Sprint Special - Reader Resto

By: Declan King with Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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Start 2 Start 2

When Ford and Tickford conceived the ED XR8 Sprint, it combined the GT-spec V8 with the XR8 body to produce something really special. Declan King has taken his car a step or two further.

ORIGINAL CAR: 1994 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint

OWNER: Declan King


Why a Ford? A month before I was born, Mum and Dad’s first new car was an EB Falcon. It was a boring single-point six-cylinder standard GL, in green.

My older brother got it when he got his P-plates, he banged around in it. Then it was handed down to me when I was 18 and I banged around in it, for three or four years.

I really like the ED, in fact the whole E series, the shape and style. By the time I got that car it had done over 300,000km had been crashed twice and had four cylinder-head-gaskets on it.

Being an apprentice mechanic, I did a fair bit of work on it to keep it going. Of course, back then, it got lowered and a set of mags on it, and a big stereo and all that fun P-plate stuff. It kind of shaped me as a car guy.

Five-litre V8, good for 240km/h.

Once I was done with it, it had 350-360,000km on it and was pretty much stuffed. So I sold it to Sims Metal for $300. I never really recovered from that!

I always told myself I‘d get another green E series and at least a V8. It was two-or-more years in the market before I found the ED.

It was a Sunday afternoon and we were cruising through the online ads over a couple of beers. This one popped up. It was in fair condition for its age. At that stage I didn’t know what a Sprint was and had to Dr Google it. After reading up on them, I decided I’d better buy it.


I learned how rare they are and how to ID them. They’re not plated as a Sprint, but there are four of five little things you look for, to prove what it is.

I called the seller, he knew I was a serious buyer when I showed up with a trolley jack and jack stands. He had turned down other sales and thought it was pretty cool when I explained I wanted to turn it in to a build and a bit of a show car.

The colour is called Polynesian Green.

The colour is Polynesian Green.

I’d call its condition a fair daily driver. The bodywork was clean and straight, while the engine bay, undercarriage and interior were used and grimy but overall tidy and in fair condition. Mechanically, it was okay. 

Due to its age, it needed a million things fixed on it to get it roadworthy and up to a good driving standard. The cruise control didn’t work, the seat adjusters didn’t work, the window winders needed servicing, new harmonic balancer – all the wear and tear stuff.

The first 12 months was spent on all that sort of work before we even thought about painting it, pulling the engine out, that sort of stuff. Soft repair and soft restoration, to the point where I could cruise it. 

I bought it in 2015 and wanted to have it ready for Summernats 2018.

The Sprint helping to celebrate a special occasion, alongside an older relative.

Once I had it right mechanically, I looked at it and thought the rims looked scuffed, so let’s restore them. We pulled them off, sanded them back and repainted them.

Then that made the paint on the body look a bit shabby and dull. Then it turned in to a full body paint job. At the same time we shaved the wipers and washers off it to give it a cleaner look.

We removed the body kit, serviced all that, patched up a few hairline fractures and refitted that so it was all nice and straight. 

From there it developed in to a full-blown build. Before I knew it the engine and interior were out and the dash was out! It got better and better every time we touched something.


As we went, the theme of the build was not to keep it 100 per cent factory, as we wanted to make it my own. But we also wanted to keep the integrity of it being a Sprint.

It’s a limited number car (375) so you don’t want to go bastardising the thing. So we were happy to colour-code the factory grey mouldings. 

As for engine bay work, we ended up with a GT intake system, Pacemaker extractors, Top Gun ignition set-up, using a beefier exhaust, slotted rotors, a set of coilovers, just making it what I felt was a better version – what I might have done had I been an engineer at Tickford, with less restrictions than the factory people might have faced. 

We had it looking pretty good by 2018 and entered our first Summernats, then did two or three show seasons with it.

Quad headlights, an XR signature piece.

After a few seasons it starts to look a little shabby again so my brother Tom, who’s a motor trimmer, had learned some new skills and had got in to leather airbrushing.

We wanted to keep the interior as close to factory as we could and the leather seat bolsters (which are a Sprint feature) are the originals. 

We sourced some new-old stock cloth and we’re happy with how the interior has come up.


What does it drive like? It burns lots of petrol and makes lots of noise, but being a 1990s five-litre it doesn’t really go that hard. It actually drives really well. The XR6 of the day could keep up with them, but nothing beats the driveability of a V8. They handle well. 

The Sprints came out with their own steering rack with a track-style ratio. They’re tagged and have individual IDs. It removes a bit of the vagueness the series tends to have.

They also ran beefier sway bars and a better Watt’s link. My lowered suspension has maybe made it a little harsher – just ask my old man!

Declan with his sprint.

Next project is again my era stuff – I have my second car, which is a standard BA Falcon which I might keep for my son and do something with that, when he grows up a little.

In dream land I would love any Falcon ute. They’re expensive and rare to find these days in good condition.



Body: Steel monocoque four-door

Engine: 4942cc V8

Power: 192kW at 5000rpm

Torque: 405Nm at 4000rpm

Performance: 0-100km/h: 6.2 seconds, 0-400m: 14.5 seconds

Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Suspension: Upper and lower wishbones, coils, anti-roll bar (f); Live axle, coils, (r)

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

Tyres: 205/65R15 (Standard)

From Unique Cars #486, Dec 2023

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