Tony Muscara’s a Ford guy through and through, with an impressive back catalogue of hot Falcons. But his long-term XE Falcon is truly special, and not just because of the Whipple-blown Coyote under the bonnet.
First published in Street Machine’s Summer Special magazine 2023
“It was my father’s car; he got it in the mid-80s and then sold it to me in the mid-90s,” the Victorian explains. “It was a white six-cylinder column-shift – the old family chariot. He would use it as his work car driving to the fruit orchard, and used it to collect firewood every winter, filling the boot up with wood. The poor XE’s arse would be dragging on the road!”
As a P-plater, Tony had the Falcon resprayed in Ford Cobalt Blue and cruised it with a mild, fuel-injected 351 Clevo up front. “It was probably only pumping mid-300s back then, but it was one of the first MoTeC systems,” he explains. “In 2009 it did a bearing, and I just put it aside for a while.”
An LPG-huffing 393 stroker build was lined up to go back in, but plans changed in 2016 when Tony got up close and personal with late-model force-fed grunt. “I got a Herrod Performance Mustang with a Roush blower, and the power was just too easy,” he enthuses.
Tony duly snagged a 5.0-litre Cobra Jet crate engine from the Herrod crew. Based on the quad-cam, 32-valve Coyote platform, the mill pinches its name from the Blue Oval’s ’68 Mustang drag-strip missiles. Mahle forged and anodised pistons and Manley H-beam rods hang off a forged steel crank in the bottom end, paired to standard Mustang heads with 2014-era bumpsticks. A 2.9-litre Whipple blower tops it all off.
In place of the standard 1000cc injectors are 2000cc items, and Tony’s slapped a smaller pulley on the blower for extra boost. The exhaust piping is all custom, comprising two-inch extractors feeding a 3.5-inch twin system by Nathan Lloyd at Shepparton’s Fabrication Techniques. Holley EFI is the brains of the whole operation.
On 22psi, the XE belted out 1000hp at the tyres. Making the power with a blown quad-cam V8 on E85 was straightforward enough, but getting everything to fit comfortably in the Falcon’s engine bay required some work. Fabrication Techniques did away with the shock towers, adding super-neat sheet metal in their place. “We could’ve probably got [the Coyote] in; we would’ve had to notch the towers a bit,” Tony says. “But we decided to take them out in case I change direction and go to twin turbos. There’s no issues trying to get your hands in around the motor; it just opens it up.”
A Reid-cased Powerglide handles the neddies, along with a big 6000rpm TCE converter and two-piece tailshaft by GJ Drivelines. Out back is a nine-inch with billet axles and 4.11:1 gears in a custom housing, again from Nathan and the team at Fabrication Techniques, who also handled the tubs, raised floor, removable rollcage and four-link.
“He did 70 or 80 per cent of the car,” Tony says. “I’m originally from Cobram, so a lot of work was done around Shepp and Numurkah and that. All my friends around there helped me build it, because I was extremely busy with work.”
There’s QA1 suspension and unassisted Rod-Tech rack-and-pinion steering under the front end, which Tony says transformed the Falcon’s handling. “She goes pretty straight on the track. You don’t have to work hard to control it; it’s like sitting on cruise control,” he says. It’s still a street car through and through, with Wilwood front stoppers and EL rear discs.
Tony and his mates thrashed hard to have the XE ready for Drag Challenge 2019, where he also raced his competitive Mustang. “That was the XE’s first outing – we finished it after scrutineering on Sunday, as we still had some things to do before racing on Monday.”
He pedalled the car to a few nine-second passes, replacing the auto and fixing a broken trailer along the way, before sending it up to Willowbank Raceway for Paramount Performance’s Terry Seng to work his magic. “He spent a few weeks getting it going, changing gear ratios, converters, stuff like that,” Tony says. “I flew over and ran an 8.91@151mph, but then COVID hit and I pulled the car apart, did the bodywork and got it resprayed.”
The Falcon finally had another go on the quarter at the 2022 Ford-Powered Nationals at Heathcote, running a 9.1 down the country track’s right-hand lane. “We thought that was pretty impressive, because I got told it wouldn’t run at Heathcote.
It’s all set up for the track at Willowbank, but it’s got a lot more in it,” Tony says. “Now we’re just mucking around with the tune so we can just turn up to the track and go, and we’ll see if we can beat the 8.9s.”
While the Coyote is bound to stay in the XE’s bay, the choice of induction is up in the air. “My mechanic’s trying to twist me towards turbos now,” Tony laughs. “The car’s fully engineered as-is, so that’s what’s sort of stopping me at the moment. It’s a real good street car, so I want to enjoy it and not thrash it too much down the track.”
1983 FORD XE FALCON
|Paint:||BMW San Marino Blue|
|Type:||Ford Performance 5.0L Coyote Cobra Jet|
|Conrods:||Manley H-beam Fuel system: E85, 2000cc injectors|
|Exhaust:||2in extractors, twin 3in pipes|
|Converter:||TCE 6000rpm stall|
|Diff:||9in, 4.11:1 gears, Truetrac|
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES|
|Front:||QA1 springs and adjustable shocks|
|Rear:||QA1 springs, AFCO shocks|
|Brakes:||Wilwood discs (f), EL Falcon discs (r)|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Billet Specialties Win Lite; 18×5 (f), 15×12 (r)|
|Rubber:||Mickey Thompson; 185/30R18 (f), 325/50R15 (r)|
Geoff Sutton at Yarroweyah Panels; Pete and the boys at Corsa Specialised Vehicles; Dragan Bigic at Straightline Refinishing; Terry at Paramount Performance; Nathan at Fabrication Techniques; Shannon for all the mods for engineering; my wife Tanya and boys Joey and Alex