WITH a thumping 500hp stroked XW ute to thrash around in, life for Aaron Taylor was pretty good. However, in true Street Machine tradition, Aaron had an itch for something more: a car the whole family could enjoy.
This article was first published in the June 2019 issue of Street Machine
The AccuAir e-Level system has three height settings: Low, Ultra-Low and ‘Look out ants!’
“This car had to be a one I could share with my wife Fiona and two kids Rye and Eve,” explains Aaron. “A blown and injected Fairlane dumped down to the weeds – that should do it!”
Why a hulking, big ZF Fairlane 500 though? “I’ve been reading Street Machine since I was five or six – now my kids are reading it – and I’ve never seen a ZF Fairlane in it,” Aaron says. “I also had one parked in the shed at work that I’d bought a year or so ago for $2500.”
“The original goal was to get the Joe Blo hat under a reversecowl hood,” Aaron says. “That’s why we went with the custom Bob Fisher intake. But when it became clear that wasn’t going to be achievable, I said: ‘Stuff it, I’ll drive it around with it hanging out – it looks tougher’”
However, Aaron has his hands full running Melbourne civil construction company Vic Civil, so he wasn’t about to take on the project himself. “Building cars is not really my thing,” he admits.
Thanks to True Blue Restorations, the paint’s slick-as and the body straight-as. Getting it that way was a ton of work, as the driver’s side rear quarter and the front guard were crunched thanks to a run-in with a Massey Ferguson tractor!
This is where Brian and Simon from Brimin Consulting & Engineering entered the picture. “After talking with Brian and Simon, I felt like they had the same approach as myself,” Aaron says. “Coming from the construction industry, I’m always push, push, push. With their can-do attitude and relentless drive to get this bad boy done, they hit every mark. Other than body, paint, trim and engine, they pretty much built the entire car. Their workmanship is spot-on and they’re great guys as well – I couldn’t be happier. We’re good mates now.”
Read next: Blown 1973 Ford Landau
The ZF is not minitubbed;instead, the rear quarters have been discreetly pumped, enabling them to swallow fat 295-wide radials
First up Brimin tackled the airbag set-up. A kit was purchased from Air Ride, which included four Shockwaves, twin pumps, tank, valves and e-Level controller. At the front, the top of the shock towers were modified to accept a custom-fabricated mount. Out back, the Fairlane retains just two of its original leaves – this allows the luxo-barge to sit on the deck when aired out. To bolt the Shockwaves into the rear, Brimin plated and strengthened the factory shock mounts and fabricated new lower mounts. To get the car sitting way down low, they split and raised the tunnel, and raised the sheet metal over the diff area.
For steering duties, Brimin left the factory power steering box in place; however, it’s now plumbed into a Holden Astra electric power steering pump, hiding behind the driver’s side front guard.
To enhance structural rigidity, the whole car was seam-welded and four longitudinal chassis reinforcements were added. The floor itself was also massaged to make more room for things like the exhaust. “It was a nightmare trying to tuck everything up under there,” Aaron says. “At full drop there’s just no room.”
The Fairlane’s huge boot has no problem swallowing the air tank, twin pumps, twin batteries, five-channel amplifier, 10in subwoofer and huge fuel tank
With 500hp between the rails of his XW ute, Aaron was keen to step things up with the Fairlane, as it’s a bigger car. Danko at Adicted Performance kindly obliged.
Starting with a Dart block, he added a Callies crank and rods and custom JE pistons, which combine to punch the small-block’s capacity out to 440 cubes. Atop the 225cc CHI 3V heads is a custom Bob Fisher intake, a billet 6/71 pump from The Blower Shop and one of Joe Blo Speed Shop’s trick EFI hats.
The 440-cube, blown EFI donk might be good for around 1000hp on E85, but it retains full street manners, along with a heater and a/c system
With a very healthy thirst for E85, the big Fairlane’s range is not very good. “It’s definitely not a Pruis,” Aaron laughs. On the plus side, the combo is good for around 1000hp at the flywheel!
With a gnat’s breath between the Fairlane’s underside and terra firma when the car’s aired out, Rosco at RM Custom Fabrication had his work cut out fabricating the twin three-inch stainless exhaust system that incorporates an X-pipe and Hooker Comp mufflers. But he did it, and it looks fantastic and works even better – the ZF has a menacing bark.
