Have a close look at the bootlid on Steve Mellish's gorgeous 1965 Falcon coupe.
There is a neatly embossed logo that reads Power By Ford. Nice idea this - cut
the top off a rocker cover from an old 250ci straight six and graft it into the
sheetmetal. Looks so good, you'd swear the factory put it there. Continuing
scanning with your magnifying glass and you'll notice other sweet 'n subtle
sheetmetal tweaks, like a hidden bootlock and no aerial hole. Lift the boot and
there is an XA fuel tank in place, for two reasons - greater fuel capacity and a
recessed spare wheel well.
The engine bay sparkles. That's because Steve's paid alot of attention to detail. There's minimal clutter too, because the
battery is in the boot, the brake booster lives under the front guard and the whole engine bay has been fully welded and
smoothed. And there lies the beauty of this V8 powered early bird. You wont find anything radical or cutting edge. This
is a street driven reality; every area of the car has been breathed on, yet the overall final effect is a midly modified 1960's
classic that's perfectly suited to Steve's tastes and lifestyle.
It's a street machine that gives this Perth-based engineering manager and his
wife Sandra alot of pleasure everytime they fire it up and hit the bitumen for
some quality cruising. Sadly though, that pleasure has come at considerable
cost and hard earned cash and sheer aggravation.
"The first panel shop I took it to kept it for 18 months then went out of
business," Steve reflects. "They never completed the job so I had to take it to
another shop to finish it. All up I reckon I wasted about two grand on the body
work. I'm still not entirely happy with it, so one day soon we'll have to do it
again," relates Steve.
Steve is obviously a bit of a perfectionist. And we reckon he seriously
undersells himself. For instance, he took the coupe to Perth's Motorvation
show in January and put it on display for no other reason but self satisfaction.
He certainly didn't expect to win anything. You can imagine his
suprise when the judges awarded his coupe runner-up honours in
the Top Tudor Coupe category, followed by the approach to
feature the car in Street Machine !.
"I honestly thought you guys had made a mistake or someone was
playing a bad joke on me," Steve admits. "I really didn't think my
car was anything special but I think maybe I underestimated it's
appeal." You got that right.
Steve's now 32. He bought the old Ford from a car yard when he was just 16, but the rebuild didn't start until
February 1996. First stop was Custom Restorations, where Leon did a good job cutting out and replacing the rusted
floor sections and rear quarter panels, grafting in the later model XA fuel tank and performing all those subtle
sheetmetal tweaks. At the end of the shitfight with the panel shops that followed, Steve at least had a completed shell to
show for it, covered in two-pack Nissan Micra Turquoise.
Steve wanted his streeter to be a reliable daily driver with strong performance. AA Engineering screwed together the
30-thou over Windsor 302ci V8, with 600cfm Holley, Edelbrock Performer manifold, worked heads and a
Heatseaker cam. The little Windsor packs 10:1 compression, with Mallory ignition, headers and a self-built two inch
Darren at Canning Vale Auto Electrics did a top job threading the new wiring. Early
Falcons where never sold in Australia with a V8 under the bonnet, but the Windsor is
an easy conversion as the car was sold in the U.S. with a V8 option.
With around 300 horses at the flywheel, the old coupe gets up and boogies when
Steve nails the throttle. A Ford C10 three-speed auto gets the power down via an XC
Falcon V8 tailshaft and nine inch diff running 3:1 gears and a mini-spool centre. "I
chose a mini-spool after the driving events at Motorvation," Steve explains. "The thing
just kept lighting up the inside tyre, so I knew a spool would fix that once and for all."
With Top 10 places in both the slalom and Go-Whoa, this XP is
obviously a good handler, thanks to a 50mm drop in ride height, urethane
suspension bushes and Monroe Gas shocks. It sits on 15*7 Superlights
and 225/60 and 195/60 rubber. DBA ventilated front discs are clamped
hard by XE Falcon alloy callipers with big 11-inch drums under the bum.
Coastal Tint and Trim continued Steve's understated design theme
inside, re-trimming the Mazda 626 front buckets in grey velour with a
re-bolstered stock rear seat copping the same cloth treatment. Plush grey
carpet, Ford Laser retractable seat belts and a Hurst Shifter complete
the trim package.
Steve can't see himself selling this one, but its build has certainly provided inspiration for a future RetroTech car. "I
measured up a Lexus V8 the other day but it's a bit too wide to fit in one of these," he says, with more than a gleam in
his eye. "A car like this with full Lexus running gear would be absolutely sensational. I'd really like to do that one day."
Story by Kram Reltsao
- Photos by Mark Beam
Feature used with thanks to Street Machine magazine
Copyright 1999 ACP Action
Steve Mellish's XP Coupe
Owner: Steve Mellish
Engine: 302 Windsor
Trans: C10 3 speed
Diff: 9", 3:1