558KW TWIN-TURBO 1UZFE-POWERED FORD COURIER DRAG UTE
It’s not often a tradesman turns his beloved workhorse into a single-digitcapable drag monster. But if you’ve attended a drag-racing event in the last six years, or a V 4&Rotary Nationals show, you will have seen Chris Anderson’s ute making its way down the drag strip, or doing the rounds on the dyno.
Chris purchased what he thought would be the next reliable work ute for his business, Anderson Construction, seven-and-a-half years ago, but after 18 months of ownership the trusty 1993 Ford Courier was having a few engine problems, as Chris explained. “One morning the Courier didn’t start, so I decided to pull the engine, which was in serious need of an update.” He continued, “I made the decision to go with the well-known Toyota 1UZ-FE engine, which is known for Toyota reliability and easy power.” After a few months of driving the repowered Courier, Chris was extremely happy with how his ute was running, but the performance bug had bitten and the factory performance was not enough (yes, it was still a workhorse), and this is where famous Kiwi tuning house STM entered the story. “I met with Andre Simon and Chris Wall from STM to discuss the options I had for the 1UZ-FE engine. We decided to go with an aftermarket header, cold-air intake and ECU, but unfortunately for my bank account, things snowballed from there,” Chris told us.
Drag racing is a cruel beast; it seems the more you compete and take part, the more it yearns for your hard- earned cash. The addiction to shaving off those precious milliseconds and the forever-changing end goals are hard to beat, and Chris knows this all too well after taking the ute to the strip for the first time. The Courier was fairly competitive as it was, running in the 14s, and the solid 1UZ was only just starting its racing career, as Chris explained. “With the addiction to drag-racing growing, I decided to talk to STM again to plan the next power upgrades, which would include a 74kW (100hp) shot of nitrous. This saw times dip into the 12s and power levels reach 350kW (469hp), but after adding a set of ITB’s and increasing the nitrous shot to the larger nozzle in the hope for more, the factory pistons gave way.” At this stage Chris was utterly committed, so he decided to take the ute off the road and rip the leaf springs out, replacing them with a ladder-bar set to keep the ute going in a straight line, and fitting a four-point roll cage. The Courier was sent back to STM for a custom set of forged JE pistons to lift the compression from 10.4:1 to 12.5:1, plus Eagle rods, direct-port nitrous injection and a retune, which yielded an impressive 400kW at the wheels with nitrous. The newfound power and reliability landed Chris a personal best of 10.48 seconds at 217kph (135mph) — with single digits in sight, there was no turning back for this Courier.
The set-up ran reliably for some time, the factory R154 never gave up the ghost, and the clutch remained intact for the full six years of the car’s dragracing duties. Indeed it was only recently that the 1UZ-FE started to cause some serious mayhem to the rest of the vehicle. With every second you seek that’s lower than your current PB, the money, time, and effort needed to get there seems to triple, and with an eight-second pass now the goal, it was time for Chris to make a serious investment in the ute. “Another meeting was made with Andre and Mike Sinclair from Sinco Customs to discuss the next phase, turbocharging the 1UZ. I’ve always wanted to go turbo, and I should have done it sooner. The power is easier and the running costs are much less, as the amount of nitrous we were using was starting to get expensive. We came to the conclusion the forged internals would be up to the task to handle the power levels we wanted, but
With the use of methanol to cool intake temps, STM spun the ute up on the dyno, and on only 10psi of boost the newly turboed 1UZ made 558kW ( 748hp) at the wheels, an extremely impressive number for such low boost
decided the fuel system would need some serious work,” Chris explained. Mike set to work on fabricating the manifolds, dump pipes, intake piping and everything else required to complete the plumbing to the twin colossal Garrett GT35/82R turbos, with their .82 turbine housings. Chris and the team got onto completing the much-needed new fuel system, which would include 10 of his chosen 1000cc injectors, two custom fuel rails, two Aeromotive Pro Series regulators and a fuel cell. Once the fabrication, turbo set-up, wiring, and fuel system were completed, the car was sent down to STM to string it all together and get the final tune. With the use of methanol to cool intake temps, STM spun the ute up on the dyno, and on only 10psi of boost the newly turboed 1UZ made 558kW (748hp) at the wheels, an extremely impressive number for such low boost. It was decided to keep the boost low to prevent damage to the driveline on its first outing.
All involved with the build were ecstatic, and ready to see what times the new power would get them. The Courier was trailered down to the Masterton Motorplex to make its debut, unloaded and warmed up. It completed a burnout to warm the tyres, then cut loose down the strip, but unfortunately the new-found torque produced from the twin turbos was too much for the six-year-old clutch. As soon as boost came on, the clutch slipped and the engine cracked against the rev-limiter. Even so, a 12-second pass was achieved — the Courier was going to be fast.
The team called it a day in preparation for the next outing, they were happy with how the engine was running, and Chris ordered the new clutch almost immediately. This is where things took a turn for the worse.
With the new clutch installed a few weeks later, Chris and the team loaded the ute back up and made their way to Masterton, for what they didn’t yet know would be their last time that season. “The car was performing very well, it did a great burnout and we were ready to go. Unfortunately, the brand-new race clutch wasn’t up to the task … the pressure plate exploded first, damaging the bell housing, the flywheel, block and input shaft on the gearbox. The projectile soon made its way out of the gearbox, cutting the wiring loom in two, damaging the main fuel lines and catch cans, finally ending its furious rage with the panel and paint. We were dissapointed after everyones huge effort in the off-seaon,” Chris told us.
With the failure of a supposed race-built component came the end of Chris’ drag-racing season for the year.
The Courier was out of action, but the team was far from defeated. Without hesitation, the ute was pulled apart in preparation for a much bigger season next time around. When you see Chris’ Ford Courier down at the drags again, expect to see a few 100 more kW at the wheels, an air-shifted Lenco four-speed transmission, and single-digit passes. It’s definitely not over for Chris, the team, and their trusty workhorse.
Chris has been running the R154 gearbox behind the 1UZ-FE engine for coming on six years, and it wasn’t until the addition of the two Garrett GT3582R turbos that it destroyed the clutch, gearbox, block and much more
Have you ever wondered how a ute with a lightweight rear end hooks up so well off the line? The massive 28 by nine Mickey Thompsons were chosen for their outright grip and consistency —
they’re one of the best drag tyres available to the market. The rear leaf-spring set-up was removed, and replaced with a custom ladder-bar to keep the ute going in a straight line
“A braking parachute produced by a recognized drag-racing parachute manufacturer required on all cars exceeding 150mph (130mph [209kph] if only two-wheel braked)” — taken from the NZDRA rule book. It’s safe to say the Stroud parachute mounted to the back of Chris’ ute isn’t just there for looks
With the 1UZ-FE engine barely tapping its potential with these turbochargers, the wick will be turned up once the air-shifted Lenco transmission is installed. However, if Chris has his way during the off season, the block will be pulled apart and a new set of lower-compression pistons will be installed to allow much more boost than they had originally planned. With the extra boost and the new pistons, Chris reckons power will increase a few 100 kW