Modified Mustangs & Fords
1965 Ford XP Falcon - Renaissance Man
Once more rust than steel, Dean Robinson’s XP is back from the dead and better than ever
While the Mustang has played a huge part in Ford's history here in America, it's the Falcon that has shaped Ford's fortunes down under where the model is the icon of the Blue Oval lineup. Thanks to Australia's smaller population and economy, the Falcon has been Ford's sole large car entry since its introduction in 1960 (except for the usual variations like the Fairlane and Fairmont). As a result, it's the Falcon that Ford fans grow up lusting after, and it was no different for 37-year-old Dean Robinson of Sydney, Australia.
Dean grew up in a Ford family, spending his youth riding shotgun in various Falcons. That legacy sent Dean on a journey to build his own Falcon so he could eventually pass the legacy—and brand loyalty—onto his own kids.
"I bought the car from a guy on the central coast in 2006 with a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve," Dean says. "The car was a wreck requiring two new quarters, sills, floors, turret sections...but that was just the beginning."
Indeed, once Dean had his new acquisition stripped down to its undies, he learned the true extent of the red death eating away at his XP. "It was far worse than I expected," confesses Dean, a qualified panel beater. "All I could do was to get stuck into it."
That's just what Dean did, spending a good eight months in his garage cutting the cancer out of the car and repairing not only the rust, but smoothing out the dents and misalignment that more than 40 years of existence inflicts on a car. In fact, besides the bodywork, Dean completed a lot of the build-up himself in the garage at home, including the suspension work, steering conversion, axle conversion, stereo install, and plenty more.
With the bodywork nearing completion, Dean could stop and think about what would power his smooth coupe and he turned to his good mate, Steve Nicholls, who helped steer the decision-making process.
"Steve suggested a Boss-style 302ci V-8 using an EB Falcon roller cam block as a basis," explains Dean. "While the engine was being built, I took the time to edge up the panels and fit the suspension and steering."
Fitting the new suspension included converting the steering over to a rack setup from an Opel Astra, using an XD Falcon power steering pump and collapsible column "to keep the authorities happy," says Dean. While he was under the car, he also fit XF front disc brakes and even narrowed an EB axle housing himself, retaining the EB discs and fitting a limited-slip differential in it. Handy bugger.
Once the new engine arrived, it was all hands on deck, as everything was trial fit and the new powertrain kicked over for the first time—one of Dean's fondest memories of the build.
"I knew there was still so much to do and stuff to pay for, but that moment really helped keep me positive," remembers Dean. "Once it was driving again I could take it to Andrew at GAS250 Restorations to apply the colour."
Surprisingly, the Toyota Camry does have a use other than landfill. Dean chose the Camry's Ice Blue hue as the perfect color for his XP and it looks amazing. The color is cool and clean, and even looks like it could have been an original option in 1965. With the color coating every square inch of the coupe's body, engine bay, and un-trimmed interior panels; Dean was starting to get very excited.
All of the chrome work and dress trim was restored or recoated, and it was all retained and returned to the body of the vehicle, unlike so many that get smoothed out and shaved. From nose to tail, Dean's XP is all about the classic vibe, yet with modern levels of power.
Making around 400 horsepower at the flywheel, the Boss-style V-8 Dean bolted into the XP's engine bay boasts 347 cubic inches thanks to a Scat stroker crank and rods, and makes a healthy 10:1 static compression with Probe pistons pushing against a pair of ported cast heads. This is all fed by a 750-cfm Holley and Edelbrock manifold.
This is backed by a C4 with a 3,500-rpm B&M stall and shift kit, shifted by a polished Pro Stick mounted to the tan carpet in that luscious interior stitched up by Artistic Trim. Put together to Dean's recipe, the cabin reeks of old-school cool. Ford really hit its stride with the XP's design and it's no more apparent than inside. With a beautifully restored bench up front and another out back, Dean can even fit six for warm summer evening cruises.
"I have four kids, so a six-seater was a must," smiles Dean. "One of my fondest memories growing up was my dad's '66 XP coupe. It was a weekend cruiser and I loved cruising in it. I wanted to share that with my kids."
With the build on the home stretch, it was getting down to the comparatively little details. Even though the XP sounds crisp and mean with the dual 2½-inch exhaust system and homemade 4-into-1 headers, one can't exactly expect the family to enjoy that for hours on end as well. Dean wired up a nice stereo to entertain the troops, consisting of a Pioneer head unit that controls two pairs of Kenwood speakers, both hidden behind trim panels to retain the classic appeal. Indeed, even the head unit is mounted low under the dash with the original radio keeping pride of place in the dash panel.
"The most enjoyable time was strapping the wife and kids into the car on rego day and going out for our first cruise," beams Dean, the memory obviously still close to his heart. "Now I just want to drive it, cruise it and not break it."
Dean Robinson's '65 XP Falcon
302ci EB Falcon small-block
347ci stroker crank, Scat connecting rods, Probe pistons
Ported cast heads, Isky valvesprings and retainers, hydraulic roller cam, 0.550-inch lift, 288-degree duration, 110-degree LSA, 1.7:1 roller rocker arms
Edelbrock intake manifold
Holley 750-cfm Double Pumper
10:1 compresion ratio
Estimated 400 fwhp
C4 automatic, B&M shift kit
B&M 3,500-rpm stall converter
B&M Pro Stick shifter
EB Falcon housing
LSD center, EB wagon tailshaft
Custom 4-into-1 headers
Dual 2½-inch mild steel exhaust system with X-pipe
Front: Selby springs, Gabriel shocks, Whiteline antisway bar, Opel Astra steering rack conversion, collapsible steering column, XD Falcon power steering pump
Rear: Reset rear leaf springs, Gabriel shocks, custom Caltrac-style anti-tramp bars
Front: XD Falcon front rotors and calipers, Bendix Xtreme pads, XF Falcon booster
Rear: EB Falcon rotors and calipers, Bendix Xtreme pads
Front: Ridler 655, polished aluminum, 17x7
Rear: Ridler 655, polished aluminum, 17x8
Front: Maxxis MA-V1, P215/45ZR17
Rear: Maxxis MA-V1, P215/45ZR17
Restored original, cream leather seats and door trims, cream velour roof lining, retractable seatbelts, Pioneer MP3 head unit, Kenwood four-channel power amp, Kenwood front speakers, Kenwood 6x9-inch rear speakers, heavy-duty cabling, custom kick panels
Toyota Ice Blue, rear venetian blind, factory bright work
Andrew from GAS250 Restorations, Menai Mufflers, Pioneer Plating, Artistic Trim, Strathfield Car Radios—Liverpool, "My wife Julie for allowing me the time in the shed, not to mention the financial freedom for my dream. Also, Steve Nicholls for all his priceless knowledge and guidance along the way."