1000hp blown TRIGGA XY Fairmont

Tim McDonald and his dad brought a sad XY Fairmont home nearly 40 years ago. Neither could have believed it would turn into this 1100hp monster


Our hobby can take root in a variety of ways, but for many of us, it was family that introduced us to the car life. This was certainly the case for Tim McDonald, whose memories of working on this XY Fairmont with his dad have made this car more than steel, rubber, and glass; it’s an irreplaceable part of his family.

First published in the January 2024 issue of Street Machine

“Dad bought the XY out of Rockdale in 1984 when I was nine,” Tim explains. “It’s a factory Fairmont, and he paid $4400 for it. The guy had just put a V8 in it but left the six-cylinder suspension, so it bottomed out the whole way home, and that’s what led to him fixing it up slowly, bit by bit.”

Tootling around in a shed on an old Ford might seem like merely a way for a kid to pass some time, but the experience had a lasting effect on the young Tim. “I used to help Dad work on it in the garage, and then he started dragging me to wreckers, and it led me to get my mechanical apprenticeship,” he laughs.

“We slowly did it up and drove it around. Then, in 1993, when I was a second-year apprentice, I bought it from Dad and we restored it again until ’98.”

Tim bought a house in 2005, so he parked the Fairmont away while he had kids. Finally, in 2015, the time had come to bring it back.

The XY was no slouch in the 90s, with a 500hp 351 Cleveland, Top Loader, nine-inch diff and 15-inch Simmons rims. However, Tim recognised the game had moved on since the machine was last finished. “Everything was different in the 90s,” he laughs.

“Originally I went to ProFlo for a blown 427 Windsor, but then [ProFlo’s] Paul Sant talked me into doing the fab work and taking the build to the next level. It was daunting to cut up a car that means so much to me, but ProFlo’s work is top-notch, and you can’t beat what they do.”

This work included retaining all the Ford DNA that makes an XY the Aussie icon it is today, but amping the attitude up to 11. That’s why huge wheel tubs and a custom four-link rear end with a Panhard bar took the place of the stock leaf springs.

Up front, Viking coil-overs have been custom-mounted to allow the tops of the strut towers to be smoothed off, but from below it all looks how Ford intended. Countless hours have gone into smoothing, filling and refining the basic production package that rolled out of Blue Oval plants in the early 70s, and now it’s ready to wow show-goers.

Powering the Fairmont is a 1100hp blown small-block Windsor that is tougher than an old Balmain wharfie. Based around a 9.2-inch Dart SHP block, the mill swings 427ci thanks to a Callies Magnum 4.0-inch crank, 6.2-inch Callies Ultra rods and 10:1 RaceTec pistons.

There’s a mean-looking BDS 8/71 pump on top, but there’d be no point strangling your killer blown combo with stock iron heads, so AFR 220 alloy jobbies have been worked over and kitted out with drool-worthy hardware like Jesel rockers. The valves are operated by a 268°/276° solid-roller cam that was custom-ground by Crow.

The pump is 10 per cent overdriven, and while it appears at a casual glance to be mechanically injected, that is a clever ruse. As this XY is a street car (albeit one that likes to party), that hat is one of ProFlo’s billet PFP items, equipped with 1500cc injectors and set up to work with a FuelTech FT550 ECU for sweet street manners.

More smarts come with the ignition system. Rather than struggling to package a high-end distributor and ignition leads around the blower set-up, ProFlo opted for a modern fix with the MSD cam sync; it reads the cam position and feeds that info to the ECU like a modern car with sequential timing. Each potful of E85 is then fired by LS coil packs for rock-solid spark.

Once ProFlo was done with the fab work, the XY shell was delivered to Wollondilly Smash Repairs to be prepped and primed by Shane and Brett Sanders, before Benny the Beater (have a guess at his job) applied the paint – a PPG custom version of the factory Bronze Wine. “I wanted to leave it the same colour it originally was, but I had to add some spice to it,” Tim says.

