XMPLARY STYLE

NOT MANY PEO­PLE HANG ON TO THEIR FIRST CAR, LET IT ALONE TURN INTO SOME­THING AS SWEET AS MAT SAL­VADOR’S XM FAL­CON

Street Machine - - Contents -

Mat Sal­vador’s gor­geous XM knocked our socks off at Mo­torex. Here it is in all its glory

TAKE a mo­ment to drink in that glow­ing turquoise and all the fac­tory bright­work sparkling in the sun. Feast your eyes on those ruler-straight pan­els, the se­ri­ous sus­pen­sion and ex­ten­sive chas­sis work. Yep, Mat Sal­vador’s XM Fal­con is one stun­ning street ma­chine, but need­less to say, it wasn’t al­ways so neat.

Our story be­gins in 1995 with a crusty gar­den or­na­ment and a 15-year-old with a dream. “I went to look at the car with my brother-in-law Keijo, and it was shock­ing,” Mat re­mem­bers. “It was all dif­fer­ent colours, the in­te­rior was screwed, ev­ery sin­gle orifice was filled with pine nee­dles and there was grass grow­ing out of the gut­ters. We of­fered the guy 250 bucks and took it home that arvo.

“I worked on it ev­ery chance I had and spent all of my money on it for four years. We painted it in Mum and Dad’s garage while they were over­seas, and they cracked the shits when they got home be­cause the walls were turquoise!”

The boys stuffed the XM with a 2V 250, C4 and Cen­tura diff, and it served as Mat’s daily for a few years un­til 2002, when he de­cided to take it off the road to fit a Wind­sor. A pro­tracted pe­riod of in­ac­tiv­ity on the XM front fol­lowed un­til 2008, when Mat fig­ured it was time to build the car he’d al­ways dreamed of. While thumb­ing through old copies of SM, he came across Daniel Cas­sar’s name, pro­pri­etor of Fast Lane Speed Shop in Ballarat. Daniel was im­me­di­ately in­ter­ested in the build, so the car was quickly de­liv­ered to him for what would turn into a five-year stay.

Ap­par­ently the wait was worth it: you won’t find many lines smoother than these out­side of a five-axis CNC port job! The shell was pretty good to be­gin with, only re­quir­ing new sills and lower quar­ters as far as rust re­pairs were con­cerned, but ev­ery panel line has been sharp­ened. Look un­der­neath those lines, how­ever, and you’ll see that there’s far more to this turquoise toughie than meets the eye.

Start­ing un­der the bon­net, the most ob­vi­ous body mod is not an ad­di­tion, but a sub­trac­tion. The Fal­con’s re­stric­tive shock tow­ers are long gone, re­placed by flat pan­els that have been swaged to re­sem­ble fac­tory metal. Down at the bum, the chas­sis rails from the rear seats back were given the flick in favour of fab­ri­cated items to add some much-needed rigid­ity and al­low room for some big changes to the driv­e­line. In­side the boot is a rolling wave of turquoise steel, flanked by widened tubs and a ’70 Mus­tang fuel tank.

All the metal work wasn’t done just to pretty up the en­gine bay and boot; there was a far more prac­ti­cal rea­son. Mat wanted a car that stopped and steered far bet­ter than any­thing a stock 60s sedan could of­fer, so there’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing left of the orig­i­nal run­ning gear. Prop­ping up the front end is a fab­ri­cated Mus­tang Ii-style sus­pen­sion sys­tem, with QA1 coil-overs, Wil­wood four-pots and a short­ened UC To­rana rack. Out the back is a heav­ily mod­i­fied RRS three-link, with more QA1S han­dling the bumps and the Watt’s link re­placed with a Pan­hard bar. Mat says: “It han­dles well, rides well and just drives re­ally nice. When you nail it, it just goes dead straight; there’s no wan­der­ing.”

Pro­vid­ing a tasty 523hp worth of shove is a 408ci Wind­sor that houses a Scat crank and rods, SRP for­gies, a Comp Cams Xtreme

IT WAS ALL DIF­FER­ENT COLOURS, THE IN­TE­RIOR WAS SCREWED, EV­ERY SIN­GLE ORIFICE WAS FILLED WITH PINE NEE­DLES AND THERE WAS GRASS GROW­ING OUT OF THE GUT­TERS

En­ergy bump­stick, AFR 205cc race-port heads, an Edel­brock RPM Air-gap and a 750 Hol­ley HP carby. The ig­ni­tion is all MSD, with a 6AL box con­trol­ling the sparks and a Pro Bil­let dizzy point­ing them in the right di­rec­tion. Burnt di­nosaurs are whisked away from the mo­tor by Mat-fabbed 1 7 /8-inch equal-length ex­trac­tors, into 2.5-inch pipes with Flow­mas­ter muf­flers and res­onators. “The en­gine made 500lb-ft from as low as they could pull it on the MCE en­gine dyno, so it’s awe­some to drive,” Mat says. “It lights ’em up in any gear and just sounds men­tal.”

Since the XM was built to be driven, Mat de­cided to go the ex­tra mile and make it roadle­gal too. “The en­gi­neer was in­volved right from the start, so there wasn’t much that needed to be re­done. Get­ting the seat­belt mount­ings right was a fair drama though, and when he drove it for the brake/road test the lower ra­di­a­tor hose kinked and the temp soared to 230!”

All that work has def­i­nitely paid div­i­dends though, with the XM pick­ing up a bronze medal for en­gi­neer­ing at Mo­torex Mel­bourne 2018. Mat’s pretty chuffed with the car: “I just bloody love it and drive it ev­ery op­por­tu­nity I get. There’s just some­thing about this car and the mem­o­ries of work­ing on it as a young fella. To me it’s the most spe­cial car; I’ll never sell it. I’m just go­ing s to look af­ter it and drive the wheels off it!”

THE EN­GINE MADE 500LB-FT FROM AS LOW AS THEY COULD PULL IT ON THE MCE DYNO. IT LIGHTS ’EM UP IN ANY GEAR AND SOUNDS MEN­TAL

RIGHT: The XM has come a long way since Mat bought it for $250 back in 1995! Mat and his brother-in-law treated it to a home re­spray and had it look­ing pretty re­spectable for a P-plate ride, but she is at a whole new level now!

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