1982 Ford XE Fairmont Ghia ESP 5.8 - V8 Falcons #4

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Stuart Grant

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ford fairmont xe onroad front ford fairmont xe onroad front
ford fairmont xe onroad ford fairmont xe onroad
ford fairmont xe wheel ‘Snowflake’ 15-inch alloys and luxo badges clearly identified the Fairmont Ghia foundation on which the ESP was built ford fairmont xe wheel
ford fairmont xe badge ford fairmont xe badge
ford fairmont xe engine bay 2 ford fairmont xe engine bay 2
ford fairmont xe interior ford fairmont xe interior

Though not called a GT, the European Sports Pack went some way to filling an obvious hole in Ford’s XD and XE line-ups

From Unique Cars #319, Jan 2011

It looked the part with its Scheel sports buckets and bespoke trim, exterior stripes, and a few chassis tweaks. The latter included upgraded suspension, a quicker steering ratio, rear axle tramp rod and, in the 1982 XE, a Watts linkage and coil springs for the live-axle back end.

In reality, the Fairmont Ghia ESP 5.8 was a thinly veiled GT, and carried its slightly ironic moniker simply to keep the insurance suits none the wiser. Ford’s 149kW power claim for the XE’s big 5.8-litre looks modest compared to its V8 predecessors, but it wore anti-pollution gear and outputs were measured with all ancillaries attached, unlike before. In contemporary tests, the ESP clocked 0-100km/h in 8.9sec and hit a top speed of 194km/h.

| Buyer's Guide: 1980-84 Falcon ESP XD-XE

ford-fairmont-xe-onroad.jpgHard-cornering XE ESP uses its wide stance to good effect. It’s a big car and it has presence, but it’s handsome too

As a drive, the ESP earned plenty of praise for being a particularly well-mannered tool through a smooth set of twisties, living up to the European Sports Pack hype.

Through rough corners, the Watts link rear end still struggled to keep things under control, but compared to its unruly, leaf-sprung predecessors, the XE was a pretty tidy handler. It was also the last hurrah for the locally-built V8 and devastated Ford fans had to wait another nine years for another V8 to fill the snout of a Falcon.

| 2019 Market Review: Ford Falcon/Fairmont XD-XF

ford-fairmont-xe-engine-bay.jpg351-powered XE Ghia ESP is very rare and is becoming increasingly collectable

David Lewis has had a long-term relationship with this red monster. "I’ve had it for just on 14 years and bought it in a car yard in Preston," he says. "A mate of mine had one – a charcoal six with auto, nothing special – and I jumped in, loved the seats, loved the feel, loved the look and thought I’ve got to have one of these.

"I had the opportunity to grab a 351 – only 178 were built – so when the opportunity came up, I snapped it up."

| Read next: Ford XD-XE ESP review 

ford-fairmont-xe-interior.jpgAsymmetric wheel spokes, double-DIN Phillips stereo and striped Scheel sports seats were as cool as Duran Duran in 1982

He’s largely left it alone, but admits he’s put a five-speed ‘box in. "Don’t tell the purists, it’s to make it more driveable on the highway" he laughs. "At the moment, I just like the fact you can get in, sink the boot into it and it just goes like a rocket. Look, it’s not a head-turner, but the people who know what an ESP is will always come up and ask you questions. That’s what I love about it the most – it’s different."

ford-fairmont-xe-badge.jpg

1982 Ford Falcon XE Fairmont Ghia ESP specs

Engine 5763cc V8, ohV, 16v, four-barrel Carter carburettor
Power 149kW @ 4300rpm
Torque 415Nm @ 3000rpm
Weight 1357kg
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheels 15 x 7.0-inch alloys
Brakes 286mm discs (f), 286mm discs (r)
0-100km/h 8.9sec
0-400m 16.3sec
Top speed 194km/h
Price $19,156 (1982)

 

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