540CI PRO LINE 481X

> STEVE BEZZINA, MEL­BOURNE

Street Machine - - Mill Of The Month -

STEVE Bezzina’s XW Fal­con has long been the quick­est leaf-sprung street Fal­con in the coun­try, and has seen two dif­fer­ent turbo small­block V8 com­bi­na­tions over the years. Since around 2012, it has gone from run­ning eights to now be­ing on the verge of its first six-sec­ond quar­ter-mile pass.

The most re­cent en­gine com­bi­na­tion was a 427ci small-block Ford with twin Pre­ci­sion tur­bos built by Frank March­ese from Dandy En­gines, who runs a sim­i­lar set-up in Dandy’s XW Fal­con. That same mo­tor combo saw Bezzina’s car run a best of 7.08@203mph on 275 ra­di­als, un­tubbed and with a fairly ba­sic leaf-spring rear end set-up by Pro­fab Mo­tor­sport Fab­ri­ca­tions. But they found the limit of that en­gine combo when they split the block into two pieces.

From there they scratched their heads, pon­der­ing where to go next. At this point Steve wanted to have the quick­est stock-bod­ied leaf-sprung car in the coun­try, so they de­cided to go with one of the tough­est en­gines you can cur­rently buy: the Pro Line 481X. And of course Frank from Dandy is the guy to speak to about 481X mo­tors here in Aus­tralia, so it was a log­i­cal de­ci­sion.

The 481X is the brain­child of Amer­i­can drag racer Alan John­son, and was de­signed after all the five-inch bore-space mo­tors came onto the scene and dom­i­nated ev­ery­thing. The NHRA gave rac­ers run­ning those en­gines a sig­nif­i­cant weight penalty, so to get around this Alan came up with the bil­let-al­loy 481X. The 481X is a sym­met­ri­cal­port big-block Oldsmo­bile/chevbased mo­tor with a 4.84-inch bore space, but with im­prove­ments to the cam core and lifter spac­ing.

And they are vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible, with the block and heads each hewn from a solid chunk of bil­let al­loy. Frank de­scribes it as be­ing the “nas­ti­est, most bad-arse en­gine you can get.” Alan John­son Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing cre­ates the block and cylin­der heads, while Pro Line sup­plies the rest of the parts re­quired to put it to­gether and make it work.

The re­sult is a mo­tor that can com­fort­ably make up­wards of 4500hp out of any­where between 520 and 570ci – depend­ing on spec – when paired with a turbo or blower set-up. In fact at var­i­ous points in time 481X mo­tors have claimed records for the fastest and quick­est turbo-pow­ered cars in the world.

So what is one of these en­gines do­ing in an old XW Fal­con with leaf-spring sus­pen­sion and ra­dial tyres? Well Steve wants to com­fort­ably and con­sis­tently run sixes at 3500lb, so after weigh­ing up the op­tions, the guys de­cided it was the best way to go.

Nat­u­rally the bil­let-al­loy 481X is a much big­ger mo­tor than an old small-block Ford, so get­ting it to fit was eas­ier said than done. The boys from Pro­fab Mo­tor­sport Fab­ri­ca­tions made it all work, but they had to cut out the fac­tory shock tow­ers and make it a strut front end to give a bit more wig­gle room. Yep, ev­ery­thing with these mo­tors is big – from the heads to the in­take man­i­fold and 2.5inch pri­mary pipes.

And for big cubes you need big tur­bos, and Steve’s 540ci mo­tor rocks the same pair of Pre­ci­sion 88mm snails.

All up, it took a month for Pro­fab to get all the fab­ri­ca­tion work done and an­other month for Rhys Richards from Dandy En­gines to as­sem­ble the whole car, track-ready.

The boys had it mostly but­toned up for Mo­torex in Mel­bourne, but only just had the whole deal sorted and run­ning the way they wanted for Grudge Kings, where Steve made his first few test hits with this set-up.

Frank from Dandy as well as Jamie Miller from Pro Line in Amer­ica were on deck to as­sist with tun­ing the Fuel­tech ECU, and the signs were very promis­ing early on. The car went 7.81@127mph within its first cou­ple of passes, back­ing off and pulling the ’chutes three sec­onds into the run. By the end of the test day they’d gone 7.1@171mph, again off it early and pulling the ’chutes at 1000ft. Those sixes can’t be far away!

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