400-cube Windsor-powered XE Fairmont Ghia ESP

This Fairmont Ghia ESP is factory fresh. Or at least it would be had the factory given it almost 600hp!

Photographers: Jordan Leist

Deerk Van Der Kooi has been a long-time fan of European Sports Pack (ESP) Fairmonts, having owned one since he was about 20 years old – he’s almost 40 now. But that’s not the ESP you’re looking at here: “I had a silver roller in the garage but could never afford to make it how I wanted it,” Deerk explains.

First published in the November 2022 issue of Street Machine

So, one day while a little bored at his missus’s work Christmas party, Deerk started doing some window shopping and dreaming, and came across this stunning charcoal XE ESP for sale. “When I found this one, it was the colour I always wanted, and the interior was flawless in it. I instantly jumped out of my chair and said, ‘Babe, I’m going to Melbourne!’” Deerk says. “There and then, I booked a ticket for Monday morning.”

Arriving in Melbourne, Deerk jumped off the plane and straight into a taxi. The XE was located at an HSV dealership, of all places, and as soon as Deerk saw the car, he had to have it. It was immaculate, with perfect paint and interior. Thirty minutes later, it was getting put into a container bound for Perth.

That was four or five years ago, and Deerk enjoyed the car pretty much as it was for a while. After all, there was literally nothing he had to do to it; whoever had rebuilt it back in Melbourne must have had a contact in the Ford parts department, as everything on the car was like brand new. “I got so lucky with this car,” Deerk admits.

The Fairmont had a 383 stroker in it when Deerk got it, and he did a bit of work to it, getting George Separovich to tune it to “within an inch of its life”. But Deerk admits he’s a little bit hard on gear, and punched a hole in the side of the block at Powercruise. Still, no regrets: “It was the best weekend ever; totally worth it!” he enthuses. “If it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have got the car to where it is today – a totally new level with the engine bay, the engine, the trans, the diff, the power, the reliability.”

Deerk knew the replacement engine needed to be strong, so he tapped Mark Dallos at Pro West High Performance to deliver the goods. “He asked me what I wanted, and I said, ‘A tough street car that could skid at events.’ I let him choose the complete combo. When it all came together, it was beyond everything I always wanted, and four years later it’s still running strong. Everything that Mark did to it has turned it into a weapon.”

The Clevo block was junk, so Mark and Deerk opted for a Dart SHP 9.2 Windsor block with CHI 3V 208cc heads that were developed in-house at Pro West. It’s filled with CP-Carrillo pistons, Scat H-beam rods and a Scat 4340 crank with a 3.75-inch stroke.

Combined with a 4.125-inch bore, that takes the capacity out to 400ci. A CHI single-plane intake is topped with a Quick Fuel 950cfm carb, and a Crow solid-roller camshaft makes sure all the juice gets in and all the gas gets out. The combo reliably punches out 554hp at the tyres.

Deerk upgraded the rest of the driveline to cope with the extra grunt, choosing a C4 filled with billet internals and an AllFast 4000rpm converter, and a nine-inch diff from Final Drive running 3.55 gears, 31-spline billet axles and a Truetrac.

Before the new donk was swung into place, Deerk thought he’d tidy a few things up and put his own stamp on the car. The engine bay has had all unnecessary holes filled up, and there’s a custom catch can hidden behind the front wheel. The wiring has also been hidden and a custom bracket was made for the alternator so that it mounts low and out of sight, making for a very tidy installation.

As it was already immaculate when Deerk got hold of it, the Fairmont hasn’t changed externally; even the gold-centred Simmons FR1 rims that came with the car suit it perfectly. Measuring up at 19×8 and 19×9.5 and clad in 225/35 and 265/30 tyres respectively, the wheels’ offsets and stance are spot-on. I was surprised to learn that the tubs haven’t been touched; the guards have just had some careful massaging.

When I first saw the car, I wondered what the DUTCHN number plates might refer to, and when I tracked Deerk down and he told me his full – and very Dutch-sounding – name, I thought it was all explained. But no: “I’m the first-generation Aussie and my parents are full Dutch.

My mum saw it and said, ‘Oh, you cute boy, you put your Dutch heritage on the car.’ I said, ‘Get out of it, Mum.’ When you were a kid, you would ‘dutch’ the bedroom out with all the smoke, but now I’m dutchin’ the cul-de-sac up with tyre smoke instead!”

This car has been a long-held dream for Deerk – ever since he was a kid with pictures of Theo Loutakis’s EATHDT XE ESP (SM, Oct-Nov ’96) stuck to his wall. “That was the car I knew I wanted some day. While everyone else rode the Holden train, I was the biggest Ford boy there was growing up,” he says. It may have been 25 years in the making, but check it out! This XE ESP sure was worth the wait.


Paint:Charcoal Grey
Type:400ci Dart SHP 9.2 Windsor
Carb:Quick Fuel 950cfm
Heads:CHI 208cc
Valves:PAC; 2.08in (in), 1.65in (ex)
Cam:Crow solid-roller
Crank:Scat 4340
Conrods:Scat H-beam
Radiator:Brown’s radiator, AU fans
Exhaust:Pacemaker 17/8in headers, twin 3in system
Ignition:MSD 6AL
Transmission:C4, fully manualised, billet internals
Converter:AllFast 4000rpm stall
Diff:9in, 3.55:1 gears, 31-spline billet axles, Truetrac
Front:Monroe shocks
Rear:Monroe shocks
Brakes:Discs (f & r)
Rims:Simmons FR1; 19×8 (f), 19×9.5 (r)
Rubber:225/35R19 (f), 265/30R19 (r)

Mark and Jim Dallos at Pro West High Performance for the full engine build, engine bay work and engine paint; Mat Williums at Preedy’s Auto Electrics for the wiring and all the hard work; Sam Rhodes at Vulcan Panel & Paint for the engine bay respray; Pro-Street Polishing for always keeping the car at its best before every photoshoot; Jordan Leist for the photos and helping make my Street Machine dream come true.