Restomod 1962 Ford Falcon XL Wagon - Reader Resto

By: Craig Mansfield with Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen/Owner

Presented by

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We all know that chrome-bumper Aussie wagons are cool again. Here's one that looks the part, with some big upgrades under the paint

 

Restomod 1962 Ford Falcon XL Wagon

We already owned a 1964 Falcon sedan when we started on this car. We’re members of the Early Falcon Car Club of Victoria and a lot of members have got coupes and sedans and there weren’t too many wagons around. I was itching to do another car and we started looking around for a wagon.

We found a rolling shell online for $600, which was quite a bargain. It turned out to be from one of the club members, so we struck a deal and dragged it home. There was no motor, no tailgate, and no front seats. We thought that was a good start; we often discussed during car trips how we would build the car.

Reader Resto: Ford XY GT Van

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My wife Emma had some ideas on how she wanted the car to sound, so we decided to try putting a fuel-injected Windsor in it. We started sussing out donor cars for that and about 18 months later we bought an EB Falcon that had been written off. It had a shunt in the front that had dinted the chassis rails. We stripped it down and put all the running gear – including the transmission and diff – in this.

So we have a fuel-injected five-litre in this, which is backed up with a BTR four-speed computer-controlled auto and that goes through to the Borg Warner diff, which I think is a 3.27 LSD with the rear discs on it.

Restomod 1960s Ford Mustang

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That meant we used the wiring harness out of the EB. We pulled out what we felt we didn’t need – that was spread out over the lounge room floor over a few nights in winter. We had to shorten the harness and cut it down. Before I rebuilt the motor, we wanted to make sure it would start, so I put the motor in the car and got it running, so at least I knew the harness was okay.

The motor has been bored out around 30 thou and got a complete freshen-up of the bottom end. Being fuel-injected, it’s a roller block.

In the top end, we put in GTX40 Ford Racing heads, comp cam, 1.7 roller rockers, and then the intake is all AU spec, so it’s an AU upper with 24lb injectors. The standard ones on the EB were 19s. It also runs a bigger throttle body, bigger mass airflow, all to support the horsepower we thought we were probably going to make. At a recent dyno session we got 170kW (231hp) at the rear wheels. We thought that was okay, particularly through an auto trans.

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It gets up and goes quite nicely and cruises on the freeway at 110km/h as happy as. The wheels and tyres are standard EB size, so it’s sitting on 2000rpm at that speed. The original computers on the EB had what’s called a smart lock on them, so we had to get a chip burned – a J3 chip from Jason Bolger – that was initially to bypass the lock so we could get it started. But it was also set up to account for the changes we had in mind, so it must have had alterations to the fuel mapping. It’s an area I have no idea about, but it was enough to get the car up and running, while the recent Dynotune has set it up properly.

As for brakes, it’s running XF discs up front with slotted rotors, and solid rears.

We’ve recessed the firewall about an inch and a half, which gave us room run a brake booster. A good mate of mine, Paul Lethlean, who used to work in the Castlemaine Rod Shop, did that. He’s a magician with metal. He shifted that back and made a custom tunnel for us, because the BTR is quite big. That’s given us enough room to run a Gemini booster mated up to an XB master cylinder.

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The early XK Falcons were famous for front ends collapsing, which led to Ford bracing the strut towers with a couple of pieces of pressed steel. The originals no longer fitted by the time we moved the firewall, and they would have fouled the top of the engine, so we made up a pair of removable strut braces, with some Heim joints in them. It makes it a lot easier to get the engine in and out or do some work on it.

In theory the body was rust-free – aren’t they all? As with any resto the killer is when you get it sandblasted and it looks like Swiss cheese. It actually wasn’t too bad. It had a hit in the rear quarter that we had to get straightened at a local panel shop. From there I proceeded to weld up most of the rust holes.

