Ford’s 2-door XA-XC hardtops are not only icons of Aussie style, but icons of desirability, too. That desirability means it takes a hell of a lot for someone to agree to give one up.
But for Darren Cardiff, the Director here at Jimmy’s Chop Shop, the opportunity to give Aussie athletes a sporting chance made giving away his dream machine an easy decision.
In July, 2018, Darren rolled his recently-purchased ’78 XC Fairmont hardtop into the Jimmy’s Chop Shop workshop.
An Aussie Ford hardtop had been Darren’s dream car since he was a kid, and he’d been actively on the hunt for two yeas before this one came up for sale.
Looking her over on the hoist showed she was a very honest old girl. Tired, sure, and with signs of rust in the usual areas, but nothing we couldn’t handle!
Darren had a fairly simple brief for us - restore the vehicle with all its genuine factory options as per how she was built by Ford, with maybe a few little cosmetic changes.
It was a project we were all looking forward to, and because it was the “boss’s car”, it was going to get our very best!
Darren had sourced a factory build sheet for the car that showed that it was built as a Fairmont 2-door hardtop – rare enough in itself, even compared to XC Falcon hardtops – and it rolled off the line at Broadmeadows in January of 1978 with the following options:
- Black vinyl roof trim
- Manual sunroof
- Air conditioning
- Limited slip diff
- Power windows
- 4-wheel power disc brakes
- And seat belts.
Yep, seat belts were still listed as an option back then, but it must have been one of those “compulsory option” things, as seat belts became mandatory on new cars in most Australian states by 1973.
Under the GT-style twin-scoop bonnet (which was standard on the XC Fairmont hardtop, by the way), the car was fitted with a matching numbers 4.9-litre V8 matched to a Cruise-O-Matic (FMX) 3-speed floor-shift automatic.
Pine n Lime paint outside and cream vinyl and houndstooth cloth trim inside completed the spec.
As mentioned, the car looked in good nick for her forty years, and was very straight, with no signs of past accident damage.
But as we pulled her down, careful to photograph and measure everything as we did so, the problem areas became apparent. We found extensive rust in the sills, boot floor and footwells, which wasn’t really a surprise, nor was the rust we found on the roof, as those old vinyl tops covered a multitude of sins back in the day, especially when matched with a sunroof, like on this car.
Before the tear-down was completed, the project took a different – and ultimately very rewarding – turn.
Change of Direction
One month into the build we were made aware of the struggles faced by junior Aussie athletes in securing sponsorship and getting the financial support they need to help achieve their goals.
This issue is a very personal one for us here at Jimmy’s, so we were determined to help young athletes, both in our home base here in Toowoomba, as well as the communities beyond.
Now, a resto shop and custom car builder isn’t the first business you’d associate with junior athletes, but that didn’t stop us from exploring ways in which could bring these two elements together.
It was Darren who came up with the idea of raffling off a car to generate sponsorship funding. But not just any car – he was willing to give up his dream machine that we’d just started the restoration on.
As you can imagine, this was not an easy call to make, but Darren explained the decision pretty simply: “When you are given an opportunity to send out some serious love into your community, love of that community should come over the love of material items.”
Commitment to Community
With the commitment to complete the Fairmont build and raffle it off, the wheels really started to turn on the project.
Once they knew what we were doing and why we were doing it, supporting businesses came on board, too. In addition to backing our vision, these top local names also ensured we got the best car possible:
- Trevor Owen - engine rebuilding
- Resident Restorations - paint and final panel work
- Global Trim and Lea McCarroll – upholstery, carpets, headlining
- Toowoomba Steering and Suspension - suspension and steering
- Bartons Auto Electrical – wiring
- Tricky’s Transmissions – auto trans rebuild
- Jimmy Lindsay – rust repairs
- John Cardiff – strip down and assembly
- Jamie Chant – final mechanical, exhaust and start up
Sometimes, it takes a community to complete a top-shelf, full bare-metal restoration. As we were giving back to our community, it was a nice link – local businesses supporting us in supporting local athletes.
From start to finish, the restoration took us seven months, with the roof repair being the most time-consuming part of the project. As mentioned, the hardtop roofs are susceptible to rust, with the welding in of new metal and pulling out of dents needing to be done in stages to prevent warping.
Completed in January, the finished project means a great deal to us here at Jimmy's. The car has the blood, sweat and tears of each and every one of us in her and we are all extremely proud to be given the opportunity to benefit our community.
Great Response, Great Support
When we announced the ‘muscle car giveaway’ raffle to win the XC Fairmont back in August, the response was immediate and inspiring. We made it simple to enter, too: just spend $40 on “GET CHOPPED!!” merchandise at the Jimmy’s Chop Shop online store and you’d get a ticket in the draw.
Understanding that, as much as some folks want to support our athletes, they may not be that interested in an XC Fairmont (Holden owners, we’re looking at you!), we added an option for the winner to choose $100,000 instead of the car.
So far, money raised from merchandise sales has enabled us to support four local athletes: Joel Kelso, a young motorcycle racer aiming for MotoGP; Brandon Spain, an up and coming Muay Thai fighter; Antonio Futol, a young Australian champion boxer; and Corey Anderson, a para-athlete bound for Olympic glory.
Entries are still available and we’ll be drawing the winner of the XC Fairmont hardtop at a big Open Day at Jimmy’s Chop Shop on Saturday, 13 April.
Want to make this restored XC Fairmont hardtop your own? It’s really simple.
Just go to www.jimmyschopshop.com.au and spend at least $40.00 on GET CHOPPED!! Gear. Each $40.00 spent gets you 1 x entry in the giveaway – the more you spend, the more tickets you get.
The winner has the choice of the fully-restored 1978 XC Fairmont hardtop or $100,000 cash.
Should they choose the car, the winner is free to change it to suit their personal taste - Jimmy’s Chop Shop can help with that!
Support our junior athletes and future stars by purchasing your “GET CHOPPED!!” gear today.