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Model  : 1975 XB Falcon GT
Owner : Richard Allen

It was December 2nd 1975 when the Tango GT was delivered to Brian Pollock Ford. It turns out the car was a special order for the Manager of the new car section, who, at first, was reluctant to sell the car to Dad. The XB range only had 6 more months to run which meant it would finish around June of 1976. First available in 1973, it proved to be one of Fords most popular models. The sales team at Brian Pollocks realised the power that future sales generated and Dad was determined to have the Tango GT.

It was optioned with parchment interior, power steering, and protection pack and was fitted with air conditioning at the dealership. It was often cheaper to retro fit the air con than order it from the factory. At some stage, a long-range fuel tank was fitted, possibly for the long haul to South Australia. Not long after delivery in early 1976 Dad ventured to Mount Gambier with his Mum. He decided to tow a caravan, something that would give today’s GT fan a heart attack. I will attempt to extract more information about the trip from Dad at a later date…..

Deano Sant is an enthusiastic young GT fan. He and I met on the email, discussing our relative futures as “two blokes interested in GTs.” I had asked for any information on GTs and his reply was the start of our friendship. He’s had a number of Fords, but always in search of that elusive GT. He’s currently proud to own a K code XY GS. A chance period of ownership included his XE Fairmont Ghia, which I ended up buying from him as a first car for our son David. Silver in colour, it was an ideal first car, which David could learn his trade and get experience. Deano then purchased another Ghia and emailed one day asking if I could get hold of some clips for the headlights, a process I had already gone through for David’s car. I was in Fyshwick on the Thursday before Easter 2004. I remembered Deano’s request for the clips and went around to the Ford spares shop. I pulled up outside, right behind a gorgeous Thunderbird. I had no idea whose it was but after walking around it twice and going inside the shop, I met up with an old mate, Kerry Hughes.

Kerry owns Americar Imports, a shop catering for people who want to own American cars. I once bought an XA GT from him which I believe was an RPO83 but sold it before I had a chance to verify it. RPOs were not really recognised the way they are today. Kerry owned the Thunderbird. We talked for a while about our cars and Kerry asked if I wanted to buy an XB GT.

He was with another man who he said owned the car. He introduced himself as Bob Harris and said his son actually owned the car. They hadn’t had the car very long. I was only vaguely interested as I had 2 GTs and the TS50 already at home in the shed. I asked what colour it was. “Bright orange!” he said. I pricked up my ears. “What about the interior?” I asked, hoping against hope it could be the Tango car. “ Beige.” Hmm, it could be…I thought. “Is it auto or manual?” This would define the need to view it. “Auto”, said Bob. My God the combination was right so far. I told him my Dad used to own a bright orange auto GT with beige trim. The hair on my neck was starting to stand.

Completely out of the blue a car the family owned almost 30 years ago had come to light. Bob asked my dad’s name. “Bob Allen”, I replied proudly. He said he thought the name in the handbook was Bob Allen. Yes, it still had the logbook in it. Bob and his son Brad had been told of a GT sitting in a shed in Queanbeyan. If it was to come to light, of all places it should be Queanbeyan! The owner of the shed wanted the car removed. It had resided, lonely and cold, for almost 23 years in the shed as part of an unfinished project of the old man’s son.

They found the car as a bare shell, sitting in the corner of the shed with the rest of the pieces in about 100 polystyrene boxes, scattered on the shed walls and floor. The owner, as far as I can gather, completely dismantled it before suffering an illness and giving up on the restoration. Its last registration was in 1982, 23 years ago. If it hadn’t been for my mate Deano requesting those clips the opportunity would almost certainly have passed. I had no other reason for being in the shop that day. I’m still amazed at the amount of Karma that surrounds cars.

I had to see this car.

Bob Harris is a shy, reserved bloke who agreed that we should visit and view the GT but wasn’t sure his son, Brad, wanted to sell. That would have to wait until we met that evening. I can’t remember the short trip home that afternoon except the phone call to my wife Angela. “We have to go to Kambah, this evening” “I think I may have found Dad’s old XB!” Always approving, Angela agreed. She could see and feel the excitement I was trying to cope with. That eternal car chase that takes days with me, trying to justify buying a car or passing it up wasn’t there this time. I knew that if it was the right car, we should do something to rescue it or at least help with its resurrection.

