Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love the Beast

I'm a pretty lucky guy. For a kid who grew up in Perth, Western Australia; the most isolated major city in world, I consider it a huge privilidge to live in work in the U.S.A. and especially to work in a job that I love. Film and Television. Now, it's not all free coffee and steak and lobster for lunch, ok, some days it is, but there are still some days I pinch myself and say with no hint of sarcasm, "Livin' the Dream!!"

I've had the good fortune of working with some very big name actors and if you really care, look me up on IMDB, but the one actor who I've always wanted to work with and haven't yet, is Eric Bana. Not just because he's an Aussie and not because I think he's a bloody good actor, but because he's a total and utter Petrolhead!!!

A couple of years ago he released a move called "Love the Beast" which is really about the relationship between his family and friends and how much of that is tied together by his "Beast", a 1975 XB Falcon coupe. It's about one mans relationship with his car and what that can mean to him and the people around him. If your a car person, you'll love it, there is some truly awesome footage shot at the Targa Tasmania road rally event in Tasmania and some footage of totally hot cars. 

If your not a car person, by this I mean someone who couldn't tell the difference between a Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III and a Kia Sorrento, but are in a relationship with someone who is, you should watch this film!!!!! I've never seen a film that explained the way a person can fell about their car and the importance that it can have in their life as well as this film. Watch this film and maybe you'll get it, it really gets into the psychology of it. It's also nice to see Eric in an everyday setting hanging out with his mates and following his passion. There are some very raw, human moments in the film and it gives you an insight to Eric's "real" life and passion. The film is available to watch instantly on Netflix. Watch it!!

So, what does this have to do with the picture above?? That's my "Beast", the Original. A 1975 Ford Falcon XB "John Goss Special". I was 19, had a crap job but was making enough money to convince my bank manager to loan me the $6000 to buy the car. He must have liked me, I was dating his daughter!! This was 1993, so that was a lot of money at the time for a 19 year old kid with a low paying job, but I got it and it was mine!! 

I didn't realize it at the time, but the the John Goss Special was a limited edition build of 400 cars (some say 600 or 800, there is some debate and no records exist at Ford) that was built to celebrate John Goss' win at the 1974 Hardie Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst. Apart from the unique paint, it was a povo pack Falcon with a 2V 302 Cleveland, single rail 4 speed and a Borg Warner 35 rear end. Nothing super special, but put fat tires and a decent sounding exhaust on and you had an instant beast!!! It drove nice, went fast(ish) and I looked bloody cool driving it. I'd get home from work on friday afternoon and wash and polish the car before heading to Freo to cruise the strip.

It was the car that first helped me develop my passion for cars and for working on cars. I'd take vacations from my job to work on the car. A week here to re-paint the blue side stripes, a week there to cut out some rusty panel and weld in a new one. My mates would come over and we'd pull the engine and work on it, then put it back in. I learned to change a clutch, actually I went through three of them in two years and if you've ever tried to change a 10.5" twin plate clutch, you'll know what a pain that is!! There was actually one occasion where my arm got stuck under the gearbox and Mum had to use a star picket to lever it off me.

 All of this was done in Mum and Dad's driveway. I had NO idea what I was doing, but I loved it and I learnt a hell of a lot. I didn't really have a lot of tools either, a small socket set and a couple screwdrivers and adjustable spanners and whatever Dad could lend me. I hope whoever owns the car now doesn't curse me too much because I'm sure I did some pretty rough work back then. 

A few years later, I discovered motorcycles and boy, do they go really fast. The coupe sat in the driveway more and more. I was also playing in bands at the time and it's really hard to lift a Marshall 4X12 into a car with a high/ small boot. I ended up selling the car for $6500 to a young kid and his Dad and bought an XD station wagon for $1500 that was a really awesome reliable "band beater" for the next six years.

I missed the Goss though. If you've ever seen Mad Max there's the scene at the beginning before the first car chase where they reveal Max for the first time. It's a great piece of cinema. "Side profile of dark haired handsome actor, closeup of hand on steering wheel, closeup of hand turning key, closeup of warning lights on dash, cut to exhaust pipe as engine roars to life and settle's into lumpy idle." Check it out on youtube, but I lived that scene every day for three years and it was awesome!!

That car is gone, but I still have the pictures, the memories and the lessons learned, but it goes to show what effect an inanimate object can have on your life. To give you an idea of that impact, 20 years later I can still remember the VIN, JG65RU50897K. You still out there mate???

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Life, the Universe and Everything??

If your a fan of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, you know the answer to this question is 42. If you don't, do yourself a favour, and read the books or watch the original BBC TV series. The movie was......not so great.

So, back to the blog. Well, as promised, I DIDN'T write a lot for the last few years but that's because of the previously mentioned 42. From now on, I'm just going to to type 42 because typing "life, the universe and everything" is long and tedious and 42 is 2 keystrokes less than copying and pasting!!!! Call me lazy, but I have a car to restore!!!

