Anyone who wants to learn how to be American needs to talk to an Australian. It sounds weird, but let's examine the facts, shall we? Sure, Americans popularized the muscle car formula, but the only way we can build a proper V-8, rear-drive sedan these days is by invading the land Down Under, heisting the Holden parts bin, and rebadging Monaros and Commodores as Pontiac GTOs and G8s. Likewise, the closest thing you can get to 1960s Trans-Am racing is the Australian V8 Supercar series. Worse yet, the street Chevy SS's that NASCAR stockers are supposed to resemble are actually rebadged Holden Commodores. Perhaps the biggest shocker is that while the American muscle car era came to a screeching halt in the early 1970s, Australians kept cranking out some truly badass machinery. Craig Goldberg's 1976 Ford XC Falcon is one of those cars, packing a 540hp Cleveland small-block, a three-link suspension, and a Tremec TKO 600 that you shift with your left hand. It's a rare bird that doesn't just smoke the competition, but also leaves the competition scratching their heads as to what they just got smoked by.
To uninformed Americans, the Australian XC Falcon looks like a cross between a Torino and a Clydesdale Mustang, only prettier. Although Australian Falcons were based on their American counterparts until 1971, Ford's Australian engineers designed a Falcon of their own after the model got scrapped in the U.S. market. "The XC Falcon isn't based on any American car, and it's built on its own unique Australian platform. It uses the same control arms as in a 1969-71 Mustang and Torino, but no other parts are interchangeable with any American Ford," Craig explains. Precise figures are hard to come by, but Craig estimates that there are only 10 to 15 two-door XC Falcons in the United States. That makes for some interesting conversation at shows, and an incessant barrage of questions from bystanders whenever the car rolls down the street. "Everyone who sees this car for the first time has no idea what it is, and they usually guess that it's an AMX, a Mustang, a Torino, or some kind of Dodge. Once they find out it's an Australian Falcon, they want to know how I got the car to the United States. When I tell people that I drove it here, and everything went great until I got to the end of the pier, the look on their faces is priceless."
In truth, Craig didn't have to monkey around with any of the importing duties. He was merely in the right place at the right time. "When I saw Mad Max as a 15-year-old kid in 1980, I fell in love with the Falcon in that movie and always wanted to own one since then. Since it's an Australian car, however, I figured it wasn't realistic and I never thought I'd ever have the chance to find one," he says. "I'm always looking at old cars for sale just to see what's out there, and I saw a XC Falcon listed in AutoTrader in 2005. I flipped the page, said 'no way,' and flipped the page back. It was totally by chance, and after checking the car out in person that evening, it was sitting in my garage the next day."
Since no one in their right mind would spend big bucks transporting a rust heap nearly 9,000 miles from Australia to San Antonio, the Falcon was in great shape as expected. It still had the factory 351 Cleveland and original suspension, and the car's former owner had just sprayed it in a fresh coat of Cayenne Pepper red paint. Craig was content to drive the Falcon in stock trim for a while, but an impromptu street race with a BMW M1—the company's rare and ill-fated mid-engine supercar—changed his plans in a hurry. "The M1 pulled up to me on the freeway, so I dropped it down to Third gear and beat it badly. Since they were both such oddball cars on the road at the same time, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to race," he quips. Unfortunately for Craig, the victory proved costly. "Shortly after that race, the motor started going out on me. That's when the transformation began. I wanted to build something that I could go open road racing in at Big Bend, but also drive around town."
The first order of business was rebuilding the motor. Craig enlisted Kotzur Racing to transform the Cleveland into one mean lump. Kotzur bored the block .030-inch over, and fitted it with a 4.000-inch Eagle forged crank, steel rods, and a set of 9.5:1 JE pistons. To take advantage of the newfound 408 ci of displacement, a set of Trick Flow 225cc aluminum cylinder heads and a single-plane intake manifold got bolted down to the short-block. A COMP 224/224-at-.050 hydraulic roller cam actuates the valves, and the ignition system is all MSD. To improve driveability and fuel mileage, Craig yanked the carb and replaced it with an Edelbrock Pro-Flo EFI system. The result is a stout 540 hp.
With that kind of power, the chassis was in serious need of some modern suspension hardware, but that proved to be quite a challenge. "You can't go to the local parts store and find parts for a car like this, so I became good friends with the guys at GT Ford Performance in Australia (www.falcongt.com.au), who shipped me every part that I needed. Due to the time difference, I was always calling them around 10 p.m., and there is a much bigger language barrier than you'd think," Craig recalls. The Falcon's factory leaf-spring setup wouldn't cut it anymore, so Craig replaced the entire rear suspension with an RRS three-link system. The springs, steering rack, strut tower brace, sway bars, and disc brakes are RRS units as well. Sticking it all to the pavement are 18-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber. The full Pro Touring rubdown is quite befitting of an XC Falcon, a machine replete with hard-core racing pedigree. Back in 1977, XC Falcons finished 1-2 at the legendary Bathurst 1000 race, further enhancing the car's appeal.
Speaking of appeal, from their outrageous yet tasteful proportions to their potent Cleveland powerplants, there's a lot to like about these Aussie Falcons. The problem is that they're almost impossible to find, and that exclusivity is what Craig appreciates the most. "I love pulling up to a stoplight knowing that I will never see another Australian Falcon next to me," he says. "Since the car is right-hand drive, when I go cruising with my daughter, Sydney, people freak out when they see a 13-year-old in the passenger seat with her hands sticking out the window. I love seeing that look on her face, and it makes all the time and money that went into building this car worthwhile." Now that the cat's out of the bag, if you ever run across some oddball Grabber Blue muscle car, at least now you know what you're about to get smoked by.
BY THE NUMBERS
1976 Ford XC Falcon
San Antonio, TX
Craig says Australian 351C blocks are stronger than their American counterparts due to a h
Type: Ford Cleveland 408ci small-block
Block: stock, bored to 4.030 inches
Oiling: Melling pump, factory pan
Rotating assembly: Eagle 4.000-inch forged steel crank and rods; JE 9.5:1 forged pistons
Cylinder heads: Trick Flow 225cc aluminum castings with 2.08/1.60-inch valves
Camshaft: COMP Cams 224/224-at-.050 hydraulic roller; .566/.566-inch lift; 110-degree LSA
Valvetrain: COMP lifters, Scorpion 1.7:1 roller rockers
Induction: Trick Flow single-plane intake manifold; Edelbrock Pro-Flo EFI, injectors, and throttle body
Fuel system: Rick's Hot Rod Shop stainless steel tank, Weldon fuel pump
Ignition: MSD billet distributor, 6AL ignition box, and coil
Exhaust: Pacemaker 2-inch headers, dual 3-inch MagnaFlow mufflers
Cooling system: Be Cool radiator and electric fan
Output: 540 hp
Built By: Kotzur Racing
Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed manual; Centerforce clutch
Rear axle: Ford 9-inch rearend with 31-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears, and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: RRS springs, sway bar, and tower brace; QA1 shocks
Rear suspension: RRS three-link, springs and sway bar; QA1 shocks
Brakes: RRS 12-inch rotors and two-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: American Racing Torq-Thrust 18x8, front; 18x9.5, rear
Tires: BFGoodrich 225/45R18, front; 285/40R18, rear
Although the Falcon’s body was already in great shape, Craig didn’t care for the red paint
Right-hand drive looks strange, especially inside a muscle car. After taking delivery of t
After installing the RRS three-link suspension, there wasn’t enough room under the car to