By: Spencer Leech, Unique Cars Magazine, Photography by: Spencer Leech

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A look at Tom Vondrasek's 1976 Ford Falcon XC Coupe - an original Group C Racer



I’ve always been into these old things, when I was young I used to go down to Sandown Park and watch them race. When I got into my 20s in the early 1980s, I started hunting for an ex race car, but most guys had moved them on between their racing mates.

Eventually I got a hold of Rusty French, he still had his at his place, so I went and bought it off him in 1984. It didn’t look anything like this when I got it though, it was just a bare body shell because when Rusty went over to the XD, they stripped all the mechanicals out of this to build his new race car. So the car was just sitting in a warehouse with no engine, wheels or anything.

Then I started building it back up to spec — to exactly as it was when Rusty raced it. The reason I did that, is so it stays eligible to run in the historic racing series. I think this car deserves to be kept as it was, it ran in Bathurst three times after all.

I’ve had it CAMS log booked, and I’ve had Murray Carter and Jim Keogh drive it — guys that used to race these cars in the day. That’s why it’s got the Keogh livery on the windscreen.

The XB/XC Coupe body shape is the reason I fell in love with them. I was lucky enough to see them racing in their heyday, and I just wanted one. I’ve had a few road-going Coupes but I got rid of them because I don’t have the money to look after them all how I’d like to, so I decided to divert all my attention to just one, and Rusty’s old car is the one I chose.

The motor is in original Group C spec, which means there aren’t many modifications you can run. You’re allowed to run extractors and an exhaust, carburation is free, intake can be a bit different, but for the most part the engine is stock.

If you’ve ever seen Eric Bana’s Love the Beast, that’s the closest anyone has ever got to explaining the love we have for these old racers. Even if you never get to drive it, just looking at it and keeping them going is a thrill in itself.

It’s been a huge passion for me, and my work really pays off on days like this, where everyone is so excited to see it and ask about its history. But it’s no wonder it attracts so much attention, it looks fast standing still.



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