BLOWN 565HP XM FUTURA COUPE
By Dave Carey | Photos: Chris ThorogoodJan 19, 2016Features
BACK in the 1990s, Dick Tierney was wearing his best flannos, rocking out to AC/DC and cruising to swap meets in a tidy XM Falcon Deluxe coupe. He’d fixed it up, fitted a 302ci Windsor and, like any young bloke, drove the wheels off it.
Time passed; he met Debi and started a family. Right around then, Dick got wind of another XM coupe for sale, this time a Futura. Having grown up around early Falcons, he knew it was a desirable model, as rare as this particular example was rooted. He knew he had to have it though, so a deal was brokered.
While his old XM coupe was a handy unit, the Futura had to be done bigger and better; most importantly, it had to be done right. Not ready for the level of commitment that entailed, Dick pushed the Futura into a corner of the shed and told it to wait. And there it snoozed for 10 long years.
Fast-forward a decade. With his son Bradie and daughter Codie now a bit older and the wallet a bit less full of moths, Dick headed out to the shed one night to check on his coupes. Sipping on a Beam, he realised the day had arrived. It was time. Futura time.
With the help of Trevor Monti from Prestige Panels, Dick was able to formulate a plan of attack: tubs, panel work, then paint, with different experts enlisted to handle each area. ‘Hoota’ Hendy and the late Daryl Talbot attacked the tubs, subtly widening them but retaining a stock look, while the bodywork was rectified but left standard – after all, a Futura isn’t a Futura if the obligatory brightwork is binned.
It's taken 20 years, but Dick's Futura has finally come to pass
Vinney’s of Dandenong fixed up the chrome while Trevor himself applied the blue duco, basing it on Ford’s Shockwave hue, but revising the tint to create a new colour dubbed ‘Dickwave’, after his new best customer!
A mechanic by trade, Dick can screw together a stout Windsor with his eyes closed, but when he changed his approach and decided to go blown, he handed the incomplete project over to a forced induction expert.
It's a tight fit, but the 347-cube Windsor sits nice and snug with no cutting in the engine bay. With the bonnet up, the blower pulley doesn't appear to fit, but it sits right up in the factory bulge!
Adam Beaman at Bendigo Engine Reconditioners took Dick’s XW-spec 302, stroked it out to 347ci using a Scat crank, then fitted a tonne of high-end stuff: eight Keith Black pistons, a pair of Procomp alloy heads and plenty of Crane bits throughout, topped with an under-bonnet Weiand 177 supercharger sucking through a Barry Grant 850cfm carburettor.
It’s a combo designed to be quick and reliable, something it has been since day one, thanks to Adam building, tuning and dynoing it before installation. “I figured if he built it, tuned it, and then blew it up, he could then fix it!” laughs Dick.
Dick was going to trim the boot area, but the work was so good, he decided to showcase it
“We could have made more power, but I didn’t want a hand grenade,” he continues. “It’s got 565 horses on the bench; that’s enough for what I want.”
It was this mentality that helped dictate the rear end; while having the underbody done, Dick hadn’t catered for the extra space a nine-inch would require, so he needed a smaller differential that was strong enough for cruising but could still take a bit of stick.
XM Falcons didn't have enough space for stout nine-inches, so Dick settled for a BorgWarner from an EL Falcon XR8
A shortened EL Falcon XR8 BorgWarner was installed and shifted back two inches, extending the wheelbase slightly and, crucially, allowing the fat 295-section rear Yokohamas to fit without molesting those stylish rear arches.
The body is kept level with a pair of rear airbags and held off the ground by a set of Weld Pro Stars – five-inchers up front and sensible 10s down back. The Weldies are directed by an RRS rack-and-pinion system and custom column.
Big Yokohamas just fit inside the stock arches thanks to a two-inch shift in the rear axle location. Dick didn't want to make major body alterations on such a rare coupe
Of course, doubling the capacity and embiggening the power five times over required a brake upgrade, with RRS slotted front rotors and DBA EL Falcon rear rotors being a perfectly cromulent solution, especially with Codie’s safety to think about.
You see, when this project started 12 years ago, Bradie and Codie were just kids, but now they’re young adults and Dick is happy to let them cruise the coupe. The twist is that Bradie isn’t remotely interested, while Codie loves it!
Having regularly attended car shows with Dad growing up, she spent the past decade threatening to drive the Futura the day she legally could, something she made good on. “I always said she could; I just never thought the day would come!” Dick sighs.
