Mario Mazzeo is a flashback trendsetter with this super-tough Atomic Green 1983 XE Falcon

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Mario Mazzeo is a flashback trendsetter with this super-tough Atomic Green 1983 XE Falcon

This article on Mario’s XE Falcon was originally published in the July 2014 issue of Street Machine

Mario Mazzeo started strong in the world of automotive ownership. “Dad bought me an XE as my first car as a 16-year-old. I’ve always loved the shape,” Mario says. Not that the teenage Mario had much choice; he was brainwashed from an early age. “I’m Ford born and bred – my old man is a fanatic.”

Mario’s straight, rust-free, one-owner ’83 maroon Ford had 83,000km on the clock, a stock six under the hood and a Borgy four-speed behind. With help from his dad Rino, it was dropped on its guts with Simmons B45s stuck under each corner, and given a throaty exhaust note.

Burnouts always sound better with a decent exhaust, and the teenage Mario knew this well. “I blew the ’box up, replaced it, then later I blew the ’box and diff at the same time. I stuffed up a lot when I was younger and kept losing my licence. After the double blow-up, the XE just sat under Dad’s car port,” he says.

Around seven years later, in 2005, Mario arrived at his dad’s to find said carport empty. “Dad told me that he got rid of the XE. He was sick of looking at it. I was really upset!” Mario says. “He sat me down and explained that it was actually in the shed. So if I really wanted to re-build it, we could go halves in it.”

Ford -xe -falcon -frontRino had mentally mapped out the build and worked some figures; his relieved son nodded in agreement. So the body was stripped down and bead-blasted, before the father-and-son duo started modification.

Beginning with the rear of the car, the pair created a flat number-plate mount, which pops open on an actuator to access the fuel filler. The boot also copped push-button technology and lock removal. Down the other end is a Rino-built custom grille, an ESP front end and front badge deletion. No bog – all metal, thank you very much.

At this point Mario and Rino also mocked up an XF Ghia interior, including the console, door cards and electric windows. Neil from Benalla Motor Trimmers then worked his magic on the componentry to create a perfect merge of XE/XF factory spec in era-correct colour and cloth.

Ford -xe -falcon -interior -rearWith the cabin well in hand, Greg Maskell of Maskell’s Customs & Classics fame took custodianship of the evolving body. Mario says: “Dad had read about Greg in the local paper and after visiting him he said: ‘Yep, Greg’s the right bloke.’” While at Maskell’s, the XE copped a BA GT bonnet bulge, requiring a couple of bonnets and a truckload of skill. An exhaust was handcrafted and twin cut-outs notched perfectly in the rear bar for a clean exit.

Later they aligned the panels and gapped them just so, in preparation for that zinger hue. The Atomic Green was then skilfully laid on the super-straight 80s lines, with bumpers colour-coded and nipped in tight. “It’s amazing what Greg did to the car,” Mario says of the completed Hulk-coloured exterior.

Ford -xe -falcon -bootAnd the best complement to a face-punching colour is a monster-cuber under the hood. Although at first a turbo-fed, injected six was considered, a V8 quickly prevailed. Rino offered up one of his two 351ci blocks, but pressure- and crack-testing indicated that neither donk could tackle the planned neddies. But a 351 Windsor Dart block could. Once purchased, the Dart headed to Kevin Brennan at Kevmar Tuning where it was promptly stroked to a decent 459 cubes.

Ford -xe -falcon -2-2The behemoth is running a 1000cfm throttle body, Wolf V500 ECU, CHI 3V manifold and AFD 4V heads. The inside is packed full of tough goodies, while the rest of the bay houses a few street-smart necessities.

“With the carby and standard manifold it made 600hp at the flywheel,” Mario says. “Now I have injection on it should do better. For the street it’s crazy. And at the moment it has a mild tune, it’s still an animal.”

Ford -xe -falcon -engine -bayBehind those 600 wild horses is a Mal Wood TKO 500 five-speed, a Mark Williams three-inch tailshaft and an XA nine-inch packed with 3.50s, 31-spline Moser axles and Detroit Truetrac.

Under all four corners are Super Low King Springs matched with Pedders SportsRyder shocks and disc stoppers. Eighteen-inch Boyd Coddington Junkyard Dogs work in with the modern look of the green duco.

While the build is fresh, the lead time was a little longer. “The build took me nine years on and off,” Mario says. “During that time we went from just building a car, to the extreme of building something amazing. I never intended it to get like this. Things got out of hand; it’s crazy!” The result is a show ’n’ go super-smooth streeter with a matured owner. “With the birth of my first son when I was 27, I realised I had to pull my head in. I haven’t even had a speeding fine since.”

Ford -xe -falcon -onroadAnd this two-owner Ford looks set to remain that way. As Mario says: “I will appreciate the XE for the rest of my life.”