Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

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



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.

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