This article on Rick's XB was originally published in the October 2018 issue of Street Machine
SELLING your pride and joy is never an easy pill to swallow, and there are countless stories of people giving up their bitchin’ V8 tar-burner for a practical-and-boring daily. Memories are clung to through dog-eared photos of that one time dad had a killer street machine, and life moves on.
Big 70s muscle cars look great with stripes, but how do you set yours apart from the rest? Rick thought laterally: “I had a young fella do a drawing, like an artist’s impression, which I then hot-rodded. I haven’t seen stripes like these on a car like this before”
Rick Galloway knows this all too well, having given up his last fat Blue Oval coupe due to family pressures. The good news is, he ended up back in one, which just happens to be a 600hp toughie – built to elite-standards – called FAT XB!
“I’ve always been into Fords, but the last time I owned a Ford coupe was when my son was born 27 years ago,” Rick says. “I had to get rid of the Landau as I had no money and it only had two doors, so I swapped it for a Gemini.”
One of the primary goals was to get an XB coupe with elite-level panel gaps and crisp lines. The big-hipped Falcon coupes are arguably one of the greatest designs to come from Down Under, and Rick was keen to maintain the purity of the two-door’s lines
While that is cause for despair, the next coupe Rick put his name on the rego papers for is a dead-set pearler with silken House Of Kolor paint, a stout Clevo, beautiful trim and a ground-hugging stance. But, as with all good Street Machine yarns, it didn’t start this way.
Despite being painted and gapped to perfection, Rick hasn’t been scared to drive his elite-level car! “It’s done 3500km since we debuted it, even though the underneath of the car is just as good as the top. The undercarriage is all satin Galaxy Grey, and it is perfect – it hasn’t even gotten a stone chip in it!”
“A mate put me onto this car through Facebook, so I rang the guy, flew to Adelaide and bought it,” Rick says. “It started life as a gold six-cylinder, but it was a good, straight car and I wanted a good car to build up.
“There was a bit of a conversation around whether to modify it or not, but a gold six-pot wasn’t in my plans! I wanted a really nice, tidy, straight car that I could drive, and make it really nice to drive.”
The first step for Rick was to drop the XB off at Pat’s Pro Restos in Beaudesert, Queensland. Pat has built a name for himself by putting together some of the Sunshine State’s coolest street machines, including Jason Cooke’s XP Falcon (SM, Dec ’16), Peter Hinz’s ’51 Chev, and Mal Seiler’s ’64 Galaxie (SM, Jan ’15).
“I gave Pat the brief and handed it over to him,” Rick explains. “It took thousands of hours to build this car, as I believe it is perfectly gapped – it is definitely way better than how Henry built ’em!”
Replacing the stock springs with Lovells items and the shocks with Koni units has tightened up the coupe’s cornering prowess, along with a full suite of Nolathane bushes and a quick-ratio 16:1 steering box. Braking has also been stepped up thanks to four-piston Wilwood discs at all four corners
Having the panel gaps on-point was a central element to the build, but this wasn’t a simple task given production tolerances for Aussie cars back in the 1970s weren’t exactly world-leading.
“I wanted to keep the XB in it and enhance the style of it; there’s not much that’s not Falcon,” Rick says. “We did fit billet bonnet hinges as they look a lot nicer than the stock ones.”
Once they had the body smoothed and gapped to perfection, Pat’s team laid down fresh House Of Kolor white on the body, while the stripes run contrasting Galaxy Grey, along with a Blue Blood red pinstripe.
“I wanted white right from the start, and I was tossing up between solid or metallic white, but I’m glad we went solid as it’s a pure white, where the metallic isn’t as clean,” Rick says. “I also wanted to do something with stripes that nobody had done, which was incredibly difficult. People see the coupe in person and like it more than in photos.”
Modifications are limited to billet bonnet hinges, a custom fuel tank, and a custom in-fill panel running across the top of the radiator. Pat’s Pro Restos cleverly concealed other stock Falcon items, like the brake booster, by painting them so they blend in
Despite FAT XB being a cruiser, Rick still wanted his big Ford to have plenty of snot when he wanted, so Tony O’Connor from TOCA Performance screwed together a tough Cleveland for him. Although it stomps out 611hp, the stout Clevo is still plenty friendly for cruising duties according to Rick. “It’s a magnificent bit of engineering!” he says. “It absolutely boogies when you want it to, but I can also drive it around on a summer’s day no problems. I got caught for 1.5 hours in Gold Coast traffic and it didn’t get hot.”
The engine displaces 383ci thanks to a Scat crank and rods and SRP pistons, and Tony also made a custom sump, fitted solid Isky lifters and had a custom 251/257 flat-tappet cam ground up. The top end of the motor features ported CHI heads and intake manifold, with a billet BLP Racing Products carburettor perched on top, sucking fuel from a RobbMc mechanical fuel pump.
Behind the motor sits a 5200rpm Converter Shop torque converter and a C4 auto built by Bob Grant. They pass the hurt through a 3.5-inch tailshaft wearing billet yokes to an Altra 9 nine-inch diff packing 35-spline axles, 3.9 gears and a Truetrac centre.
Ford’s XA-XC coupes are famous for their ability to swallow gargantuan tyres under the rear, and Rick has some serious meats out back, with the 18x11.5 American Legend Havocs wrapped in 345mm-wide Mickey Thompson skins. Up front the Havocs span 18x7 and run 225/45 tyres, helping the coupe turn a darn sight better than on the stock pizza-cutters from ’74!
Rick replaced the standard gauges with modern units from Classic Instruments, while a GT steering wheel looks nicer than the stock six-banger item. “The gauges are all modern electric items,” Rick says, “but they suit the era of the car and look like they’re meant to be there”
Although the tombstone seats are stock, the door panels and parcel tray are custom, all trimmed in red kangaroo leather by Chris Bakker from Elite Interiors. Chris also laid down the red Mercedes-Benz carpet.
“After I saw Jason Cooke’s XP trimmed in kangaroo leather I knew I wanted that, but I didn’t want to deviate too far from the Falcon interior,” says Rick.
Despite a last-minute crunch to get the trim done, FAT XB was debuted to the world at MotorEx 2017 as one of the highly prestigious unveil cars. However, Rick had flown straight back from Europe and missed the covers being whipped off by mere minutes!
“Showing the car doesn’t mean anything to me,” Rick says. “The brief was that this car will be driven and I wanted killer gaps and lines. I got exactly that and only paid to do things once, which can be a little unusual, apparently!”
It seems like it was worth the near-30-year wait to get that next Falcon coupe!
1974 FORD XB FALCON
Paint: House Of Kolor White & Galaxy Grey
Brand: Ford Cleveland
Carb: Billet BLP
Cam: Custom 251/257 flat-tappet
Intake: Ported CHI
Lifters: Iskenderian solid
Oil system: Melling pump, blueprinted
Fuel system: RobbMc mechanical pump
Exhaust: Custom headers, 3in stainless system
Gearbox: Ford C4 three-speed auto
Converter: Converter Shop 5200rpm
Diff: Ford 9in, 35-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears, Truetrac
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Lovells springs, Koni shocks
Rear: Lovells springs, Koni shocks
Brakes: Wilwood four-pot calipers and discs (f & r)
Master cylinder: Stock
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: American Legend Havoc; 18x7 (f), 18x11.5 (r)
Rubber: Nankang 225/45 (f), Mickey Thompson 345/35 (r)
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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