34: HEAD OF THE PAC
THIS ISN’T A REPLICA OF THE ANDERSON BROTHERS’ FAMOUS PINEPAC XE FALCON FROM THE ’80S; IT’S THEIR NEW IMPROVED VERSION!
— REBIRTH OF A LEGENDARY RACER
Despite being a small dot on the underside of the globe, New Zealand’s known for punching above its weight in the world of motorsport. You only need to put your copy of NZV8 down for long enough to catch the news on TV these days to see just how well we’re doing. Names like Scott Dixon, Brendon Hartley, and the all-conquering V8 Supercar drivers such as SVG, Fabian Coulthard, and Scott McLaughlin are the talk of the town.
The beauty of motorsport at this level these days is that the drivers are backed by big teams with even bigger budgets and, with the level of professionalism within the sport, the drivers can make a damn good living out of it.
Flick your calendar back a few years — OK, more than a few; try the early 1980s. Things were a touch different then. The names etched into the winners’ trophies and the minds of the fans included those of two brothers from Whenuapai, a small village on the outskirts of West Auckland. Bruce and Wayne Anderson grew up with a father who was car mad. Bruce began driving earthmoving machinery as a wee lad, and then started showing some promise behind the wheel of a race car. Little brother Wayne, some seven years Bruce’s junior, came along and also showed interest. Despite Wayne ending up parking his dad’s car on its roof in a paddock well before he was old enough to drive legally, he soon started honing his track skill. Over the years, the duo stepped up through various cars and classes.
What made the Anderson brothers successful was not just their talent behind the wheel, but their business nous that allowed them to pursue their
dreams. Don’t forget, in those days the racing was all owner funded, owner built, and owner maintained — no big-dollar sponsors footing the bill, and no massive teams to fix the damage. Having always had an association with Ford, not just for their road cars but also for their truck fleet — for the Andersons’ successful sawmilling business — the brothers joined the fray when the XD and XE Falcons were released, purchasing an XD NZ Production Saloon previously campaigned by Nick Begovic and Dick Johnson, before building an XE replacement from scratch.
Both cars, dressed in the now-famous Pinepac livery, went on to race against many of the great names of today — the XE coming third in two New Zealand championships with Bruce behind the wheel. Dick Johnson was invited to codrive with Bruce for the 1985 Wellington Street Race, where he placed the car on pole, and, although mechanical issues put them out early on, a friendship was created that’s stayed strong until this day — just don’t ask Dick about New Zealanders being able to buy their bread prebuttered; an inside joke that will have them all in hysterics.
The XE was one of just two genuine homologated Group A XE Falcons ever built. Sadly, this car, after being onsold to a relative, ended up being stolen, never to be seen again. Despite lots of noise about its whereabouts, it seems that piece of Kiwi history is gone forever. However, the love for that car has not. Fast forward to 2017, and Bruce’s family, including son Andrew — who’s also had plenty of success behind the wheel — is still running the sawmill, Wayne, aka Jacko, is living his dream of building and maintaining race cars at his business, AV8 Motorsport, where he’s assisted by his son Tony — yet another successful racer.
Jacko was in need of some Falcon running gear for another project he was involved in, and came across a complete XE with just what he needed. The purchase worked out well, as Andrew was able to con Uncle Jacko into giving him some finishing parts for his XE Falcon street car project. Soon, the four Anderson boys were left staring at an XE bodyshell. Clearly, there was only ever going to be one outcome — the chance to relive the dream being far too strong for the family to resist. Bruce describes it as “not only a trip down memory lane but also the re-creation of a neat car from a unique period of New Zealand motorsport, when a street race was taken by the scruff of the neck by an
Aussie legend” — so there was clearly a little point to prove, too.
With Enzed Central Muscle Cars now being the pinnacle of saloon racing in New Zealand, and Bruce already sitting at the front of the class behind the wheel of his ’69 Mustang, building the XE for the class was the obvious choice. So, while nostalgia’s nice, newstalgia’s even better, and the car would receive the best modern-day equipment they could get their hands on.
