BIG, loud, fast, tough – there are plenty of words that come to mind when you first lay eyes on Morris Markovic’s XE Falcon, but ‘understated’ is certainly not one of them.
This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of Street Machine
Eighties Falcons have been in Morris’s family for as long as he can remember, so it comes as no surprise that an XE was his car of choice for this project. “My dad is a Ford man through and through,” he says. “When he came over here in the 70s his first car was a Falcon, and we all grew up in an XD Falcon. My brother owns one of the cleanest ESP Falcons in the country, and they’re a car I’ve always loved. So I wanted to build one of the toughest XE Falcons in Australia.”
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Morris and his twin brother Mark butted heads for a while over where the exhaust should finish. “We argued for ages about whether to dump it at the diff or the rear of the car, and then my brother suggested the side exit, and I loved it,” Morris says
That said, an elite-level, Summernats Top 20 stunner wasn’t initially part of the plan. “I originally just wanted a tough street car with a big engine, but when we started to strip the car back for paint I found some rust and a few other issues,” Morris explains. “So that’s when I lost my mind and decided to go all out.”
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Even though the standard for the project stepped up to another level, that doesn’t mean Morris merely handed off the XE to a workshop to do all the hard yards. “I built 70 per cent of the car at home in my small garage,” he says. “I did all the plumbing, bodywork – everything pretty much, other than the engine and tubs.”
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Those jobs were given to Paul Sant and the crew from ProFlo Performance, and Morris couldn’t speak more highly of the results. “My partner calls Paul the Chanel of cars; that’s how good he is,” he says.
ProFlo decked out the XE with a four-link and nine-inch rear end, sitting underneath a pair of tubs big enough to swallow the mammoth 22x12 Simmons FRs. Wilwood disc brakes were also installed on all four corners.
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The real party piece from ProFlo is the bent-eight poking out of the bonnet, an engine fulfilling all of Morris’s dreams. “I’ve always wanted a big, angry V8 like that; I love tunnel-rammed engines, and this one is a beast.”
A Windsor block of 440ci has been stuffed full of Manley crank and rods, RaceTec pistons and a Comp Cams stick locked in with a beefy pair of SCM heads. Helping those heads breathe is a custom-made CNC tunnel-ram manifold, topped off with a pair of 950cfm carbs. “The carbies and manifold are a work of art,” says Morris.
“I prefer the simplicity of the carbies, plus it helps complete the look I wanted, and Paul recommended to not stuff around with EFI on the engine anyway.”
On PULP, the mill will happily scream to 900hp at 8500rpm. Backing up the big donk is a manualised C4 ’box housing a 6200rpm TCE converter.
Underneath the candy-red skin is a full tubular control arm kit, and the entire underbelly of the car is coated in black 2K paint applied by Morris himself. He also went to the extent of deleting the heater box and smoothing off the firewall in the engine bay. “People said we couldn’t build a car like this ourselves, so I was determined to prove them wrong,” he says.
To keep the car as smooth as possible, Morris moved the brake booster and any unwanted mess from the engine bay into the boot, hidden behind the rear seat. The only giveaway to anything unusual is the exposed fuel filler cap
The philosophy for the interior fit-out was ‘less is more’. “I didn’t want billet trinkets all through the interior; I just wanted something classy, tough and super clean,” says Morris. Steve Maiolo from Alltrim was tasked with the job. The centre console was extended to reach the customised rear seat, while up front the factory air vents have been ditched and only the basic gauges are used to keep everything in check. “I got rid of the air vents because they look ugly, and we didn’t bother with a fancy stereo or anything – as if you’d be able to hear it anyway!” Morris laughs.
The 900hp, tunnel-rammed Windsor V8 was all Morris wanted people paying attention to in the engine bay. He deleted the heater box and smoothed off the firewall, removing anything unnecessary to keep with the car’s clean and simple look
Outside, Morris took care of the bodywork along with good mates Dean Byrnes and Dean Giddins, before handing the car off to Simon Bonello from Ground Level Panel & Paint to lay the candy red. “We had issues with the first painter, so we stripped it back,” Morris says. “I had to wait a while for Simon to find time to paint it, but I was willing to wait to get the results.”
The car took around four years to complete, but when it was unveiled at Summernats 33 it made a big impression from the moment the covers were pulled off. “It was awesome to unveil the car there, and then to make it into the Top 20 was a good feeling – I was really proud,” says Morris. “People really seemed to like the car, and Owen Webb took a real liking to it, which was pretty amazing.”
Morris wanted to keep the interior as simple as possible, going as far as deleting the factory air vents and running the bare minimum of gauges. “I’ve just got gauges for the vital stuff and a shift light inside the tacho,” he says. “Nothing fancy sticking out to annoy me!”
Morris plans on showing the XE at a few more events before giving it a proper spanking. “We’ll take it to Red CentreNATS and have a crack at Grand Champion, probably take it to Summernats again,” he says. “Then I’ll take it to things like Powercruise and really enjoy it. That way, if it gets a few stone chips then I won’t care.“Most people build a car like this and don’t use all 900hp, but trust me when I say I’ll be using all that power!”
1983 FORD XE FALCON
Paint: PPG Vibrance Cherry Cordial Candy
Brand: 440ci Windsor
Induction: Twin 950 carbs
Intake manifold: Custom tunnel ram
Heads: SCM Engine Developments
Fuel system: Holley fuel pump
Cooling: Alloy radiator
Exhaust: 3.5in, 4in sidepipes
Gearbox: Manualised C4
Converter: TCE 6200rpm
Diff: 9in, 4.56:1 gears, 35-spline axles
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Viking coil-overs
Rear: Strange coil-overs
Brakes: Wilwood 355mm discs, six-piston calipers (f); Wilwood 355mm discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Simmons FR; 20x7 (f), 22x12 (r)
Rubber: Nexen N1000 225/35R20 (f), Lionhart LH Ten 335/25R22 (r)
Dean Byrnes and my twin brother Mark Markovic for spending countless hours helping me put it together; Heidi
Zuegn for helping to pick the paint and interior finish; Paul Sant at ProFlo for the engine, brakes and
fabrication; Steve Maiolo at Alltrim for the amazing interior; Mark Sant at Ontrak Auto Electrical for the
wiring; Simon Bonello at Ground Level for the superb paintwork