A LOT of the cars we feature in SM are comprehensive rebuilds where the owner has taken a worn-out old car, completely stripped it and then spent years turning it into their interpretation of the perfect street machine. But sometimes it’s easier to get something that’s already had a lot of the hard work done and then tweak it to your own personal tastes.
Often it can lead to a bit of a stigma, where the car will always be referred to as “so-and-so’s old car”, but in the case of Melbournebased Mark Psihountakis’s XW GT, that was never really an issue.
“I bought the car from Sydney about 10 years ago,” Mark begins.
“It was already painted, the interior was there but I put new carpets, new roof lining and door trims in. It was a Top Loader car with a 400hp 351ci Clevo, but I fully transformed the car into what it is now.”
What it is now is a very tough street cruiser, and while Mark says he didn’t really build it with drag racing in mind, it should be capable of a mid-10-second pass thanks to the transformation of the driveline, an overhaul that became necessary after the old 351 developed a bit of a rattle in the valvetrain. “I drove it for about 12 months before the engine shit itself, so I took the car to Competition Engines and built MA R K ’ S X W G T
a mild 408ci Clevo, but I went through two clutches; they wouldn’t hold the power,” he says. By “mild”, Mark means somewhere around the 540-550hp mark, so the decision was made to go to an auto to make life a bit easier on the driveline – and also his left leg.
“After I decided to put the auto in it I thought I would step up the power and put a bigger cam in it as well,” Mark explains. “I had a dual-plane CHI on it, so we went to a single-plane CHI and stepped up the extractors as well. I had 1¾-inch extractors on it but went to 17/8-inch. I could have gone to two-inch primaries, but the car was built more for the street than strip.” The pipes did require a bit of massaging to get around the XF power-steering box, before heading back to twin three-inch pipes and Magnaflow mufflers that dump just before the diff.
“I could have put a crazy cam in it that makes the power at 7000rpm, but it’s been built where it’s got a lot of good torque down low so it’s streetable,” Mark says. “It’s not a drag-spec motor. I went with the 208cc heads instead of 225cc because you make a lot more torque around 2500-4000rpm. I’ve got the best of both worlds – it’s still good on the track but it’s also really good on the street.”
The engine is topped off with a 1000cfm Pro Systems Holley, and though Mark admits the fuel economy isn’t the best, that’s the farthest thing from his mind when he’s out cruising with his family
and friends. Smiles per mile are way more important than miles per gallon, and with 642hp at the motor, there are plenty of smiles to be had.
As I mentioned earlier, the whole process started when Mark decided to chuck an auto in the car, but not just any auto. He went straight to Mike’s Transmission in the US and ticked the box for the Ultimate Vasco C10, full of bulletproof stuff like a 26-spline input shaft, solid drum and big servos – not to mention the transbrake. Yep, the car wasn’t built for drag racing, but it’s good to be prepared.
There’s a three-inch moly tailshaft with Strange yokes transferring the rotating power to the nine-inch, which has been shortened just enough to fit the 255/60/15 Mickey Thompson rubber and 9.5-inch-wide Weld AlumaStars under the guards. The leaf springs are heavy-duty GT-spec and are still in the factory location, and a set of CalTracs have been bolted on to help plant the diff during launches. The Calvert 90/10 shocks up front are complemented by a set of nine-way adjustables from the same manufacturer out back.
Mark’s entire philosophy behind the build was to keep it pretty low-key – nothing sticking out of the bonnet, not even a reversecowl.
After all, these days you don’t want to draw too much attention from the boys in blue: “The only time I’ve been pulled over by the police, they just wanted to check the car out!” Mark laughs. s
Colour: Quicksilver with Lilac pearl
Type: 408ci Cleveland Inlet: CHI 3V single-plane Carb: 1000cfm Pro Systems Holley Heads: CHI 3V 208cc Valves: 2.07in (in), 1.65in (ex) Cam: Comp Cams solid-roller Pistons: SRP Crank: Scat Conrods: Scat H-beam Radiator: GT Falcon radiator, AU Falcon thermo fans Exhaust: Pacemaker 17/8in primaries, twin 3in exhaust, Magnaflow mufflers Ignition: MSD
’Box: Mike’s Transmission Ultimate Vasco C10, transbrake Converter: Dominator 9.5in, 5000 stall Diff: 9in, Truetrac, 3.9:1 gears
Front end: Monroe springs, Calvert 90/10 shocks Rear end: GT leaf springs with CalTracs, Calvert nine-way adjustable shocks Steering: XF Falcon power steering Brakes: Discs (f), drums (r)
Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 15x4 (f), 15x9.5 (r) Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 26x6.00 (f), 255/60/15 (r)
Zoran & Bobby at Competition Engines; Tom & Ben at GT Shop; Chris at Quik Pitstop Automotive Repairs; special thanks to my wife Virginia and kids Nikki, Joey and Foti for their support and patience with the build