Ford XT Falcon GT: Reader Resto

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During the 1980s, GTs were often converted to club racers. Note the flared wheel-arches and rollcage? During the 1980s, GTs were often converted to club racers. Note the flared wheel-arches and rollcage? During the 1980s, GTs were often converted to club racers. Note the flared wheel-arches and rollcage?
The GT is a tight fit. Dismantling it wasn't a problem but re-assembly took care and patience The GT is a tight fit. Dismantling it wasn't a problem but re-assembly took care and patience The GT is a tight fit. Dismantling it wasn't a problem but re-assembly took care and patience
Mate's rates restoration by a relative ensured a top-quality job without too much pain to a young GT owner's wallet Mate's rates restoration by a relative ensured a top-quality job without too much pain to a young GT owner's wallet Mate's rates restoration by a relative ensured a top-quality job without too much pain to a young GT owner's wallet
With all panels in place, the GT was given a final coat of two-pack Polar White. Original door handles looked "daggy" and had to be re-plated With all panels in place, the GT was given a final coat of two-pack Polar White. Original door handles looked "daggy" and had to be re-plated With all panels in place, the GT was given a final coat of two-pack Polar White. Original door handles looked "daggy" and had to be re-plated
Freshly painted and treated to a complete overhaul, the 5.0-litre GT engine awaits reunion with an equally pristine body. Carburettor is a non-standard Holley 500 Freshly painted and treated to a complete overhaul, the 5.0-litre GT engine awaits reunion with an equally pristine body. Carburettor is a non-standard Holley 500 Freshly painted and treated to a complete overhaul, the 5.0-litre GT engine awaits reunion with an equally pristine body. Carburettor is a non-standard Holley 500
TLC from a mate helped transform George's 302 V8 to near-stock sweetness. Larger carburettor and extractors generate extra performance TLC from a mate helped transform George's 302 V8 to near-stock sweetness. Larger carburettor and extractors generate extra performance TLC from a mate helped transform George's 302 V8 to near-stock sweetness. Larger carburettor and extractors generate extra performance
Nothing like bragging about what you've got under the bonnet Nothing like bragging about what you've got under the bonnet Nothing like bragging about what you've got under the bonnet
Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration
Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration Original decals add to the authenticity of a restoration
After the iconic GT Gold, Polar White was the most popular GT colour. After the iconic GT Gold, Polar White was the most popular GT colour. After the iconic GT Gold, Polar White was the most popular GT colour.
Lucas Ranger driving lights. The originals had rusted reflectors and a new pair cost $400 Lucas Ranger driving lights. The originals had rusted reflectors and a new pair cost $400 Lucas Ranger driving lights. The originals had rusted reflectors and a new pair cost $400
Rust under the rear window demanded installation of new metal. The taillight lenses were good enough to be reused Rust under the rear window demanded installation of new metal. The taillight lenses were good enough to be reused Rust under the rear window demanded installation of new metal. The taillight lenses were good enough to be reused
George and his XT GT George and his XT GT George and his XT GT

Looking back: In 2010 we featured George's XT Falcon GT resto. As a dedicated Holden enthusiast, George couldn't be happier with his decision to rescue a neglected XT...

(first published Unique Cars issue #314, July 2010)

Ford XT Falcon GT

For a dedicated Holden enthusiast, the decision to switch allegiances weighed heavily on the owner this Falcon GT resto. Twenty years later, George – as he prefers to be known – couldn’t be happier with his decision to rescue a neglected XT he found in a suburban garage.

"Even as a young bloke I liked Holdens and in the 1980s I had an HK Monaro," George reveals. "Eventually I sold it and went without a muscle car for a year then somebody told me about this XT GT being sold cheaply so I went around for a look."

As the photograph George took shortly after buying the car attests, this Falcon hadn’t been kindly treated during its early years and had probably only survived because its former owner had destroyed the differential.

"Because of the blown diff I got it cheap – only $3500 – but I had to fix that so I put in a nine-inch that was much stronger than the original," he says.

