ONE of my New Year’s resolutions was to delegate more and not go on quite so many work trips out of town. You know, give some other guys and girls a shot at the big gigs and spend more time with my family and friends, and lavish some attention on my Lincoln. Unlike all of my other resolutions (drink less beer, exercise more, swear less), this one I’ve actually stuck to.
It came back to bite me late in February though, when Boris Viskovic, Chris Thorogood and Jordan Leist jetted to the Detroit Autorama to cover the debut of Chris Bitmead’s XBOSS Falcon for Street Machine. Boris and Jordan are both West Aussies, so they were extra-invested in being there to see their fellow Sandgropers make history. And Chris T is about to become a dad for the first time, so we thought this might be his last chance to do a big overseas trip for a little while. Besides which, they are all much better photographers than me, so I opted to man the fort and take care of our online coverage of the Autorama.
Of course, once the photos and videos started rolling in, the FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in. Even from 15,953km away, the tension in the days before the event was very real. I first met Chris Bitmead in 2006, when we shot his Hemi-powered ’32 coupe for the Street Machine Hot Rod Annual. Since then, we’ve stayed in touch as his XB-to-Autorama plans started to come together, and I had no doubt about the massive amount of effort and passion that Chris and his team have put into the car. Everyone involved knew that XBOSS was exceptional, but would it be enough to make the Great Eight, and therefore put it in the running for the prestigious Ridler Award? Would the car get damaged in transit, and if so, would they have time to fix it? Would the locals be able to process a body style that would be unfamiliar to most?
As you can read on page 10, most of those fears were unfounded, and XBOSS not only made it into the Great Eight, it also won the Outstanding Car of Show award and was warmly embraced by fellow car builders and the public alike.
“The reaction to XBOSS was insane, I’ve never seen anything like it,” team member Greg Maskell told me via the dog-and-bone after the Ridler Award ceremony was done. “For most of the weekend, the crowd was six-to-eight-people deep around the car. Because the newspapers and TV stations latched onto the Falcon, it brought people in to see it specifically. I met a group of guys from Florida who flew up for the day, just to see XBOSS.
“The fact that most people didn’t know what the car was didn’t seem to be a problem. A lot of them did think it was a Torino, but others knew what it was because of Mad Max. The most intriguing aspect of the car to the Americans was the way the boot and bonnet opened up.
“The other thing that blows them away is how restricted we are by what we need to do to engineer a car to be legal to drive them on a road. They couldn’t understand why we didn’t bolt it onto a chassis, for example.”
So while I was kicking myself for not taking the chance to be there, it was very cool to be able to help get a ton of coverage for the event on streetmachine.com.au as it happened. And it was neat to see the reactions of proud Aussies back home on social media, including our most famous XB coupe fan, Eric Bana. If you haven’t seen it, Google “Americans React to the Aussie XBOSS Falcon” to hear what some of the local fans had to say about the car, it’s a cracker. And come back next issue for the full feature on the beast. s