Building a better Ford

Mick Webb invented the special Ford vehicle concept in Australia during the ‘80s. More recently ‘Webby’ went on a mission to show FPV how special Fords should be made.

I started SVO cars with an idea that we were going to build unique cars, a special vehicle package for different people. We didn’t start with a base car, we started always with an S Pack or a Fairmont Ghia, because we had our luxury customers and we had our sports pack customers.

Our cars were unique in that we weren’t just putting a bunch of stripes on them, making them look fancy on the outside and trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. We were building a genuine special vehicle car that had a Bilstein suspension package, along with better sway bars and springs. It made the car unique in its suspension, and it handled beautifully and had a very comfortable ride.

We had the same philosophy with the wheel package. We selected a wheel package that was unique to all the cars, and nobody else could purchase these wheels. We used S-grade quality Dunlop or Goodyear tyres and they were the best and most expensive tyre money could buy at the time.

But with the Pursuit, FPV has started with a base car, put a bunch of stripes on it and tried to convince people that it is a special car – it’s not. Yes, it has got the optional super charged engine but I am amazed they would produce a car with that much horsepower but only standard brakes, standard shock absorbers – standard everything.

The thing that really gripes me is the interior. The interior was written up on their website as having leather seats with suede inserts, yet these cars come with standard XR seats with ‘Pursuit’ embroidered on them, and the seats are not adjustable for individual should height .

And the tyres… When you drive the thing hard in a straight line and then back off the power, the car gets a speed wobble up, which frightened the bejesus out of me, I can assure you.

It’s the same as the electric window switches, they don’t have an automatic up and down function, which even Kia and Hyundai have had for ten years.

And the tyres… When you drive the thing hard in a straight line and then back off the power, the car gets a speed wobble up, which frightened the bejesus out of me, I can assure you. I know other guys with GTFs and Pursuits say the same thing and they have thrown the tyres away. The tyres that we put on our SVO cars were Ferrari quality.

To rub salt into my wound, Ford has recalled the car after the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission issued a notice stating “there is potential for the ignition switch electrical connector to disengage. If the connector disengages while driving, the engine will stall, electrical functions will be lost, and the vehicle will be unable to be re-started. This poses a potential accident hazard to the driver and other road users”. If wish Ford would keep my car and give me my money back!

The only thing to do now – once Ford corrects the electrical safety issue – is to turn the ute into the vehicle I believe FPV should have built in the first place. We are going to build a special car, a genuine SVO car that will even carry an SVO build number.

I will have Robbie Herrod further upspec the engine for me. Yes, I am a good engine builder, but I don’t do these late model electronic engines and Robbie is the master of these engine packages. The rest of the stuff I am capable of fixing.

The suspension will be upgraded with Bilstein shockers all around, while Russell Stuckey, from Stuckey Tyres, is supplying tyres that will make this car an absolute dream to drive. We have done some tests on them already and the improvement is out of this world.

We have upgraded the brakes by fitting six-piston Brembo calipers on the front and four-piston calipers on the back in place of the original two piston front caliper and single piston rear caliper.

I’ll also be fixing up the interior. The first thing I will be doing is fixing up the seatbelt package by going to my local Ford dealer and buying an XR adjustable seatbelt bracket. I think, after my solicitor has finished talking to Ford, I will receive the leather with suede insert seats that the car is supposed to have. We are drafting up legal action at the moment because, even on the website today, there are claims that the car has leather seats with suede inserts and I want them in my car. That’s what I purchased.

We’ll also make improve the exhaust note so it won’t sound like a sewing machine – the way that Ford produced it.

When I am finished fixing my Pursuit, it will go, handle and stop like a genuine special performance vehicle should.

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Mick Webb

Mick Webb is a championship-winning race engineer and engine builder who has worked for Jim Richards, Allan Moffat, Peter Brock, Frank Gardner, and the Stillwell Racing Team.

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