A 358ci Roush Yates Nascar road race engine was the first on the list, along with an Andrews Racing four-speed gearbox to match. While the parts themselves are exactly what’s required to be at the right end of the field, the ace up their sleeves was the experience that Jacko and Tony could bring to the table in race car construction. Not that the others didn’t get their hands dirty, mind you. Even Bruce’s wife, Judith, who was deeply involved with running the team last time the brothers campaigned an XE, was a key part of the project. The shell was dip stripped from the get-go to let them see what they were really dealing with. While it was away, fibreglass panels to be bolted onto it were produced by Mike Shaw Fibreglass. Despite CMC’s 1500kg weight restriction, it’s not been all about dropping a few pounds — due to them being hard to find these days. Mike was also commissioned to produce a Group A XE Falcon three-piece rear spoiler and period replica front spoiler, while Plastics Constructions was called in to supply Lexan for the windows.
The fab work that brings it all together saw the stock rear diff have its centre cut out, replaced with a 9-inch centre, and mated to MS Fabrication cambered hubs. This would soon be hung off the standard XE four-link, and supported by Koni coilovers. A Watt’s linkage helps control the side-to-side while a custom AV8 sway bar keeps roll in check. The front end saw a similar mix of components, with Global West A-arms being the key difference.
Local parts supplier, Racer Products — run by fellow racing family, Petch, from the Andersons’ early Group A days — was called upon to supply countless parts, such as the class maximum size brake package, while 1st Auto Parts, a business previously owned by fellow racer, Ivan Segedin, was also a critical part of the supply chain.
Usually, a vehicle such as this would run a fuel system that looks to the untrained eye somewhat like a boot-mounted oil refinery, but this car would be a touch different, with the Roush Braswell four-barrel carb being supplied via a mechanical fuel pump drawing from a Holley fuel mat mounted in the Fuel Safe cell. No surge tank or lift pumps required. Up front, the combo parts continued with a C&R combined water and oil cooler being fitted to keep temperatures in check. Mind you, with a 20-litre Nascar dry sump oil tank being fitted, oil is not in short supply.
Not even the wiring in the car is the same as the original XE. In fact, due to the MoTeC PDM system, there are no fuses and all the controls for the electrical components are run off the steering wheel, thanks to some magic performed by Racecar and Custom Electrical.
With the 2018–19 season coming up rapidly, the boys were on a mission to make sure they didn’t just show up for the first round of the season, but showed up with a tested and proven car, so, once the fabrication was complete, the team at Moselle Panel and Paint were given strict instructions that the paintwork was urgent.
The choice of colour never needed to be discussed; there was no way it would be anything but the iconic Pinepac Toby Yellow — a colour that’s graced the team’s cars since the 1980s. Moselle didn’t just slap the paint on, either, but massaged the big Falcon’s panels to perfection before ensuring the car was coated with a showquality PPG finish inside and out. They got it done on schedule, too, with the car being reassembled in time for a couple of test days out on the track a few weeks before the season began. Although Andrew’s not been behind the wheel of a race car for a few seasons, having stepped down from the BNT NZV8s series, he’s still an Anderson, and pushing a race car to its limits is second nature to him, as was shown during testing. With Bruce continuing to campaign the Mustang in the series, we suspect that not only will there be competition with the rest of the grid, but perhaps a little father/son competition going on, too. Mind you, Andrew’s likely all too aware that if the Falcon proves too much for the Mustang to keep up with, there’s always the possibility of the old boy pulling rank and taking the car for himself.
Much like the fans of the ’80s watching the cars of the B&H Production Saloon class hitting the grid for the first time, we can’t wait to watch this unfold, and, with the XE Falcon running full period tribute livery, it’s like winding the clock back!