With its non-standard alloy wheels and rollcage, the car served its new owner as daily transport for several years before marriage and other responsibilities meant it was consigned to yet another suburban shed. George’s GT sat in his mum’s cramped garage for five years before he had to decide whether to sell or restore it.

UC-XT-GT-Falcon --2-658

"I’d never restored a car properly before and I was a bit wary," he explains. "I had mates who said they’d help me and one of them was my brother-in-law Michael who owned Melbourne Panels and was happy to do the bodywork and painting."

INTERIOR: BACK IN BLACK

Even before attacking panels that had been stretched to accommodate ridiculously-oversized rubber or deal with an engine better suited to a drag car, George ripped out the XT’s all-black interior and had it revamped by a local trimmer.

"Looking at what I paid it was just ridiculous but he did a good job," he laughs. "The front seats cost me $250, the back one was $140, it got a new hood-lining and carpet and the whole job was under $1000. I’d hate to think what someone would charge now for the same work."

Next came the time consuming but equally rewarding tasks of stripping the body ready for refurbishing and hunting down parts to replace items that had deteriorated or were missing.

"The original steel wheels and stainless covers were missing and they were the most important things to find," he says. "Today it would be very difficult but before the prices of GTs started to increase it wasn’t too bad. I got the hubcaps from an ad in the Trading Post for $190."

Finding mudguards to replace the flared items fitted when George bought the XT proved frustrating.

"You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a good left-hand guard," he says.

"I think there must have been a lot of people who used to come home from the pub and hit the gatepost or something because just about all of the left-side guards had been damaged while right-hand ones were fine."

After buying and rejecting five mudguards, the sixth proved to be in usable condition. While it cost $160, he spent three times that amount before finding it.

Rust wasn’t a major problem; the only serious rot being between the rear window and boot aperture and it was easily repaired with a replacement panel.

ROCK STOCK XT

On the ramps at Melbourne Panels, the car slowly transformed from jacked-out street racer to rock stock XT and attention turned to the similarly distressed engine.

"It had this wild cam in it that was just ridiculous for a street car and a huge carby so a mate who worked in a mechanical shop pulled it down and we replaced pretty much everything with standard parts."

Care and patience were paramount once the restored body was returned to George for assembly. The 1930s-built garage was narrow and cramped and caution was required to protect now-perfect panels and unfinished paintwork.

UC-XT-GT-Falcon --1-658

"The body came back with no doors, boot, bonnet or mudguards so we had to be very careful with fitting everything and then it went back to Michael for blocking and the final coats," he says.

Admiring the XT in its gleaming Polar White, George realised that items of trim and brightwork that had originally been slated for re-use were looking noticeably tatty.

"I didn’t want to have beautiful paint with dull chrome and things like that so it was back to the classified ads and swap meets."

The bumpers were replaced with exchange units from Ford Performance, with other brightwork rechromed. New parts included a pair of brand new Lucas driving lights but a working second-hand radio was found "under a pile at a swap meet" for just seven dollars.

Since being completed in 2005 the GT has been used sparingly and George hasn’t yet ventured outside Victoria.

"If there’s a GT run or other special event on I’ll take the car but mostly I use it for short trips just to keep it running properly," he explains.

"Looking at the prices they’re getting I couldn’t have a hope to buy one now so I guess I was just lucky to have had the chance when I did and I’ve got a fantastic piece of real Aussie motoring history."

UC-XT-GT-Falcon ---63-658

OWNER SNAPSHOT:

Name: George

Occupation: Painting contractor

Best part of the resto: Being able to work on the car himself and having friends that helped all the way.

Worst part of the resto: The stress of pulling the car apart and finding things that he thought were okay but needed to be repaired or replaced.

 

COUNTING THE COST: (Back in 2010)

Front mudguard: $160
Driving lights: $400
Trim: less than $1000
Reconditioned radiator: $300 

 

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