The feeling walking into that shed was weird. The GT was sitting on two drums at the rear and the front end resting on the concrete floor of the shed. It was indeed a bare shell. I don’t recall seeing anything attached to that shell, that hadn’t been removed. Not a nut or bolt. Brad had started some work on the outer sheet metal. A panel beater by trade he had purchased the GT to rebuild and probably on sell again. I’m still trying to work that part out.

We talked nervously for a while about what the car meant to us and what Brad and Bob had planned. They were both very obliging and felt that if I wanted the car, it should be returned to its family. I was a bit nervous about taking something they had planned to restore and sell for profit. We agreed on a price that suited both camps I think. Cheap enough for us to afford and complete the restoration but hopefully enough for Brad also to regain his outlay. The best part was when they offered to help me with the monumental task of restoring it. It was decided it should be done properly or not at all and I’m pleased agreement could be reached on so many small details.

Then Bob produced the owner’s handbook. “Mr R.M.Allen, 127 Lowanna St Braddon, ACT. Still there after nearly 30 years. Some of dad’s handwriting, scrawled throughout the booklet, brought back vague memories as I flicked through the pages. Bob said he’d tried to contact a few ‘Allens’ in the phone book without success. Dad had moved from Braddon in the 80s and the book entry had been removed.

We sifted through boxes of parts for an hour or so, amazed at how some of the bits had stood the test of time and were still serviceable. Bob’s a mechanic by trade and Brad a panel beater/spray painter. We agreed that most of the original parts should be used in the restoration. A process that would involve hundreds of man-hours and about 18 months was about to begin.

It was the Easter long weekend in April 2004 we started the crusade, as I call it. All the panels were really straight. Two new front guards came with the car. The doors are original items with one requiring a new skin, also with the car. Brad thought it may have had a scrape or two over the years, but remember it had been sitting in that shed for 22 years, since 1982.

One of the main things required was a list of missing or damaged parts we’d need along the way. I had to source the necessary items from Ebay, second hand wreckers, friends and Bob was able to gain parts from places he knew as well. The early work for the “apprentice”, as I was soon to be known, was cleaning and stripping parts and panels. It’s a lot of work but worth the effort when the finished result rolls out of the garage. All the metal work had to be stripped of existing paint. Luckily no rust was found anywhere. Very little panel beating was needed either. In all, this body would be one of the best, saved mainly by it sitting in the dry shed. Brad has had to repair things like to front indicator panel, the door skins and welding the protection strip tabs on the sides of the car.

I had purchased new rubbers for all suspension parts including upper control arms, riveted ball joints, rear shackles and sway bar. This XB handles and feels like a new car. I kept everything Ford as well. The wheels were stripped and rubbed with 800 grade ‘wet and dry’ sandpaper, then correct Argent silver paint. I had a set of GT centres, which I had re-chromed, along with various other parts. All the bolts and nuts from the engine bay area were cleaned and treated by the chroming shop to give a new appearance. It’s a long and tedious process and I had to rely on the various businesses to complete the work, which occasionally ran into weeks at a time.

Another interesting but exhausting task is the researching of ‘correct’ location of parts on the car. I searched the Internet and emailed friends to get pictures of XBs as original as possible. I attended the GT Nationals in Ballarat at Easter 2005 and took many shots of engine bays, trim, nuts, bolts, screws etc. They have been invaluable over time to look through when we had doubts. To my knowledge each and every nut and bolt, screw and clip are original factory items in their correct position. I’ve learned many differences about certain models, even down to different month variations. I’m afraid it’s probably an obsession but the end result is pleasing.

It’s taken about 18 months and the job is done. We haven’t worked on it every weekend, but most Sundays. It’s been great to be working together, watching the V8 Supercars on the television, listening to the football on the radio or just enjoying the music. I’ll miss it, I think. I’ve learned a great deal over the time. It’s been a huge favour to be able to use Bob’s shed as he has donated it basically. Not many people give up a space in their garage for someone else’s car for 18 months. I appreciate that part more than any. I’m also very appreciative of Bob and Brad’s time dedicated to getting it finished. I owe them a lot.

We presented the car to Dad on his 76th birthday in September. It’s hard to tell what he thought. He was overwhelmed about a car he’d owned 30 years ago should be found in Queanbeyan and then be restored from such a condition. I think he’s proud to be part of that amazing world of GTs and what we go through with our cars. They are more than metal and I’ve found the help of friends to be the best part.

An automatic XB may not be everyone’s cup of tea for a GT, but hey, you don’t get to find the one your Dad owned 30 years ago very often.
Thanks, Dicko