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The driver-side door and guard were too much work to fix, so we found parts from other cars. The biggest problem with it was the tailgate. We bought a second-hand one and half the inner frame had to be rebuilt and a lower outer skin replaced. It wasn’t horrendous. The floor was pretty good and half of it was rebuilt anyway with the work on the firewall and tunnel. I’ve seen much worse.

The hubcaps are off a 1965 Galaxie because we wanted to keep the stock 15-inch rims the EB ran on, and that the kept the engineer happy. We looked at 15-inch alloys, which I was semi-keen on, but my wife wasn’t, so the search for 15-inch hubcaps started. We colour matched the centre ring on them to the body – normally they’re red.

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The colour is Toyota Inferno and we arrived at that after mucking around with heaps of different colours. I saw it on a car at the Bright Rod Run some years ago. The roof is a Ford white with a custom gold pearl through it. Out in the sun, it glows a little. I did the paint myself, with the assistance of a mate, John Barilari, who used to be a pro painter. (Thanks to Bendigo Retro & Muscle Cars for the use of the booth.)

My wife designed the trim, which was done by A&H Trim at Marong (Vic). We used the front seats out of the EB, which were cut down and re-trimmed locally. The rear seat is original. It was designed to look period correct without necessarily being a standard car. While the steering wheel looks similar to a Mustang item it’s just a SAAS special from the local auto store.

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Instrumentation is basically stock, with the addition of a tacho, though we had to put in a gear drive so the speedometer could run off the signal from the automatic. It’s running an XW steering box and collapsible column. We kept it column shift, to keep the interior looking fairly standard. That involved a bit of effort to get working properly.

One modern touch is the Vintage Air system, which battles a little to keep such a big cabin cool, but it definitely takes the edge off on a hot day.

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As for suspension, we have lowered heavy-duty coils up front and we performed the Shelby mod on it. Shelby apparently used to drop the upper control arms on his race Mustangs somewhere in the region of 25mm, or almost 50mm on the later cars, and pull them back a little. It changes the angle of the control arms at rest, so that has the effect of lowering the front a little while you’re getting smaller changes in camber through the suspension travel.

It makes it handle a lot better. It’s probably dropped two and a half inches on the front.

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The rear springs have an extra leaf in them and we have a lowering block in there. It wasn’t the way I wanted to go, but it’s allowed me to clear the brake calipers from the leaves and get them out of the way. It’s been lowered about 50mm on the rear, while I’ve lengthened the wheelbase by about 10mm. On a Falcon, when you put a larger wheel on them it looks like they’re sitting really close to the front of the wheel arch. Our modification makes the wheel look a bit more centred.

All up I think the work covered about six-and-a-half years. It took a lot of time, thinking and problem solving, but modifying cars is like that.

Our next project? We have an XM coupe in the shed, and that will need a fair bit of rust repair. It’s got a 221 in it with a Borg Warner three-speed, so we’ll probably go down the path of a 221 with a 2V head. But I’m quite happy driving this at the moment – getting around to car shows and cruising with the family.

Bare Bones

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Righto, the chassis is looking good, so it’s off to the paint booth.

Filler Baby

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As every restorer will tell you, your end result is only ever as good as your preparation. This job looks thorough.

New Tunnel

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Fitting an EB driveline meant the firewall had to be moved back a little, while a whole new transmission tunnel was fabricated.

More Gunt

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That’s looking tasty – the Windsor V8 matched up to a revived four-speed auto.

Getting Closer

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Craig did his own spray work, under the supervision of a pro. We hope you signed it, mate.

Quiet Riot

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This was a great opportunity to go crazy with the Dynamat to settle down the mechanical and road noise.

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Original car:
1962 Ford Falcon XL wagon

Length of restoration:
6.5 years

1962 Ford XL Falcon Wagon

BODY 4-door wagon
ENGINE 5.0 litre injected pushrod V8
POWER 171kW measured at rear wheels
TRANSMISSION four-speed, BTR auto
SUSPENSION
Front – Wishbones and coil-overs
Rear – Live axle, with leaf springs
BRAKES hydraulic discs
PRODUCTION 75,800 (all models & body styles)

 

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