WHAT blows me away about Anthony Villani’s XP coupe is that it was built 23 years ago. Yep, that impeccable blue paint is over two decades old, yet it bears hardly a blemish.
“The paint, interior and wheels are exactly as I built the XP in the late 90s,” Anthony says. “It’s done 13,000 miles since, and it still runs the same tyres and brake pads.”
Underneath, Anthony’s spent money where it matters. He’s upped the front anchors, altered the altitude with aftermarket springs and stuffed on meatier rears thanks to mini-tubs
Let’s take a trip back to 1996, when a mid-20s Anthony first laid eyes on his prize. “I knew a local Shepparton guy who had an XP two-door with another shell sitting in his backyard,” he says. “So I had a look at it, and then did the deal for $2000.”
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With nary a scratch on it, it’s hard to fathom that the duco was laid on this XP in the 90s. Anthony’s fussiness has paid off big-time in the long run
Anthony dragged home a bare body, with no door mechs or even side windows. “I wanted to build my own car, my own creation. People would say to me: ‘Get something that’s already done.’ But then it wasn’t going to be mine,” he explains. “XPs are a good-looking car, stylish, with nice lines and a great shape. I wanted mine to be an eye-catching streeter, with the right combination of interior, paint, wheels and a bit of go in it too, but still be a cruiser.”
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Anthony entrusted a handful of local Shep specialists to create his dream ride, with the bulk of the hard yakka going into body and paint – including mini-tubs. Thankfully he chose a good mate, Barry Lane, to sort that for him. “I’ve known Barry for years and I’d spend weekends at Barry Lane Paint & Panel helping out with everything,” Anthony says.
Searching for the perfect colour had Anthony visiting car yards to inspect the factory offerings, finally selecting the Spies Hecker Cobalt Blue metallic pearl from the ’92 EB Falcon charts. Bright yet deep, the striking two-pack blue is the perfect balance to the dazzling white interior and outer brightwork. “Back in the day there were stuff-all XPs in this colour; everyone had white or red. Now there are a lot that are very similar,” Anthony says.
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90s-spec 15in Weld Draglites clearly earmark this XP’s build era, as do the 23-year-old Yokohama tyres – but not for long. “I’m getting new tyres, as these are that hard that instead of stopping at a roundabout, the XP skidded into the intersection,” says Anthony. “It’s a pity, as they still have about 70 per cent tread on them!”
“People can’t believe it’s the same paintjob; it’s still top-notch,” he continues. “I’ve looked after it, having only been caught in the rain half-a-dozen times over the years. I could spend all weekend detailing the XP for a show but if it started to spit on the way there I’d turn around and go home. I’m pedantic like that.”
A cruiser it may be, but Anthony still wanted a bit of punch from his Falcon. A peppy 302ci Windsor sits up front, and while most of the XP remains untouched since its rebirth over two decades ago, the mill has copped a fair whack of spanner-work. “I over-revved the motor and did a cam lobe,” Anthony admits. “So, I added a rev limiter and had the 302ci rebuilt. Then about three years ago, just as we moved to the Gold Coast, the motor began playing up. Two weeks later the motor detonated, blowing out a piston.” With two mills down, Anthony parked the XP for 18 months while gathering the funds for donk build #3.
Third time’s a charm. The latest rebuild of the healthy 351-headed, 302ci Windsor has seen it over-bored 40thou, then filled with Wiseco pistons. A Lunati bumpstick now provides the rumpy-pump via a gathering of stout moving parts. Behind is a Ford C10 trans with 2800rpm Dominator converter running to a shortened 9in LSD with 3.5s
This time around Abbott Engine Reconditioning stretched the Mexican block to 40thou over, something that the 302-cuber easily handled thanks to the thicker cylinder walls. A Lunati Power cam was also slid in as part of the overall freshen-up. The poky li’l V8 remains 90s-spec with a Holley Street HP 650DP carb atop a one-inch spacer, screwed to an Edelbrock Performer RPM dual-plane manifold. Heads are also Edelbrock RPM 351ci units. The inside is filled with staunch parts including Eagle rods pinned to Wiseco pistons, to circumvent any future explosions.
The XP’s interior is one of many to have been given the beautiful yet slightly impractical white treatment in the late 90s/early 00s, but it still looks the goods. Anthony had XY buckets and the factory rear bench encased in off-white vinyl, while the tiller was finished in pearl. A retro Mr Gasket shifter sits in the centre console, surrounded by the more utilitarian blue cut-pile carpet
“Looking back, to be getting around in such a tidy XP coupe in my 20s was pretty cool,” Anthony laughs. Nowadays you’ll spot him steering the coupe towards local Gold Coast shows and Saturday-night meets. “It’s good to get in and drive it again; I feel free, it’s a great stress reliever.
“Over the years I’ve had some big offers to buy the car, ranging from $50,000 to $80,000,” he continues. “But the XP would’ve cost me close to $100,000 over that time and it’d easily cost that to try and build it now. That paintjob cost me only $5500; now I’d be looking at $20,000-$40,000.
“You hear of people selling their cars when they become tied down with marriage and kids, but mate, I don’t think I could ever sell it,” Anthony declares. “I built this from scratch and I know the car absolutely inside and out. I’ve had it for so long and spent so much time cruising around – it’s part of my mid-20s life. It holds a lot of memories, so I just can’t get rid of it.”
BACK in the day Anthony won his fair share of tinware across Victoria with his tidy coupe. Accolades included Top 10 Street and third Post-’48 Coupe at the 1999 Shepparton Spring Car Nationals; Best Falcon Coupe at the 2000 Geelong All Ford Day; and Car Of The Show, Top Engine Bay and Top Paint at the 2000 Australian & Pacific Motoring Show.
1965 FORD XP FALCON COUPE
Paint: EB Ford Spies Hecker Cobalt Blue metallic pearl two-pack
Brand: Ford 302ci Windsor
Carby: Holley Street HP 650DP
Manifold: Edelbrock Performer RPM
Heads: Edelbrock RPM 351ci alloy
Cam: Lunati Power hydraulic
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Crank: 302ci, polished
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel system: Holley Blue electric, PULP
Cooling: XD V8 radiator, Davies Craig thermo
Exhaust: Spring headers, 2¼in twin system
Ignition: Ford Duraspark electronic dizzy, Jacobs Electronics FC2000 ignition
Trans: Ford C10, stage two shift kit
Converter: Dominator 2800 stall
Tailshaft: 3in Ford
Diff: Shortened 9in, LSD, 3.5:1 gears, 28-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: King springs, Monroe shocks
Rear: Lovells leaf springs, Monroe shocks
Brakes: HJ Holden calipers with XD discs, CRS conversion kit (f), Ford drums (r)
Master cylinder: PBR, VH40 brake booster
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld Draglite; 15x7 (f), 15x8 (r)
Rubber: Yokohama (f & r)
Mark Stephens Performance Conversion; Barry Lane Paint & Panel; Abbott Engine Reconditioning; Andrew Johnson; Winning Edge Motorsport