...The XB Project...

                                                          Joe's 1975 Ford XB

                                               

 
How it looked before Engine & Car 80% Complete Latest Pictures Need help, Try these guys...

 

The Story begins around July 2003 in the driveway of a Computer Wholesaler in North Geelong. 
Albert the owner of the business, who drives his Subaru WRX in the WRX Club at Phillip Island Raceway,
asks me, "Why dont you bring your VX SS Commodore down to the time trials, at Phillip Island, for
a spin on the track?"  My answer, the same as other times before, was no I cant because the SS is a lease car. 
That's when I came up with the idea of building up an older car that wouldn't cost me too much and I could 
take it down to the track.
Great idea ??? Well I thought so at the time !!!
I have always been a Ford man from the start, even though I leased 4 SS Commodores in a row over the last 5 years, 
because they looked better than the Ford AU Model (sorry boys but you all know its true). It's OK though, I am back 
in a Ford BA XR8 and I love it ! Huge improvement from the AU ! Anyway back to the story. 
I decided to find a Ford XB Sedan, which has always been one of my old favourite cars. The idea was to build it 
up as a GT replica and to eventually use it as a Sunday cruiser and the odd run out on the track. 
I thought finding an XB and building it up as a replica would be a cheaper option than finding an original GT.  
I wasn't intending on building a show car, so it didn't matter if it wasn't an original GT, but I still wanted that GT look 
with stripes and all.
If I could start again, I would've looked harder to find the cheapest original GT possible. Then I wouldn't have had to 
worry about a 9 Inch Diff with Disc brakes, a manual gearbox, handbrake set-up for disc brakes and a Disc brake 
proportional valve. What a pain in the ass ! Anyway no point talking about should of and could of. 

I called up my brother in Brisbane, who is a big Ford nut himself and a long time XB fan. I asked him if he still had 
those couple of old XB's he had picked up a while back. He was actually cleaning up a Ford XB Fairmont Sedan, 
with a 302 V8 engine and T bar automatic, which he was planning to sell. I thought 'perfect', other than it was missing 
a few things that I wanted, like a 351 V8 engine, a 9 inch diff with disc brakes, manual gearbox and the paint job 
was gold, which wasn't exactly the colour I was after. However, I thought it was a start. We got the ball rolling by 
getting down to the panel beaters for some rust repair, a couple of door swaps and a GT bonnet to be added. 
As you will see below the ball was rolling for a few months; the car was getting stripped and rust repairs were happening, but that's when the ball stopped rolling !


The ball was in my court and I was struggling to choose a colour. I had always liked the green silver colour combination
because my brother had a Green and Silver XB years ago in Geelong. My uncle has a Blue and Silver XB GT and my 
brother just recently bought an Orange and Brown XB GT in Geelong, to take back to Brisbane, for his own project. 
I had seen a few Blue and Silver GT's and a red and black one in Geelong, so I thought I might go the Green and Silver. 
The car sat in the panel beaters garage for a few months while I was deciding on a colour. I ended up choosing a 
Ford XA Metallic Green, because it was the closest thing I could find in the paint shops on those tiny sample sheets. 
I chose my colour and bounced it back to the panel beater. He then took forever to get the ball rolling again. 
Finally, he finished painting the inside.  After another painfully long wait, he painted the outside, but still hadn't rubbed 
it back or polished it, and hadn't painted the silver on the bonnet.

After about 7 months wait, I prepared to fly up to Brisbane cos it was time to collect the car and gave him a deadline to finish the paint job.  We planned to drive the car down on a tandem trailer to Geelong and then take my brothers Orange and Brown GT back up to Brisbane.  We had spare doors and other parts to bring back and forth, so it was cheaper for us to transport it ourselves.  That's another story in itself !!! The other problem that had been created by the panel beater delaying the project, was that the parts that had been organised by my brother up in Brisbane, were still waiting to be put in the car before I got there.

Well guess what ???  After 7 months, which included phones calls to the panel beater to say that I was coming 
up to Brisbane to pick up the car, it still wasn't finished when I got there. 
I arrived in Brisbane and the first time I laid eyes on my XB Project, it wasn't how I thought it would be. 
As you will see in the pictures below; Engine was in, diff was in, paint wasn't rubbed back or polished yet and 
the bonnet was still at the panel beaters, because he hadn't started the silver yet !!!!! We only had 2 days before 
we were supposed to be leaving for Geelong !!!



