EVEN though Zoran Krstevski’s XE Falcon took around 12 years to build, his vision for the car never once varied. It was always going to be blue with a factory-style interior, fat stance, skinny front-runners and finished off with a little something poking out of the bonnet. Given all the styles that have come and gone since the early 2000s, this boxy Falcon could have easily turned into a mish-mash of themes, but instead it ended up being a Summernats Top 20 stunner.
This article was first published in the May 2019 issue of Street Machine
Zoran’s love affair with XE Falcons started when he was young. “I always had them in the family,” he says. “I had an XD as my first car, and since then I’ve had about 15 of them in my possession because I used to part them out.
“I just love the shape of the XDs and XEs and I was always tinkering with that model car, so when it came to building a street machine, the 80s-era Falcon was the only option,” he continues.
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Zoran picked up what is now THE XE in the late 90s. At that stage the car was good from far but far from good, but Zoran had plans to eventually transform it into a masterpiece.
“It already had the 351 Cleveland, which I then had built up with more power,” Zoran says. “I did a stage two shift kit on the C4 auto and it had the nine-inch, so it was a fun car. I used to take my dad out in it and scare the shit out of him.”
It’s all business in the back, with a big custom fuel cell fabbed up by Shaun’s Custom Alloy, which fills from the factory filler behind the number plate. There’s no missing the two big nitrous bottles, which feed a 250-shot Cheater plate system up front
In the year 2000 the auto went bang after some shenanigans with mates, and at the time Zoran didn’t have the money to fix it, so he put the Falcon away until conditions were right to finally turn it into his dream car. It sat for almost a decade before he really got stuck in.
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“I didn’t want to build it half-arsed; I wanted to build it right the first time and build the car that I had been envisioning in my mind for years,” Zoran explains. “Myself and Nathan Allen [of CMEFRY burnout fame] started the build and did bits and pieces here and there, usually after a few beers, but we were a bit too young and didn’t finish things off to the standard that I really wanted.
“It wasn’t really until my dad passed away in 2009 that I really got my arse into gear. My best memories in the XE were when I used to take my dad out in it and I really wanted to build the car in memory of him. I became determined to see it finished.”
The underside of the XE is detailed just as well as the rest of the car, with the undercarriage painted the same electric blue as the exterior, highlighted by a beautiful chrome-finish custom exhaust
Zoran saw the work that Aaron Gregory had done and decided to leave the XE with him to get the engine bay spick and span. “I just left it up to him and said I wanted it neat and to stay true to the factory lines of the engine bay, and he did an incredible job.”
Chris Spicer and Dave McFarland at Killer Customs tubbed the rear end to fit 15x10 Center Line Qualifiers with big Mickey Thompson rubber and fitted up a four-linked Strange nine-inch rear end. They also installed a rollcage, which is tucked up as hard as it gets against the pillars and features removable side intrusion bars for street duties. Shaun’s Custom Alloy fabricated the fuel cell in the boot, which uses the factory fill point.
From there the XE went to Phil Xerri at Phil’s Body Repairs for its custom metallic blue paint. Zoran wanted to retain the factory look of the car but tidy it up and give it that ESP look.
While the car was away getting sprayed, Jason Mansweto was building the Falcon’s new engine. “I wanted 600-700hp before gas on pump fuel, but the main thing was reliability,” Zoran says. “I didn’t want a big cam and angry, heavy valvetrain; I wanted it to sound nice and make good power but still be able to cruise with the family. That’s exactly what I got.”
The engine is actually a NASCAR-block 351 Cleveland that Zoran pestered his cousin over for the best part of 12 years, taken out to 393ci and stuffed with custom Arias pistons, Compstar rods and a Scat crank. Up top it runs custom CNC-ported 225cc CHI heads, CHI intake manifold and a 870cfm Street HP Holley and NOS Cheater plate kit.
“It ended up being around 13:1 comp and it revs to 8000rpm. On the engine dyno it made 662hp on pump fuel and we can still give it a 250-shot of nitrous,” Zoran says.
Backing the motor is a Hughes C4 reverse-pattern auto with a transbrake. Eventually Zoran wants to send the car down the strip with the aim of running an all-motor nine-second quarter, but it’s never going to be a car that he chases times with; it holds too much sentimental value now and has turned out too nice.
The car then went to Paul Sant at ProFlo Performance, who plumbed everything up, got the car running and sorted out the McDonald Brothers tubular A-arm front end. While it was there, Mark Sant from Ontrak Auto Electrical wired up the XE’s electrical system. It was at that point the boys suggested to Zoran that his car might be good enough to unveil at Summernats.
“The thought crept in when Paul Sant asked if I had spoken to Owen Webb, because he thought it could be an unveil car, so I touched base with him and kept him in touch with the build. Come December I sent him some shots of the trim and he said: “You’re in!”
