WAlmost 20 years before he had to part with his 1972 XA GT, Bill Kaglatz promised himself he would eventually get another one. “It was similar to that car,” says Bill, who got away. “Red pepper, black interior, 351, auto. I sold it to start my own business, BK Race Engines.
This article was first published in the April 2020 issue. Street Machine
Bill vividly recalls what finally motivated him to make good on that promise. “I was out for ice cream with my wife Dina and son Costa,” he says. “A convoy of hot-up cars passed our Mazda 6: Monaros, Camaros and GT Falcons – it was instant depression! I decided then and there that I needed something I could carry the whole family in. .
After a two-year futile search for a suitable donor car, Bill decided to turn to good mate Nick Sutak to part with his all-original XA GT.
“The exterior door handles turned out to be one of the hardest things to find. The repros just didn’t look right; I had to have the originals,” says Bill.
“It was just like my old car,” says Bill. “Nick had owned it for 20 years, but it had been sitting for a long time. It was a hard sell for Nick – it took a mountain of persuasion to get him to agree to let it go. It was an honest man in quite reasonable condition. The car was, and only two months into the build. [from my old one].
“I took it for a drive and stood on the throttle: nothing! No tire screeching, no pushing me into the seat – just beat signals blowing the exhaust. There was no way I was going to drive it. I can.”
Plan A called for an immediate cleanup and a new driveline, but Shane of S&K Auto Restorations in Gundagai changed all that. “I build a lot of engines for S&K,” says Bill, “and I think Shane wanted to impress me. It looks great because of that. He went ahead with a complete concours rotisserie restoration. It has all the correct factory decals as well as all production paint and chalk markings.
Being a true GT, the build team preserved as much of the original car as possible, including much of the interior. Wherever possible, genuine replacement parts were used as opposed to repro goods. Chris and Spiro of Falcon GT Restorations spent countless hours tracking down all the necessary bits. Where aftermarket gear had to be replaced, the original equipment was carefully concealed so that this grand tourer could one day be returned to its showroom-perfect condition.
The biggest departure is the solid roller-cammed, 406ci stroker between the front rails. “We’ve built a number of this style of engine,” says Bill. “A lot of our customers are building GTs and it looks factory.”
To get the 406 cubes, BK punched the block from 20thou to 4.020in, before dropping it into a 4.00in Callies Magnum crank, which spins custom diamond pistons to create a combo with the factory block. Above is a pair of Scott Cook (SCM Engine Development) heads and one of his dual plane manifolds. While Bill admits these heads are SCM’s smallest, he made them flow over 700cfm after adding his unique tweaks. Another key to the stock engine is the SCM HO intake. It’s a convincing copy of the heavy cast-iron factory 4V unit, but it works much better. Making the most of this airflow capability is a Bullet solid-roller cam paired with BAM DLC-bushed lifters.
Wiremesh headlights and spotlight protectors were fitted at the factory as part of Bull’s GT’s original ‘Country Pack’ option.
Hidden beneath the 351 high performance air cleaner is a 1000cfm APD Billet Enforcer carby. RaceMAX Direct (the go-fast parts business in which Bill and George Bukurishlev are partners) not only supplied many of the engine components, but also teamed up with APD to create a custom finish on this HO-series carby. did the work It mimics the texture and gold color of the factory FoMoCo unit.
With a big roller cam with 700thou lift and a stout 12.6:1 comp pushing 667hp at 7400rpm, this engine is anything but stock. Even better, it’s a torque monster, making more than 500lb-ft by 3000rpm before peaking at 567lb-ft at 4800rpm. Perfect for road duties!
Another clever piece to jump on is the distributor. “This is a special order from Mich Pyle at Pylec Electricals – he put the guts of the ICE into the factory autolite housing,” says Bill. “Mich ran the wiring for the external ICE control box in the glove box. The factory colored wires were also used in the choke and coil – you’d never tell! Mich did a quick job restoring the original loom.”
