XA GT-HO Phase IV - The Restoration
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Who: The Borg Family
Where: Yennora Smash Repairs Pty Ltd, 79 Larra Street Yennora, NSW 2161
When: December 1985
After owning the Phase IV for around nine months, 'The Dentist' decided to embark upon restoring it back to its factory specifications as much as possible. One of his receptionists was married to a fellow by the name of Ray Borg. Ray was in the vehicle repair business along with his father Joe and brothers Dennis and Fred. The Dentist met with Ray and discussed the possibility about restoring the Phase IV.
This is where the rest of the Borg family comes into the equation. Initially they were operating out of their family home in Guildford whilst waiting to acquire Yennora Smash Repairs. Dennis and Fred had been working at YSR since their apprentice days, and when the opportunity to buy the business came up they took it. The business was successful and had been operating since 1967.
Restoration of the Phase IV began in their humble home workshop, which was well equipped to do so. With the car entirely stripped the panel repairs were started and finished. “We pulled it to pieces labeling all the parts in our home garage,” Dennis says. Ray then handled the panel repairs along with Fred, which included replacing a small section of the passenger-side quarter panel, the passenger side front door skin and minor dent repairs.
Amazingly the rest of the body and panels were in really great shape, however the GT bonnet frame had started to come apart from the skin as the glue had deteriorated over time. Rather than trying to repair it a brand new NOS (new old stock) one was sourced and fitted. The Dentist kept the original bonnet where it remains in his shed to this very day, still wearing the Zircon Green paint and silver stripes on it! On the underside you can flake away the Zircon Green where it reveals the factory Calypso Green paint underneath.
With the repairs completed and the new business acquired the Phase IV was loaded onto a car trailer and transported to the workshop most weekends until it was completed. Over the Christmas break in 1985 was when most of the work got done, “We took it to the shop and prepared and painted it in primer then took it home again” said Dennis Borg. “We didn’t want to leave it at the shop at all, this is one rare car we didn’t want anyone to see.” The reason the Borgs didn’t want anyone to see the car is obvious, as back then a lot of Falcon GTs, Monaros, Toranas and the like were being stolen from workshops and homes, so the last thing they wanted was to be remembered as the shop that lost the XA GT-HO Phase IV.
Besides, no one would have believed it was an XA GT-HO anyway says Dennis. “It feels great to finally share the story of this car with the public after so many years in hiding, I feel relieved”. The restoration progressed well over the next few months with the car being painted in two-pack Standox base coat Calypso Green and then covered in clear. “It was one of the very first cars to be painted in two-pack, as we were used to painting cars in acrylic, we took our time to get the finish perfect on this car” says Dennis.
A host of NOS parts were sourced for the car, and once those parts arrived it was put back together quickly with the whole family getting stuck into it. Looking at the blackouts I asked why they were done in full gloss instead of satin black. “The Dentist preferred the gloss at the time, so we did what he wanted. We also left the air conditioning holes in the firewall in case it was ever proven that the car was factory or dealer fitted with AC. You’ve got to remember Roy there was no internet back then and we couldn’t ask anyone about the car as it technically never existed,” says Dennis. A very fair point if you ask me! 😎
Joe Borg (father) was a mechanic by trade and was entrusted to give the 351 Cleveland a look over and freshen up whilst the rest of the car came together. “I pulled it down in my home garage, sent the block away for a bore and hone, the crank and rods were also sent away for crack testing,” says Joe. “Once given the all clear I then screwed the engine back together. There was nothing wrong with the engine, I just replaced the bearings, rings and gaskets” says Joe.
The Borgs couldn’t complete the full mechanical rebuild due to time constraints, so they introduced The Dentist, to Domenic Catanzariti (RIP), who owned the Shell service station and workshop in Guildford, as they knew him well and could trust him to do the right thing by the owner. Domenic replaced most of the suspension parts on the car with NOS items as well. He completed most of this work in the current owner’s garage on weekends as Dennis was still giving the car its final touches.
Domenic became great friends with The Dentist servicing and pink slipping his other cars as his collection grew larger over the years. The Borgs eventually grew tired of the paint and panel game and moved on from the workshop in the 1990’s. The building remains there today but is now a kitchen manufacturing business. They are all still great friends today and look back at those days with smiles a mile wide 😎
Although the paint and panel work is 33 years old, the quality of the workmanship completed back then would blow away a lot cars built these days. You must give credit where credit is due, so well done to the Borg family for their part on the restoration of Australia’s rarest muscle car 😎