Police Rescue - AFP XC Falcon

By: Iain Curry

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Salvaged from a rusty retirement, this ACT Police 1977 XC Falcon has been reassigned duties after three decades of waiting.

glance in the rear mirror and, oh no: blue light rolling, siren whooping and a navy-sleeved arm pointing to pull over. Damn. Busted again. 

For decades, a police-stickered Falcon was a groan-bringing sight to many an Aussie driver, disregarding the posted speed limit.

In the late ’70s, pursuit special XC Falcons were the four-wheeled nemesis to boy and girl racers. Few could outrun them, so it was the last thing you wanted to see.


How times have changed. Spot a police-spec XC today and it’s smiles, selfies and lengthy conversations. Brisbane’s Shane Williams will tell you.

His 1977 XC Falcon 500 interceptor has rev-heads clamouring around, regaling nostalgic memories of their old foes. Funny, really. Forty-odd years ago they couldn’t get away from them fast enough.

"I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s muscle-car era, and one of these survivors always brings back happy memories," Shane said. Little wonder a white XC, rusting away under a carport, caught his attention on the daily school run.

"I eventually asked the owners if they were keen in selling, they explained it was an ex-police interceptor and we negotiated a price."

Ditching the add-on spoiler was one of the first tasks.

The original plan for the XC was to respray it, add on a nice set of wheels and fettle it. Shane has a history of modifying, you see.

"We’d do a paint job, put in a loud stereo and add a set of mags," he said of his younger years, hotting up Holdens. But this Falcon was destined to embrace originality, including putting hubcaps back on its steelies: "We’d never have done that in the '80s," he laughed.

Shane’s younger brother Simon was tasked with the respray, but on stripping the XC, decided sandblasting was non-negotiable.

"He’d found cut wiring looms, strange drilled holes and a body that resembled a crumpet in places, eaten out with rust," he recalled.

The body was in poor shape.

He and partner Jodie travelled great distances to source replacement panels and body cuts to be welded on to the car’s rottenest parts.

The police plan didn’t come until later. Roof holes where the blue light and aerial went were welded up, and after 12 months it was "rust-free, near perfect straight and painted factory Sno White, with the lower part black," Shane said. But meanwhile he’d been a busy bee.

"I was fascinated with its history, after learning more through police-car owning groups. I started talking to people, buying things and got carried away. I wanted it original."

Ford Australia provided a build sheet, listing serial numbers and options, telling Shane it was one of eight special order sedans for the ACT Police.

There's no denying the authenticity of this XC and its intended use.

"The engine number matched the body, showing the Cleveland was original, and that it was a four-speed manual," Shane explained.

"It was fitted with a Police Pack including twin-plate clutch, twin exhaust, 16M steering box, 3.00 9-inch disc rear end and one tramp rod on the rear passenger side."

The NSW Police tended to order pursuit XCs as two-door coupes, but Shane’s ACT example is a four-door. Why?

His research suggests it likely served as transportation for Canberra’s visiting dignitaries – be-suited folk who prefer not to clamber behind a coupe’s folded front seat.


But it still needed to handle pursuit duties, hence the go-fast equipment, and seemingly it’s the only one of the eight XCs to survive. And, he’s told, the only Australian Federal Police car in private hands. Note Shane’s custom plates to celebrate this.

Surviving goodies from 1977 include long-range driving lights, a left-hand mirror and suspension suited to high-speed law enforcement.

"I noticed a brand I’d not heard of on the shocks: Selby," said Shane.

"I tracked down Ray Selby, whose late brother ran Selby Suspension, which closed 37 years ago. They did race cars and had the contract for pursuit cars, adding heavy-duty shocks, lowered springs, bushes, steering dampener, extra leaf in the rear and heavy-duty sway bars. I’ve just added new bushes and it rides incredibly."

Don't think you're gonna get away from this.

Shane reckons the car was unregistered for 25 years before he bought it, meaning plenty of recommissioning was needed. The V8 went to Russell’s Race Engines on the Gold Coast, and thanks to relatively low use before hibernation, it was in sound order.

New rings and bearings were fitted, the heads stripped and redone, and new valve guides used to take unleaded fuel. 

The gearbox was stripped and rebuilt, the clutch master cylinder re-sleeved and new disc brakes and brake lines fitted.

