The following was sent to me by Howard Nesson of Gold Coast, Qld, AUSTRALIA. What can I say but read, look, and enjoy!! Howard writes.....
– 1974 XB Fairmont Hardtop
vehicle was purchased new in September 1974 by my father
: 351 Cleveland. Built by Shane Cable and Athol Burns at Cable and Burns Race
Engines in Melbourne.
Chamber Heads modified & with inlet and
Exhaust plates fitted, Harland Sharp Roller Rockers
Solid grind cam; duration - yeah, lift – very big
Bros 3/8 Moly Pushrods, Moroso Guideplates
Mellings hi volume oil pump, 6.5 litre winged sump with
crank scraper, windage tray,
Nodular Iron Crank, with Fluidamper
Forged Flat Top pistons, converted to fully floating, modified 351 conrods, Boss
800 Holley modified, Holley Strip Dominator manifold;
running on 100% Avgas
MSD 7AL-2 ignition system with Procomp Electronic
distributor, Blaster 3 coil and 7200 rpm rev limiter.
Ford 4 speed Toploader with Hurst Indy shifter
Heintz modified ET Racing 11” Clutch
H. R. W. Nodular iron diff casing,
Loc Detroit Locker, Aluminium pinion support,
Ford 4.11 gears,
Bros 31 spline Axles.
Paint colour : Mercedes ‘Midnite blue’ by
A. E. Automotive, Burwood, Melbourne
Chromework : Satin Chrome
Bodyshell, complete undercarriage, suspension, front
end and diff, completely baremetalled and file finished
of the above (incl brakes, leaf & coil springs) painted
colour. All bolts/nuts satin chrome or zinc plated
All mouldings, brackets and engine bay in body color
windscreen washers, wiring, and heating
Owned by Howard
Nessen (my father) purchased the coupe new in September 1974. It was ordered as
an XB Fairmont Coupe with GS Rally Pack, Red Pepper, Black vinyl roof, deleted
stripes. It was a 302 Cleveland, T bar Auto, Black Cloth Inserts on Black vinyl,
air-conditioning and power steering.
took possession of the car and immediately lowered it and put new wheels and
was rubbed down, stripped and had the vinyl roof removed. It was repainted by
Shane Cable (yes!) in Red Pepper. Shane also fitted a 600 Holley, Performer
manifold and Scorcher twin point dissy.
steering removed and manual GT steering installed.
diff removed and 9” XA GT diff installed with 3.55:1 gears.
run over Ľ mile to a best of 14.7.
removed and 4 speed Toploader installed. Sig Erson cam installed and
CAR OFF THE ROAD
pulled. New 351 Block and 4V heads purchased and built by Shane Cable. Venolia
Forged Flat-Top pistons converted to Fully Floating, Crane F246 Cam, Holley
Strip Dominator, 800 Holley DP, recurved Scorcher, 4.86:1 Richmond gears.
Fiberglass front and rear bumpers installed and total heating system removed.
run over Ľ mile to a best of 12.14 sec @ 114 mph. (114 mph indicative of better
than 12 sec time)
and only accident in car. Run into light pole at around 60 kph. Damage to total
front end, floor pan, engine and gearbox. Decision made to rebuild car entirely.
– The decision was made to change the car’s looks and colour. Renowned
graphics artist Rowan Day came up with a total concept for the new look car to
be called “EXBEE”. Car was to have a new graphic logo, new colour and was
only to resemble original car in the vaguest of ways.
concept was for a complete colour change to Mercedes Midnight Blue with the whole
car, floor pan, suspension and running gear painted in this colour and some
selected exterior and engine bay components to be “satin chromed” to match
the original Centerline wheels. The concept drawings showed an exterior of satin
chrome bumpers and grille (tubes) with all
moulds, wipers etc., to be painted body colour. The engine bay was to be
highlighted by a sprinkling of satin chrome with the remainder to be painted
blue. The interior was to remain stock as it was in exceptional condition.
essence, the car was to be Midnight Blue and Satin Chrome with the satin being a
stark contrast to the Blue. The “EXBEE” logo was designed and appears on the
back panel, air cleaner and spare wheel cover.
– After two very average attempts at the rebuild by two (supposedly) top panel
shops, who coincidentally have both since gone bust, the mostly completed shell
and hang on panels were handed to Tony and Elio of A.E.
Automotive of Burwood, Victoria. Tony and Elio adopted EXBEE as their
own and over a 18 month period, restripped all the hang on panels, painted the
floor pan, all suspension, including all springs, shocks and front end in
Mercedes Midnight Blue Dulux Two-pack. The level of detail went to painted items
such as front guard brackets and internal panels that you cannot see, wipers,
moulds, coil, engine mounts, brake drums and disc brakes. All
nuts, bolts and screws are satin chrome (if seen) and zinc plated if
351C was rebuilt by Cable and Burns Race Engines with a Herbert Roller Cam with
280 duration and 690 lift, triple valve springs, heavily modified 4V Closed
chamber Heads with Exhaust and intake Port Plates (which effectively make it a
Hi Port). Shane and Athol dynoed this engine at Warlord engines, where on the
initial run, it pulled 497hp at 6200 rpm, and 421 ft/lb of torque at 5200 rpm,
before bending two pushrods.
to the lift of the Roller and the subsequent heavy spring pressure of the triple
valve springs, this happened again, before a call to a ProMod racer mate in San
Francisco who organised some Shane Cable specified “Smith Bros” 3/8th
Funny car pushrods.
on the figures off the dyno at 6200 rpm, Shane conservatively estimated that at
7200rpm, the 351 would pull around 510 hp. The engine and all running gear were
installed by Elio and Howard. All detailing work was done by Elio.