Anyway, so 42 has been keeping me busy. I got married, did a movie in Hawaii and North Carolina which kept me away from home for 4 months, kept working on the TV show Leverage and then moved to Grimm, travelled to Australia for a month, restored an '83 Mercury "Black Magic" Capri to running status after languishing in a driveway for four years, learned to snowboard; my now third favourite thing after my wife and cars, went on a couple of epic road trips to car shows; from Red Deer, AB to Sturgis, ND, to L.A., and did just about everything other than restore my t-top SVO car.

Well, you'll be pleased to hear, that I'm putting 42 behind me. 42 will have to go on hold for a while. 42 will just have to wait in line for a minute. I have a car restore, and I'm finally getting around to it!!!!!

Much more to come, far more frequently, stay tuned, it's gonna be a Doozie!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Found Another One!!!

Ok, so it's been nearly a year, but there hasn't been a lot going on. Actually there has, but not as much of that is as car related as I'd like. More on that later but first, yep, i found another t-top SVO. I've got some catching up to do, so let's begin.

It all began one Friday, I was at work and my good friend Josh calls me and tells me there's an SVO on Craigslist for $650!! I tell him, "what are talking to me for, go look at the thing!!". Well, he calls back about half an hour later and says, "it's been in a pretty hard wreck but it's complete, and by the way, it's a t-top!!!"

As you can imagine, I was a little surprised, not only to have found another t-top car but also to have found it in my own backyard in Portland, OR. One of the joys of modern smart phones is the ability to take good pictures and send them via text message. I had Josh take some pics of the car and I promptly told him to come and get a check to give to the owner.

The car is an 84, 1C (black) with leather, A/C and all power options. The vin is 1FABP28T2EF129625. It was built 15/11/'83, 15 days before my other t-top car. The car was originally sold in the L.A. area and was converted by "Pacific T-tops", a now defunct sunroof installation company who were an authorized dealer for Cars & Concepts.

The following Friday we went to pick up the car using our friend Phil's truck and trailer. I hadn't actually seen the car in person yet but wasn't expecting much. Upon inspection I was pretty sure the body was toast. Apparently, the car had been involved in a police chase and had slid into a lamp post at high speed. The damage suggested this was the case and the buck shot cracks in the windscreen suggested this also.

We loaded it up and trailered it to the nearest car wash where we cleaned the exterior of 15 years of grime and then also vacuumed out the interior. It was then transported to my garage. Further inspection revealed that the crash damage was indeed terminal with the damage extending from the rear floor area to under the passenger seat. The roof and the passenger rocker panel were also bent and there was some damage to the core support and inner fenders Whatever the car hit, it hit it HARD!!! The only saving grace to this is that because the two cars were only built 15 days apart, "129625" will make the perfect parts car for my restoration.

"129625" will donate many of it's parts including the original stock suspension, rear end, transmission, wiring, computer, catalytic converter and many others. Obviously being an SVO and t-top enthusiast I'm pretty bummed that this car couldn't be saved, but it's heart will live on.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Been a While!!!!

Well, it's hard to believe it's really been nearly two years since I posted something here. Having said that, it's been a very busy two years.

A short re-cap....completed a full strip and respray on my 84 1C SVO "Blackie". Driven to Kentucky for the SVOCA Reunion, twice!! Driven it to L.A. for Knotts, drove it to Missoula, MT for the International Mustang Meet, driven up to Seattle for the Bellevue Roundup a couple of times. Like I said, it's been a busy few years especially when you intermingle all that in with working 60 hours a week in the film biz!!!

It has it's advantages though. Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Detroit, MI for work and got to spend some time with my friend Mark Haas. SVO collector and owner of the "MAC Tools" SVO race car. I've also had the oportuntiy to meet other owners with some special cars and had the privilidge of them allowing me to take pictures for reference use. It's been very handy in trying to verify how these cars came of the assembly line and what is supposed to go where.

Well, now back to our original topic!!!! As all of the above has been happening work on the t-top hasn't stopped. I haven't really done much to the car itself apart from clean it and move it a few times but progress has been made. I have a title!!!

One of the problems that people often face with a project like this is a title. Getting one for this car was a pain but it does prove it is possible. As previously noted, the car sat in the FResno desert for 15 years and was last tagged in 1994. I did get one of the original license plates with the car but that was it apart from a bill of sale. The CA DMV expunges it's records every 5 years so there was no title on record so getting a new title issued was not possible.

What makes that complicated is that in order to get an OR title I needed a CA title. Hmm?? As it turns out I was able to get a title through an arbitration process. I had to prove that there was no OR title on record, no CA title on record and that i was able to prove ownership. I had the bill of sale, a check with OR DMV showed no records and I was able to get a certificate from the CA DMV saying there were no files on record for the car's vin. After some research I was able to find a smog check record from 1994 that matched the license plate I had, conducted in the Fresno area, and I included that with my submission.