“Unfortunately, we lost Dad between the car finishing up at ProFlo and going to paint. After that, it took about six months before I was able to pull the covers off it, to be honest.”

Thankfully, Tim pushed on with TRIGGA, delivering it back to ProFlo to be reassembled after Mark Sant at Ontrak Auto Electrical wired the car.

Now that the XY is finished, Tim has fulfilled a long-held dream. “I’ve always wanted a blown XY,” he says. “When I was a young fella, we lived in Chiswick Street, Greenacre, and one day they shut it down to film the opening drag race scene from Running On Empty. It was quite a thing; my parents gave us the day off school and we spent it watching them drag race up and down the street.”

You may think such a well-finished machine is set to be a trailer queen, but Tim is adamant the Fairmont’s place is on the road, and that’s where he’s itching to use it. “It will do some shows, and then I’ll start cruising it on Sundays – take it out to Wollongong or go for a cruise with the boys,” he says. “There are so many memories tied up in this car for me; I can’t wait to make more.”


That lush cabin treatment is the hard work of X-Trim Motor Trimming, and harks back to the car’s Fairmont origins.

“This car left the factory with Saddle trim originally,” Tim explains. “However, back in the 90s when I was rebuilding it, we couldn’t find the original trim, so I wound up putting black trim in it.”

That’s no longer the case. While the stock gauges and cabin controls are all instantly recognisable as XY Ford pieces, no XY ever left the factory with the brown Nappa leather or dark brown square-knit carpet that TRIGGA now wears. The sumptuous stitched leather covers the dash shell and centre console, while the stock low-back bucket seats have been reshaped and re-foamed to bring them into the 21st century.

The rollcage has been finished in the same custom Bronze Wine paint that adorns the body. It tucks so tightly that it’s almost hidden, while the Lokar pedals and B&M shifter are somewhat harder to hide.

Despite these updates, original-style seatbelts and a GT-style steering wheel remain, as do the woodgrain highlights around the cabin.

X-Trim’s classy work continues in the boot, where the custom rear bulkhead panel mirrors the design of the door cards, offset with the modern carpet and leather.


Paint:Custom PPG Bronze Wine
Type:427ci Dart SHP 9.2 Windsor
Induction:Billet BDS 8/71 blower, PFP billet injector hat
ECU:FuelTech FT550
Crank:Callies Magnum 4.0in
Rods:Callies Ultra 6.2in
Pistons:RaceTec 10:1
Heads:AFR 220 Renegade alloy
Camshaft:Custom Crow Cams 268/276 solid-roller
Oil system:Melling high-volume pump, Moroso sump
Fuel system:1500cc injectors, Holley Dominator billet
Cooling:Custom alloy radiator, twin Spal thermo fans
Exhaust:Custom extractors, custom twin 3in exhaust system
Ignition:LS3 coil packs, MSD crank trigger
Gearbox:Manualised TH400 auto
Converter:Shotgun 4500rpm
Diff:9in, alloy centre, Truetrac LSD, 3.7:1 gears
Front:Viking coil-overs, custom mounts
Rear:Strange Engineering coil-overs, custom four-link
Brakes:Wilwood 355mm discs (f & r); six-piston calipers (f), four-piston calipers (r)
Master cylinder:VT under-dash
Rims:Simmons FR; 20×7.5 (f), 20×12.5 (r)
Rubber:Kinforest KF550; 225/35R20 (f), 345/25R20 (r)

Wollondilly Smash Repairs; Old G Paint & Panel; ProFlo Performance; X-Trim Motor Trimming; SRV Road Freight; Shane at Ford Muscle Parts; Danny at Protilt Towing; Danny’s Moulding Restorations & Polishing; Finer Detail Industries; Ontrak Auto Electrical; Shaun, Dean, Benny the Beater, Shano, Brett and Woodsy; in loving memory of my dad, aka ‘Hamburger.’