The Futura has been on the road for a couple of years now, and while it’s garnered its share of trophies, Dick built it to drive. So what’s next for a man who spent the past 20 years creating his perfect XM Falcon coupe?
Dick's XM looks fairly stock inside. 1967 Mustang seats replace the Futura buckets and all exposed metal surfaces are thickly coated in 'Dickwave'
“Time to rebuild the other coupe,” Dick responds. “The one I used and abused while I was building this one! It won’t be as perfect as the Futura, but it won’t take 20 years either.”
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ROAD WARRIOR: HOWARD ASTILL'S PRO TOURING '66 MUSTANG
By Glenn Torrens Photos Easton Chang & Peter Bateman
Street Machine July 31 2015
STREET Machine legend Howard Astill has been a busy bloke since he made the move from Broken Hill to the NSW South Coast a few years ago. He’s had a hand in building some super-neat cars, including Mark Arblaster’s reborn WAR440 (SM, August '11 ), Rod Vandersee’s XB coupe (SM, April '13) and Darren Blackman’s XB coupe, which will be featured in the September 2015 issue of the mag.
Howard’s own road car is his ’66 Mustang, which is a great example of a practical pro tourer that can also rake in the tinware at trophy time. It is a cracking car - we particularly like the dash treatment - and Howard drives the pants off it! Here’s the full story from when we featured it back in April 2008.
Howard's intention was never to build a show car, but whether he like's it or not this thing's a street elite stunner.
The '66 Mustang is a usable pro tourer, designed to be driven - hard
“This is really the first time I’ve seen it from a distance. Damn, I’m happy with those gaps!” he says, swinging his feet to the floor, refreshed after no more than 10 minutes sitting still.
“I reckon they’re the best I’ve ever seen, even if I do say so myself. But jeez, they’d want to be — I spent weeks chasing them.”
After the dozens of thumbs-ups and handshakes from the Summernats crowd, this self-compliment is possibly the ultimate accolade.
Under the bonnet is a Barry Grant carb-fed, 302-cube V8 Windsor producing a torquey and usable 385hp
“I’ve always preached that if you want to win trophies, you’ve gotta do what the judges want,” Howard says. “You have to build the car to suit the judging sheet and that’s how I’ve built my cars in the past. But this one I wanted to build for me.”
After two decades of show cars — Ford Falcons and one compact Fairlane — Howard wanted to build a Mustang he could drive hard, fulfilling a long lusted-after dream. His road car plans required a good shell and fortunately a mate (one of the Rare Spares co-founders, Dave Ryan) found a cracker while looking for his own.
Originally the Mustang was in pretty poor condition but was still driveable.
“This was sitting next to one he was looking at,” says Howard. “I drove down [to Victoria] the next day for a look and it was perfect for what I wanted to do.” It was in tatty condition but the six-cylinder engine worked and it was driven onto the trailer. Towed home to Broken Hill, Howard laid down a strong foundation, starting with sill reinforcement.
“They tend to move around a bit,” he says of the Mustang body. “I wanted this to handle so I needed to strengthen it. A sheet-metal bloke in Broken Hill folded it up 5mm at a time to get the radius on it. It runs the length of the floor from the torque box up front.”
Other magic metal touches include the flat firewall, the de-seamed rear quarters, recessed front indicators and reshaped rear valence. These were completed after Howard rectified the production line glitches — “I had no idea how bad Ford’s panel fit was,” — and some rust in the quarters, one door and the floor.
The gearbox is a Tremec 3550 TKO five-speed, while rear suspension is an RRS three-link system built
around a nine-inch diff
Halfway through the build, and with most of the underside complete, the car was relocated 1500km from Broken Hill to the Astill’s new home and workshop on the NSW south coast, where the real work began.
From May 2007, Howard committed to the car full-time, nine-to-five, six days a week, spreading the mess between his home and Spray Fever in Campbelltown where the paint was to be applied.
Howard was happy with his body prep, but Spray Fever’s Gareth Davies reckoned things could be better. “We put a straight-edge on each door and there was 10 or 15mm woof,” Howard says. “All cars have it but you never notice. I was happy to leave it that way but Gareth said I must fix the doors. I said no, because it’s a Ford and all Fords are made like that. But Gareth said they don’t have to be.
The dashboard is from a Nissan S15 200SX but it suits the Mustang incredibly well.
Well, we discussed it for about two hours and eventually I relented — ‘Let’s effing fix it.’ So each door was heat-shrunk to get it perfectly flat. If we’d stopped bickering we could have fixed the doors in two hours instead of talking!”