Spent gases exit through Gonzo Pipes tri-Ys, fed into a JT Performance three-inch system. To keep temps under control, there’s a massive three-core radiator – this was factory fitment on A/c-equipped Fairlanes and LTDs and is considerably larger than the standard Falcon unit. To maintain critical oil pressure, the ‘winged’ Phase IV sump drives windage trays and is fully baffled by trapdoors.
The factory mechanical pump is for looks only. This has been destroyed, the electric pump in the tank is now responsible for fuel delivery.
Considering BK’s reputation for building some of the toughest motors in the land, it must have been hard to resist the urge to go crazy. “I could easily make something wilder – 800, 900hp,” says Bill. “I just kept reminding myself that the wife and kids have to get in that car.”
In keeping with the GT theme, the driveline consists of a Protrans Bullet FMX up front by a 5200-stall SDE converter and a factory-look nine-inch, 31-spline axle, 3.50:1 gears and a Truetrac center. As with the front suspension and brakes, the reset factory leaf springs and the rear end are all painted to match the factory. However, Bill opted for Bilstein shocks to increase the XA’s handling prowess.
In the end, there was a big push from many people – especially Chris and Sparrow – to get the car ready for Summer Nets 33. “They took it upon themselves to finish the car for Smyrnatus,” says Bill. “I can’t thank them enough, as well as everyone who helped along the way.
“It was never meant to be a show car. I built it as a weekender,” Bill continues. “About two Sundays after the photo shoot I loaded up three guys and the baby seats. [Bill added two sons to the family during the build] And we all went out for breakfast, then to the Eastern Creek Charity Show in support of Bushfire Relief. It is strange; My boys have been hearing about Dad’s big red car for years – now it’s a reality! And without going too crazy, we can take it out whenever and wherever we want.”
“Besides the new carpets and new seat covers, almost all of the interior is factory original – gauges, crash pads, console, door trims,” says Bill. “I also got a box of eight-track tapes for the dealer-equipped player.”
The distinctive looking Olympic reflex radial was a Ford Australia factory fitment in ’72. In its day, it was one of the ‘new’ high performance radial construction tires. However, they have been out of production for almost five decades.
Looking at the tires on Bill’s car, you’d probably guess they were repro. No, they’re real – and worth mega bucks! “They’re about 50 years old – and borrowed,” says Bill. “I only put them on for Maguire’s great reveal at Smyrnatus. I’m too afraid to drive on them. I’m afraid they’ll fall apart.”
They were sandblasted to make them look new again, and from there it took some hard elbow grease to get all the cracks in the sidewalls out! Bill loves the look of the 12 slotters, and since the photo shoot he’s put a fresh set of boots on those iconic 14×7 steelies.
1972 Ford XA Falcon GT
paint: PPG Red Chilli
Brand: 406ci Cleveland
Heads: SCM 4V alloy
Intake: SCM HO dual plane
Camshaft: Bullet solid roller, email@example.com, 700° lift
Crank: 4.00 Callies Magnum
Fuel Pump: Electric in-tank
Cooling: Three core air conditioning radiator
Headers: Custom tri-Y
Emissions: Dual 3-inch, 16-inch mufflers with X-pipes
Ignition: Autolite housing, ICE internals
Converter: SDE 8in, 5200rpm stall
Tail Shaft: Mark Williams with 1350 units
Difference: 9in, 31-spline, 3.50:1 gears, Truetrac
Chassis and brakes
Front Suspension: Pedders Springs, Bilstein Shocks
Rear Suspension: Pedders reset leaf springs, Bulstein shocks
brake: Power assisted discs (f), 3in finned drum (r)
Wheels and tires
codes: Ford 12-slotters 14×7 (f&r)
Rubber: Olympic Reflex ER70H14 (f&r)
BK Race Engine; RaceMAX Direct; Falcon GT restoration; S&K Auto Restoration; ICE ignition; SDE torque converters; Advanced product design; JT performance; Protrans Performance Automatics; BAM Lifters; Nolan oil; Pylic Electricals; American Auto Parts; my good colleagues Joseph Somma, John Briskas, Johnny Russo, Troy Papadopoulos, Peter Calla and Steve Walsh; Most importantly, my patient and loving wife Dina and our three boys Costa, Alexander and Lucas