Car Restoration Projects
Falcon aficionado’s story of discovery
When Historic Vehicles caught up with early-Falcon admirer, George Redding, he was running Redding’s Motor Repairs in Lithgow, on the western slopes of the NSW Blue Mountains. George had been keen to own a low-mileage, manual-transmission, early-production 1960 XK Falcon Deluxe and the car of his dreams came to him quite by accident.
In April 2003 there was a Harley Davidson motorcycle meeting over Easter in the McDonalds car park next to his business. A car magazine had donated a selection of its issues as sponsorship and someone had left a January 2003 copy on the Redding Motors forecourt.
When George came to work on the following Tuesday morning, he picked up the magazine and left it on the bonnet of an old car that was awaiting restoration in the workshop.
Proud owner and XK Falcon aficionado George Redding
George said more items were piled up on the bonnet of the old Austin over the next six weeks.
He then had to tidy up, to start work on the restoration and during the clean-up he found the magazine and took it to ‘smoko’ to browse through. To his surprise there were three XKs advertised.
Some five months had passed since the magazine’s publication date, but his passion to own one of these landmark models had him reaching for the telephone.
The first two had been sold months ago and he didn’t hold much hope as he picked up the receiver to dial the third phone number. As fate would have it, he was in luck, because the answer was: “Yes, we’ve still got it”.
According to the seller, several people were interested and said they were coming, but never turned up.
George asked where the car was and was told: “It’s in Pimlico, in Queensland”.
George said: “I thought to myself: ‘No wonder nobody came, because they’d probably never heard of the place, let alone been able to find it’.’
The small chrome extensions on the front guards were accessories called ‘Tar Babies’ and intended to stop road grime getting onto the body duco.
George said the car was a September 1960 production, manual-transmission deluxe that was just what he was after and it looked better than expected. Interestingly, the owner said that it had been purchased new in Bathurst, which is only a short distance from Lithgow, so it would, in a way, be coming back home.
“The owner sent me photos, but wanted me look at it in the flesh, however, I was too busy to travel that far and I was happy with the photos and his description, so we negotiated a price over the phone.
“I had a mate who transported cars around the country and as luck would have it, he was heading north with a delivery, so I asked him to check it out and pick it up for me.”
“When my mate turned up with the XK inside his pantech, I asked him how good it was and he said: ‘Have a look and if you don’t want it, then I’ll have it’.”
George kept the car.
A venetian blind in the rear window was a popular accessory back in the 1960’s and rear mudguard spats were all-the-go back then.
There were some minor panel repairs to be carried out, but George made sure they were subtle enough to blend in with the patina of the car’s original two-tone colour scheme of Skymist and Pacific Blue.
The build number of the Falcon was 369, putting it among the first 1200 manufactured prior to the September 1960 release and quite possibly built in August.
There are three differences with these early production cars, compared with the later-1960 builds. The early birds had black steering wheels, where the later production models had white steering wheels.
The early cars didn’t have a chrome moulding on the C pillar, covering the welded joint between the pillar and top of the rear mudguard.
Also, the bumpers were American spec’, with a smaller indent to suit US licence plate dimensions.
The wooden sign says it all. Also note the shorter US license plate aperture on the early production models.
George became the sixth owner of this low mileage sexagenarian that recorded only 103,000 miles (165,000km) on its odometer, when Historic Vehicles’ Jim Gibson inspected it. A major reason for the low mileage is that the car spent eight years of its life as a static display in a museum.
The first owner was Percy Wales, who bought it from Clancy Motors in Bathurst on October 10, 1960. It was the first Falcon sold in Bathurst and George called his beloved blue XK, ‘Percy’, in honour of that first owner.
A black steering wheel was standard in the very first production XKs. Later in 1960 it was changed to white.
George kindly offered Jim Gibson a drive, knowing he had worked on these early Falcons and was keen to get Jim’s impressions. ‘Gibbo’ took it for a run up the Jenolan Caves Road, not far from where our photo shoot took place.
Note the additional angle section spot-welded on the stay between the spring tower and the firewall – part of the suspension strengthening modifications for the recall Campaign 21.
He reckoned the 144cu in engine pulled extremely well and the torque of the little six in top gear was quite amazing, flattening the climb to the Caves with ease. It sat tight and firm on this so-so country road, with not a rattle to be heard.
George elected to keep the Falcon original and unrestored.
“The clutch engaged smoothly and the column change gearshift glided through the gate without resistance,” said Jim.
“There’s no doubt these early Falcons are a testament to Ford Australia’s engineers of the day.”
George Redding agreed wholeheartedly with ‘Gibbo’s assessment.
“I’ve taken the XK to several Ford displays and I drove it to Parkes, to the Falcon Nationals, where it won the best unrestored XK,” said George.
“It was surprisingly economical on the journey and an absolute pleasure to drive over a long distance.”
Globite cases, including a lady’s make up bag, picnic case and thermos, were genuine Ford accoutrements for the XK Falcon traveller.
This picnic basket is a genuine Ford accessory that came with the car.