Trusty and lusty 351 V8 moves this XC around.

Its giant bumpers were re-chromed at great expense, the door handles zinc plated, the grille restored and Bathurst-style headlight covers custom made, as originals couldn’t be found.

Steve at Awesome Auto in Salisbury got the electrics in order, while there was new glass, hood lining, door rubbers and carpets, but you’ll notice some seat imperfections were left well alone.

At the base of the front seat backs, the cloth has very particular holes. "Gun holsters," Shane explains. "I wasn’t going to remove that damage. It’s part of the history."

Shane was in deep. He joined numerous online Ford groups, hunting for period-correct parts. Most helpful was the hyper-niche Lightbars & Sirens Australia Facebook group, specialising in emergency service vehicles’ sirens and equipment.

A collection of period-correct artefacts to go with the car.

"Moderator Ross Beckley sourced 70 per cent of the rare accessories needed to make my car period correct," said Shane.

That means cool stuff. C’mon, who doesn’t love police kit?

Witness the white-faced SW ‘Police Special’ 220km/h speedo, Carphone solid-state radio, Philips CB radio, ACT Police door stickers, chequered windscreen visor, blue roof light and a treasure trove of period ACT Police uniforms and badges.

Things were bubbling along apace, but on the XC’s first test run a lack of oil pressure stopped everything. Shane’s heart sank. On inspection, the culprit was a mob of cockroaches who had made home in the oil pump pickup.

"They must have climbed into the engine while it sat for eight months," he said. "When filling with oil it sucked the ’roaches into the oil pickup and blocked it." Not a pleasant clean up.

"I had tears of joy when it started first go with strong oil-pressure," Shane said.

"I had a week before the Queensland Police memorial day at Lakeside, so I rushed through bleeding brakes, getting a wheel alignment and finally, after 31 years, securing registration."


Queensland’s All Ford Day followed, where the XC took home People’s Choice, Best Display and Originality trophies. But the most significant event happened this September.

Police Remembrance Day was held in Canberra, and Shane had tracked down retired police officer Stan Burns. The 80-year-old had served 40 years in the ACT Police, and was the one who had ordered and first driven this very XC interceptor 46 years ago.

"I had to meet this guy and shake his hand," Shane said.

"He told me it was a fantastic job, it looked amazing and the accessories all were ‘spot on’."

Stan signed the metal air-filter housing, and Shane admitted he welled up after such a restoration journey.

Signed by the original driver, Stan the pursuit man.

Spending a day with Shane, chatting, photographing and cruising in his XC cop car, his passion for the project is infectious.

The thing drives superbly too; its burbling V8 offering a soothing note at idle, then the familiar sharp response and unstressed pull of a big bent eight, when pinning the throttle.

Its tiny 14x6 steel wheels, shod in balloon-like 215/65 Bob Jane All-Rounders, help absorb road bumps for a cruisy ride.

Its chassis feels remarkably well set up too, sitting tidily through fast turns with nowhere near the expected body roll. If officer Stan was a handy tillerman, I’ve no doubt he could hustle bad-behaving Monaros GTSs, Falcon GTs or Valiant Chargers on 1970s back roads.

This XC’s a true survivor. The police retired them after 40,000km and were typically stripped of their performance parts. Shane’s is the only one of eight ACT Police XCs known to survive in such original condition.

Shane and his ex-AFP XC pursuit car.

It’s an easy car to love, even by those long-haired lead-footed larrikins of the late 70s who spent weekends trying to outrun them. Respect is due after all these years.

Thanks to: Old Petrie Town - www.oldpetrietown.com – for the photo location.



Body: Steel monocoque four-door sedan

Engine: 5750cc (351 cu in) V8, pushrod, 2 valves per cylinder, two-barrel carburettor

Power: 162kW at 4600rpm (factory)

Torque: 429Nm at 2600rpm (factory)

Performance: 0-100km/h: c. 7.5-seconds, 0-400m: c.15.5 seconds

Gearbox: 4-speed manual

Suspension: Upper and lower wishbones, coils, anti-roll bar (f); Live axle, semi-elliptic springs, hydraulic shocks, anti-roll bar (r)

Brakes: Ventilated discs (f); solid discs (r)

Tyres: 215/65 R14

From Unique Cars #486, Dec 2023

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