After eight years, two paint jobs, three interiors and countless motor combinations, Brendan Patrick is finally satisfied with his XR. For now, at least.
The XR has the prestigious honour of being the first Aussie Falcon to be offered with a V8 engine. Of course, the 200hp 289ci Windsor it came out with is nowhere near as impressive as the 397ci SVO block residing in the engine bay of Brendan Patrick’s TUF XR Ford Fairmont.
Another honour bestowed on the XR Falcon was winning the Wheels Car of the Year award, the second year running for Ford ” the first being with the XP Falcon.
The XR was Aussie designed (don’t hold that against it) but was still based on the American Falcons and inspired by the American Mustangs. Having a very different appearance to previous Falcons, the XR has a long nose and short tail with a distinctive kick-up at the back of the rear doors, known as the ‘Coke Bottle’ hip.
Brendan got into classic cars in the early ’90s, and his first V8 was a tidy XT Falcon. Moving on from that he had a few XD Falcons until the ’60s beckoned to him again, and he purchased his first XR, which he “played around with” for a while.
In 2002 an XR Fairmont came up on Trade Me. It sparked a plan in Brendan’s mind to buy it and use it as a donor for his current ride. As we all know the best plans can run amok, and upon purchasing the XR Fairmont rolling body, Brendan decided it was too good to hack up. He abruptly sold the Falcon in favour of the Fairmont.
A quick repaint was on the agenda for the new purchase, and when he found a young fella to do it for him as a cashy it seemed too good to be true ” which, of course, it was. On return from holiday, expecting to see a beautifully painted new car, Brendan was less than impressed. To put it nicely, the job was very average. Since Brendan had already paid up front and the guy was nowhere to be seen, he was gutted. Brendan decided that the paint job would have to do for the time being, and set about getting a mild 302 Windsor and four-speed manual built for it. Unfortunately, the newly built motor only lasted 500km before the crank tried to escape through the block.
Most of us would have given in at this stage and moved on, but there was just something about the XR Fairmont that self-professed wheeler dealer Brendan couldn’t let go of. That’s when he met Mike Johnston at Triangle Garage.
Mike took the sad excuse for an engine and rebuilt it, including installing Pro Top Line heads and a nice cam, and Brendan was away again.
As always he wanted more power, so Mike stroked the 302 out to 347ci and put in a stronger cam. The new configuration was good enough to keep Brendan happy for a year or so, but then the search for more power was on again. This time the heads were replaced with Victor Junior items, a solid roller cam was installed and an SVO short block used.
Brendan got 530hp out of that engine, and at the time that was perfect for the car’s intended use, which was three years of race meetings at the Levels, Ruapuna and Teretonga race tracks with the Falcon and Fairlane Club.
Brendan loved throwing his TUF XR around the track, but with young children to think of the 347 wasn’t really the family-friendly cruiser he needed. Out it went, replaced by a 289ci Windsor and auto from the soon-to-be customised Mustang convertible of Brent Robertson, an NZV8 cover car in issue 47.
This engine was perfect for the car’s new duties doing club runs and weekends away with the family, but Brendan always had that nagging thought in the back of his mind that he wasn’t doing his TUF XR number plate justice.
That thought was reinforced one day when after a weekend away with the family, Brendan was driving home when he was passed by a VC Commodore. No worries, he thought, I’ll get a run-up and pass him at the next passing lane. Much to his dismay, he couldn’t summon enough power from the little 289 to catch the Commodore.
Brendan returned to Mike with his problem and the travesty of being passed by a Holden, and they came up with the 351 Windsor stroked to 397 that is in the car now. Residing in this hot little number are JE forged pistons, forged H-Beam rods, a Howards hydraulic roller cam and Canton race sump. On top is an Edlebrock air gap manifold and 750cfm double pump Proform carb. Brendan went for a twin snorkel air cleaner and original tappet covers to retain the original appearance and standard look to make people second-guess it.
