Cast your mind back to 1966, the population of New Zealand had just nudged over 2.5 million and Keith Holyoake was in charge as Prime Minister. As part of your role working for the NZ National Party, you received a new company car — a brand-new Ford Falcon XR.

The car — in government-issue gloss black — commanded attention wherever it went, never mind the fact that the driver may only have been in charge of the local library, not the future of the nation.

Nevertheless, the performance-inspired — for the time — car drove like a dream with its factory 121hp 200ci straight-six up front purring away effortlessly. The car’s drum brakes and non-synco three-speed trans were standard fare, and hardly anything to get excited about.

Back in those days, government cars — such as this XR Falcon — weren’t replaced based on age, but based on mileage, and as soon as they hit 60,000 miles, they were off the books and sold.

While Cambridge’s Adam McIntosh doesn’t know if his XR was the local librarian's, the city mayors, or another government official who clocked up the first 60K miles, he does know it took them a decade to do so. 

With the car having been through a few hands since then, he’s managed to track down plenty of its history, and knows it went on to become a taxi before the taxi driver retired and kept the car himself.

A lot’s changed since then, or more correctly, a lot has changed in the 12 years that Adam’s owned it. Having owned old Falcons in his youth, and having never forgiven himself for destroying one, upon returning from his OE, he knew another old Falcon was just the ticket to get him moving.

Sadly the car he purchased was more rust than steel, but it did have a good 302 Windsor and AOD overdrive transmission. Cutting his losses, the running gear was stripped from the car, along with the interior, before the shell itself went on to become landfill somewhere.

It was two long years before a replacement was found — that replacement being the car you see here today, except prior to Adam getting his hands on it, it looked nothing like this! Little did he know what an ordeal the rebuild would turn into, it’s one that, for now at least, sees Adam swearing he’d never do it all over again.

Swapping the driveline into the car was the easy part, there’s far more to the build than first meets the eye, and it’s these subtle custom touches that saw the build blow out to a ten-year ordeal — a few kids and a career change not assisting the car’s slow progress. 

The build is all about subtlety; for example, what at first glance look like stock wheels are in fact 15-inch items sourced off a 1960s American Ford and widened to suit. 

That same theory of subtle enhancements flows through to the interior, where only true Falcon aficionados will notice that the trim isn’t correct, but in fact sourced from an XT Fairmont donor. Thankfully for Adam, this was the only model which shared trim with the GT Falcon, making it the most desirable interior of the period.

Likewise, an extra few factory switches have been added to the dash, and a custom aftermarket gauge set replaced the stock originals — not that you’d notice it at first glance. A Phoenix Audio head unit is now hiding inside the factory housing, while the fabric has been removed from the usual vinyl-coated dashboard, mimicking the base-spec vehicles.

Although the car wasn’t all that rusty to start with, a few minor repairs were still required to get it up to Adam’s satisfaction. Credit for the hard work goes to Leigh Bateman from Rocket Speed Equipment, who massaged the panels to perfection allowing Fleet Image in Te Awamutu to coat it in layer after layer of deep gloss black. 

Although Adam did as much of the work on the car as he could, he’s well aware it wouldn't look as good as it does today if it were not for the continued help and support of his good friend Shaun Bourke. Likewise, Brett at Kaipaki Kustom Kars is on the list of people to thank for his help, along with Dan Tyler at Rocket Speed Equipment for looking after the various cert requirements.

Despite the 302 being part of the reason for the build, the engine itself hasn’t been left untouched, with Adam adding Edelbrock RPM heads, along with matching cam and intake. The result was a solid 367hp and 350ft·lb on Motor Preparations’ engine dyno.
Thankfully, Adam was well aware of the need to upgrade everything else to cope with the added mumbo, so the stock stoppers are long gone in favour of an XY Falcon booster, master cylinder, and front stoppers. Out the back is an RRS disc and caliper combo, which thankfully made hooking up the stock handbrake a cinch.

With the end result well and truly beyond the initial six-month $20K skid hack he’d first envisaged, the plan now is to hold onto it and drive the wheels off the car, and then hand it on to his own kids when he’s done with it. Sure, there were times he was ready to give up on the car, and times he thought it’d never see the light of day, but looking back on the finished product, he couldn’t be happier … well, maybe he could, a Paxton supercharger sure wouldn’t go amiss …

Todd Wylie

Todd Wylie has been involved with NZV8 magazine since before the first issue was printed, and has been the editor for the last eight years. Growing up in the heyday of the Jap-import scene, he's not adverse to Japanese vehicles, having worked for NZ Performance Car previously, as well as owning a few well-known examples. These days he cruises at a slower pace in a 1956 Cadillac Coupe and dreams of building a Model A tudor.