IF PATIENCE could be monetised, Kim Argaet would be a multimillionaire. For 30 years he yearned for an Aussie Falcon hardtop, spending all that time looking and planning. The magnificent XB coupe you see here is how fate eventually rewarded him.
“In 2011, I went to the Wangaratta Swap Meet looking for some Ford badges to put up in my garage,” Kim says. “I wasn’t really looking for a car; it just happened that a four-door XB GT mock-up caught my eye. I talked to the seller, struck a deal and I bought it – it was a good, clean, running car.”
As it turned out, the sedan seller had a mate who owned more than a dozen Ford coupes. Kim decided it was now or never, and enlisted the bloke’s help to convince his buddy into letting one of his coupes go.
The plan worked; after a few months of coaxing, the Coupe Collector’s collection became one coupe fewer. Kim’s new prize was far from perfect, but it made for a good starting point.
“To many, it probably looked a bit rough,” Kim says. “But people who know coupes would know it was a pretty good body. It had the usual rust: sills, boot channel, wheelarches and back window. However, the floors, boot floor and plenum were all solid. I’ve seen a lot worse.”
As well as having a pretty solid body, the best thing about it for Kim was that it wasn’t a GT! “I didn’t want a GT,” he says. “Otherwise I’d have to restore it back to original and probably have to paint it a colour I didn’t want. Being a 250 GS, I could build it into the car I’d been thinking about for 30 years!”
Upon teardown, Kim was pleasantly surprised to find no surprises – it was a pretty honest car. The biggest issue was the original lady owner; backing in and out of her brick garage, she’d frequently nudged both rear quarters against the walls, which had pushed both body lines up about four inches!
Before attacking the mangled quarters, Anthony Selva of Rod & Race Shop in Shepparton set about eliminating all the cancer. This was a huge job, as many of the repair panels now available didn’t exist back then. Anthony also turned many of Kim’s ideas into metal reality, including the subtle reversecowl bonnet scoop, remaking the die-cast headlight eyebrows in steel, shaving the side marker lights, tucking and reshaping the bumpers, and welding up the bumper bolts and every unnecessary hole in the engine bay.
ENGINE: Kim is justifiably proud of the engine bay. “We put a lot of hours in there smoothing and tidying up everything,” he says. “There’s also plenty of wow factor – especially the 427-cube Ford Racing Windsor with its alloy heads and alloy block!”
BONNET: Very few people notice the subtle reverse-cowl bonnet – which is exactly the look Kim was after. It’s also fully functional, allowing the hot air generated by the 600-horse Windsor to escape out the back
DESPITE the coupe making it into the Elite Top 60 and taking out 3rd Top Coupe at Summernats 31, as well as picking up a swag of awards at other shows – including Rare Spares Choice, Top Car, Top Engineered, Top Coupe, Top 10, Best Modified and Best Engine Bay – 74-KOOP’s back window continues to be the bane of Kim’s existence. “The glass and stainless trim just won’t sit right, which really annoys me,” he says. “I’ve looked at a lot of other coupes and they seem to have similar issues. We’ve had four goes at putting the rear ’screen in – still no luck. Next time we’re going to delete the rubber and just Sikaflex the glass and moulds into place.”
“The idea was to fix up everything Ford should have,” Kim says. “From the factory, the bars didn’t fit well at all; they looked like they could have been from a completely different car! The subtle body mods go unnoticed by a lot of people, which means they’re perfect; we’d done a great job, as we wanted it to all look factory.”
From there, the body went to Clint Smith at GV Restorations, who worked his magic on those big quarters, massaging them back into shape before making the rest of the coupe’s beautiful lines stand out. Kudos for final prep and laying on the colour goes to Ryan ‘Dozza’ McDermott.
While all this was going on, Kim and his son Dion set about piecing together the driveline. In addition to his wife, Lyn, who put up with the five-year build, Kim gives a lot of credit to Dion, a fussy-as mechanic with a penchant for building tough, cool cars. “Dion put a ton of effort and know-how into the build,” he says. “He’s responsible for most of the mechanical mods and upgrades.”
Now that he had his dream coupe, Kim offloaded the sedan, which paid for all the running gear, purchased from the States. “The Aussie dollar was great back then, about $1.10; that saved me a lot of money,” he says.
Wanting to build something different, they opted for a Windsor rather than the usual Cleveland – a 600hp, 427-cube Ford Racing Windsor, to be precise. This very special crate motor sports Ford’s Z-series alloy heads and block – phwaorr!
