BOSSXT: Chris Wright’s 800hp XT Fairmont

Chris Wright returns to the street-car world with 800hp worth of XT Falcon!

Photographers: Shawn McCann

Many of us know how messy and painful things can get when we buy a half-done project. But sometimes, everybody wins and the end product comes out looking like Chris Wright’s gorgeous XT Fairmont.

First published in the March 2024 issue of Street Machine

The Mildura fella has sampled a few spicy rides on both sides of the fence over the past decade or so, including a 363-cube XW GS, an SBC-swapped LC Torana coupe, and a brain-melting, 2500hp XW ute (SM, Mar ’16). “I had a stroke when I was 31, so I never got to drive [the XW],” Chris says. “I eventually got my licence back and had the Torana race car, but my health was still giving me grief, so I decided to sell it again and buy a street car.”

Ballarat racer Simon Williams was looking to thin his herd around the same time, which was a godsend for Chris. “I’ve known Simon for a long time; he actually built the 408 Clevo in my XW ute back in the day,” he says. “Simon hadn’t even advertised this XT; he put a post up saying he was thinking of selling one of his cars, so I said, ‘What’s the go?’”

Chris joined his best mate, car-building collaborator and serial enabler Lucas Ellingham for a poke around the unfinished Falcon, and they struck a deal before long. “We started to work out what this thing had, and what it would cost us to build something from scratch with a bare shell,” Chris explains. “There was no way we could’ve done something even close to it for the money! It was just a painted roller, but all the parts were there, and I had a vision.”

Simon also had bits for a cast-headed, stroker Cleveland mill, which Chris was considering until Simon revealed a second option: a 445-cube Windsor stonker he promised would make 800hp!

The combo uses a Dart 9.5-deck block, with Edelbrock Glidden Victor heads and intake manifold. A Scat crank and rods with custom JE forgies fill out the bottom end, while the cam is a Comp solid-roller. Fuel is pulled from the tank by a MagnaFuel 525 Pro Series pump, into a chunky Demon carby rated to 1095cfm. “We stopped when it got to 800hp [on the dyno],” Chris says. “It’ll probably make more once we tune it in the car and have a play with it!”

Though it’s all-motor at this point, there’s a nitrous switch on the dash if Chris wants to up the ante. “My old race car was on the bottle, and when Simon was building the engine, he did it to suit nitrous,” Chris says. “The boys are trying to talk me into it, but I don’t know if I want to put a ’cage in it and go down that track! If I start racing it, I’ll end up back in the same boat with my licence and medical and all that bullshit. At the moment it’s driveable, but the option’s there.” A Pro Mod C4 from Performance Automatics and a 35-spline Strange nine-inch rear ensure it’s future-proofed against pretty much anything Chris chooses to throw at it.

ACE Panel Worx in Ararat prepped the body, and by the time Chris came into the picture, it had already been sprayed in a custom-mix brown by Stuart at Beaufort Smash Repairs. “When Simon said it was brown, I thought it wasn’t a colour I would’ve chosen,” Chris admits. “But when I went to look at it, and he pushed it out of the shed, I went, ‘Wow!’ In the dark it almost looks black, but in the sun it’s gold.”

While Simon handled a lot of the big-ticket work, the end result combines talent from all three blokes, with Chris’s vision playing a big role in bringing it all together. “I don’t know whether Simon really wanted to part with it,” Chris laughs. “He wanted to finish it and I respect that, and he’s happy that it went to me.” Lucas, who runs Carline Mufflers & Fabrication in Ballarat, sorted the exhaust system and other odd fabrication jobs while being Chris’s man on the ground during the day-to-day build process.

“Lucas and I have been best mates for years,” Chris says. “He knows what I’m like and what I want, so that was a great help. If Simon needed somebody to look at something, I’d send Lucas and he’d ring me, then work it out from there. When he built my ute, I was living in WA, and I didn’t even choose the colour because I couldn’t decide!”

Chris also got stuck in whenever he could, making regular five-hour drives between Mildura and Ballarat to organise countless finishing-off parts in between work and family life. The XT came home late last year, and Chris is now enjoying a few shakedown runs around Mildura. “There are still bits like the wiring and a few other things I want to change,” he says. “But as they say, a car’s never really finished!”


Paint:Custom-mix brown
Type:445ci Dart Windsor
Carb:Demon 1095cfm
Induction:Edelbrock Glidden Victor
Heads:Edelbrock Glidden Victor
Fuel system:MagnaFuel 525 Pro Series pump
Cooling:Two-row alloy radiator
Exhaust:17/8in to 2in primaries, 3.5in twin system
Ignition:MSD Power Grid, MSD Pro Billet distributor
Gearbox:Performance Automatic Pro Mod C4
Converter:TCE 4800rpm
Diff:Strange Ultra 9in, 35-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears
Front:Pedders springs, Calvert adjustable shocks
Rear:Calvert mono-leaf springs & adjustable shocks
Brakes:Wilwood Dynalite calipers and discs (f), drums (r)
Master cylinder:Wilwood
Rims:Billet Specialties Win Lite; 15×5 (f), 15×8 (r)
Rubber:Nankang 165/80R15 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 275/50R15 (r)

My wife and girls for all their support and help in the shed since I’ve had the car home; Simon for all the work and the quality of the car, plus the killer engine combo; Lucas and Matt at Carline Mufflers & Fabrication Ballarat – Lucas went above and beyond to help me with this build; Matt DeSpirt for hooking me up with the converter; Damo at Mildura Auto Detailing for his awesome work and ceramic coat.