MEAN STREAK

JIM AY­OUBI NAILS SOME UN­FIN­ISHED BUSI­NESS WITH THE BUILD OF HIS BLOWN FAL­CON HARD­TOP – MEANXC BY NAME AND BY REP­U­TA­TION!

Street Machine - - Contents - STORY SI­MON MA­JOR PHO­TOS BEN HOSK­ING

A stag­ger­ingly beau­ti­ful XC hard­top with all the fruit and blown Clevo power

JIM Ay­oubi just loves cars. As a kid he knew ev­ery make and model off the top of his head, and by 13 he was help­ing out at his cousin’s panel shop. So it’s not sur­pris­ing to learn that these for­ma­tive years steered the now 41-year-old Jim down a sim­i­lar ca­reer path, with proof of his skillset ev­i­dent when you eye­ball the flaw­less pan­el­work spread across these pages.

For Jim, the build of his se­ri­ously mean XC hard­top was an op­por­tu­nity to kill two birds with one stone. He was keen to build a car for his son, Hatem, but had un­fin­ished busi­ness to set­tle with a cou­ple of pre­vi­ous projects.

“I bought my first car at 16. It was a V8 XB sedan that cost $150. I had big dreams and all these grand plans but no money to ex­e­cute them, so I moved it on,” Jim says. “At 18, I bought my first XC hard­top and that build was com­ing along well, but fam­ily com­mit­ments and es­tab­lish­ing our busi­ness be­came the pri­or­ity, so it was sold off too.”

Fast-for­ward a num­ber of years, and with Jim’s paint and panel shop, All West Au­tos, tick­ing along nicely, he knew it was time to again scratch that XC hard­top itch.

“It was 2008 and Hatem was seven years old, so I fig­ured he was old enough to have his first car,” Jim laughs. “I found it ad­ver­tised in the old

Trad­ing Post at a small town two hours west of Ma­roochy­dore on Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast. It was a fac­tory red V8 coupe that had been stripped bare, but came with ev­ery­thing bar the en­gine and trans­mis­sion. The body was nearly mint; I re­moved no more than about 10 square cen­time­tres of rust out of the whole thing.”

Jim knew the writ­ing was al­ready on the wall with ever-in­creas­ing Aussie two-door prices, so hap­pily forked over the $5000 ask­ing price and trucked the car back to his work­shop in Syd­ney.

The XC was bare-met­alled and work be­gan on get­ting it up to scratch. The plan was al­ways to fin­ish the 1970s body as if it had been de­signed and man­u­fac­tured in the present day, so all body­lines and panel edges were sharp­ened to cre­ate a tougher, chis­elled, mod­ern look. The door han­dles and all ex­cess chrome trim were shaved, with any re­main­ing bright­ware blasted of its shiny stuff in prepa­ra­tion for colour-cod­ing.

The chis­elled con­cept was taken fur­ther as both sills were ex­tended at their bot­tom edges to square up their pro­file, the lower quar­ter pan­els were tweaked, and the rear whee­larches were re­shaped to tighten their lines – all to im­prove the pro­por­tional har­mony of the hindquar­ters when in the vicin­ity of those whop­ping rear boots.

All pan­els were hung and treated to – as Jim de­scribes it – ‘Honda’ gaps, no doubt a throw­back to his daily trade ex­pe­ri­ence and an ob­vi­ous nod to that par­tic­u­lar man­u­fac­turer’s in­her­ent qual­ity. Then it was time for the gen­er­ous met­al­work as­so­ci­ated with these big Aussie two-door bod­ies to be lav­ished in a cus­tom-mix metal­lic grey.

Nat­u­rally the paint was han­dled in-house at All West Au­tos by Jim’s painter, Jiny­ong Hwang. “Jiny­ong de­serves credit for more than just the paint,” Jim says. “He’s a cluey fab­ri­ca­tor, too, with a lot of hot rod ex­pe­ri­ence, and he brought plenty of ideas to the ta­ble with all as­pects of

THE BODY WAS NEARLY MINT; I RE­MOVED NO MORE THAN ABOUT 10 SQUARE CEN­TIME­TRES OF RUST OUT OF THE WHOLE THING

the build. If I got snowed un­der with day-to-day busi­ness com­mit­ments, I knew I could leave an idea in his hands and be con­fi­dent that it would be done right.”

This team­work and thirst for fresh ideas con­tin­ued through to the in­te­rior, with the fit­ment of V2 Monaro front and rear seats, and the re­main­ing in­te­rior cus­tom-made to match. “It was a sim­ple choice. I wanted seats from a larger two-door car that would fit, and the Monaro was the log­i­cal an­swer,” Jim says.

The cen­tre con­sole started life in a BA Fal­con be­fore be­ing ex­tended to segue through to the rear bucket seats then spread its wings across the rear par­cel shelf. The lat­ter in­cor­po­rates the coolest of speaker cov­ers; I haven’t been this bowled over by speaker cov­ers since spot­ting the guard flute-in­spired ones in Neil Bunce’s HG Monaro (SM, Sep ’13).

“We mapped out the ba­sics for the in­te­rior be­fore hand­ing it over to Matt Gilkes at In­side Rides to make it vi­able,” Jim says. “That’s when things took an un­ex­pected turn! The orig­i­nal plan called for Fer­rari-style burnt orange leather, but Matt had an 11th-hour sug­ges­tion. He said: ‘Now just hear me out, af­ter I show you this colour.’ Matt pulled out a sam­ple of baby-blue leather and I was shocked! Hey, us guys don’t take colours like that lightly! But I love it and have to give Matt se­ri­ous credit for cre­at­ing an in­te­rior that is out­side of the square but com­ple­ments the rest of the car; I just went along with his vi­sion and my jaw dropped when I saw the fin­ished prod­uct. I’m rapt.”