1995, the car was completed and whilst Tony, Elio and Howard were happy with
the final result, and the total paintjob looked incredible, the unknown was the
shell that had been supposedly been bare metalled by the prior two “master
craftsmen”. At the same time, a
divorce went through and due to a shift of suburbs, the car didn’t see much
1997- June 1999….
REBUILD No. 2
October ’97, with a mere 1400 kms on the Speedo, a roller lifter seized and
(luckily) only took off a cam lobe. Shane Cable, however decided that the loose
metal had to have gone somewhere and insisted on pulling the motor. The car was
towed back to its second home at A.E. Automotive, where Elio pulled the engine
and Shane took it away for another rebuild.
and Athol’s tear down revealed no damage other than the cam and almost perfect
conditions everywhere else. The decision was made to go back to a Solid cam, but
one that gave more low end grunt than the Roller. Even though the Roller had
the grunt down low was not felt to be “earth shattering”, so a call to Charlie Seliba and Shane’s special grind was made. It has around 250 duration and 600 lift. Shane also felt that the weak link was the ignition and the decision was made to dice the twin point and go electronic. A monster MSD 7AL-2, originally destined for the Cable and Burns Race Camaro, was installed under the dash by Rod Cable together with a Procomp Electronic Billet Aluminium Distributor and a MSD Blaster 3 Coil. The Pacemaker Headers were sent to HPC and ceramic coated black. Finally, as Shane firmly believes in more compression, the heads were milled to give a genuine static 11.8:1 comp and additional minor mod works were done to the intake manifold and ports. The motor was reinstalled by Elio and test driven. The results were sensational with the description by Shane Cable as being “scary”……..
believes that based on the car’s previous
performance on the Ľ mile with a 425 hp engine, and the Roller Cams
performance on the dyno, the 3400 lb. Falcon with this engine, should easily
pull a mid-11 sec time at around 118-122 mph.
to years of drag racing behind a 4 speed, the suggestion was made to check the
condition of the diff. The 28 spline axles were found to have over 5mm of twist
and being an LSD, a call to ProDiffs in Fremont, California and the following new
parts were ordered and picked up on a US visit :
Nodular iron carrier
Aluminium Pinion Support
Trac-Lok 31 spline Detroit locker
spline Summers Bros axles
EXBEE was at Burwood, awaiting the engine, a discovery was made of an
imperfection in the paint. Further inspection was made by Tony only to discover
that the shell had to be bare metalled again.
The car was stripped of all hang-ons and interior.
bare metalling the shell, it was found that not only had the second “master
craftsman” not prepared the shell properly, but the rear panel, the door jambs
and other areas had never been bare metalled. This lack of preparation was an
obvious sign of why these two “maestros” are now out of business. Tony
decided that the only way to be truly sure, was to bare metal the hang-on panels
that had not been done originally by A.E. Automotive.
meant bare metalling of the entire body shell, both doors, and the right hand
front guard. Tony then decided that to do the car properly was to rub down all
other existing external panels and repaint the entire car. The car now looks a
slightly “bluer” colour, which we called (jokingly), “A.E. Automotive Midnite
Blue” and looks absolutely sensational. Compared to the previous
paintwork (which was show quality), the difference is incredible.
this rebuild, it was decided that whilst the original interior was in great
condition, a “retro” look with a reference to the satin and blue exterior,
would be different. The door and side panel trims were redone by Reservoir Motor
Trimmers in Black with a silver flash, and the Owner built polished aluminium
Roll Cage was covered in silver padding. A reconditioned genuine XT GT steering
wheel was purchased and matching walnut trim was added to the console and glove
box lid. The pioneer stereo, two speakers and aerial were all installed inside the glove box to give a totally concealed look to the
this rebuild, it was decided to go further with detail and try to prove that a
500 horsepower car can be made to be (basically) roadworthy. Whilst the front
guards were off, a Honda Civic windscreen washer bag was installed inside the
front inner panels, with concealed tubing up to concealed washer jets. Although
the heating system was previously removed (to do away with the ugly heater
hoses), the decision was made that a demister needed to be installed to comply
with roadworthy regs. A Toyota Corolla heater was installed directly on to the
base of the existing Y-Tube demister section and hooked up to the original
switches. The heater now blows warm air onto the windscreen without the need for
the rebuild, other items were redetailed. All brake lines were hand made and
then sanded with coarse dry sandpaper and clear laquered to give a billet look.
The Brake Master Cylinder and Clutch Master Cylinder were removed, hand filed,
all casting marks removed and then sanded to match the billet look. The EXBEE
logo was added to the aircleaner similar in style to the original GT transfer of
the original aircleaner. The original ID plates were removed and replaced with
brass plates that were hand engraved
then satin chrome plated. All other components such as door strikers, locks and
hinges were satin chrome plated.
the boot, a new aluminium fuel tank was made and the boot hand trimmed in black
carpet by Reservoir Motor Trimmers.
A matching number plate was also obtained as a present from a good mate
in Northern California. The plate which reads “XB COUPE” was purchased and
run on Larry Bowen’s partner’s Mitsubishi Starion for 12 months and then
sent to Howard as a present. Larry (in California) was constantly asked by
people what an XB Coupe was !!
Elio at A.E. Automotive, Burwood, Victoria for patience, determination and
friendship over the past 5 years.
Athol at Cable and Burns Race Engines for friendship and assistance over the
past 22 years.
for all electrical work.
“Chrysler Boy” and Leo at A.E. Automotive for paint and reassembly during
Cost to date …… $think of a number
and double it !!