Lastly, I had to tow the car to the local OR DMV for them to do a vin inspection. You should have seen the look on the lady's face when she walked out of the office to look at the car. Classic!!!

As it was, with all the i's dotted and all the t's crossed, and having payed the money for my title application, 4 weeks later I got a letter from the OR DMV with a new clear, unbranded title in my name. Suffice to say, work has started in earnest and some decisions have been made, but I'll fill you in more next time and it promise it won't take two years!!!!

In the meantime, here's a picture of "Blackie" from the IMM in Montana. 1st in SVO Modified. NICE!!!!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Gift to A Friend

It's interesting how people are drawn together. The Mustang community is HUGE!! I was never aware of the magnitude of it until I became a part of it. I now have friends from all over the country, from all walks of life, who have this one commom interst. Mustangs.

Now if the Mustang community is huge, the SVO community is small. With less than 10,000 cars ever built, and the estimated survivors thought to be in the 4-5000 range, the opportunity to build a community seems small. Actually the opposite is tue. Maybe it's the small numbers, maybe it because the SVO is an underdog.....who knows? Either way, SVO owners are a tight knit group. I've made many friends since I got involved with the SVO, some I speak to occasionally, some I speak to everyday. Many of them I've never met, but we're friends because of our common interest, the SVO.

Anyways, I want to relate the story of a cool event that happened recently which highlights this viewpoint. It's the story of my friend Mike Burson who is also known as 85ttops on

I met Mike about three years ago when I went to the glass shop where he worked because I was looking for some window sealer for my 84 SVO. I new the factory stuff was called butyl so I asked for that. Mike told me not to use that and to use the newer urethane sealants. I told him I wanted to keep it original so give me the butyl. Mike wanted to have a look at my car so we went out the front and I showed it to him. He said, "the front end looks funny" I said "it's an SVO it came that way" I then proceeded to give him a bit of a history lesson.

Turns out Mike was a total Mustang nut. At the time I think he had five ot them in various states of repair. His pride and joy was his 82 t-top car which had an inline 6cyl and automatic with a red interior. We became good friends and hung out a lot working on our cars at his place through the summer.

Unfortunately, his 82 t-top was totalled by a driver who ran a stop sign not long after this. Mike was pretty devestated so I made a few calls to some friends in L.A. who have large collections of SVO and Turbo 4's, PatinL.A. & Eyelawdoc, to see if they had a car they might be willing to sell to Mike for the price he would get from his insurance payout. Sure enough, Pat and 'doc had a car to match the price and so a deal was done. This is how Mike came to own his famous "Burnt 84". We call it this beacuse it's an 84 SVO that was orignally silver but that recieved a cheap black paintjob which over time has come to look like someone hit it with a flamethrower!!! Mike is on the left in the phot at the top of this entry.

So the work contiuned, 8.8 rear end in his, fuel pump in mine, repairs to mine when I t-boned a Camry, interior work on his, new clutch and a bunch of other stuff in get the idea. Bear in mind that all this work was done at Mike's house because I lived in apartment at the time.

Time led us to move away, me to Portland, OR to work in the film business and him to Bullhead City, AZ. We speak on the phone regularly and got to hang out at the Fabulous Ford's Forever show at Knott's Berryfarm this year but I always miss swinging wrenches with him and sharing our love for our cars.

I know he love's his SVO but I also know he's also wanted another t-top car. Suffice to say he was a little bummed when he heard I was buying the car that is actually the subject of this blog. So, when not a week later, another, t-top SVO turned up, something had to be done. It was first posted by a couple of members on the board that they'd seen a rough 85 t-top SVO sitting on the side of the road in Big Bear, CA. The first person to respopnd was Mike and I could picture him sitting at his computer drooling.

Over the course of the follwing few days there was a flurry of e-mails between svoca members from the west coast and beyond. The decision was made that we should buy the car and give it to Mike. A group of us all made doations and a few others made the extra effort to go and broker the deal with the owner and tow the car for Mike. The car is now in Mike's possesion in Arizona and in the conversation's I've had with him since, the words excited or stoked don't really convey the emotions. For my own part, I was just glad to be a part of doing a good thing for a good friend. Anyone else involved, please feel free to add a comment if you like.

For me it's an example of how a community can grow from a shared common interest. A close knit community of friends who go above and beyond the call for each other.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Back Story

I've never been much for blogs, reading them or writing them, but finally decided I had something of interest to share with the world so here we are.