With the engine, driveline and chassis sorted, the Fairlane was then handed over to Cameron Milne, Russell Cooper and Shayne Smith from True Blue Restorations.
“With the exception of a few small rust repairs and a crunched rear quarter and front guard, we were very lucky to be given such a clean car,” Shayne says. “It’s a rare find for its age.” In fact, Aaron is only the second owner; when he got it, it had 160,000 original kays on it, original paint, and still had that new car smell – plus the original Mobil service reminder sticker on the windshield!
Rather than chop up the mint original dash, the Racepak display was mounted on the centre console. “It’s surprisingly user-friendly,” Aaron says, “despite being down in the console”
Rather than replace the damaged panels, True Blue repaired them along with the other wrinkles and factory imperfections, before bare-metal finishing the whole car.
Knowing Aaron was after something different, painter Cameron worked with DNA Paints to come up with the custom candy green that Aaron and the family chose.
“Chris [Thorogood] photographed the car in a disused Masters store,” Aaron says. “The car only looks this colour under his lights; we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw it on the back of his camera. Out in the sun it flips from green to black – never this colour.”
All up, the Fairlane was with True Blue for just eight short weeks, a phenomenal turnaround considering the quality of the workmanship.
Aaron wanted to keep the interior looking stock, a challenge that Mat and Shawn at Seamless Motor Trimming triumphantly met. With Knox Auto carpets on the floor, they retrimmed the factory seats in Saddle Brown and Bentley black leather. The new doorcards, hoodlining and centre console are all done in matching coloured vinyl.
For cruising tunes, there’s a Bluetooth head unit hiding behind the factory radio. From there, the Hertz system comprises front splits (mounted in the factory location), 6.5-inch coax speakers in the custom parcel tray and a 10-inch sub in the boot next to the Hertz amp. James from Switched On Auto Electrics got all the sparks working spot-on, including adding a 200-amp alternator to cope with the extra drain of the audio, airbag pumps and power steering pump.
The finishing touch is the jailbar grille by Aaron’s good mate Wally from Genweld. “It looks sick,” Aaron says of the striking grille. “Each bar is individually welded. It makes the whole front of the car – it brings it alive!”
“When you surround yourself with good people, you can do anything,” says Aaron. It’s a motto he’s carried over from his business, which might explain why, having pulled the trigger on the build in March 2018, the whole team was able to pull together to have the mega-tough land yacht ready in time for Summernats 32 in January, where it was a Tuff Street standout.
“We camped near Tuff Street,” Aaron says of his ’Nats experience. “Things got pretty loose there at times; it was a great time camping with some of the Vic Civil boys and mates.”
Since then, Aaron’s had the Fairlane out a few times, including to a local show – where an indelible mark left in the grass by the exhaust and undercarriage was visible once the car had aired up and left at the end of the day.
“The whole car has been a great experience,” Aaron says. “There’s nothing better than cruising down Flinders Street and turning every head – that’s the way it should be”
“It drives beautifully,” says Aaron. “There’s nothing like taking it out, blasting a bit of Acca Dacca’s Back In Black and giving it shit.”
1973 FORD ZF FAIRLANE 500
Paint: DNA Fiona Green
Brand: Dart 440ci
Heads: CHI 3V 225cc
Intake: Bob Fisher custom
Blower: The Blower Shop billet 6/71
Injection: Joe Blo Speed Shop
ECU: Haltech 950 Elite
Camshaft: Comp Cams
Crank: Callies Magnum
Rods: Callies Ultra HD
Rings: JE file-finish
Oiling: ASR sump
Cooling: Race Radiators
Exhaust: Pacemaker, 3in twin system, Hooker mufflers
Gearbox: Manualised Powerglide
Diff: 9in, 3.25:1 gears
Seats: Factory bench
Instruments: Racepak digital dash
Shifter: Ford T-bar
CHASSIS & BRAKES
Suspension: Air Ride Shockwaves (f & r)
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld; 17x5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: 215/17 (f), 295/15 (r)
Brian and Simon (Brimin Consulting & Engineering); Wally; Danko (Adicted Performance); Cameron, Russell & Shayne (True Blue Restorations); Rosco (RM Custom Fabrication); James (Switched On Auto Electrics); Mat and Shawn (Seamless Motor Trimming); biggest thanks to Fiona, Rye and Eve for all their support