Most young street machinists don’t get their hands on spanners until their mid-to-late teens, even early 20s. Rob Vella was way ahead of the curve. He has owned this XY Falcon since childhood. “I was 11; I turned 12 about three or four weeks after I got it,” he says.
This article on Rob’s XY Falcon originally appeared in the August 2010 issue. Street Machine
He went to a swap meet with his uncle Mario and found the car there. The seller lived around the corner and picked up the classic six-pot and three-on-the-tree sedan for just $450.
The Matt Egan ‘True Fire’ flame job has about 17 skulls hidden on either side.
Rob comes from a family of Ford fanatics — his dad had a yellow XY GT and his uncle has a ’70 Mustang Fastback and XT GT.
“I’ve always played with cars and I just wanted to start early. I thought I’d build something slowly,” he says.
Along with his father and his uncle, Rob learned the ropes, developing a beloved straighter over the next seven years. He wasn’t after a roaring V8, just a cool cruiser with a bit of go, so they turned the true blue Falcon 500 into a funky GS replica.
“It was moody blue—like off the N15 Pulsars—and had GS stripes, a black and blue vinyl interior with a GT-type theme and a stainless dash. I had a 250 2V with a Celica five-speed. I was a little younger, so I didn’t really know what I wanted.”
But after 12 months of driving, and breaking some weak front universal joints in the five-speed conversion, he was ready to do it all over again.
“After a year I got sick of the car; I wanted it better,” he says. Rejection from the Melbourne Car Show was another turning point for the young rave head.
“I bit the bullet and bought a new block,” says Rob. “Every part is new.” Dart block, AFR heads, and skate crank and rods produce 427ci.
“We got kicked out of a show because our cars weren’t the right type. We had ’57 Chevs, Falcons and stuff like that. When we got there, it was like an import show. The next day I started taking it down. done.
“Dad came home and I half stripped the car. He was like: ‘What are you doing?'” Rob laughed. “I was going to put 347 in it, and it just kind of snowballed. I figured I’d do it while I could. I was single, no debt, so I figured I’ll finish everything because God knows when I can do it again.”
The first time they had handled the body themselves, scraping the rust off the tired shell and applying new door skins, but this time Rob wanted to go further.
“When we stripped it back, the wheelie just had a bit of rust. I got my mate Brian to do the body – he’s a panel beater and he’s got a black XW that’s a straight die – so I Thought I’d let him do it.”
“I like the style,” Rob said of the shotgun scope. “I wanted Egypt but at the time all the compounds were twin carby. I’m glad I didn’t get it yet”
Not that Brian did everything. Rob and his dad dug into the engine bay and lined it up with a fake firewall and fresh sheet metal on the inner guards. It was tubbed by Taverna Chassis, the springs were moved in to clear the 18×10 intro rims.
Once the panel gaps were set and all the unnecessary holes and molds were removed, it was time for Chris of Aztec Smash Repairs to lay down some Kolor Magik Blue house. Vibrant Color certainly delivers the punch Rob was after but Mat Egan’s ‘True Fire’ flames are a real knockout.
“To be honest, there’s a lot of stereo looks out there – I don’t listen to it that much. Those amps cost me a fortune but I only got them because they had flames on them.”
“I got the theme from Overhaul,” says Robbs. “They did a van and the color was very similar, real light blue fire coming out of a dragon. As soon as I saw it, I thought: ‘This is what I want.’
“I’ve seen Matty do skulls and I said he might throw a skull here and there to break it up. He ended up doing something like 17 skulls on each side – he went a little nuts,” Rob laughs.
But that was exactly what he was after. something different.
“When I did it, that was the biggest problem – I didn’t want anything like a GT. I’d go to All Ford Days and there would be a million replicas. There’s a lot of good XYs hanging around, but no one. One way or another they always have a GT theme, with the interior or the stripes. I wanted something completely away from that.”
Trainspotters will point out the GT mirrors and driving lights but he shrugs it off: “I like them.”
In the powerplant you’ll find more grunt than any factory GT. The original plan was for a simple 347ci combo but when he saw that his uncle was having problems with 40 year old engines, Rob went for a new Dart block.
So why not make it a tall deck block that handles a few cubic inches?
Bone leather and ivory suede adorn the interior. FPV GT-P front seats were fitted, while a pair of GT-P squabs were integrated at the rear.
A trained mechanic, Rob had a knack for putting together a healthy donkey, and with his uncle lending a hand, they’ve landed a stout 427ci combo that Rob says should be good for around 650hp.
“A mate has a similar combo in an F100 and it makes about 760hp when flying,” says Rob. And there’s always the NOS cheater system. Or will be.
“It’s set to 150hp but there’s no nitrous. I haven’t used it yet. I’ll have to tune the car a bit and to be honest I’m a bit scared. I’ve got to see how the car handles it. How does it react?
With so much grunt on tap the Celica had to go five-speed. A Tremec TKO 600 and 31-spline nine-inch rear now make sure things don’t go haywire.
The way we tell it here, it all sounds pretty simple, but it’s been eight years in the making, more than a few dollars, and a lot of choice words.
“Every single part we put on the car, nothing fits!” Rob cries. “No matter what it was, we had to change it one way or another. You’d buy things that you thought would fit, and they didn’t.
But with persistence he gets the Falcon where he wants it.
“It’s been on the road for about four months but I try to take it out every weekend. I’ve probably done 2,000km. I didn’t want this thing to go on trailers, or sit in the garage like a trophy. I’ve built a car to drive and if it gets a stone chip or something, that’s part and parcel of working. What do you do?”
Amazingly, this is Rob’s first V8. He’s hit hot sixes, and some sharp fours, but he’s jumping into the deep end with some serious V8 grunt.
“I’ve never run anything with that much power. I’m used to it now.”
1970 Ford XY Falcon
the color: HOK Magic Blue
engine: Windsor 427ci
Carbohydrates: Pro Systems 1000cfm
Intake: Edelbrock Super Victor
Heads: AFR 225cc
Piston: The investigation is fake
Crank: Scat stroker
Bars: Scat Chev
Camera: Comp roller, 0.698 inch lift, 313 span
Ignition: Mallory Highfire 6AL
Emissions: Custom two-inch primaries, 3.5-inch collector, twin three-inch system, hooker mufflers
Gearbox: Tremec TKO 600, Mallwood Bell Housing
Clutch: Ace 11in
Difference: Nine-inch, 4.3 gears, Detroit locker, billet 31-spline axle
brake: Outlaw four-spot, 344mm discs (f), 337mm (r)
Specs: Air Ride Bag (f&r)
shocks: QA1 (f&r)
Suspension: Two-inch drop spindles (f)
password: Intro Westcoast, 18×7 (f), 18×10 (r)
Rubber: Nexen, 225/45 (f), 275/40 (r)