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Family affair: 1973 Ford Falcon XA coupe and 1970 Ford Falcon XW ute

25 June 2015


Two brothers, one dad and two kick-arse Falcons

Imagine growing up in a family where you’re encouraged to pursue your automotive dreams — investing all your cash and spare time into some form of automotive creation. Where, rather than telling you you’re being foolish, your dad hunts out bargains for you and helps you out whenever you get stuck. 

Matt and BJ Yeoman don’t need to dream about this, because for them, it’s reality.
The two lucky lads, aged just 23 and 21 respectively [at the time of writing], along with a huge amount of help and support from their dad Troy, have produced what are arguably two of the best Falcons in the country. While the build team and ideas behind each may be the same, the vehicles are entirely different. The boys were raised on a diet of race gas and Fords, and as you can see, there was never any chance of them not being die-hard car guys.

The story behind Matt’s just completed 1973 XA coupe goes back a few years, even though it’s only been in the family for near on 18 months now. Back in 2007 he had a pretty tough XF with a 302 under the hood. When he purchased the car it had previously had a supercharger on it, so the bonnet was left with a gaping hole in the centre. Rather than source a new bonnet, Matt decided to fill the gap with a tunnel ram (clever thinking, huh?).

It was when all three Yeoman lads went to collect the tunnel ram they’d seen advertised that they stumbled upon the coupe. The guy was asking way too much for it, so Troy left his number and said if he ever wanted to actually sell it, to let him know.

That phone call didn’t come for a further two years, but the timing couldn’t have been better when it finally happened. Matt’s XF had recently met its demise, so he was on the hunt for a new car to drop the motor into. Being a big XA coupe fan, it was a match made in heaven. During the coupe build, the plan changed somewhat when a very tough 383 stroker motor was purchased for Matt’s birthday (I knew I grew up in the wrong family). This saw the motor from the XF swapped over into BJ’s ute, but more on that later. 

The guys had been on a few trips to the States to check out a few car events and source parts, and many of the parts came back as carry on luggage. The basis for the build was a 351 block which was mated up with a 3.75-inch crank, Eagle H-beam rods, and JE forged pistons. While big power is always on the wishlist, reliability was an equally important factor. That reliability is provided by an oversized sump, race fluid damper, and a bunch of ARP fasteners. 

The power, on the other hand, is provided by some very trick CNC-ported Herbert Race Engines aluminium heads. With stainless steel valves, screw-in studs, Scorpion roller rockers, and Manley springs, they’re capable of some seriously high flow rates. That high capacity comes in very handy, thanks to the custom sheet metal manifold housing an 1150cfm carb, with a solid Herbert cam working away below.  

The plan for the coupe was always to be a tough streeter, which could skid the tyres or run down the strip with no fear of breaking anything. With this in mind, the lads sourced a Tremec five-speed gearbox, which they mated with an 11-inch McLeod twin-plate clutch. Sure, it’s not the best combo for rush-hour traffic, but it’s not the most undriveable either, and more importantly, it’s bulletproof.

Rather than keep subtle looks, or the dodgy paint which was covering the body when purchased, the lads had Reece Hyland set to sorting out the panelwork. The body itself was remarkably straight, so the work involved was more of the custom variety than repairs. The door handles and fuel filler were shaved and carbon vents added to the bonnet, giving the classic shape a modern twist. Grant Kitney at Kitney Karpainters was responsible for spraying the body in a striking Audi red. It’s not a common colour for an XA, but it works fantastically with the blacked bonnet and carbon touches on the rear panel.

A friend of the boys was responsible for the carbon work, and his skills extend into the cabin where you’ll find a carbon console and gauge fascia. The deep gloss of the carbon is in real contrast to the silver glow that is provided by the oversized stainless steel roll hoop, but it’s a combination that works well.

Much of the inspiration for the car came from Clint Bower’s XB that we featured back in issue 32 of NZV8. So it was fitting that when we first laid eyes on it, it was parked in a spot where we’d usually find Clint’s car at Kumeu Car Show. And as the Yeoman’s struck up conversation with Clint about his machine previously, this year the roles were reversed when Clint was drawn to it. Kumeu was the car’s first public outing, and although not quite finished, the response it received was huge. So positive, in fact, was the crowd’s reaction to the car, that a member of the public, simply known as Russ from Whangarei, donated missing window trim to the project. For a complete stranger to do so is fantastic, and no doubt helped by the whole family’s easy-going and super-enthusiastic attitude.

Younger brother BJ’s ute known as ‘Old Ho’ is every bit as impressive as Matt’s coupe, despite having been on the road for a good few years now. The first thing purchased after the ute itself were the 17×7 and 18×10-inch Foose Nitrous wheels. These formed the basis for which colour to paint the body itself.

