STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM
THIS EXQUISITE XM FUTURA WAS A CASE OF JUST DESSERTS FOR TERRY BRADBURY AFTER 22 YEARS OF HARD YAKKA
Terry Bradbury toiled away at this XM sedan for 22 long years. It’s pretty sharp as a result!
CLICHES tend to become so because they ring true, and in the case of this gorgeous XM, the appropriate one is: ‘good things take time’. A build time of two decades makes this a pretty long-term project! Terry Bradbury is the man responsible for this stunning machine, though he’ll be the first to tell you about all the people who’ve helped him along the way.
HENREY started life as a stock ’64 XM Futura, and after being handed down through a family it wound up in the backyard of a wrecker, where Terry discovered it. “I used to do a lot of Variety Bashes for charities, and I needed a heater box for an XR ute I was building as a Bash car,” the Wodonga local explains. “When I saw the XM I knew it was too good to let it rust into the ground, so I told the bloke: ‘I can’t just pull the heater out of that; I’ll buy the whole car!’ It was just beautiful; I’ve never had to replace a panel and the floor’s still original.”
Over the next few years, work on the XM was interrupted by building a house and starting a business. In between the events of normal life, Terry sent the car down to the late, great Craig Brewer at Pro Pipes & Race Cars for an attitude upgrade. Craig split the rear tubs and added 120mm to their width so they could accept the 275/60 ET Streets Terry wanted to run. The chassis bracing, thicker trans-tunnel sheet metal, four-link and fabricated nine-inch were all Craig’s work as well. Terry speaks very highly of Craig and his skills: “Most people don’t even notice that it’s tubbed.”
The front end has also been heavily reinforced to handle the weight of the Windsor that Terry had planned. Terry’s good mate Bruce ‘Cobba’ Fox, who was killed in a motorbike accident before HENREY hit the road, was responsible for all the hard graft in the engine bay. The radiator support, towers, firewall and floor are all tied together with extra bracing, and the firewall was replaced with 3mm sheet and moved 22mm aft. Keen eyes will notice the lack of the signature early-falcon firewall brace – it’s not necessary when the rest of the chassis is now far stiffer than factory.
The main reason for all the bracing work around the body can be found under the bonnet. Terry had North Vic Engines build a mild 351 Windsor with Victor Jr heads and a modest cam, topped with an Edelbrock carby and MSD Ready-to-run dizzy. Tall-deck Windsors aren’t exactly mammoth engines, but squeezing one between the towers of the svelte XM called for some head-scratching when it came to building the pipes. Bob Smith from Bob’s Exhaust knocked up a set of headers that Terry happily describes as a work of art. “The number-three pipe had to come up to clear the steering box, so I asked him to make the left-hand side look the same,” he says. The headers were Hpc-coated and dump into a twin 2.5-inch system with Redback mufflers.
Terry’s experience with the first panel shop he entrusted the XM to was one he’d rather forget. “This so-called painter had it for seven months,” he says. “When I picked it up it was absolutely horrendous – the guards were different shades, the quarters were pushed in, the rear doors didn’t shut, and there were runs in the dash. I reckon it had fallen off the rotisserie.” Thankfully, the guys at Aldonga Dent Doctor came to the rescue, but they had to strip it back and start from scratch to repair all the damage to the rear. Finally, Danny Bakes laid down liberal amounts of custom candy red and Frozen White.
Despite the show-spec paint and bodywork, HENREY was always destined to be a driver. With that in mind, Terry consulted an engineer from the beginning of the project,
THE XM WAS TOO GOOD TO LET IT RUST INTO THE GROUND, SO I TOLD THE BLOKE: ‘I CAN’T JUST PULL THE HEATER OUT OF THAT; I’LL BUY THE WHOLE CAR!’ I’VE NEVER HAD TO REPLACE A PANEL AND THE FLOOR’S STILL ORIGINAL
KEEN EYES WILL NOTICE THE LACK OF THE SIGNATURE EARLY FALCON FIREWALL BRACE – IT’S NOT NECESSARY WHEN THE REST OF THE CHASSIS IS NOW FAR STIFFER THAN FACTORY
and made sure that all the work was ticked off to make it safe for the street. “He wanted seatbelts, two-speed wipers, disc brakes, a flex test – the usual stuff,” he says. “The one thing I haven’t done yet is a collapsible steering column, but I have to pull the engine out to replace it. I fitted a standard column just to get it going with a week until Summernats.”
For Terry, ’Nats 31 was the realisation of a lifelong dream – HENREY was awarded a place in the Top 60. “It was the first time I’d ever driven it and it was an absolute buzz!” he says. As for turning those big tyres in anger, Terry wouldn’t mind punting the XM down the quarter-mile, but he doesn’t have any predictions or expectations of its performance. For now, he’s focusing on the finishing touches and making it road-legal. “It goes all right!” Terry says. We bet it does.