws dropping. We reckon we’ve heard about 3500 jaws hit the ground today.

That’s the population of Tenterfield, a town in northern NSW, and not one of its residents could miss
local lad Troy Hillier‘s XP Falcon coupe as we cruise on a late summer afternoon.

First published in the April/May 1999 issue of Street Machine

Surely they’ve never seen — or heard — anything like this. The blinding glow of its golden paint, the ground hugging Pro-Street ride height and the intimidating whirr of that monster 6/71 blower, rising and falling in pitch as Troy works the throttle of the big 351.

“I’ve been driving an XP coupe for years but I’ve always wanted one a lot tougher — a real show car like this,” Troy says. “It’s pretty loud inside because it’s an all metal interior but I reckon for a show car it feels pretty good to drive.”

We agree. For something built primarily to win shows, this is street driven credibility with a capital °C’. The fully worked and detailed 351 Windsor not only looks a million bucks but also packs an awesome punch, without running hot or getting bad tempered.

It steers straight and the brakes bite hard. Sure, it sits bloody low but Troy likes it that way because it looks tough. He only has to screw up the adjustable spring platforms on the Spax coilovers to find another 25mm of ride height if the bumps get too big.

There’s no seat belts either but they we ren’t all the rage back in 1965 and for an extreme car like this, Troy reckons they still aren’t. “Belts would make a show in terior like this look messy,” he says. “Besides, it’s not really what you’d call a daily driver.”

Many readers will remember Troy and his brother Clayton. They built a drop dead gorgeous burgundy coloured EA Falcon wagon-based ute which debuted at Summernats 10.

You might also remember Troy and Clayton run Hillier Conversions, a company which churns out hearses and stretched limos. These guys know how to build quality engineered cars in short time frames and the creation of this Falcon was another amazing feat – from start to finish, it took just four months! That’s 16 weeks of extremely hard yakka, building hearses and limos during the day and spending every night and
weekend sweating away on the XP coupe for a Summernats 12 deadline.

“I bought the car from a mate,” Troy explains. “It was sitting in his backyard and was almost completely
rusted away.” Once he’d stripped it and chopped out the cancer, Troy was left with a skeleton that sat on the workshop floor for eight months while Troy worked out his build plan. Then, on August 21, 1998 he got stuck into it.

The XP sits on a fully fabricated steel chassis with twin wishbone front suspension, UC Torana rack and pinion steering mated to an ED Falcon steering column and a competition inspired adjustable multi-link rear with Fulcrum springs on the four Spax coilovers. The braking system’s a mechanical lucky dip, too, with DBA cross-drilled and slotted rotors clamped by HJ Holden callipers up front and Mazda 808 callipers squeezing rear Willwood rotors, all controlled by an EL Falcon master cylinder.

The big Windsor gets its thundering power to the rear through a fully manualised C4 automatic, running a mild 2500rpm stall speed on the torque convertor. A Hardy Spicer tailshaft links up to a narrowed nine inch rear axle assembly loaded with all the good gear, like 31-spline axles and Detroit Locker centre running short 4.56 cogs. The rear end rolls on steamroller 29×15 50 Mickey Thompsons on 15×14 Cragar Pros. Bridgestone-booted 15×5-inch Cragars do the steering.

Credit for such a tough mechanical menu goes to Rodney Horn, who also prepped the 5.8-litre Windsor V8 for performance work. From its twin 600 Holleys sitting atop a towering Fisher 6/71 blower, to its fabricated inlet manifold, 600hp flow-benched Dart heads and High Energy sump, this honkin’ Henry is a killer engine that’s also pretty well behaved. The boys made sure it wouldn’‘t blow its cool in traffic by slotting in a brand new V8 Supercar aluminium radiator Troy picked up from a garage sale at Dick Johnson’s race shop in Queensland!

What also really grabs your attention is the radical bodywork fabrication from front to rear – what you’d expect from blokes like Troy and Clayton, Mark Rovera, Sharno Favero and apprentice Luke Rudge who do amazing things with cars and sheetmetal. The all- steel floor, boot and engine bay are pure art and indicative of the skill required to stretch cars for a living. So too the hood lining fabricated from four separate sheetmetal pieces, each one patiently rolled into the correct shape on a wheeling machine before being welded into place, filled and smoothed – a competition-inspired cockpit with razor-sharp show quality.

The side opening boot lid, which hides a race-style fuel cell and twin battery boxes, also borrows from the Hillier’s hearse building experience. In fact, the lid uses hearse side door hinges, only turned around to open vertically in this application. Neat.

And what about that colour? Inside, the Auto Meter gauges, Hurst shifter, SAAS seats and steering wheel are about the only components not lathered in rich Protec two-pack Tiger Gold from the GM-H colour chart. And few things on the outside escaped the bronze treatment either; three coats of base capped with three coats of clear glow brilliantly under any light. Chromework is by Winkler and Patrick, while Neil O’Rielly’s the guy who hid the wiring.

This wild Pro-Streeter stunned 100,000 people when it rolled into the Summernats in January: Top 10, Peoples Choice, Supreme Award and Victor Bray’s High Performance Pick. Need we need say more. Except, Wow!