My name is Chris "Chalky" Chalk and I live in Portland, OR although I am originally from Perth, Western Australia. I'm a Mustang enthusiast and am particularly passionate about the '84-86 SVO. I'm a member of the SVO Club of America, , where I post under the screen name chalkys_explorer, and currently own three SVO's. My black (1C-paint code) '84, strangely enough called Blackie, a red (2R) 86 bi-wing delete parts car, Wingless, (it's an SVO thing!!) and my latest aquistion, an originally silver (1E), but currently painted white(9L), 1984 SVO with T-tops.

"Wait a minute, SVO's were never available with t-tops" I hear the afficionado's say. Well to some degree this is true. Now, for those of you who are a little confused about any of this, for example, if you've never heard of an SVO Mustang head on over to for a bit of a history lesson. T-top SVO's were never available from the factory. Meaning, t-tops were not a Regular Production Option on the SVO as they were other Mustangs.

Most t-top SVO's, and there are very few that we actually know of, were installed by Ford dealers trying to move these exotic, expensive, misunderstood, turbocharged, tecno four-bangers out of dealerships where they often languished while the cheaper 5.o litre GT's flooded out the doors. Again, read up for more details but it's often been said that dealers didn't sell SVO's, informed consumers bought them. Regardless, all t-top Mustangs were fitted with a kit made and supplied by a company called Cars and Concepts (C&C) in Brighton, MI. Whether it was shipped to C&C after rolling of the Dearborn assembly line, as was the case with any factory ordered Mustang, or was fitted by a dealer of aftermarket supplier, the same kit was used.

There are a few cases of Special Excecutive Orders from within Ford, and these are documented, but to my knowledge none of these cars have the TR/D codes you would find on the buck tag/ door tag of a Mustang that was dealer ordered with a t-top roof.

So, know that I've bored you with the details, lets get to the story at hand......

For those interested in rare production vehicles trawling websites like Auto Trader or is often a frivolous waste of time, they just aren't there to be found. The real jems are usually found on Craigs'list or ebay. Such was the case with this car. There is a website called that has a function called the Mash. The Mash is great because it allows you to search for a vehicle by year, make and model but it also has a filter. It'll give you a list of all the vehicles of the type you're looking for on Craigs'list nationally and also what's on ebay. Very handy for the FYI guys over on Four Eyed Pride. So you can search for SVO, and so it was that my t-top SVO was found. On Craig'slist in Fresno, CA.

A discussion was started on the svoca webboard about an 83 SVO that had been advertised. There were no '83 SVO's, but if you look at the early 84 models, the build date will be sometime in '83. In my case the door data tag says 11/83. Anyways, it was noted that the car was missing all it's original SVO specific suspension and front end peices, the interior was trashed and the driveline was missing. But it was a t-top car and the price was $800. It was discussed between a few interested parties but the price was the major problem. Securing the VIN from the owner proved that it was indeed a genuine SVO, built on 11/30/1983 with silver (1E) paint and a leather interior and was the 2516th SVO made.

Post's and PM's flew back and forward, no-one had time to go look at the car and no-one had a place to put it or the money to buy it. So it sat for a few weeks. A few weeks later, in the regular Sunday night chat session on svoca, I asked my friend, Pat in L.A., if he'd heard anything more about the car. He said no but suggested that I contact the owner and see what the status of the car was. So I sent an e-mail asking for details of the car.

The reply basically stated: "$300, come and get it or it goes to the crusher this weekend." That was Monday. By Friday I was in Fresno, CA on a 105 degree day buying a $300 basket case. The bonus was that it came with the original matching numbers engine, the trunk was full of the remaining engine parts, it came with a very rare Ford Motorsport valve cover, was virtually dent free and it'd been sitting in the Fresno desert for 11 years so apart from a covering of dust, it was rust free.

Mind you, getting to that stage had meant a frustrating week of calls to the CA & OR DMV's about getting a title for the thing as it had last been registered in CA in 1997!!! Luckily,and with help from fellow svoca members Pat, Eyelawdoc, 85ttops, fastest4d, Meotchh, 1low86svo,Horsewidower, Bendutro and other friends in the Mustang community, thanks Scott & Lois, the transportation and storage issues had all been settled and we were on our way. The titleing issues were sorted by a quick visit to a DMV in a small town, suffice to say I love grey haired old ladies, they're very helpful.

It was picked up the following Thursday by Meotchh and delivered at midnight the following day to 1lowsvo's house in Milwaukie, OR. I happened to be in New York City visiting my parents so I am forever grateful for their help. The following Monday upon my return the car got a thorough dusting of and it first good wash in 11 years. I've never seen so much dust!!! We did a mnor teardown of the interior and cleaned a sizeable rat's nest out from under the rear seat.

So far the discovery's are that the car is in very good overall condition apart from the parts that are missing and those that have been neglected. Overall plans for the car are unsure but I can say it will be returned to it's original silver (1E) colour on it's way to a full restoration.

More to come but I will leave you with a picture of how I found it.