WHAT if Ford kept making the XH panel van and ute through to 2004, and had stuck a turbo Barra four-litre six under the bonnet? Adrian Abela’s pano answers that question, and the Victorian brought his three-seat commercial along to Drag Challenge 2018, cruising three-up and running 10s!
“We pulled this van out of the wreckers and eight months later it was at Drag Challenge. My 15-year-old son Josh suggested it and I thought it was a great idea,” Adrian explained. “Josh pretty much did all the spanner work to put the Barra in the car and get it working, all in our spare time, as I was too busy with work to figure out what mounts or crossmember or manifolds we needed.”
Starting life as a Ba-era engine, the fourlitre six’s bottom end now runs forged and balanced internals, along with upgraded oil pump gears and timing chain. “It has all the basic stuff, including an Atomic flex-plate,” Adrian said. “It runs a GTX3582R with a billet front wheel, and we maxed out the actuator at 21psi running on E85. It has a stock computer, FG manifolds and a BTR four-speed auto.
“We wanted to run the factory gearbox and with a column auto, but the linkages are all on the opposite side. So Preston Automatics built a BTR set-up for the column on the XH.”
Along with the column-shifter, Adrian’s XH also rocks a bench seat, albeit trimmed with EL XR6 foam to give some extra support.
“It is a fairly standard set-up, and it has blown me away how good it goes,” Adrian said. ”Off the footbrake on the Friday at Calder it ran what equates to a 9.9 over the full quarter-mile.”
Running in the huge Haltech Radial Blown class, Adrian’s high-roof commercial certainly laid down some impressive times, with a [email protected] on Day One over the 1000ft at Calder, before cruising to Swan Hill for a [email protected] on Day Two. The XH threw down a [email protected] on the Mildura eighth-mile on Day Three, before trekking back to Swan Hill for Day Four and a date with a timeslip reading [email protected] Back at Calder’s 1000ft strip on the final day, Adrian managed to run an [email protected] to round out his week 30th in Haltech Radial Blown thanks to a cumulative total of 45.54sec.
“The panel van helps us for work, as I own a wreckers, so I can throw parts in the back,” Adrian said. “During the week it is our work truck. On the freeway it was cruising at 2000rpm like a BA, and the economy was good, despite being on ethanol for Drag Challenge!
“I want to thank Josh and my daughter Natalie; Brett and Sarah; Andrew from Preston Automatics; Chris from Chris’s Differential; Adam from Tyrepower; Dion at Dyno-mite Performance, Paul Rogers; and Andy at Specialised Power Porting.”