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XD S Pack Falcon panel van, with stacks!

This XD Falcon panel van is a throwback to the golden era of 80s street machining


Everyone has a vision for their car before they commence a build, and Neville Shears’s idea for his XD was about as specific as you can get. “I wanted to build something to take me back to the 80s, cruising down Northbourne Avenue at Summernats,” he says. “That’s a golden era to me, and the perfect kind of car to build as a cruiser.”

Having owned plenty of tough old Fords before, Nev wanted this next car to be a stand-out. “I love the vans, and I was set on getting an XD – windowless with the tailgate rear instead of barn doors,” he says. “That was bloody hard! The tailgate was a $4000 option back then, so I spent ages trying to find the right car.”

He eventually lucked out, finding one buried in a shed in Central Victoria. “The guy was umming and ahhing about selling, but we came to a deal and I drove straight down from Sydney to get it,” says Nev. “It was in rough shape, with its fair share of rust, but it ticked every other box, and they’re so rare, so I made it work.”

All this was happening in 2019, just as that bastard spicy cough started taking hold in Australia. With Nev unable to work for long periods during the lockdowns, he found plenty of time to get stuck into the XD. “I basically did the whole build on this thing by myself, and not by choice!” he says. “I didn’t want to build the engine, but everyone told me [there was] a 12-month wait. Same goes for the paint; I did that myself because I couldn’t find anyone to paint it.”

The entire thing was stripped down, subject to a lot of rust repair and then painted in a shade of yellow nicked from the Hyundai colour charts. “It’s a factory yellow S-Pack, but it was a mustardy yellow, so I found a nicer shade in acrylic for it.”

To power the van, Nev had the perfect mill in reserve. “I’d had a 351 JG33 Cleveland from an XA GT for years, so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a new lease on life,” he says. 

He retained the original crank and rods, and added a set of SRP forged flat-top pistons. Compression is around 10.5:1, with a Comp hydraulic-roller stick and 2V heads that were CNC-ported by Pavtek. 

Being a self-confessed old-school guy, Nev didn’t even consider EFI for the Clevo. “Computers are foreign to me, so I wanted it simple and carby,” he says. As you can see, this is no single-barrel deal though, instead using eight 48mm Weber downdraughts sitting on an EFI Hardware manifold. They’re topped with carbonfibre stacks that poke out of the bonnet. “They drive so much nicer than a single carb; it starts and runs like an EFI car,” says Nev.

Being a home job, Nev is yet to dyno the combo, but he reckons it’ll good for around 450 horses. Behind it sits a C4 gearbox with a TCI 3000rpm converter, as well as a shortened nine-inch diff with 4.11:1 gearing. “It’s untubbed, so shortening the diff gave us the room for those 295 tyres,” he says. 

With the car still pretty fresh, Nev and his cousin Robert Shears headed down south to take on Street Machine’s Drag Challenge 2023, running in the Hare & Forbes Dial Your Own class. “I’d been watching it for a few years, so it was something we’d been wanting to do for a while,” he says. Having never dragged the XD before, its 12.19@111mph result on Day One at Tailem Bend was a solid PB. “I was hoping to run 11s that week, but we had a fuel pressure drama that we couldn’t find at the time, so that stopped us running quicker,” says Nev. “It was still a great week. The car cruised flawlessly, and the road trip was awesome.”

Up next for the XD will be a 700hp, 393ci Clevo from Tremaniac Racing getting slotted in. “I didn’t want to push the GT engine too much, so getting a proper one built made more sense,” says Nev. “We’ll be back again for Drag Challenge this year, this time to run those 11s!”

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