Build­ing a XR6 turbo-pow­ered VS ute for un­der $10K

IF YOU want easy power at a bar­gain price, it’s hard to ig­nore Ford’s twin-cam turbo Barra six. Ja­son Waye, the man be­hind Mus­cle Garage and Tuff Mounts, cer­tainly sees the ap­peal. He set out to build a Barra-pow­ered VS ute for $10,000 that would run 10s at Street Ma­chine Drag Chal­lenge, and found the en­gine swap com­i­cally easy.

“The VS had been sit­ting in front of a mate’s shop for about a year and was be­ing used as a dump,” Ja­son says. “I geed him up by say­ing I’ll put a Barra in it, and one day he rang me and told me to come get it.

“The ute was a roller with no mo­tor or ’box, but at some stage it’d had an RB30 in it so the orig­i­nal loom and dash had been hacked into. It was a real mess. There weren’t even globes or fuses in it!”

With the Pan­ther Black ’96 VS ute in the work­shop, Ja­son went out and bought a com­plete en­gine and trans­mis­sion pack­age from Fal­con Spares in Lons­dale, in­clud­ing wiring and an­cil­lar­ies. The 103,000km-old wreck­ing-yard donk copped 1500cc in­jec­tors and Plaz­ma­man valve springs (a known Barra weak point), and Ja­son had Bill at Ade­laide Turbo Ser­vices mod­ify the waste­gate on the stock Gar­rett turbo – a unit known to be good for way more than the 240kw the big six ini­tially put out in the BA XR6T.

“Lit­er­ally all we did is the flap­per valve mod where we en­larged the in­ter­nal waste­gate and ran a big­ger ac­tu­a­tor on it so we can con­trol the boost and run up to 16-18psi safely,” Ja­son says. “Ev­ery­thing we’ve done we could do more of, but we’ve made it to be safe and re­li­able.”

The front-mount in­ter­cooler was pieced to­gether us­ing bits of pipe and sil­i­cone of­f­cuts ly­ing around the CK Rac­ing De­vel­op­ments shop, while the four-inch dump pipe was a free­bie from Gra­ham West Work­shops as it was no good for their use, so Ja­son mod­i­fied it to suit his ute.

“We can get a three-inch dump past the steer­ing, but any big­ger and you have to route it else­where,” Ja­son ex­plains.

The Mus­cle Garage boys knew the VS would need more fuel, so they picked up a used swirl pot off Face­book and plumbed it to a Bosch 044 pump.

“We want to make 350-360rwkw, which is more than achiev­able, and we’ll be run­ning drag ra­di­als,” Ja­son says. “The sec­ond stage of this car will step it up with more boost. We’ll throw an af­ter­mar­ket plenum on it and go for over 400kw for Drag Chal­lenge and aim for low 10s, and then get it en­gi­neered and drive it daily.”

Be­ing the cre­ative brain be­hind Tuff Mounts, Ja­son had no prob­lems com­ing up with en­gine and trans­mis­sion mounts. The Barra swap has proved so pop­u­lar, how­ever, that he is now sell­ing kits that in­clude the en­gine and ’box mounts, along with the gear­box cross­mem­ber and sway-bar. The Tuff Mounts al­low the four-litre to fit into the Holden K-frame us­ing the BA-BF front-hump sump, which dif­fers to the Fg-on sumps that have a rear-hump pan.

While LS swaps of­ten re­quire mess­ing around with cross­mem­ber spac­ers and mov­ing steer­ing and starter mo­tors, Ja­son was sur­prised at how easy fit­ting the Ford mo­tor to the Holden chas­sis was.

“We used the fac­tory Holden temp sen­sor and oil switch. We’ve plumbed up the orig­i­nal Holden heaters. I’ve got the stan­dard ra­di­a­tor over­flow and we’ve re­moved the for­ward ex­pan­sion tank,” he says. “We’ll go through the Su­percheap parts bins for the ra­di­a­tor hoses to suit the six-cylin­der VK ra­di­a­tor, which lined up beau­ti­fully.

“We clear­anced the fire­wall with a ham­mer just to clear the starter mo­tor, and I cut the tun­nel and welded the Ford shifter mount­ing plate into the tun­nel so I could use the fac­tory con­sole,” he con­tin­ues. “We used an AU ex­ten­sion hous­ing and AU rear out­put shaft so that the speedo drive plugged into the BA Fal­con loom, plus we have had to run an Auto Me­ter con­ver­sion box

to switch from dig­i­tal to ana­logue out­put for the tacho.”

Grant from Dynotron­ics wired the ute with a BA Fal­con ECU, and Gra­ham West Work­shops will flash-tune it us­ing HP Tuners soft­ware, like a reg­u­lar XR6T.

As the aim was for 10-sec­ond quar­ters, the wrecker-spec con­verter and trans­mis­sion were never go­ing to cut the mus­tard, so Jamie from JRM Trans­mis­sions mod­i­fied the stock torque con­verter for 3000rpm stall, and the four-speed Borg­warner auto ’box was re­built to han­dle the ex­tra power. The Commodore tail­shaft has been length­ened 10mm and fit­ted with a Ford yoke to con­nect the BTR auto to the Commodore’s Borg­warner live-axle diff, which has also copped 3.45 gears and 28-spline axles. In the rear end, ad­justable up­per arms and Pan­hard bar are com­bined with strength­ened lower arms to prevent ev­ery­thing twist­ing on take-off.

Inside, Ja­son mod­i­fied the Commodore con­sole to go around the Ford BTR shifter, as it has a sports-shift­ing gate that the stock Commodore auto never did.

With a $10K bud­get, Ja­son opted for 15x4 and 15x7-inch steel ‘chaser’ wheels, wear­ing 165mm-wide front and 235mm-wide rear rub­ber, while the brakes and sus­pen­sion have also been left alone.

“I need to do fuel lines, trans cooler lines, flu­ids, ra­di­a­tor hoses, and a ba­sic tune in the com­puter; then we’ll take it to Drag Chal­lenge and aim for the first 10,” Ja­son says. “I ex­pected night­mare after night­mare, and there just wasn’t. The wiring wasn’t easy but it wasn’t dif­fi­cult for a qual­i­fied per­son; the part that made it harder was the fact we were go­ing to a late-model car with body con­trol mod­ules and se­cu­rity is­sues.

“If we don’t hit the $10,000 mark, we’ll just barely sneak over. It’s just the tune that will kill it for us, be­cause once I fin­ish these next few jobs, it’s only the tune left.”


A cheap air-to-air in­ter­cooler 600x300mm core was rus­tled up and mounted be­hind the stock front bar, a task made eas­ier by ditch­ing air con­di­tion­ing. The pip­ing was knocked up by CK Rac­ing De­vel­op­ments, while the sil­i­con join­ers were left­overs from...

The elec­tronic throt­tle pedal was in­cluded as part of the en­gine pack­age, and Ja­son rigged up a throt­tle sys­tem and pedal mount in the work­shop. Many peo­ple swap­ping late-model en­gines into cars find a stum­bling block when it comes to mount­ing and...

Ja­son is no stranger to Street Ma­chine, hav­ing turned out a string of killer cars, though this one is not as finely fin­ished as some of his pre­vi­ous rides. “I like spend­ing a lit­tle bit ex­tra and do­ing it right, but we haven’t done that here,” he says....

The stock Commodore two­piece tail­shaft was ex­tended 10mm to suit the dif­fer­ent trans­mis­sion, and also had the yoke from an ear­lier Fal­con fit­ted to the nose so it would slip straight into the back of the Borg­warner “The in­ter­est in the...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.