BEN Ennis has had plenty of Falcons but this 1962 XK is here to stay. Bought in 1998 and rebuilt seven years ago, Ben one day hopes to hand the keys to his son, Brandt. Who may possibly decide to change the colour.
This article was first published in the May 2012 issue of Street Machine
“The first thing that comes out of people’s mouths is: ‘Why did you paint it pink?’” the 34-year-old mechanic from Shepparton, Vic, says. “Well, I didn’t want to spend all that money and paint it white, knowing that it was going to be modified. And I’ve always liked loud colours.
“We did a custom mix and we tweaked it once or twice and when I went back to have the paint mixed up, it turned out to match a Porsche colour called Karmenratt — I’ve never seen a Porsche that shade yet!”
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After much mixing, Ben settled on this crazy pink paint then found it’s basically an official Porsche colour. The colour is one of the things he loves most about the car — that and the way people react when they see it coming
XK Falcons are almost as rare as pink Porsches, with people tending to go for the more readily available XMs and XPs. It’s one reason Ben chose the XK — that, and they look good.
“I’ve always loved the way early Falcons look and probably the XK more so because it’s different. I like the shape of the front and rear.”
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When Ben bought the XK in 1998 — for $1200 — it was white, stock, fairly rust-free and driven by an old timer from Bendigo, Vic, who made him swear that he wouldn’t “chop the car up” if he sold it to him. “I said: ‘Yeah mate, I’ll make it original,’” he laughs.
Getting the 289 Windsor V8 with four-into-one extractors into the XK engine bay took a bit of ingenuity — Ben modified the firewall. The Parker Funnelweb manifold is a cracker
Once home, the car was stripped back and just as the build got underway, life got in the way. He married Amanda, bought a house and with time and money hard to find, the XK had to wait for five years. It was in 2002, when they were nearly ready to start a family, that it hit them.
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“We sort of looked at each other and realised that the car was never going to get built if we had kids — there’d definitely be no time and money then,” Ben says. “We were about two years off having kids, so we thought we’d get the car finished.”
So Ben stripped the whole car back and began the build again — on a rotisserie.
“I spent about 35 hours a week on it, for two years straight,” he says.
The shell was good and pretty straight. Shepparton local Jason Farrell came in to help with the body and paint, with Ben looking after the mechanical side.
“I’ll tell you what I didn’t do,” Ben explains. “I didn’t retrim the seats, I didn’t line the door trims and I didn’t paint it —
everything else, I did myself.”
Initially Ben had dreamt of putting in a turbo MoTeC-injected six cylinder in the engine bay until a cousin fronted up with a 289 Windsor looking for a new home. It was an easy decision. Getting it to fit wasn’t so simple.
“There was a lot of trial and error with the engine,” Ben says. “Back then I wasn’t really on the internet and I pretty much had to work it all out myself.
“Everyone said I was going to have to run manifolds or tri-Y extractors but I wanted decent-size four-into-ones because it makes half-decent power. So I had the engine in and out about eight times.”
A bit of construction work to the firewall provided some extra room — “In the end, the four-into-ones had more clearance than the manifolds would have.”
The 289 was bored out, then treated to a new Parker Funnelweb inlet manifold and fourbarrel Holley carby, along with new fuel lines and breather systems.
“I’m pretty proud of the fact that it’s still a standard-stroke 289 with cast heads.”
If you reckon the interior looks schmick, that’s because Rod Lingard of Hot Rod Trim worked his magic on it, retaining the original bench seats and tiller.
Most builds have a nightmare moment and for Ben it came when his engineer went AWOL just before the final inspection. It seems he needed to lay low for a while, which meant Ben was left hanging for a year, with a complete car that couldn’t be registered.
“I was beginning to think: ‘I’m in trouble here, I’m going to have to strip the car down and bare metal the chassis’ because that was the only way anyone would engineer it. Then all of a sudden he popped up again.”
Ben aimed for a neat mix of old and new, keeping the bench seats, tiller and speedo and adding touches like the monster tacho. He’s carried the paint scheme through inside as in Falcons of this era
That was 2005. The car was soon registered and about a year later baby Brandt was born. He was followed by sisters Jaye and Letiya and one of Ben’s favourite things is how much the kids love the XK.
“Every time they hear it start up, they come running to the door and carry on like pork chops. It’s impractical now but in a few years, when they can jump in without baby seats, it’ll get used all the time.”
Ben reckons he’s got the perfect combination with the XK, mixing old touches such as the bench seats and original speedo with new touches like the Convo Pro wheels and a chunky tacho.
“It was just about trying to get the mix right so that hopefully, in 10 to 15 years my son will get to drive it and it’ll still
look the same.
“It’s the only reason I keep it — it’s got too much sentimental value now. It’s got his name on it. He’s about to turn six, so it’s going to be around for a long time. And I’m happy with that.”
1962 XK FALCON SEDAN
Colour: Standox two-pack custom pink
Type: Windsor 289 V8
Inlet: Parker Funnelweb
Induction: Holley Street HP
Head: Cast iron, ported, polished, oversized valves
Radiator: Aluminium radiator, custom shroud and electric fans
Exhaust: Four-into-one extractors, three-inch collectors, twin 2½in Flowmaster mufflers
Ignition: Electronic, 10mm Top Gun leads
Box: C9, manual shift
Diff: Nine-inch, shortened, LSD
Converter: 3500 Dominator
Tailshaft: Custom three-inch
Front end: Kings Spring
Shocks: Pedders (f) Monroe (r)
Brakes: XB Falcon disc (f) Mustang drums (r)
Rims: Convo Pro, 15x6 (f), 15x8½ (r)
Rubber: 175/60 (f), 265/50 (r)
My wife, Amanda, the kids, Brandt, Jaye and Letiya; Leigh, Jarrod and Preso at L&P Mackin Forklifts; Greg Maskell at Revhead Restorations; Rod Lingard at Hot Rod Trim; Jase Farrell for body and paint; Colin Young for engine machining; James Hiles; Colin Senior at Cenifab; Jason Bjorkstein at Burkos Auto Trans; and Mark Healy