THE X-FACTOR – Ford XR Falcon

If you spotted Giles Mortimer’s XR Falcon on the street, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a neat cruiser, probably powered by a mild 302 Windsor with barely enough grunt to pull the skin off a delicious rice pud. And you’d be very wrong. Beneath the unmodified bonnet of this unassuming resto sits a 408-cube Clevo built to handle the rigours of burnout comps.

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“I was after an XW or XY, but a bloke in Waroona sent me some pictures of an XR he had,” says the West Australian. “I showed a friend and he told me to grab my money, get in the car and go buy it!”

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Giles handed over the folding stuff and returned with this mint XR in tow. The original six-banger and related driveline bits had been chucked in favour of a 289, C10 and nine-inch combo, and with 202hp at the tyres, it was enough fun for Giles for a few months. “I took it to Racewars Cash Days and got thrashed by everything, but it was fun and the bug bit,” he says.

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Of course, Giles soon realised that if he was going to keep up with the competition, the XR needed a shot in the arm. The baby Windsor was thrown into the shed and replaced with a 351 Clevo wearing a Yates top end, which spat out 360hp at the treads. A few months before Racewars 2018, the C10 started to slip badly, so Giles swapped it with a tough C4 with a manual valvebody built by Perth’s FAT Transmissions.

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Racewars 2018 was pretty hard on Giles and the XR; he drew Tim Nelson’s UNCIVIL XA coupe (SM, Aug ’16) in the first round and lost to the green methanol-swilling monster.

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Undeterred, Giles began the hunt for even more power and discovered that a friend was looking to shift the 408-cube stroker Clevo from his burnout car. Giles offered to trade a Harley 1200 Sportster Custom for it and the deal was done.

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South Street Auto Repairs in Perth built the 408 with a Scat steel crank, a big Crane solid-roller, Lunati lifters, Trend pushrods, CHI 3V heads, Crane rockers and stud girdles. The two-bolt mains are strapped together with a stud girdle to help keep everything straight when Giles spins it to 6900rpm, and a Canton sump and Melling pump supply the slippery stuff. The engine chugs a steady diet of E85 distributed by a 950cfm Quick Fuel carb and a CHI single-plane manifold. The exhaust is the same twin 2.25-inch as the 289 from the headers back, so Giles is confident there are gains to be made there.

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Giles’ commitment paid off at Racewars 2019, where the XR decimated a couple of wound-up late-model Falcons, imports, and an HK Monaro with a 400 Chev. “I couldn’t get full throttle at the time, so it only ran 176km/h at 6300rpm, but it just hooks up,” he says. “I’ve fixed the throttle so I want to take it to Perth Motorplex; now I’ve got full noise I’m itching to see what it does!”

Words // Tass McMillan

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