Time to Shine! - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens

Glenn Torrens finds unexpected beauty under the beastly haze, of his wrecker-save Falcon’s original paint

Time to Shine! - Our Shed
Well, that’s a surprise! For the first time in several years, one of my car projects is ‘shiny’!

After sitting in a wrecker’s yard since 2007, the paint on this 1986 Ford Falcon GL was a chalky, hazy, drab concoction that looked like grandma’s tomato soup. 

But take a look at it now!

I began the rejuvenation of the paint with a pressure-wash and a good hard sponge bath using a ‘heavy-duty’ car wash detergent. I’d already removed a few of the Ford’s exterior bits – such as the plastic plenum cover below the windscreen – to remove bundles of pine needles and to inspect for rust, and to do a proper buffing job I wanted to remove the rear bumper wrap-arounds and the stainless-steel door/windscreen trims. Taking these from the doors protects them from damage (from catching on the buffing pad) and enables the door skins to be easily and properly polished, from edge to edge.

This is how the car looked before buffing. The now-shiny result is proof of what your mum yelled at you, about ‘using a bit of elbow grease’!

Then I got to work!

Buffing a car isn’t technically difficult, but like most processes with restoring cars, a little experience and a practiced technique goes a long way. I first learned to buff a car years ago; it was a VW Bug that I’d repainted with a Little Beaver spray kit (remember those?) in a carport.

Back then, my baby-step efforts with buffing burned through the paint on several panel edges, plus I managed to get totally – and painfully – tangled in the buffing machine, when the loose old T-shirt I was wearing became caught in the fast-spinning woollen pad. Ouch! Since then I’ve managed to pick up a few tips and these days I can buff a car without too many injuries!

This 1986 XF is one of the last built with rear drum brakes, prior to standard rear discs being introduced. These ones appear good; plenty of ‘meat’ and no leaks.

So after several hours of effort, the Monza Red paint on the old Falcon – the turret; guards; quarters and doors – came up better than I expected. But the bonnet and boot lid unfortunately have rusty holes through them so will need to be replaced with better second-hand panels. As mentioned a couple of issues ago, the ‘bones’ of this car are great but there’s more stuff to do elsewhere, too, like repairing the front inner door frames that have been hacked to fit speakers. 

I bought this bonnet for $150. It, too, has some rust – but it’s far better than the one on the car! I will swap bonnets after I repair and paint this one. 

Of course, as with many older cars, there was work to do under the Falcon too. The front suspension was in a terrible state, with worn ball joints, steering tie-rod ends and perished sway-bar rubbers. All were replaced and while I was under there, I replaced the too-low aftermarket front springs with a set of second-hand ones from a ute. I drained and replaced the diff oil and installed four new dampers.

Up front, I fitted springs I bought from a Falcon ute. I have a feeling the ute springs may be taller than sedans.

The brakes, too, were given a thorough once-over. They did seem to work well when I got the car running at Flynn’s Wreckers and luckily for my meagre budget, on closer inspection the hardware seemed to be in good shape, with plenty of life remaining on the discs, pads, etc. I replaced the flexible hoses with new and bled the system and ‘driving’ the car back and forth in my garage, the brakes feel terrific. 

With the paint looking good and most of the age- and wear-related mechanical issues sorted, it shouldn’t be too long before this Falcon is flying again!

The front end was given a freshen-up; new ball-joints and four steering tie-rod ends. As with the rear, the brakes are in good shape but all flexible rubber hoses were replaced.


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