“The 347 had all the power but you had to rev it hard. The 397 doesn’t rev hard but just pulls like a schoolboy, and can still drive with the family,” Brendon says when asked to describe the 397.
Right The Second Time
Four years had passed by with the less-than-acceptable paint job, and this time the older and somewhat wiser Brendan decided to get TUF XR professionally painted by Terry at Stowells Smash Repairs.
While the XR was being painted Brendan used his skills as an upholsterer at Tinwald Upholstery to retrim the interior in black. This was the Falcon’s third retrim, the first being white and then white with black inserts, but when it’s your profession, why not? It’s only a weekend’s work when you are as skilled in what you do as Brendan is.
To finish off this new interior look, Brendan sourced a GT dash and steering wheel, which he admits cost him an arm and a leg.
Bloody Boy Racers
This XR Fairmont may look great but it is also built to be used. Brendan has broken nearly every conceivable thing on it over the years: axles, diffs, gearboxes, motors, you name it ” but that’s racing. One day not long after getting the new silver paint job, Brendan was test driving the car out in the country and there was a large herd of sheep coming up fast. The 347 that was in it at the time wasn’t the quietest of engines, and the sheep didn’t like it one bit. Brendan slowed down and let the sheep go around him, and as he depressed the clutch a rod popped out of the slave cylinder and jammed the clutch. Here was Brendan stuck in the middle of a herd of angry sheep revving the 347 to try and keep the sheep away from the new paint, all the while being berated by an angry farmer for being a ‘boy racer dickhead’.
So if you hear a rumble coming down the road in Ashburton and see a glint of silver as the sun reflects off the sparkling paint, get out of the way and lock up your sheep ” Brendan Patrick is coming in one TUF XR.
1967 Ford XR Fairmont- Specifications
Engine: 351 Windsor stroked out to 397ci (5.8 to 6.5 litres) SVO block, JE forged pistons, forged 4340 crank, forged H-beam rods, Howards hydraulic roller cam, ARP bolt kit, Canton race sump, Roush Windsor Senior heads, Edlebrock Air Gap manifold, Proform 750cfm carb, Holley high-volume fuel pump, MSD distributor, three-inch Mandrel bent stainless exhaust, twin Flowmaster mufflers, Pacemaker headers, XY GT radiator
Driveline: Ford four-speed top-loader, nine-inch Detroit Locker, 3.25:1 gears, Strange axles
Suspension: Heavy duty Lovells springs, Koni adjustable shocks, Nolathane bushes, 28mm front sway bar, XY GT rear sway bar
Brakes: Front, PBR slotted cross drilled rotors, AUIII callipers, Bendix Ultimate pads, factory VH40 booster. Rear, factory 229mm drums
Wheels/tyres: 17×7-and 17×10-inch Boyd Coddington Junk Yard Dog rims, 235/45R17 and 275/40R17 Dunlop Direzza tyres
Performance: 480hp (358kW)
Brendan Patrick – Owner Profile
Car Club: Christchurch Falcon, Fairlane Car Club
Occupation: Self-employed upholsterer
Previously owned cars: Far too many to list but includes 11 RX-2 and RX-3s, 12 XR-XYs, two XAs, six XD-XFs, VK SS Commodore, Clubsports, XR8s, WRXs, Evos ” you name it, I’ve probably had it
Dream car: ’67 SS Camaro
Why the XR: Always liked the round tail lights, and could relate to them having seen them when young
Build time: Ongoing
Length of ownership: Eight years
Brendan thanks: Michael Johnstone at Triangle Garage for all the excellent motors. Terry Stowell at Stowell’s Smash Repairs for the paint and bodywork. Friends Kinder, Scott and Cory for giving me a hand with putting things together, etc. My wife Amanda for putting up with all the car bullshit for 15 years or so ” every car we build is the last, or so I tell her.
Words & Photos: Barry Lorimer
This article is from NZV8 issue 66. Click here to check it out.