BY CRIKEY, does Jovan Batar’s XE cut a mean profile! If you ever needed an illustration of the phrase ‘tough streeter’, you couldn’t go far wrong with a picture of this beastly Ghia. And even though it has a Summernats Top 60 position to its credit, you can rest assured that it’s not all show and no go. There’s an intriguing and tasty surprise hiding beneath that subtle reverse-cowl.
This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Street Machine
In order to explain how FATXE came into being, it’s best to start with the story of a totally different car. “When I was 16, I got an XP as my first car,” Jovan explains. “I took it off the road in 2009 to do a V8 conversion and fit some updated running gear, but I’ve decided to start from scratch again and aim for the Top 20. A few years ago I had Paul Sant from ProFlo Performance build a tough motor for it, but I didn’t want it just sitting around in the XP.”
Enter the XE you see before you.
Around the same time, Jovan’s good mate Branko Karajcic had sold the mill from his XE Fairmont Ghia FAT451 and the car was gathering dust. A deal was struck, folding stuff changed hands and Jovan dragged the XE home and got to work. Soon the engine and ’box from the XP were mounted in their new home and the car was off to ProFlo for a heap of work, including a new gearbox crossmember and new exhaust. Then it was off to Mick’s Motorsport to make that motor sing.
And what a motor it is! You’d be forgiven for expecting a gnarly Clevo or even a pressurised Barra to be crammed between the shock towers, but this particular Ghia is packing 539rwhp worth of Windsor. Yes, in there you’ll find 369 cubic inches of angry short-deck beneath what is arguably one of the maddest-looking intakes ever fitted to a street car.
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That beautiful eight-throttle manifold and matching Yates C3 heads were originally fitted to a V8 Supercar, so, as you can imagine, they make for one cranky little street motor. “A guy who worked on these manifolds told me it would be like a light switch, but it’s a torquey little motor, so isn’t too bad to drive,” says Jovan.
FATXE’s mean persona is exemplified by the Weld Magnums, subtle reverse-cowl and a rake that screams ‘quick street car’. The 325s on 12in-wide beadlocks with satin black barrels look positively menacing!
Supporting the mental top end is a Dart 8.2-inch deck block containing a Callies crank, Scat H-beam rods and custom Arias pistons. A Custom Camtech solid-roller cam makes the decisions, with Crower lifters, Trend pushrods and T&D roller rockers following its commands. Paul’s custom headers have large two-inch pipes that flow into three-inch collectors, and the twin three-inch zorst carries the smelly gasses to the back end.
This is not what you expect to see when you open the bonnet of a tough XE. The short-deck Windsor looks half the size of the usual Clevo, making for much easier header fabrication, no doubt! The dizzy has been replaced with the cam synchroniser from an AU 5L, the LS1 coils are mounted beneath the thermo fans, and you can fit your fist inside the trumpets
Behind the Windsor sits a reverse-pattern manualised C4 from Al’s Race Glides, with a TCE 5500rpm stally transferring the power. The XE came equipped with a pretty stout rear end set-up already fitted, so Jovan elected not to fiddle with it much. It’s the obligatory nine-inch, but this one has been shortened and braced, with 3.9s, a spool and 35-spline axles to handle more than just the odd trip to the shops.
“It’s pretty out-there and different,” Jovan says. “You pop the bonnet and people are like: ‘Wow, that’s awesome’”
Most of FATXE’s bodywork has remained untouched from when Branko built it, though it did need some touch-ups. Anthony Caronna, who originally painted the car, came back to wave his magic spray gun over the newly cowled bonnet and other areas that required work.
Then Jovan turned his attention to the cabin. “The interior was the only thing stopping it from getting into the Top 60,” he says.
With that goal in mind, the old trim was replaced with brand new ESP Sierra Tan, with a few little touches here and there in the name of performance. A lot of work went in to moving the B&M shifter down so that it sits nicely in the factory gear indicator, and the carbon-fibre Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges now reside neatly in a factory facia.
While it may look pretty close to standard ESP, the cabin has copped some track-oriented engineering. The six-point ’cage is tucked out of the way in most places, the driver’s seat wears a five-point harness, and the accelerator pedal pulls as well as pushes to prevent any stuck-open-throttle disasters. “We were still finishing the trim on the Thursday of Summernats!” Jovan laughs
The boot also copped a visit from the sewing machine, so the fuel cell is now surrounded by soft carpets instead of painted steel.
With the XE neat and the Windsor on song, Jovan entered Summernats 2019 and was awarded a place in the Top 60 for his trouble.
Since he’d never driven anything faster than the stock XP, a visit to Sydney Dragway and Cootamundra with the XE soon opened Jovan’s eyes. “It gripped pretty well on the Street Rs and ran a 10.65@127mph at Coota,” he says. “I’m keen to get back to the track. The drag bug bites and you just want to go quicker!”
Both Jovan and the XE are ready to run single-digit passes, so the new 461-cube tall-deck Windsor that Paul’s building for it should give them a good nudge. There’s even talk of installing some sort of boosted V8 and giving Street Machine Drag Challenge a crack.
As for Jovan’s annual Summernats pilgrimage, his plans are different this time around. “I don’t think I’ll enter it in any judging this year; I want to cruise with my mates instead,” he says.
FATXE wouldn’t be here without the running gear generously donated by its older stablemate, Jovan’s long-term project XP. “After I took the XP off the road in ’09 to build it, it bounced around a few workshops,” says Jovan. “I had it ready for body and paint and the motor was all wired in and running, but then I saw all the work going into Top 20 cars so decided to start from scratch and do it properly. It’s booked in with ProFlo early next year.” The XP’s going to be a mad beast, powered by the 461 Paul’s currently building and sitting on an Art Morrison chassis with wide 20s on all four corners. Keep a butcher’s out for FATXP in a few years’ time!
Aidan’s Design & Illustration knocked up this rendering of the XP to help Jovan visualise the finished product.
1984 FORD XE FAIRMONT GHIA
Paint: PPG Galaxy Grey
Block: Dart 8.2in deck
Heads: Yates C3
Induction: V8 Supercar ITBs
Cam: Camtech custom solid-roller
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Pistons: Arias custom
ECU: MoTeC M84
Ignition: LS1 coils
Fuel pump: Holley Dominator
Exhaust: Custom headers into twin 3in
Gearbox: C4, manualised, reverse-pattern
Converter: TCE 5500rpm
Tailshaft: 3.5in chrome-moly
Diff: 9in, spool, 35-spline axles, 3.9:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Pedders (f), Strange coil-overs (r)
Shocks: Pedders (f), Strange coil-overs (r)
Brakes: Wilwood; 6-piston (f), 4-piston (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood manual
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld Magnum; 17x4.5 (f), 15x12 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 26/6/17 Sportsman SR (f), 325/50/15 Street R (r)
Paul from ProFlo Performance; Mark from Ontrak; Mick from Mick’s Motorsport; Kit Hunter; the boys at All States Towing; Duke; Trifo; Milomir; Slavko; Mickey; Stojan; Dejan; Vlajko