Shot from a can­non: car #109

Australian Muscle Car - - Right Said Fred -

It’s a long list. In fact it’s a bloody long list, but I want to share a few of the items on that list with you. I think it will give you a feel for the kind of work we do at Gib­son Mo­tor­sport th­ese days, and it will cer­tainly open your eyes to the va­ri­ety of au­to­mo­tive ma­chin­ery that comes through the work­shop.

It will also raise a very in­ter­est­ing ques­tion, one I plan to re­turn to in my next col­umn. The ques­tion is: when is a car a gen­uine car? When is it a restora­tion? When is it a replica? Are there any other R-words we should add to that set of op­tions? The au­then­tic­ity of his­toric rac­ing cars is para­mount if we are to pro­tect our rac­ing her­itage, and it’s a sub­ject that’s very close to the Gib­son heart.

Com­ing back to this col­umn, the ques­tion is: where to start? Here, from the nine-page list – yes, nine pages – are a few of the ma­jor items. ‘In­spect and ser­vice Ford Fal­con gear­box’ – al­ways a good place to start! ‘In­spect and ser­vice Ford Fal­con dif­fer­en­tial’ – the nat­u­ral fol­low-up to that first item. ‘Top loader shifter link­age set’, ‘cylin­der as­sem­bly clutch mas­ter’ – the list goes on and on.

And then we get to the trim: ‘Re­pair/re­place dam­aged area of vinyl to both front and rear seats’, ‘Dash­board fas­cia XY GT’, ‘Fal­con boot car­pet black Clas­sic’, and of course we can’t forget the ex­te­rior and the re­spray. When I tell you the paint in ques­tion was Yel­low Ochre, that may give you a clue as to the iden­tity of the car I’m talk­ing about: car #109.

That was the num­ber car­ried by a 1970 Fal­con XY GT in a unique event that took place in Aus­tralia more than 20 years ago. Now you’ll no­tice I didn’t say ‘race num­ber’, and that was quite de­lib­er­ate.

The Can­non­ball Run was very specif­i­cally NOT a race. It was a high-speed road trial. Not only that, but it was the only event of its kind ever sanc­tioned in this coun­try. It was, in large part, the brain­child of my old friend Al­lan Mof­fat. Staged in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, it took place in 1994. And a Yel­low Ochre Fal­con XY GT was right in the thick of it.

By that time it was a ven­er­a­ble 24-year-old. A re­pair – one of those R-words – had left it in worse con­di­tion than it was be­fore and the Fal­con ended up at a wrecker’s yard. Then along came Mur­ray Al­cock, who grafted all the GT bits and pieces onto a de­cent 500 body and painted it… Yel­low Ochre.

Quoted in an­other mag­a­zine, Al­cock was happy to ac­knowl­edge the rad­i­cal dif­fer­ence his work made. “I made it a replica,’ he said, ‘but it is a very good, ex­act replica.”

Four years later it was good enough to be­come en­try #109 in the Can­non­ball Run, pre­pared for the event by Mur­ray and his friend Noel Kennedy, a handy span­ner­man in his own right. They did a great job: ev­ery­thing was re­con­di­tioned, in­clud­ing the stan­dard four-speed Toploader, the diff with its taller-than-stan­dard ra­tio, the wheels, the brakes (with GT HO-spec rear drums) and the 36-gal­lon fac­tory fuel tank.

Best of all, they did the Can­non­ball Run and mea­sured the stages with some­thing that will ring a bell for a num­ber of die-hard fans: a me­chan­i­cal Halda. At times they av­er­aged 240 km/h on the way to 35th place over­all, in­clud­ing a sec­tion win.

Even­tu­ally the car was sold to Fred Bartell, a fa­mil­iar name among XW/XY en­thu­si­asts, then to Sydney dealer Tony Kas­si­o­tis, and fi­nally to the man who brought it to us: Bruce Garvie, a builder up at Roma in Queens­land.

Bruce knows Al­lan Hea­phy well and asked him what needed to be done to re­store – R-word – his new car. He’d been plan­ning to en­ter the ParisPek­ing Rally with it – un­til he dis­cov­ered the en­try fee was $40,000!

The Fal­con came to us on New Year’s Day, 2015, and we worked on it in phases right through to June. The en­gine was fine, it just needed a bit of clean­ing up, but then we em­barked on our list that ran to nine pages. Some of the parts are not orig­i­nal, they are re­place­ments (R-word), for ex­am­ple the 36-gal­lon fuel tank, but it is now, as I would put it, as orig­i­nal as it can ever be again.

Bruce and his wife picked it up and promptly drove it all the way back up to Queens­land de­spite the fact that it’s got a man­ual box and no power steer­ing! To me that car is one of the most in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ples of what Gib­son Mo­tor­sport can do. Whether we call them orig­i­nals, re­place­ments, repli­cas, restora­tions or what­ever, we be­lieve firmly in giv­ing cars back to their cur­rent own­ers in a con­di­tion that will take their breath away.

Un­for­tu­nately for them, it also takes some of their money away! Back at the time of the Can­non­ball Run, Mur­ray Al­cock reck­oned he and Noel had forked out around $18,000 dur­ing their own re­pairs to the car. Our nine-page list and in­voice ran to over forty grand… which sim­ply un­der­lines how valu­able th­ese cars can be­come over the years. And any­way, Bruce reck­ons he might just be ready to lis­ten to of­fers for car #109. If you or some­one you know might be in­ter­ested, please feel free to con­tact Alan Hea­phy here at Gib­son Mo­tor­sport.

And watch out for more on the sub­ject of restora­tions, repli­cas and all the other R-words next time.

Rac­ing leg­end Fred Gib­son and his men still help keep clas­sic Fords on the road

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