We picked up the bonnet the day before we had to leave. The alarm was already set for 4am for the next morning 
and we still had the clutch, gearbox and tail shaft to fit.  We also needed an auto electrician to wire up the electronic 
distributor and other wiring, so that we could fire the engine up before we left. Mission impossible ? You guessed it ! 
The panel beater had just delayed the project too much and we couldn't catch up. My brother tried his best, with help 
from Paul and the boy's at Beta Automatix in Brisbane, but we didn't make it. We got the clutch, gearbox and tail shaft in, but there was no time for the Auto electrician, so we didn't get to start the engine. Plus, trying to fit a manual gearbox, twin plate clutch and other bits that weren't originally on this particular XB, meant we had little, almost no time to get all the right bits and pieces to connect everything together. So as you can see below, we bolted on the famous bonnet, that took forever to finish, and got the car on the trailer ready to head for Geelong.


Below you will see the view for most of the trip down to Geelong, Trucks everywhere ! Most of the roads in Queensland 
were rough, with pot holes and narrow emergency lanes or sometimes none at all.  We were on our toes all the time 
with the tandem on the back of the F150 Ute making sure we didn't stray wide. Oh yeah, can't forget the air conditioner 
which decided to play up, so we had a nice warm trip down. Driving along at about 9pm on the dark highway, I looked 
in my side mirror to see a light show of sparks appearing at the rear right of the trailer. I pulled over to see that the safety chain that holds the ramp up at the back of the trailer had broken loose and had been bouncing on the highway making the sparks. 
Luckily we had a rope around the ramps, otherwise it would have fallen down and hit the road at 100 Km. We tied the 
chain up and carried on down the highway. Along the way around about 10:30pm, a hare decided to cross the highway 
and stopped to look at what those bright lights were, that were coming towards him at 100 Km per hour. Well I guess he never found out or maybe he did.  You can make up your own mind when you hear what happened next. I took my foot off the accelerator but couldn't do anything else but drive straight over the top of him. About 20 minutes later we stopped for fuel and realised that the trailer lights weren't working. My brother checked the trailer lights to find that the trailer light cable was gone. The only bits left were the trailer light cable connectors.  One was still plugged into the back of the Ute and one in the trailer. The hare had got his revenge on us after all. The hare must have hit the trailer light's cable on his way through underneath the car and took it with him. We couldn't believe our luck ! 
We stopped at 3 Service stations, but none had a replacement cable for us. So we bought a torch and a plastic red lens, that normally would be used for a brake light, and taped it onto the torch. We then fitted the torch to the back of the trailer so that anyone coming up from behind could see the trailer. We had thought of switching the hazard lights on the XB but the ramps covered the lights. We pushed on and about 2 hours later we found another service station. The trailer we hired had its own unique type of connector plug. The service station had a spare trailer light cable but it had a different connector. 
We gave the guy $20, cut his cable and reconnected our trailer plug connector to it. The wiring wasn't exactly the same, 
so it looked like there was a mobile disco light show happening with our trailer lights every time we braked or indicated, but at least it meant people behind us knew something was about to happen. 

The roads got a bit better in NSW, but I have to say and, it's not because I live there, but I found the roads to be much better in Victoria. More overtaking lanes, or double lanes, smoother roads with wider emergency lanes. But that's just my opinion.  I am sure the Truck drivers who do those roads all the time could confirm that or argue it.


I told my brother to check his rear vision mirror, because I thought the guy in the Green XB behind us was 
following us a bit too closely ! Ha  Ha Ha Well that's what happens when you get bored on a long trip and 
you have gone through all your music CD's. You make up stuff.


We arrived in Geelong and decided to take a couple of quick photos of my brother's Orange and Brown GT 
that he purchased in Geelong with my Uncle's Blue and Silver GT, before we headed back to Brisbane.  
They are both original GT's.


Before we left for Brisbane, I decided to take the stock wheels off my XB with those old hub caps on them that were covered in green and silver paint, and put my Bathurst Globes rims on the car.  I just couldn't bear to look at my car with those old wheels on it.  I lowered the car with a computer program called Photoshop, so I could see how it would look if it were lowered.

We headed off for Brisbane with my brothers Orange GT on the tandem. I wasn't looking forward to the long drive back because I knew once I got there, I only had a few days to rest and then I was back on a flight to Melbourne to get home. Well the trip was hotter than on the way down.  I think it hit 40 degrees at one stage and with no air conditioner it was a very painful trip. 
We had to keep moving our feet because the floor was getting hot as well. It was a pretty smooth trip home, other than spotting a tyre about to burst on the trailer at a service station just outside of Brisbane. It had a bubble the size of a Tennis ball on the inside edge of the wheel. Bloody recaps ! You would think a trailer hired from a service station would have decent tyres on it for safety reasons.

