GARY Taylor is one of those car lovers who was born into it. “When I was born, I came home from the hospital in an XR Fairmont, and Mum used to drop me off at school in an XC Cobra,” he says. “We had a couple of Holdens, but Mum was always a Ford person, and Dad was a panel beater and spray painter who was into any car that had petrol in it.”
This article was first published in the September 2019 issue of Street Machine
Given his background, it seems pretty easy to understand why Gary would build this tidy XP as a weekender, right? “I don’t really like XPs, but ironically I’ve had three of them!” he laughs.
For someone who doesn’t like XPs, he sure knows how to build a pretty striking example of the breed. This marvellous machine looks mean from any angle, while at the same time exhibiting a subtlety rarely seen among built 60s muscle cars. The colour scheme is so simple and effective that you’ll be hard pressed to find anything on it that isn’t silver or black.
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When Gary got his mitts on the XP, the once pristine duco had suffered from a couple of years of neglect. “The paint must be six or seven years old,” Gary says, “but they did a really good job; there’s no rust in the car.” Not one bit of factory bling escaped the satin black treatment, and the only shiny parts left on the outside are the polished rims of the Rocket Racing Ignitors
“I saw it at a car show and I said to my wife: ‘If I ever win the lotto I’m going to buy that,’” Gary says. “A few years later I found out it was for sale, so I snapped it up. It looked pretty sad because it had been sitting in a carport for a couple of years. I just wanted something finished so I could cruise to shows in it, but I had dramas with it from day one. I started fixing little things and it snowballed out of control.” Doesn’t that sound familiar!
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The first major job on Gary’s mile-long list was to give the noisy BorgWarner diff the flick in favour of a nine-inch with 3.5:1 gears and a mini-spool. After that, it was time to address the XP’s most serious fault: a predilection for overheating and munching gaskets. “It had a small under-bonnet blower on it and it broke down every second weekend,” Gary says. “I couldn’t even get to the end of the street and it would be starting to cook!” The blower was ditched for the sake of reliability, and Gary bolted on that righteous Weiand tunnel ram in its place.
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Underneath the ram sits the relatively stock 302ci Windsor crate motor the XP came with, though Gary gave it a freshen-up and added some goodies here and there to improve its attitude. The Comp Cams stick hidden in the valley controls the valves in a pair of Edelbrock E-Street heads, and dinosaurs burned by the ICE ignition system exit out the back via Castle Headers pipes. The twin Holley 390 carbs may seem a little on the small side, but they help make the little 302 a responsive and driveable engine that excels on the street.
That massive radiator was custom-made for Gary by Adrad, and its fitment immediately solved the Windsor’s overheating woes. Trick shock tower braces were made by the original builder, but all the plumbing and wiring is Gary’s handiwork. He added the vacuum pump to help address the woeful brakes when the XP still ran the unreliable blower set-up
Gary doesn’t take credit for the paint and bodywork. “The car was originally built by a bloke in Queensland, and from what I can tell he did all the body mods, mini-tubs, panel and paint,” he says. “I did try to roll the rear guards myself to fit bigger rims, and quickly discovered that I’m only a window tinter and not a panel beater!”
Instead, Brad at Cessnock Paint & Panel repaired and repainted the rear guards, and did a masterful job of blending the Silver Streak duco so that no evidence of Gary’s misdeeds remains. Six show trophies, including Car Of The Meet and Best In Show, attest to the quality of the XP’s finish.
The XL Falcon gauge bezel was originally filled with cheapo clocks that couldn’t tell time accurately, so Gary turfed them in favour of classic Auto Meter Sport Comps. There are plenty of neat details to be found in here, like the custom-fabbed centre console and the Kenwood stereo hidden in the glovebox
Inside, the XW Fairmont front seats and stock XP rear bench, along with the carpet and hoodlining, were treated to a makeover by Brett Sheard at Mr Stitches Motor Trimming. The material of choice was leather with suede inserts, and there was only ever going to be one suitable colour!
“The door trims came with the car – I think tribal designs went out in the 90s, but they were well made so I didn’t change them,” Gary says.
Considering the XP was built for cruising and shows, Gary made sure there was a capable sound system fitted to it. A Kenwood head unit sends Gary’s chosen tunes to the Vibe Black Air five-channel amp tucked behind the fuel cell. Vibe splits in the kick panels, Kenwood 7x10s in the parcel shelf and a sub hidden behind the rear seat convert the electrons into rather a lot of noise.
Unfortunately, the XP is no longer taking up a spot in the Taylor shed. “I only drove it for five months before I got an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Gary says. “I’m shattered that I sold it, but I’d done everything I wanted to do with it and it was less than a week before I bought another project. It’s an Apollo Blue K-code XB that I’ll keep pretty stock, but I’ll do a few things like smooth the engine bay. I can’t leave any car standard!”
We know the feeling, mate!
1966 XP FALCON
Paint: Silver Streak
Brand: Ford 302ci Windsor
Induction: Weiand tunnel ram, twin 390 Holley carbs
Heads: Edelbrock E-Street
Camshaft: Comp Cams
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Mechanical pump, 40L fuel cell
Cooling: Custom Adrad radiator, twin 12in fans
Exhaust: Castle Headers extractors, twin 2.5in exhaust, Hurricane mufflers
Gearbox: C4, stage II shift kit
Diff: 9in, mini-spool, 3.5:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Pedders springs, Moroso 90/10 adjustable shocks
Rear: Reset leaves, 50/50 Pedders shocks
Brakes: Stock XD discs (f), drums (r)
Master cylinder: HQ
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Rocket Racing Ignitor; 15x6 (f), 15x8 (r)
Rubber: 185/65/15 (f), 255/60/15 (r)
My understanding wife who never batted an eyelid when I told her how much I was spending on the car; my kids for all the times I was in the shed instead of spending time with them; Brett from Mr Stitches for doing a killer interior; Brad from Cessnock Paint & Panel for repairing the rear guards; Ian from VPR Auto for tuning the carbies; Matt my detailer for always keeping it clean when I took it to work