XC Fairmont Hardtop Monumental rebuild

2023-04-23 00:00:00

XC Fairmont Hardtop Monumental rebuild
Originally starting its life as a 6-cylinder 4-speed manual, Russell Sheppard bought his Ford XC Fairmont Hardtop in Mareeba QLD almost 20 years ago for no more than $2,000.

The XC Hardtop’s First Major Upgrade

Fast forward almost a decade to when the XC Fairmont got it’s first major upgrade.

“At this particular time it was running a 351, top loader and disc brake 9-inch. It wasn’t long after that that I decided to have her painted Glasurit Wild Violet and black,” Russell added. 

Once Russell made these aesthetic changes, he gave the coupe some new fat wheels – 15×8 and 15×12 Dragway Indy’s. The coupe was his daily work car for the first four to five years, but with expensive registration, Russell decided to park her in the shed – instead, buying a 4-cylinder Mazda 1000 ute.

That’s when the modifications really began on the hardtop. The engine went to Kevin Wyatt at Wyatt’s Motor Repairs in Herberton. Kevin delivered a tough tunnel rammed roller 351 Clevo.

It wasn’t too long before Russell endured a setback, with the standard 28 spline axle snapping. Back to the shed she went, with a new set of 31 billet axles a full spool centre on the way. At this stage, the coupe was running 11.8 at 119mp/h. It was a tough street machine.

The decision to strip the car back to its bare shell

In 2010, Russell made the decision to strip the car back to its bare shell, and build from the ground up.

“It started its life as a 6-cylinder XC Fairmont hardtop that wasn’t worth big money. It wasn’t a GT, it wasn’t a Cobra so why not modify it?” He said.

“It started its life as a 6-cylinder XC Fairmont hardtop that wasn’t worth big money. It wasn’t a GT, it wasn’t a Cobra so why not modify it?” He said.

No expense was spared

Now that the vehicle was in the hero Ford Eleanor colour, it was time to work on the engine.

With everything he needed below, the engine had come to life at an exhilarating 1066hp and a whopping 1200 foot pounds of torque.

Knowing that he couldn’t run a 6-speed manual gearbox with those figures, Russell continued with his research. This is when he linked with Tony Carter at Geartorque, in Brisbane.

Tony built Russell an extremely tough power glide, trans brake, 3500 converter – resulting in no problems over the years.

The suspension was changed to air ride all around, with rear leaf springs removed and four links fitted. Running Willwood brakes reverse mount master cylinders for extra room and a smooth look in the engine bay, the coupe is paramount.

Complete with electric power steering, BF Falcon steering, pinion air-conditioning, central locking and a huge stereo system. The coupe continues to rise above its competitors.

As an added bonus, it hosts a 300 shot of nitrous that is connected but is yet to be used.

Build Time from Start to Completion

Russell planned on rebuilding his XC Fairmont coupe in 6-12 months. Six-and-a-half years later, his labour of love has resulted in an astonishing rebuild that rivals many. 

“The hardtop was everything I wanted in a muscle car, I wanted to keep the nice factory look with the GS bonnet, fuel cap, wing and stripes, but then add a few things like the extra stripes over the roof, modernise the suspension, interior and driveline,” Russell added.

“It’s still original wheel arches, I haven’t really touched underneath it.”

The inspiration behind the interior

“I’m a truck driver, so if you ever go and look inside a Kenworth you’ll know – it’s the button upholstery, long dash, fibreglass – it’s there,” Russell adds.

What a Journey

While Russell enjoyed building his TUFF XC Fairmont, he notes that it was a lot of work.

“I am not sure if I would do it again… It was a lot of work and the only time it ever left my shed was to get painted, everything else was done in my shed,” he says.

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