 


Finally back in Geelong. First trip in my car was to see the Auto Electrician so I could get the electronic Distributor 
setup and finish the wiring up under the bonnet. A few dollars later I got the engine started for about a whole five minutes ! 
The Distributor died.  Luckily I pulled out the spare and we plugged it in. Next stop was to get an Exhaust system fitted 
and then off to the mechanic to get a roadworthy.   I put the 12 Slotters on, that my brother in law Paul had donated to me, 
because they had some decent rubber on them which would help me with my roadworthy. As you can see from the 
pictures below, the bonnet and bumpers had not been aligned yet, bonnet pins missing, no GT or Ford badges, no exhaust tips or GT petrol cap. My mechanic Frank had installed a set of front lowered King springs from Suspension City in Melbourne and a set of Koni Shock absorbers. The Front end needed a wheel alignment badly and unfortunately I found out too late that my two front tyres got totally chewed up on the inside edge.  They were now un-roadworthy after one trip to the Auto Electrician to get the GT dash and extra lights hooked up. When I eventually got the car registered I went back to Suspension City to get my rear leaf springs lowered and a set of Koni shocks to go in the back. If you need your suspension replaced or your car lowered, I recommend you call the guys at Suspension City because I found them to be honest, well priced and didn't spin me a heap of you know what, to try to make me spend money on replacing my leaf springs instead they adjusted the ones I already had.

Click on images to view larger picture.


Finally I got the paint work rubbed back and polished thanks to Ricky out in Hoppers Crossing. He tested a few spots out 
on the car first and I had enough coats of clear paint to start polishing without requiring any extra paint. He did it straight away and was finished in 2 days. He also sprayed both sections of the faded front grill as well as applying stickers, badges and the fuel cap. I hadn't intended on spending big dollars on the paint job because I wasn't building a show car and only planning to go out on the track.  Ricky did a great job with someone else's spray job. There aren't many panel beaters who will touch someone else's unfinished work. So I was happy to have a car finally looking decent after dropping it off to Ricky one night after work and getting it back only 2 days later at a fair price....

Click on images to view larger picture.


Not much to go now. A few bits and pieces to finish off. I have learnt a few lessons along the way. There are a lot of 
dodgy characters out there. All I can suggest is that you do your homework.  Shop around for a good price and ask 
around to see if people are happy with the work they have had done with the particular person you're thinking of using, 
because the cheapest isn't always the best option either. 

Update July 2005: $$$ It never ends.
Bought a new 2 HP Gear Reduction Starter Motor. 
The standard starter motor couldn't handle the heat from the extractors and when the engine/extractors 
warmed up the engine wouldn't start until it cooled down.

Bought a new Performance Electronic Distributor & coil.
The Electronic dizzy I had from a later model V8 was playing up so it got the boot.

While we were at it we realised a head gasket was going so we replaced both.

Thanks to Chris at Dalton Automotive the car is finally running smooth.

I will admit I am still a novice when its comes to engines and building a project car, but that's what some of these dodgy 
characters seem to pick up on when you speak to them.  They will try to take you for whatever they can. Everyone seems 
to be an expert and they all seem to have all the answers, but which ones are really being honest and really want to help 
you and not just take your money ????? 
Anyway here are a few places that helped me out and that I will recommend you give a call if you're planning on doing 
any sort of similar projects or work on your car.

Phone numbers and addresses:

BMS Becks Motor Spares (Ford Specialists)  Dalton Automotive
386 Thompson Rd North Geelong Rotary, Turbo & E.F.I Specialists, Dyno...
Ph: 03 5278 5662 or 0418 526 183 10 Wood St, South Geelong 
Ph: 03 5224 2708
PDR Differential & Driveshaft Centre web: www.daltonautomotive.com
126 Fyans St South Geelong
Ph: 03 5224 1252      Clutch & Brake Specialists
Email: therings@pipeline.com.au 7 - 13 Little Ryrie Street Geelong
Ph: 03 5229 3850 or 03 5229 5077
Suspension City - Melbourne
Shock Absorbers, Springs & Suspensions  People I would like to thank who helped with the 
41- 42 Provost St Project or who assisted with helpful advice:
North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia My brother Don, Paul at Beta Automatix,
Ph: 03 9329 5133 Frank G, Sandro, Tony G & My Uncle Tony.

 


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