That wasn’t the end of the body work. “You do one thing and then you need to do another,” he says. “In this case, because we’d made the doors perfect, the woofle in the rear of the front fenders was noticeable.”
So they were massaged, leaving the body finally ready for John Hristias and Greg Henry to apply the straight red PPG tint base.
With the beige leather and timber tiller, the Howard's Mustang almost has an old-school Ferrari flavor to it
“We had 60 separate components in the spray booth,” explains John, who is PPG’s training manager as well as a Summernats judge. “It took 11 days in the booth and that was after Howard had spent a couple of weeks with filler and smoothing welds.”
Howard reckons he, John and Greg put in more that 650 hours preparing, painting and detailing. The result was worth all the hard work: the sides of the car look like they’ve somehow been sliced from glass.
Underneath, the floor’s final finish is textured black for a factory look, rather than the painted gloss of a top-shelf show car. The texture will hide the stone chips better when Howard goes out driving.
Keeping with the driver theme, the Mustang packs heavily bolstered seats
Even so, Howard reckons the body could be better. “You might call them blemishes, I call ’em dents,” he says of imperfections which he claims are on the bonnet and turret. “There are also a few ripples but you tend to drown in the wet-looking paint and don’t notice any imperfections. You look at the whole, not the individual parts.”
Mechanically, the Mustang is a pokey combination. Burnout legend Gary Myers built the World-headed, Barry Grant carb-fed, 302-cube V8 Windsor to produce a torquey and usable 385hp.
“We’ve know each other a long time,” Howard says. “Gary and Deby approached me about helping them with Silver Bullet; I asked him to help with the engine.
“I had a few ideas — I wanted a bit of old-school. I wanted something that was tough and reliable. I wanted that feeling of having to take a look outside when it pulls up in your driveway, know what I mean?
“It makes power and torque across a 3500rpm rev-range. It feels good! It pulls like an HO.”
The 302 Windsor features custom rocker covers with Howard's logo
The appearance almost exceeds the power — it’s art. Driveline components on show cars are often finger-bogged and high-filled for a smooth appearance but heat causes putty to fall off. Howard ground and deburred everything, then painted with materials that could take the heat.
The rocker covers are detailed with Howard’s logo, he remade every accessory bracket as well as the exhaust, incorporating a Variflow system under the car. Every line for fuel, brake and air conditioning is hard.
The gearbox is a Tremec 3550 TKO five-speed, while rear suspension is an RRS three-link system built around a nine-inch diff. This bolt-in package replaces the leaf springs with coil-overs, locating the axle with a Watts link and a long torque arm that reaches forward to a pivot point adjacent to the gearbox.
RRS is the name on the front suspension and the brakes too, with the Sydney-based manufacturer supplying the power-assisted rack and pinion steering system and the ‘Phase IV’ front struts that replace the Mustang’s upper and lower wishbones.
Even the boot has been meticulously detailed and houses the amplifiers for the upgraded stereo
The cross-drilled and slotted rotors are squeezed by six-piston calipers up front (matched by six-pots at the tail too) plumbed from the RRS under-dash master cylinder/booster kit.
Howard sketched a custom dash but then found his ideas ready-made in a Nissan S15 200SX. Howard bought one, reshaped it and had it plastic welded by Steve at Penrose Motors in Unanderra. An RRS remote-booster pedal box mounts under the driver’s side of the dash with the reservoirs accessible behind the redundant passenger airbag cover. There’s a Vintage Air air-conditioning system tucked under there, too.
Front seats are restyled Recaros with every stitch put in place by Rob Lingard at Hot Rod Trim in Shepparton, Vic. The Antisun tinted glass is all-new for that perfect touch, sourced through Rare Spares, and a new wiring harness was strung in by Howard, then sorted by Tom from Pro Bag in Unanderra, NSW.
Most of the car was dummy-assembled before the final build. After paint and buffing were finished, the hours spent — and the people involved — increased for the sprint to the Summernats finish-line.
Right to the end, Howard stuck to his philosophy that this was a car for himself. “I was asked to be part of the Meguiar’s Great Uncover but I refused. I didn’t want to create that expectation of it being an elite car, because it’s not; it’s a street car.”
Even so, the Mustang was placed in the Top 10. That’s elite, whether he likes it or not.
Howard is ecstatic at the response. “I’ve had grown men almost cry over the car; it’s been overwhelming,” he says proudly. “People just stand there and go: ‘Faaark!’ It’s come out so much better than I thought.”
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