Family heirloom 574hp 1981 Ford XD Fairmont Ghia

Michael Ceyhan's Ford XD Fairmont is a 574hp family heirloom

Photographers: Ben Hosking

Michael Ceyhan senior handed down his Ford XD Fairmont to his son, who turned it into this sharp 574hp beast to one day give to his own kids

This article on Michael’s XD Fairmont was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Street Machine

THE impetus for Michael Ceyhan Jr refurbishing his ’81 XD Fairmont is simple yet 100 per cent heartfelt. “I built it in memory of my dad, and to show my sons different life experiences – not just automotive but also how to be patient.” The XD’s story goes well beyond this recent three-year project. “It was love at first sight when Dad picked me up from school in it in ’83; I was 10 years old,” Michael remembers. “Dad used it as a daily for our family of six. Later he upgraded to a newer car and parked up the XD. When I was 18 years old Dad said: ‘Son, would you like to have the car?’ He’d always let me wash it but never drive it before then.”

The XD has worn its current paintjob since 1993. “It’s a custom colour I had made up,” Michael says. “The body hasn’t been re-sprayed since, but everyone thinks it was painted last year! All I’ve resprayed is the bonnet and engine bay”

It became Michael’s passion, and he slowly added minor mods. “Then in ’93 I did its first rebuild, including the paint that it now wears.”

After Michael’s dad passed in 2006, he felt the need to give the XD another overhaul, and now had the financial backing to do it justice. Yet curveballs were hurled from the outset. “A lot of businesses didn’t deliver,” he says, “which gave me the boost to do it myself – especially assembling the engine.

“I didn’t want a big lump hanging out of the bonnet, so I built a metal scoop using an FG bulge as a rough guide,” Michael explains. “Next, I sent the bonnet to Ben from The Fibreglass Factory in Melbourne, who painstakingly made a mould, fine-tuning it along the way, before sending the raw ’glass product back to me in Sydney. Rob Vibe from Powers Road Smash and I smoothed it and got it to its final fitment. It was a big process”

“The original 351ci is in mint condition; I just couldn’t bear to tear that down,” he continues. “So, I had my friend Ed Brodie suggest two combos, and this is the one I went with. While I’d changed head gaskets, valves and piston rings before, I’d never done a ground-up build.” The stout mill is built around a 434-cube Dart Iron Eagle Clevor block. On top, Michael’s bolted a 1050 Pro Systems carb to a CHI manifold. Below is a COMP cam, CHI 3V heads, JE pistons, Oliver conrods and a Callies Magnum crank. A MagnaFuel QuickStar 300 delivers the PULP from the custom-made 60-litre alloy fuel cell, while an MSD Pro 7AL takes care of spark. Two-inch Pacemaker fourinto- one headers are backed with a Michaelcreated twin three-inch stainless exhaust system to exit the spent gasses. Strapped to a chassis dyno, the combo’s good for 574rwhp and 968lb-ft.

The 434ci Clevo is the perfect addition to the now-smooth lines of the ’bay. Michael’s added colour-coding to complement the chrome and alloy, neatly and symmetrically finished

“I did a lot of research with a heap of trialand-error, so I have lots of parts left over,” Michael laughs. “I did all of the work myself at home. And while I’m a mechanical engineer, I don’t think that helped me, as everything has its own trait. It was a big lesson for me. From welding thin sheet metal, to folding and rolling, smoothing, how to mix paint and how to apply it. I did the entire engine bay paint and panel.”

The now-silky smooth and super-sano bay has been topped with a bespoke fibreglass bonnet to handle the non-factory mill. Yet this was more than a mere engine swap and top hat; Michael also took the time to add some custom parts, address a range of issues and add extra rigidity to the XD along the way. “I re-welded and cleaned up many of the factory welds, then strengthened the jacking points, engine X-member and rear diff area.” Underneath he’s slotted in a Pro9 third member, surrounded by colour-coded Carrolls Springs leaves and FG stoppers.

