UTE-IFUL NEW LIFE BREATHED INTO AN XY
There’s no missing Shane’s XY ute as it rolls into view. With the full seventies Ford warpaint, plus the shaker popping up through the bonnet, it will never win an award for subtlety. But hang on, something sounds a little different – there’s a lumpy off-beat idle to the engine, but it’s not a 351 V 8 sound. What’s going on? Let’s start at the beginning. Then just 16 and an apprentice carpenter, Shane somehow managed to buy the ute from his boss. It was in pretty ordinary shape and XYs were not worth anything like the money they are now. So the price was substantial for a 16-year-old, but manageable. The local classic car market was pretty flat at the time (2010), so that would have helped.
It seemed inevitable he’d buy a Ford. “Dad was always into XB GTs,” he explains
Though the XY is a very desirable generation then and now, this example was hardly being treated with sympathy. “Someone was using the bonnet as a sawbench,” says Shane. He tried to restore it, but the centre ridge was too far gone – “stuffed”, to use the correct technical term…
That really was the least of their problems. The car sat for
a couple of years and then began a six-year restoration process. Fortunately the family has a considerable depth of talent. “My uncle is a panel-beater and he helped us out,” he says. Meanwhile his dad owns a mechanical workshop (DJ Automotive in Melbourne) and is pretty handy with a spray gun.
However the first issue was to tackle the rust, and there was plenty of it. Sills, tailgate, bottom quarters and door skins and even f loors were on the hit list. It’s a pretty good example of how rough something can be and still be rescued, if you have the skills and a mountain of patience. Meanwhile filler and repair panels are in plentiful supply through places such as Rare Spares.
From there the issue was to rub the thing down and get it prepped for paint. Laborious and mind-numbing, this was Shane’s job. Like others who have been down this road before him, he admits to having no fingerprints for about a year, but becoming an expert on sandpaper.
Originally it arrived as a 302 V8-powered car, with auto. And this is where Shane’s taken a big departure. The 302 needed a rebuild and so was reefed out and kept for later. Instead, the Ford copped a 250 2V six, matched to a single-row four-speed manual, while retaining the stock diff.
The interior got cleaned out and largely refitted, while trim items such as badges and decals had to be tracked down and bought.
With a lumpy cam and a fair bit more go than a stock 250, the ute is said to be fairly lively – which we’d readily believe. It should be. Now some people may feel ‘cheated’ when they lift the bonnet, but the presentation is great and we like the idea of playing with something a little different.
Shane reasons the shaker and the rest of the 351 warpaint is a bit of fun and he plans
“THE FIRST ISSUE WAS TO TACKLE THE RUST, AND THERE WAS PLENTY OF IT"
“TRIM ITEMS SUCH AS BADGES AND DECALS HAD TO BE TRACKED DOWN AND BOUGHT"
to re-install the V8 in the not-too-distant future. But not before it’s been given a fairly comprehensive make-over. He’s thinking a big stroker kit (perhaps 414ci) and all the performance fruit to go with it.
That will mean the transmission goes – maybe swapped out for a heav y-duty auto – and replacing the diff with a 9-inch.
The XY certainly is a long way towards looking the part and is used as regular transport – so it really is a rolling resto these days. Among the owner’s ambitions for the car is a full GT instrument fit-out, changing over some other interior trim such as the steering wheel, plus of course the heart transplant. Exactly when that will happen probably depends on the health of his bank account as much as anything else, but the plan is to get stuck into the engine over next winter.
Given the family history, would he consider switching over to the automotive trade? Nope, is the firm answer. He’d much rather keep it as a hobby. Fair enough.
What’s his advice for someone taking on another project like this? “Just stick with it!” Meanwhile, as he can see the end of the ute project coming up, he’s thinking of the next one. Perhaps a sedan? We’ll see…
BELOW RIGHTThe shiny new six is ready to be slung into the engine bay.
ABOVE A decent MIG welder makes all the difference for body repairs.
BELOW The interior is finally a good match for the steering wheel.
ABOVE The stance says the suspension is just right.