Murray Carter's Falcon XE Touring Car

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Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car
Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car Murray Carter's 1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C Touring Car

Carter is about to reunite with his old beast. So we sent John Bowe to drive the ring off it...

Murray Carter's Falcon XE Touring Car
John Bowe drives Murray Carter's XE Touring Car

 

Murray Carter's Falcon XE Touring Car

JB takes up the story...

"Crikey! This is fantastic! I think this Falcon is exactly as Murray Carter raced it and it has a beautiful patina; it’s not restored or messed with. It’s a beautiful example of how Australian racecars were in the early 1980s. I was a tad too young to race these old Group C bangers and entered touring car racing a year or two later with Volvo in the Group A era."


I was testing my open-wheeler at Calder Park Raceway in ’83 or ’84 when Dick Johnson was testing his Greens Tuf Falcon – is that the most famous XE of all? – and I remember thinking, "Gawd, look at this thing, how unwieldy is it!" And I got into it and it was just so simple, with just a bolt-in alloy-tube rollcage.

 Looking at it now, you think, "Would it actually do anything in a crash?" But it was an evolution of what had come before. Allan Moffat’s XY GT-HO just had a hoop over his head!

At least this XE has a few extra braces to make it a little stronger, but you can’t imagine it doing much to help stiffen the chassis. V8 Supercars rollcages are engineering masterpieces that stiffen the chassis and are immensely safe.

So this old XE has a loose, floppy bodyshell and everything is nice and simple – that was the era. And, of course, these cars were revered by fans and like all fans, I watched Bathurst on TV. To be fair, it doesn’t feel quite that bad!

What I love about this car is it’s original, unmolested and unrestored. It has original paint, it’s exactly as it was raced. You can almost see the bug guts from racing splattered across the nose.

A lot of the cars in Historics these days are over-restored and over-improved. They have more power and a lot of technology because there’s better hardware around these days. But that’s not the point! They should be as they were, with the exception of safety items, like brakes.

This XE is a good, fun thing to drive, but it had a fuel problem: it wouldn’t take any throttle, which we later traced to a faulty fuel pressure regulator. But check out those tyres! CAMS granted the XE Falcon enormous rubber in a parity concession to even-up racing.

This is one of the first racecars to have power steering. The XDs and A9X Toranas didn’t have power steering and I can remember Dick Johnson telling me his arms used to pump up in his blue XD. The power steering is vague – it has a steering box with a simple pump so it’s nothing like today’s precise racks. But let’s face it, it’s just a road-car system.

It has a simple Top Loader four-speed ’box and this is a good one. I’ve driven Top Loaders before and some are terrible – it depends on how the linkages
are adjusted.

It hasn’t got an abundance of power – if it had 400 horses it’d be lucky – and I’m only revving this to 5500 but they ran to six-five in the day. The brakes are okay, actually. They’re four-wheel discs and the car isn’t too heavy – it’s like our Touring Car Masters cars today.

Group C cars have a reputation as big bangers but this car is no beast. They didn’t have big power because the rules didn’t allow it and the engines were production-based with a few breathing advantages like a big Holley manifold with two side-draft Webers. They were built from road cars, remember.

Handling wise, it slightly steers from the rear. It has a Watts link and arms arrangement, which doesn’t work fantastically well, but it’s alright.

The XE was the first Falcon with coil springs and a Watts link so it was new to the drivers at the time – they’d come off years on leaf springs. The Toranas had run upper arms and the Commodores had a Panhard rod and they all steered a bit from the bum, too.

Check out that trim! It’s just awesome, a time warp, look at those stripes! It’s so 1980s! Back then, the rules said they had to run all the interior trim so the lounge room went along for the race, too.

Todd (the car’s owner) says because this was an early-build XE, specially prepared for racing, it has XD trim and some XD metal in the shell. But Geez, it puts a smile on your face!

I grew up with open-wheelers and where you put your hands on the wheel, that’s where they stayed – you very rarely moved your hands. Even with the later model stuff you plant your hands and they stay there because the steering is so quick. But this one, you’re moving them on the wheel all the time.

I drove Kevin Bartlett’s Camaro a few years ago and I said to him that I wished I’d raced them. It was a good car to drive, too, because they have such nice big tyres in comparison to the power. Big tyres cover a multitude of sins.

Just think about that great Group C era. At the pointy end you had Peter Brock and the Commodores, Alan Moffat and his Mazda RX-7, and Dick Johnson with his blue and then green Falcons. And Murray Carter’s car was right there too – it’s an important part of that era. It’s Australian motor racing history.

 

A V8 OUT, A V8 IN

The XE Series was the last Falcon of the era with V8. After 15 years battling Holden V8s for chequered flags – and the hearts of Aussie drivers – the engine was cancelled in 1982. Rather than carbs and cubes, Ford buyers were offered an electronically fuel-injected version of the 4.1-litre ‘Alloy Head II’ six.

As good as the EFI six was for its time, its 111kW and 325Nm couldn’t match the old 4.9-litre’s 140kW, or the (by then strangled) 5.8-litre’s 149kW and 415Nm.

Later in the ‘80s, Ford (read head honcho Jac Nasser) changed its mind after seeing the success of Holden’s V8 in the VL series – itself a last-minute change of plan as the V8’s head had been on the chopping block because of
incompatibility with unleaded fuel, which was introduced in 1986.

Ford found a perfect powerplant in the US Mustang: an EFI 5.0-litre V8 making 165kW. Falcon EA prototypes were prepared and by 1991 the Ford V8 was back!

 

A 10-FOOT CAR

"I always wanted a Ford!" remarks owner Todd Martin when asked about his ex-Carter XE.

"I bought this one about three years ago to take to the track and do muscle car events. I’d done karting and motorcross, and wanted to get into racing again.

"It’s easy to maintain as long as you’re not trying to restore it to a showpiece! Back then these were functional 10-foot cars – they looked good from 10 feet away! But this car is for racing and it’s true to its era.

 "The power some of these cars are spitting out today is ridiculous;  technically they’re supposed to be the same as they were in the ‘80s. It makes me laugh!"

 

SPECIFICATIONS

1982 XE Ford Falcon Group C

 

Owner: Todd Mamo

Engine: 5.8-litre OHV V8

Power: 400hp (approx, in ’82!)

Suspension: upper and lower wishbones, coil springs (f); live axle, coil springs, Watts link, longitundal upper and lower control arms (r)

Brakes: vented discs

 

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