The colour and fin­ish of the XC’S in­te­rior is on-point, and mixes fresh in­no­va­tion with some care­fully re­tained fac­tory styling cues; a fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tion of the mod­ern/old-school meld­ing ap­plied through­out this build.

And the fun is far from over – I’m sure you’ve spot­ted the 8/71 huf­fer and twin carbs sprout­ing through the bon­net; no sec­ond-guess­ing is re­quired as to the source of this in­spi­ra­tion. Jim, like most of us, was gob­s­macked as a kid by a par­tic­u­lar black Max Rock­atan­sky Fal­con hard­top whin­ing across the big screen, and locked away the need for a blower firmly on his bucket list. “I ac­tu­ally wanted to build a su­per­charged V8 Mini Mi­nor, but was beaten to that idea, so kept the blower dream alive with the Fal­con in­stead. It is unashamedly a nod to the In­ter­cep­tor coupe, the car that started it all for me any­way.”

The rep­u­ta­tion of Sam Fenech at Wes­tend Per­for­mance pre­cedes him, and his skills to screw to­gether tough en­gines made him a log­i­cal choice for Jim. Sam started by stroking a fac­tory 351 Cleve­land block to 408 cubes by way of a four-inch Scat crank that con­nects to Scat H-beam rods and forged JE blower pistons.

A Ki­netic Cams me­chan­i­cal-roller from the late, great Den­nis Ver­te­ouris rounds out the bot­tom end, while CHI al­loy heads were mas­saged be­fore be­ing decked out with Fer­rea valves along with Isky springs and Yella Terra roller rock­ers. A Newby in­let man­i­fold mounts that drool­wor­thy Blower Shop 8/71, which is topped with twin 750 Hol­ley carbs. Rac­ers Choice built a cus­tom set of snakes that slither down to a dumped 3.5-inch twin sys­tem.

A healthy 770hp tick­les Jim’s fancy, and makes for plenty of fun when rowing through the cogs of the Tre­mec T56 six-speed, es­pe­cially when cou­pled to a 4.1-geared nine-inch. “A man­ual trans­mis­sion was such an ex­cit­ing part of old­school V8s like GTS and Monaros, and I was keen to do some­thing dif­fer­ent to the norm,” he says.

PAR Engi­neer­ing han­dled the gear­box freshen-up, fronting it with a Mcleod dual-plate clutch, while the Detroit Locker-equipped rear end was built by Gear­box Ex­press. A cus­tom ex­treme-duty tail­shaft from Syd­ney Driv­e­line Ser­vice keeps the two con­nected.

“It has plenty of grunt off the line but cruises nicely with the two over­drive gears; even

US GUYS DON’T TAKE COLOURS LIKE BABY BLUE LIGHTLY, BUT I JUST WENT ALONG WITH IT AND MY JAW DROPPED WHEN I SAW THE FIN­ISHED IN­TE­RIOR

with the short diff ra­tio it revs com­fort­ably at 100km/h, and the larger rolling di­am­e­ter of the rear wheels knock a bit off it too,” Jim says.

And those rims tucked so neatly front and rear of Jim’s XC are Showwheels In­tro V-rods mea­sur­ing 20x8 and a mega 22x13 re­spec­tively, shod in Pirelli 245/35 and 335/25 rub­ber.

Big wheels need big brakes to fill the void, and Brembo discs and calipers all ’round are more than up to task. RRS Sus­pen­sion pro­vided ride qual­ity to match, with Jim choos­ing coil-over units for the front and a trick three-link set-up to make bet­ter use of the tubbed rear, with di­rec­tional du­ties up­dated via a power steer­ing rack con­ver­sion.

The XC was fin­ished in 2015 and has earned its share of ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing a Top 20 berth, Top Cus­tom In­te­rior and sec­ond Top Coupe at Summernats 29, and a third place in Best Cus­tom Trim at Mo­torex 2015.

“There’s a few tweaks in the wings be­fore the next Mo­torex; then I can truly say it’s fin­ished,” Jim says. Sure, we’ve all heard that be­fore, but Jim has a new project on the go that he’s keen to get crack­ing with.

“Hatem is 16 now and he and his mates just love the Fal­con, but I think I’ve cre­ated a rod for own back; my seven-year-old Ja­cob has cot­toned on to the whole ‘cars for sons’ thing, so now I’m build­ing him a ’68 Ca­maro.”

Well, I’m just go­ing to put it out there Jim – I’m avail­able for adop­tion should you be look­ing to go the tri­fecta with a Mopar project!

THE PLAN WAS TO FIN­ISH THE 1970S BODYSHELL AS IF IT HAD BEEN DE­SIGNED AND MAN­U­FAC­TURED IN THE PRESENT DAY, SO ALL BODY­LINES AND PANEL EDGES WERE SHARP­ENED FOR A TOUGHER, CHIS­ELLED, MOD­ERN LOOK

EX­TE­RIOR Mod­ern and chis­elled was the or­der of the day for Jim’s XC, with a num­ber of ob­vi­ous and not-so-ob­vi­ous mods un­der­taken to ac­cen­tu­ate the hard­top’s shape. The body­lines and all panel ex­trem­i­ties were sharp­ened and the door han­dles and chrome...

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