On Wolfgang Backer’s fridge once rested a single photo cut from a magazine – it was a black XY Falcon, the type of car that dreams were made of. At the time, just sitting metres away in his garage, was an XY Fairmont that was more of a nightmare than a dream: “The funny thing is, the guy I bought it off almost had a heart attack when I told him that I wanted to restore it. In his mind, he had already done the job. He almost didn’t sell it to me when I said that,” laughed Wolfie. “The car was a dog’s breakfast. Stuff was held in with tek screws and cable ties and it didn’t run that well at all. The saving grace was the reasonably-sound body and the fact it was a factory Fairmont – which was important to me.
“I remember wanting to get an Aussie classic before the muscle car boom was about to happen. I was worried if I waited any longer I was going to miss out – that was about 14 years ago now. I discussed the idea with my partner Sharon and she was all for it. It was something we could share and enjoy together. At the time, I didn’t know when I was going to start the build, but I did know I wanted to do something impressive. It was just a matter of time before I could make a start, and after selling a house of mine, I had an influx of money so the build could commence. I was pumped.”
Around 10 years ago, Wolfie’s cousin, Simon Woodley, did him a massive favour and helped panel and paint the car for free. Of course, the car was going to be black – just like the car on the fridge – and Wolfie liked the idea of using Starlight Silver for the stripes: “We used the same silver under the bonnet of the car, on the dash fascia and in the custom console I made for the shifter. I thought that the silver and black really worked with the chrome. I even had the grille chromed to be a little different.” The custom stripes on the car were made to suit the capacity of the new heart that the car was soon to get.
“Back when I had the motor built, there weren’t too many 434 cube Ford donks kicking around. I liked the idea of creating a Cleveland/Windsor hybrid, and there was no one better at building such a monster than Derek Paulik – he really is the best at what he does.” The Man O’War block wears CHI 3V 225cc heads and a matching CHI manifold. Lurking out of the bonnet is a Holley 1000cfm carby that is fed pump-fuel via a Barry Grant pump. Internally, the motor has been treated to forged Scat components. Mufflers R Us in Mandurah took care of the 2-inch exhaust that flows from Pacemaker headers. Shane at Kirky’s Kustoms did the upgrade on the wiring system, hiding what he could.
“The car can make a heap of power, but I like the idea of pulling back on things a tad so the combo lasts. Reliability and street manners are more important to me. The car has made 680hp with 620lb-ft of torque and I have run a best of 10.6 over the quarter. I then drove it home from the track that night. The thought of having a genuine street car that can run a 10 is a pretty big deal in my books.”
Since running that number, the car has undergone some alterations to the driveline and suspension. The XY wears Calvert shocks all round and helping the ol’ girl hook up is a set of Caltracs. After that first drag racing experience, Wolfie upgraded the fully-manualised C10 ’box with a transbrake to make the next hit on the track a hell of a lot harder. Out back the 9-inch diff is pieced together with billet axles, a full spool and street-friendly, 3.9 gears.
“If I could run a nine naturally aspirated, that would be awesome. If that isn’t achievable then I might have to give the car a shot of gas to make things interesting. The car was built to be a tough streeter and I reckon I have nailed just that.”