CAN you remember what you got for your 13th birthday? If you were Justin Gauci, you’d never forget, because the lucky so-and-so was gifted a ’67 XR Falcon sedan from his dad! Now, before you go stomping off to yell at your old boy for not getting you a sweet ride for your first teenage birthday, Justin’s XR didn’t look anything like the beautiful gold machine you here.
This article was first published in the March 2020 issue of Street Machine
“Dad bought it for $600,” Justin says. “It was a bare Falcon 500 shell with no wiring or anything, so we had to put it together piece by piece over the years.” In fact, it took nearly a decade of hard work and toil to build this 700rwhp turbocharged weapon!
“The body needed a bit of work,” Justin says. “We had the guy who does the rust work on our cars fit a whole set of floorpans; plus it needed rear quarters, both inner and outer sills, and new front doors. “It took about 18 months, as there weren’t that many parts for XRs floating around back when we were building it nine years ago.”
Once Justin’s dad had the body straight, PPG GT Gold was laid over the Mustang-bred Falcon shell, paying tribute to Ford’s first high-performance Falcon, the 289ci XR GT.
“I tried to be a little bit different with the XR, which is why I did the gold body with the white GT interior,” says Justin. “Once I got it painted and got it home, it took four years to get it done. We spent a lot of time finding parts, building up a collection and then trying to sell them off to afford better bits and pieces. I wasn’t earning huge bucks as an apprentice so there was always a budget to work to, so it took time.”
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Stopping duties are handled by Wilwood four-piston disc brakes up front, with GT-spec drums living out back on the 9in diff. The fluid is pushed by a Wilwood master cylinder. Wheels are 17in Weld AlumaStars on the turning end, with 15x8 Weldstars wrapped in 275/50 M/T ET Street radials out back
The car was no slouch when it came to the drivetrain, either, with a tough aspirated 347-cube Windsor stroker living under the four-inch reverse-cowl bonnet. However, while it packed more snot than pretty much any factory fast-Falcon, it left Justin wanting.
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“It was a cast block and headed Windsor with a solid flat-tappet cam making 492hp at the flywheel, so it wasn’t really what I’d call a flash engine,” Justin says. “It made a bit of steam for what it was and ran 11.30 aspirated, but I knew that just wasn’t quick enough.
“It was on the road for maybe seven months when I decided to sell off the aspirated drivetrain and go for a whole new turbo set-up. When I told Dad I was taking it off the road after all that time building it, he thought I was crazy! I pretty much had to do everything in the engine, ’box and diff all over again.”
The tough SBF is kept cool with a PWR radiator and Davies Craig thermo fans, while LS1 coil packs and MSD leads handle igniting the E85 go-juice. An Aeroflow front-mounted air-to-air intercooler chills the compressed intake charge to keep detonation at bay
With his vast experience managing turbocharged V8s, Bill from Garage Worx was called upon to screw together a serious small-block Ford, starting with a new Dart Windsor block. He jammed it full of good gear like 9.3:1 compression Diamond pistons, Carrillo rods and bolts and a custom-grind turbo-spec Flowcraft solid-roller cam, while an Eagle crank pushes displacement to 347 cubes.
“I did some research on what ECU I should run, and I noticed a lot of cars are going fast with the Holley ECU,” says Justin. “It’s an affordable product for what you get”
The stout bottom end wears deep-breathing AFR 225 heads topped off by an Edelbrock Victor Jr single-plane intake packing eight 2200cc fuel injectors. They swallow E85 provided by three Walbro 460 pumps, and are controlled by a Holley HP EFI brainbox.
But the real power adder is the front-mounted Garrett GTX45 snail sitting on custom manifolds and blowing spent gases out a four-inch stainless exhaust system. Being fed just 7psi boost, with 20 degrees of ignition timing and revving to only 6200rpm, the XR pushed out 540rwhp!
“It then made 710rwhp on 16psi and running a mild tune,” Justin says. “Every extra pound of boost Bill puts in it is giving us another 100hp.”
The Falcon was an empty, bare shell when Justin acquired it, so C&N Trimming took on the job of redoing all the interior parts that he had to source to fit his XR out. Parchment-coloured XR GT buckets offer a comfy place to cruise, with standard-spec seatbelts, steering wheel and carpet lending a classic look
Fortunately, the XR has a cogbox that can handle the extra neddies. “I actually blew up the transmission I had for the aspirated combo two or three times before I got Matt from MDT to build a serious C6,” Justin says. “The new ’box is a full-house, reverse-pattern transbraked thing that he’s gone right through.”
“I was trying to do something a bit different by fitting the Auto Meter gauges in the GT dash,” Justin says. “But I’ve actually replaced them; I have now fitted a full Holley dash.” The Innovate wideband datalogger mounted ahead of the B&M shifter has also been replaced thanks to the new dash’s logging capabilities
The old 4.3:1 rear was going to leave the mustard decidedly uncut, so a set of 3.25:1 gears were added to the nine-inch housing, which also packs 31-spline billet axles and swings off standard leaf springs controlled by nine-way adjustable Calvert Racing shocks. Up front, classic 90/10 drag shocks are paired with Pedders coil springs and an XY steering box to sharpen the feel.
“I’m hoping to run in the mid-to-high eights,” Justin says. “But before I run it at the strip, I have to get it tech-inspected, so that means I need to ’cage it, and I might mini-tub and four-link it, too.
“It drives great, for a boat,” he quips. “At 100km/h it sits on 2500rpm and it cruises beautifully – nice and quiet. I’ve probably done 5000km since it was back on the road turbocharged, and I drive it everywhere! I have done a bunch of weddings; I’ve driven it to work. If I get caught in the rain, so be it.” Hey, with 700 neddies at your disposal, who cares about a bit of precipitation?
1967 FORD FALCON XR GT
Paint: PPG GT Gold
Brand: Dart Windsor 347ci
Induction: Edelbrock Victor Jr
ECU: Holley HP EFI
Turbo: Garrett GTX45
Heads: AFR 225
Camshaft: Custom Flowcraft turbo grind
Oil system: Standard
Fuel system: 2200cc injectors, three Walbro 460L/h pumps
Cooling: PWR radiator, Davies Craig thermo fans
Exhaust: Single 4in system
Ignition: LS1 coils, MSD leads
Gearbox: C6 three-speed auto
Converter: Dominator 3200rpm
Diff: 9in, US Gear 3.25:1 final ratio, 31-spline billet axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: 90/10 shocks, Pedders springs, XY steering
Rear: Standard leaf springs, Calvert nine-way adjustable shocks
Brakes: Wilwood four-pot discs (f), GT drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld AlumaStar 17in (f), Weldstar 15x8 (r)
Rubber: M/T Sportsman (f), M/T ET Street 275/50 (r)
My mum, dad Chris, brother Matt and sister Nicole for all the support and help; Bill Elhaouli and the boys at Garage Worx; Eugene at Flowcraft; John & Mick at Race Parts Melbourne; Matt at MDT; Trevor at Tranzco; Raz at Raz’s Diffs; Admir for all the electrical work; the boys at Showroom Finish; Ryan at First Choice Polishing; Matt at Gauci’s Towing Service; all my mates, including Sam, James, Christian, Jake and Robbie; Charlie at C&N Trimming; Eren for fab work