MEET THE OWNER

The Riverine Herald - - ECHUCA MOAMA AUTO -

THE OWNER

He may have got his mo­tor­bike li­cence be­fore his car li­cence, but there’s no deny­ing Chris Oliver’s pas­sion is for any­thing on four wheels.

Par­tic­u­larly, any­thing that goes quick — a trait which the me­chanic can blame on his peers dur­ing his early work­ing years.

‘‘I did my ap­pren­tice­ship at Ge­orge Har­vey Mo­tors along­side Scott Hore and Peter Holm­field,’’ Chris said.

‘‘We all go rac­ing to­gether. As soon as I had my li­cence Scott and I were go­ing to Heath­cote (dragstrip) and we’ve been do­ing that for 30 years.’’

Chris’ first car was a 1948 Pre­fect. It was a hot rod with a V8 in it.

‘‘It was dif­fer­ent,’’ he re­calls. ‘‘It was ahead of its time.

‘‘I al­ways liked hot rods. It was only when I started work­ing I got tan­gled up with Scott and got in­ter­ested in them.

‘‘I’m work­ing on a hot rod at the mo­ment which I haven’t fin­ished yet.

‘‘This one,’’ he says, point­ing to his 1968 XT Ford Fal­con, ‘‘takes up my time. I get side­tracked do­ing this.’’

Chris is prep­ping his XT for the Ford-Pow­ered Na­tion­als on Satur­day, Septem­ber 22 at, as it hap­pens, Heath­cote Park Race­way.

More than 100 mus­cled-up Fords from around Aus­tralia are ex­pected to hit the Heath­cote strip for a day of high oc­tane-fu­elled ac­tion.

THE CAR

Read­ers of EM Auto will be fa­mil­iar with Chris’ 1968 XT Ford Fal­con af­ter it ap­peared in these pages two years ago ahead of its ap­pear­ance at the 2017 Sum­mer­nats in Can­berra.

WHERE DID YOUR CAR COME FROM?

IThe XT was in pretty good con­di­tion when Chris got hold of it and has only been mod­i­fied enough to suit his need for speed.

‘‘It was orig­i­nally a six-cylin­der, but con­verted it to a V8,’’ he said.

The XT now has a 351 Cleve­land en­gine and C10 trans­mis­sion with a 4000 con­verter, a B&M shifter and a nine-inch diff with 4.11 gear ra­tio in it.

‘‘The body was pretty good when I got it and most of the car is pretty orig­i­nal,’’ Chris said. ‘‘I vir­tu­ally put all the run­ning gear in it. ‘‘The in­te­rior is orig­i­nal with the bench seats. It used to have a vinyl floor but I put car­pet in it and a new dash pad,’’ he said.

He also added the bon­net scoop and the Cen­tre­line wheels.

His wife Lisa was in­flu­en­tial in him not pulling the car apart too much.

‘‘If you start pulling it apart it may never go again,’’ he said.

‘‘Lisa said I’m not al­lowed to cut it up. If I do, it has to go back to stan­dard.’’

His fastest time in the car was 11.15 sec­onds at a Swan Hill race meet­ing in May.

‘‘It goes about 120mph over the quar­ter mile,’’ Chris said.

He said the XT was a fairly pop­u­lar car in its day. ‘‘They were pretty flash back then,’’ he said. ‘‘This one doesn’t have a heater or ra­dio. It’s the poverty pack model.’’ Chris bought the car about 10 years ago off a ‘‘lit­tle old lady’s nephew’’ in Bal­larat.

‘‘He was go­ing to do it up but ran out of time and money,’’ Chris said.

‘‘My wife Lisa found it on eBay and we went down and picked it up.’’

The tim­ing of the car’s avail­abil­ity was per­fect. ‘‘I was look­ing for a car,’’ Chris said. ‘‘I had a Mit­subishi Scor­pion which was a two-door and the kids were get­ting big­ger and we wanted a four-door.’’

Chris has owned a few early model Fal­cons in his time, in­clud­ing a 1964 XM.

‘‘I’ve had a lot of dif­fer­ent cars over the years,’’ he said, but is not keen on fol­low­ing the path of other car own­ers.

‘‘Ev­ery­one had an XW or an XY but this (the XT) was some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s not many of them around. ‘‘You can’t be the same as ev­ery­one else’’

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE CAR?

‘‘I like the shape of them,’’ Chris said. ‘‘And how good it goes, the ac­cel­er­a­tion of it.’’

SO WHAT’S YOUR PER­FECT CAR?

For Chris, it would be an A model coupe from the 1928-1931 era.

‘‘You don’t see many of them around,’’ he said.

‘‘You see the 34s but not a lot of the A model coupes.’’

‘‘I’m build­ing a 1928 A model road­ster at the mo­ment with a Wind­sor in it.’’

That build has been go­ing on for five years come Christ­mas, but Chris is con­fi­dent an end is in sight.

‘‘Some time next year is the plan,’’ he said in ref­er­ence to an end date, ‘‘when I stop play­ing around with this (the XT).’’

AND WHAT’S NEXT?

What’s next is the Ford-Pow­ered Na­tion­als next week at Heath­cote, but there are more plans for the car a bit beyond that.

Along with three mates — Clive Pol­i­dano, Scott Hore and Matt Robin­son — he in­tends to take the XT on the Street Ma­chine Drag Chal­lenge in Novem­ber.

The chal­lenge in­volves driv­ing a car to a drag track and run a fast quar­ter mile on the strip be­fore driv­ing it to the next venue and re­peat the process.

Chris was part of last year’s chal­lenge which ven­tured into South Aus­tralia but this year’s event is con­tained within Vic­to­ria.

‘‘We start at Calder Park (on the Sun­day), then drive to Swan Hill, Mil­dura, back to Swan Hill and fin­ish up back at Calder on the Fri­day,’’ Chris said.

‘‘There’s a lot more cars in it this year so it’s go­ing to be busy.’’

He has spent the last six months prep­ping the XT for the hec­tic two months ahead.

‘‘I just need new cylin­der heads and a new set of slicks on it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a fairly re­li­able car. To do 1000ks dur­ing drag week it’s got to be.

‘‘Heath­cote is a test run for that.’’

READY TO RUM­BLE: Chris Oliver and his 1968 XT Ford Fal­con he is tak­ing to the Ford-Pow­ered Na­tion­als at Heath­cote Park Race­way next week.

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