It’s the little touches like the billet steering column and indicator stalks that really give Zoran’s XE a classy look. The daggy hand-operated XE park brake has also been relocated to the floor next to the driver’s seat, like in an HQ Holden
Looking at the interior, it’s easy to see what impressed Owen. It’s a real highlight of this Falcon, offering something that we haven’t seen done in an XE before. “I wanted to keep it factory-looking but really modernise it and bring it into this era,” Zoran says. “I’ve always liked cars that look and go fast but are classy on the inside, and that’s what I’ve tried to achieve with this.”
Zoran wanted to refresh the interior and bring it into this era, so rather than pepper the dash with mechanical gauges, he fitted the single Racepak Street dash. It displays all of the engine’s vitals, and Zoran has hooked it up to a datalogger mounted under the driver’s seat
The Recaro seats have remained up front, and Zoran also had another pair customised to fit the rear. “With the tubs, the middle seat was pretty much made redundant anyway, so I suggested to Luke at X-Trim that we make it two seats with the centre console running up between them. We ended up moulding the two Recaros around the tubs and chopping them down slightly so the headrests sat at an even height with the fronts. Luke knocked it out of the park.”
The idea for the twin rear seats came from Zoran, who already had the pair of Recaros lying around. They look right at home in the back of the XE, highlighted by the custom centre console between them. It all came up a treat, and is one of the most striking features of the car
Luke used ESP-style trim on the seat centres, but finished the rest in black leather. Zoran also wanted chrome piping, so Luke worked that into the door cards and matched it with silver stitching on the seats.
The custom centre console houses all the buttons for engine start, fuel pumps, and nitrous arm and purge. They’re made so that Zoran can easily access them when he’s strapped in with a race harness.
The bespoke centre console houses a number of custom buttons. The row down the passenger side controls the nitrous system, with bottle heater, purge and arm buttons, while the driver’s-side row powers the ignition, starter motor and fuel pump. The passenger-side lever is a very nicely finished parachute release
By this stage, Zoran had just two weeks to have the car finished and ready to unveil at Summernats 32. “The car had no glass, no chrome work, no bootlid, no bumper bars; it literally just had its doors,” he recalls. “My cousin Tony Cvetanovski and I did the fit-up. We were petrified of scratching it, but there was no turning back; it was full steam ahead for about two weeks. It was crazy!”
But they got it there, and THE XE received a warm response when the covers finally came off.
“I had a lot of people tell me it was never going to get done because it sat for so long. Most people didn’t see it until it was unveiled,” Zoran says. “I’ve been going to Summernats since number 10 and only missed three since then, so I’ve seen it evolve. It was crazy just to be part of it, and to have my car there in the hall was a dream come true.”
Imagine how Zoran felt then when THE XE placed in the Top 20 and took out third place in Elite Sedan! “It was a real whirlwind experience I’m still coming down from it,” he laughs. “I had my whole family there – the kids, my cousins, it was great. I even had my first drive in the car on the Sunday with the kids and missus at Summernats. I spent half of Sunday cruising, which really topped the weekend off.
“It’s still surreal; in February 2018 the car didn’t have a nut or bolt on it,” Zoran continues. “Now I just want to enjoy it, get it out there with the family and support some events. It’s a car that will never be sold; it was built in memory of Dad.”
1982 FORD XE FALCON
Paint: Custom metallic blue
Brand: Ford Cleveland 393ci
Carb: Holley 870cfm Street HP
Nitrous: NOS Cheater plate kit, 250-shot
Inlet manifold: CHI
Heads: CHI CNC-ported 225cc
Camshaft: 252/260@50, 650 lift
Pistons: Custom Arias
Crank: Forged Scat
Rods: Callies Compstar H-beam
Oil pump: Melling
Exhaust: Pacemaker Headers, custom exhaust
Radiator: Custom PWR
Fuel pump: Aeromotive A1000
Preferred fuel: Pump 98
Gearbox: Hughes C4 race ’box
Converter: SDE 5800rpm
Diff: 9in, Strange Truetrac, 4.10:1 gears
Tailshaft: Ricky’s Driveshafts
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: McDonald Bros tubular A-arm, Viking double adjustable coil-overs
Rear: Mini-tubs, four-link, Strange double adjustable coil-overs
Brakes: Slotted Wilwood (f & r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood dual
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Center Line Qualifier; 15x4.5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR; 26x6 (f), 28x12 (r)
Paul Sant and the ProFlo Performance team; Jason Mansweto at Mansweto Racing; Phil Xerri at Phil’s Body Repairs; Grant and Luke at X-Trim Motor Trimming; Chris Spicer; Dave McFarland; Aaron Gregory (Memphis Hell) and Brad Grech (Ultimate Metalworks) for the fab work; Mark Sant at Ontrak Auto Electrical; Claude Grasso at All Type Carbs; Chubby at Lowe Fabrications; Daniel Levy at Killer Finish Paint Correction; my cousins Tony and Rob Cvetanovski; Matt Scala; George Saad; the Rocket Industries team; our loyal Black Track Towing customers; my beautiful supportive family, including my dad (RIP) and especially my fiancée Lisa for the emotional support, kicking my arse when needed and helping get the car ready for Summernats