Peeking out from the 20in Simmons rims are Brembo calipers clamping Baer discs, based on an FG system. “People use mixed brake parts, but I wanted all Ford,” Michael says. “And using a complete FG brake system all ’round means that it works – I can’t go wrong”

During his time in the shed Michael had a few mates lend a hand, but he attributes a fair whack of the work to his then-neighbour Cam. “He’d just finished high school and was one of my biggest helpers,” he says. “Recently I repaid him a little, by having the XD as Cam’s wedding car.”

Nestled under the XD is a custom 60L fuel cell in the factory position. Michael fabbed a template out of thin sheet metal for Shaun’s Custom Alloy to form

As mentioned earlier, Michael was also keen to have his sons in on the project. “My boys Romani and Ramsey were involved every step of the way, from sanding paint to passing tools, as well as learning how everything worked. I just did what Dad did with us really. That’s reflected positively in their school projects too.”

“I stumbled across these amazing diffs by John Lang from Pro9 in Melbourne,” Michael says. “He usually does drag diffs, but was willing to take on my project. So, I gave him sketches and the list of everything I wanted, including weldbead size and the leaf spring bracket. When I put the finished diff into the car, it was perfect”

And when the was XD fired up again, it came full-circle as a family affair. “When I said to Mum that we’d do the build to commemorate Dad, she asked that I take her out for dinner in it once it was done – and I did,” Michael says. “Since then I ran a 10.9-second quarter-mile at Eastern Creek, just to get a time on the car. But I didn’t build it for that – it’s too nice! Instead we go cruising and family outings.”

Inside are factory Scheel pews, a Billet Specialties tiller and B&M Pro Rachet shifter. The tweaked dash houses Dakota Digital gauges, Kenwood stereo and climate-controlled Vintage Air air con

With the XD done, you’d think that Michael would be off the tools; instead, he has a new project. “My wife Michelle turned to me saying: ‘You did such a good job on the XD, now do me one.’ So, for her I’m putting together an ’84 XE Ford Fairmont Ghia Limited Edition with a Barra turbo and six-speed auto,” Michael smiles. “Later on, we too will hand down cars to our sons.”


“I was 19 years old when I met Michelle, whose family wanted us to get married straight away,” Michael says. “So, after six months I popped the question. This meant that I had to put the XD up for sale, as it was all I had. Two blokes came to buy it, and it was killing me! My father-in-law saw this, walked up and said: ‘Sorry guys, it’s not for sale anymore.’ He’d put me to the test! We then ended up using it as our wedding car. My wife’s garter is still hanging on the rearview mirror; it’s never been removed!”

Michael Ceyhan


Paint: Custom Concept RP70

Donk: Dart Iron Eagle Clevor 434ci
Induction: 1050 Pro Systems carb, CHI manifold
Heads: 3V CHI
Compression ratio: 10:1
Pistons: JE
Rods: Oliver
Crank: Callies Magnum
Oil pump: Melling
Fuel pump: MagnaFuel QuickStar 300
Ignition: MSD Pro 7AL
Fuel: PULP
Cooling: Custom alloy radiator, 14in SPAL HO-series thermo
Exhaust: 2in Pacemaker 4-into-1, stainless twin 3in system
Output: 574hp and 968ft-lb

Gearbox: C4, reverse-pattern
Converter: Dominator 4300rpm
Diff: Pro9 9in, 35-spline axles, 3.7s, Wavetrac LSD
Tailshaft: 3in alloy

Springs: Stock (f), Carrolls Springs leaf (r)
Shocks: Bilstein (f & r)
Brakes: FG; Baer discs and Brembo six-spot calipers (f), Baer discs and Brembo fourspot calipers (r)
Master cylinder: FG XR6T

Rubber: Kumho; 225/35 (f), 275/30 (r)
Rims: Simmons; 20×7 (f), 20×10 (r)

Steering wheel: 14in Billet Specialties
Gauges: Dakota Digital
Shifter: B&M Pro Rachet
Seats: Scheel
Stereo: Kenwood, 6in speakers