The Bib Stillwell Special
cover story last issue on the limited editions sold by the Big Three muscle car manufacturers leads us onto the specials also produced by some of the major new car dealerships. Brabham Ford and McLeod Ford are the best known of these, but here’s another.
AMC reader Shaun has written in to tell about the Fairmont XA GS Stillwell Special he picked up in 2007. It has full books, has done 86,000 original miles, and was last registered in 1986 by the second owners. It has been shedded since and is currently awaiting restoration.
These cars were marketed by B. S. Stillwell Ford in Melbourne but this particular one was sold through its Adelaide franchise in Franklin Street. The BSS on the badge stands either for Bib Stillwell Special, or for Bermar Sellars Stillwell, Bib’s full name. He was one of the nation’s top open-wheeler and sports car drivers before retiring in 1965, after winning his fourth consecutive Australian Drivers Championship.
This model is a Copper Bronze Fairmont with a 302 V8, black interior, full GS instrumentation, T-bar Cruisomatic, factory sunroof, Super Fringe radio with front and rear centre speakers with fader knob and sports road wheels including the spare (still with factory Goodyear fitted), heavyduty sports suspension pack and heavy-duty battery with sports exhaust option.
It has been fitted with a stainless twin exhaust and no crossover pipe, with two resonators mounted under the passenger floorwells, running back to twin exit pipes. As Shaun says, it makes a nice burble.
Shaun thinks the boot blackouts and trick exhaust may have been done in Adelaide, but everything else is as per the build-sheet. It was built in May, 1972 but wasn’t sold in Adelaide until October that year.
He’s never seen another BSS before, and has only seen four cars listed on the net. The XA GS stripe is very understated which may explain why so few have survived.
As usual, it comes with a fascinating provenance.
Miraculously, the car came with the original books with the first owner’s details listed and a build-sheet taped on the glove box. He tried White Pages, got an answering machine, explained who he was and asked if he would call him back. He did and it was the right person, who was more than happy to talk.
Mark, the original owner, explained that he had gone into Stillwell’s in Adelaide to look at Falcon GTs but one of the sales guys he knew there told him to come out the back and look at the car they were unloading from the transporter.
Mark still remembers seeing the shipping wax on it, and how striking the car looked, even in pre-delivery form. It still looks pretty good.
Mark told him that it always used to turn heads when he drove it around Adelaide. He recalls he paid around $4500 for it in 1972. The lower insurance costs of a GS versus the GT were a key factor in his decision.
Shaun spotted the car in 2006 sitting on an empty house block in the regional town where he lived. He’d never seen an XA GS before but the BSS badge on the boot lid caught his eye, along with the blackout boot section and taillights and the twin pipes. He realised this was not your average Fairmont.
He knocked on a couple of doors and eventually found the daughter of the owner and got the usual “maybe it’s for sale” story. A year later he got a call from the owner’s son. They had received an offer and wanted to sell but would give him first dibs. The other person had offered $600, so Shaun offered $700 and they agreed.
Bib Stillwell, here with Jack Brabham at Bathurst’s Easter 1969 meeting, tried his hand at dealer specials