Again, Kitney Karpainters were responsible for spraying the custom mix. Before it could be applied, though, Reece Hyland did the hard yards of getting the long panels super straight, which included panelling the tray floor. The finishing touch to the exterior is the stripes and ‘Old Ho’ graphics, a unique twist on the much more common GT-HO replica items which are commonplace. 

When the ute was first completed, it ran the same 351 Windsor it had when purchased. It wasn’t until the motor from the XF came up for grabs that the 351 was removed. The XF motor isn’t a bad bit of gear, being a 351 Clevo filled with a 4MA crank and flat-top pistons. Add to this ARP fasteners, a gilmer belt drive, 2V closed-chamber heads, and a mix of Scorpion, Isky, and Manley valve gear, and you’ve got a tough combo that most 21-year-olds can only dream of. The latest addition to the engine bay has been a single stage nitrous injection. Although not quite finished when we photographed the ute, the bottle certainly looks the part sitting in the tray.

Backing up the combo is a tough C4 trans with a 2800rpm stall converter and a full manual valve body. Further back you’ll find a 9-inch diff with 3.25:1 gears. While the brakes remain the stock disc/drum combo as fitted from factory, some clever suspension work has been performed to get the ute sitting at the perfect height and handling well.

The interior has received as much love as the exterior, with a full black trim kit with embossed seats fitted. Throw in a B&M Quicksilver shifter and an aftermarket steering wheel and you’ve got a very comfy machine to drive. 

Being such a rare shape, the ute gets plenty of looks when it’s taken out, but since it’s been on the road for a while now, the plan is to pull the ute down at the end of the year and give it a bit of a freshen up with a bit more power. “Nothing’s ever finished,” says Troy. “You always learn as you go.”

At 21 and 23 the boys already have some of the coolest cars around, so if they’re still learning, we can’t wait to see what they come up with next. When asked if they would ever sell the cars for house deposits or similar, the answer was a resounding “Hell no” — “BJ reckons he’ll be getting buried in the ute,” says Matt. Now, if that’s not family commitment to cool cars and the blue oval, we don’t know what is. 

Matt and BJ’s tough Falcons were featured in NZV8 Issue No. 74 (July 2011). You can grab a copy here

Matt Yeoman: 1973 Ford Falcon XA coupé

  • Engine: 383 Cleveland, 351 block, 3.75-inch stroker crank, JE forged pistons, Eagle H-beam rods, race fluid damper, ARP fasteners, high capacity sump, gilmer belt drive, Herbert Race Engines aluminium 3V heads, stainless steel valves, screw-in studs, guide plates, Scorpion roller rockers, Herbert Race Engines custom solid grind cam, Manley springs, custom sheetmetal intake, 1150cfm Holley carb, 120-litre drop tank, Holley billet fuel pump, Fram Autolite fuel filter, MSD Pro Billet distributor, MSD 6AL ignition, MSD Blaster coil, MSD leads, twin 2.5-inch exhaust, HPC coated headers, aluminium radiator, electric fan, Moroso catch can, Moroso radiator overflow
  • Driveline: Tremec T5 five-speed manual, McLeod 11-inch twin plate clutch, nine-inch diff, Truetrac head, 4.56:1 gears
  • Suspension: King front springs, Monroe shocks, leaf rear, 30mm Whiteline swaybar, Nolathane bushes
  • Brakes: Slotted rotors, stock callipers
  • Wheels/tyres: 17×7 and 17×10-inch Boyd Coddington Junkyard Dog rims, 225/45R17 and 315/35R17 tyres
  • Exterior: Carbon fibre mirrors, carbon fibre rear panel, carbon fibre bonnet inserts, shaved handles and fuel filler, Audi red paint
  • Interior: Jamex seats, Auto Meter gauges, stainless steel half-cage, carbon fibre dash, custom centre console, Pioneer audio
  • Performance: Approx 500hp
  • BJ Yeoman: 1970 Ford Falcon XW Ute
  • Engine: 351 Cleveland, 4MA crank, forged pistons, Romac fluid damper, ARP fasteners, gilmer belt drive, 2V closed-chamber heads, stainless steel valves, Scorpion roller rockers, Isky cam, Manley springs, Weiand X-CELerator intake, BG Demon 650cfm carb, MSD Pro Billet distributor, Top Gun leads, Flowmaster mufflers, twin 2.5-inch exhaust, triple-core radiator, electric fan
  • Driveline: C4 automatic, 2800rpm stall converter, full manual valve body, 9-inch diff, 3.25:1 ratio
  • Suspension: King front springs, Monroe shocks, leaf rear, 30mm swaybar, Nolathane bushes
  • Wheels/tyres: 17×7 and 18×10-inch Foose Nitrous wheels, 235/40R17 and 285/35R18 Falken tyres
  • Exterior: Smoothed deck, custom charcoal paint
  • Interior: Retrimmed seats, B&M Quicksilver shifter, Kenwood audio
  • Performance: Approx 350hp