“After much head-scratching, we decided to leave the block and heads raw,” Kim says. “If we painted ’em, how would anyone know they’re alloy?”
As part of the US shopping spree, they also picked up a TCI Super StreetFighter C4, while a brutally strong, 35-spline nine-inch with LSD centre finishes off the stout driveline. Shaun McCarroll built the disc-brake rear to suit the wheels and tyres – which fit to a T.
Rather than wait for the body to be finished, Dion and Kim borrowed a rolling coupe shell, loaded the running gear into it and sent it off to good friend Dave North to fab the exhaust. Due to the pipe sizes needed for 600hp, plus the lack of Windsor-into-XB offerings, Dave had to make the extractors from scratch. They dump into a three-inch system that tucks up
BOOT: The original cardboard filler panels on either side of the immaculate boot were remanufactured in metal, complete with OEM-style swage lines. What you can’t see are the two pint-sized dry-cell batteries suspended from under the parcel tray – you have to bend down and look up to spot them
REAR: To remove any potential restriction, the original 2.5in inlets were lopped off the back of the oval GT exhaust tips. New 3in pipe was reshaped to match the oval shape and butt-welded onto the chrome tips
EXTERIOR: Keen FoMoCo fans might notice the factory Apollo Blue looks a bit different – that’s because it is! It’s a custom mix, with Kim keeping mum about how they made the colour look brighter and cleaner. As for the silver GT livery, it’s all painted on very neatly. It was quite a task getting such hefty pipes up over the diff and around the Bathurst-spec fuel tank.
“When it came to final assembly – which seemed to go on forever – the exhaust fitted perfectly,” Kim says.
The next job was to sort the interior, where Kim reckoned that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: “Inside Ford got it spot-on,” he says. “I didn’t see the need to upgrade it.” Musty at Customized Auto Trimmers restored the front and rear seats, fitting new padding and new covers sporting GT-spec cloth inserts. A new crash pad, door trims, hoodlining, carpets and gauge cluster, plus XC-style retractable rear seatbelts, round out the interior resto.
While the build might sound relatively straightforward, the reality was quite the opposite. “I was chasing parts the past five years,” Kim says. “Colin Wignell [Muscle Parts &Repairs, Shepparton] sourced a lot of really hard-to-get stuff. In fact, it’s been finished two years and I’m still chasing stuff! All the coupe-specific parts are nearly impossible to find.”
Still, as far as Kim’s concerned, all his patience and persistence has been vindicated. “I’m totally rapt with how it turned out,” he says. “At shows,
I take more photos of it than anybody. When asked how it drives, I say:
‘Better than new – and it would friggin’ want to!’ There’s not a single old part in it; everything is brand new, fully refurbished or upgraded. That said, it’s comfortable and cruises beautifully, with really good power. She’s a big head-turner too; I’m forever waving back at strangers who’ve given it the big thumbs-up.”
Yes, good things come to those that wait – even if that wait lasts 30 years – and Kim’s Falcon hardtop is most definitely a good thing.
1974 FORD XB HARDTOP Colour: Apollo Blue
Engine: 427ci Windsor
Block: Ford Racing Z351 alloy Intake: Edelbrock Victor Jr Heads: Ford Racing Z-series, CNC-ported
Cam: Comp Cams solid-roller Crank: Ford Racing forged
Rods: Ford Racing H-beam Pistons: Mahle
Ignition: MSD Billet Dizzy, 8.5mm leads
Carb: Holley 850
Radiator: Aussie Desert Cooler Exhaust: Custom headers, 3in exhaust
Fuel: 98 PULP
Power/torque: 600hp/ 560lb-ft@5000rpm
Gearbox: TCI C4 Super StreetFighter
Converter: TCI 3500rpm stall Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 LSD, 31-spline axles
Front suspension: King Springs, Koni adjustable shocks
Rear suspension: Reset leaf springs, Koni adjustable shocks Brakes: BA-FG drilled and slotted 300mm rotors (f), 287mm rotors with AU II calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Polished XB
Wheels: Convo Pro;
15x7 (f), 15x10 (r)
Tyres: Toyo 205/65/15 (f), Avenger GT 295/50/15 (r)
“Tucking the bars into the body, deleting the factory die-cast headlight eyebrows and shaving the side marker lights really make the body lines cleaner, as well as making the car look longer,” Kim says.
Did you notice that 74-KOOP is missing the passenger-side door lock? “I was never going to use it,” Kim says, “and I don’t trust the reliability of electric solenoids, so I left the driver’s side lock alone”