1968 Ford XT Fairmont streeter

Jason Schembri's nine-second, naturally aspirated XT Fairmont is proof that some things are just meant to be

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

JASON Schembri is riding around in the car of his dreams – this fully pumped-up, Candy Apple Red, 427-powered XT Fairmont. But it wasn’t the dream he started off with.

First published in the May 2021 issue of Street Machine

“I was actually looking for an XR,” he says. “My brother Darren has an XY (SM, Apr ’21), so I thought I’d get something different to him.”

That noble plan took a detour when a well-kept, original Burgundy, 351-powered XT Fairmont came up for sale for $12K. Jason jumped on it, and the two brothers wheeled the stocker sedan into Darren’s shed, where the work then began.

“We built Darren’s car up 12 or 13 years ago,” Jason says. “We’re always helping each other; we’re very close, always in each other’s pockets, y’know.”

Key to the XT’s worthiness was its brilliant condition as a daily driver, with a body in such good shape that the brothers could carry out its prep in the home garage. There was some minor rust in the rear door, but otherwise the panels needed little work.

“It had all the chrome, all the moulds on it; it was actually a really neat car,” recalls Jason. “Some of the cars out there these days are just pieces of junk, rust buckets.”

With the body stripped, a decision was made to overthrow the 351 Cleveland. As the former owner of a 12-second R33 Skyline, Jason was tempted to turbocharge the Fairmont’s fresh power package (see more below), but the guttural sound of the 440-cuber in Darren’s XY swayed him to keep it naturally aspirated.

“To be honest, I just said to Zoran at Competition Engines: ‘I want a low 10-second car,’” Jason says. “I definitely had to see 700 horses – that was my goal – and walking out of there, it made 723, so I’m more than happy.”

That stonking horsepower comes from 427 cubes of ‘Clevor’ V8, with CHI 225cc ported alloy heads on an alloy block. Packed with Competition valves and valve springs, SRP pistons on Scat conrods and a Scat crank, it’s fed 98RON pump fuel by a 1130cfm Holley Dominator carby. It’s backed up by a reverse-pattern three-speed C10 auto with a 5500rpm stall converter built by Paul Rogers.

While the engine was being built, the body was painted in Candy Apple Red – a factory XT GT colour – by Peter Robinson at Pro Finish.

The interior was also overhauled. Pristine Parchment vinyl now covers the original seats and door trims, while other additions include a GT replica steering wheel, flat-mounted Auto Meter gauges and flush push-button engine start. Apart from the TCI shifter and four-point rollcage, you won’t find any needless cabin clutter. “I like it as original as I can,” Jason says. “And there’s no stereo – the stereo is under the bonnet!”

The exterior, too, maintains much of its original style, with all the factory chrome back in place and a rear windscreen venetian added. The Alfa Motorsports reverse-cowl bonnet is one of the few exterior features that wasn’t in the 1968 Fairmont catalogue.

Calvert shocks up front, fresh leaf springs at the rear and a set of Center Lines gave it its stance at the time.

With the body ready, the interior sewn up and the engine built, Jason and Darren set about putting the puzzle back together. “That was a bit of a nightmare to do, but luckily I had my brother’s XY there – just looking at his car to see where things went,” says Jason. “Over a year and a half, you sort of forget a few things, where things go.”

The build was coming along rapidly, but not rapidly enough for Jason. “It felt like 10 years, because people who know me will tell you I’ve got no patience!” he says with a laugh. “When I want something done, I have to get it done there and then. People who take 10 years to build a car – good luck to them, but I don’t know how they do it, because I’d go crazy!”

In well short of 10 years, the Fairmont was completed, and it was time to head to Calder Park to see if it was now a low 10-second car. It wasn’t. It was quicker. “Going by Darren’s previous motors, I thought if I can do a 10.2, I’ll be rapt,” Jason says. “First pass, literally it was 10.00 and we were all gobsmacked! Then we went out a second time and went 9.90, and then 9.86@135mph. We were shocked! She gets from A to B, that’s for sure!”


JASON’S initial hankering for a turbo came from his previous drive – an R33 Nissan Skyline GTS-T. “I blew the engine, so I rebuilt it and went bigger turbos,” he laughs. “It went 12.2@120mph in the end.”

So when the XT came along, the urge to go turbo was strong. “I was going to do the 351 up, get that worked a bit, but I changed my mind and went for something a bit better and beefier. Now that I look back on it, I’m actually spewing! I should’ve gone turbo from the start!

“If I had to build the car again today, I would tub it straight away and four-link it before finishing it off – and I’d definitely build a turbo for it!”


Paint XT
Falcon Candy Apple Red
Brand Ford Clevor 427ci 
Induction Holley Dominator 1130cfm carb, CHI
inlet manifold 
Heads CHI 225cc ported alloy, Hi-Tech
pushrods, Comp valves and valve springs 
Camshaft 274 lift/700 duration, Crower
Conrods Scat Pistons SRP with Total Seal
Crank Scat 
Oil pump Heavy-duty 
Fuel system MagnaFuel 625 
Cooling Spal fans, Aussie Desert Cooler
high-performance radiator 
Exhaust Four-into-one 3in mandrel-bent
headers, 3in dual exhaust 
Ignition MSD 6AL-2, MSD coil pack
Gearbox C10, TCI shifter 
Converter Dominator 5500rpm stall 
Diff Ford 9in, 35-spline axles, 4.3:1
Front Viking coil-overs 
Rear Viking coil-overs, custom
Brakes Wilwood discs (f & r) 
Master cylinder Wilwood
Rims Weld Racing V-Series; 17×4.5 (f),
15×10 (r) 
Rubber Mickey Thompson; Sportsman S/R
27x6R17 (f), ET Street R 325/50/15 (r)

Competition Engines; McDonald Brothers; Peter Robinson at Pro Finish; Paul Rogers; RPM; C&N Vehicle Trimming; Exhaust Bros; Alfa Motorsport (fibreglass); my brother Darren for helping me complete the build; my dad for being there throughout the build; my nephew Deon; and, of course, my wife Annamaria for her support and my kids Isaiah, Tommy and Sophia