Ford Falcon fans wanting to make a good thing better don’t need to go across the ditch; small-town NZ can satisfy that craving
There is no doubt in the mind of anyone who’s driven the BA Falcon that it is a big step up from previous models. It always seemed that before the BA came along Ford fans were more than just one step behind their Aussie counterparts, especially in the media-hyped power race. Along came the BA, and Ford fans could come out from hiding and really take it to the other side. Not only did their car now look the part, it also had the power figures to back it up — with the FPVs putting out 290kW. Of course once again a new model from that other company I am so cleverly not mentioning in an article about a Ford came out with more poke. All 7kW of it. So now ‘they’ are skiting about having more go on tap once again.
Sick and tired of those whinning Holden (ah, blast! I knew I couldn’t do it) owners? Want to finally make them sorry for even wasting their breath on telling you again how much power they have? Simple. Go to Taumarunui.
Okay, so by now you’re thinking I’ve totally lost the plot as well as being a one-eyed Ford fanatic. Ah, not true — well at least the second part of that statement isn’t. I’m a huge fan of either one of the manufacturers of the eights from over there in gum-tree land. Doesn’t bother me which end the dizzy sits. But yes, Taumarunui. In this little, quiet — make that mostly quiet — part of NZ is the place you can take your BA to silence your Holden-hugging neighbours once and for all. Especially the ones with two of them in the garage that they clean every weekend before taking the boat out. For here all your dreams can come true… to the tune of 400kW. Watch those smiles get wiped off those smarmy rear-dizzy owner’s faces when you say “Yes, that’s right.
You heard me. Four-hundred.” Of course if you really want to floor them try the good ol’ Imperial way, and throw 536hp at them.
What is it about Taumarunui that can make your BA become such a beast that it can displace the Yankee-powered Aussie machinery? It’s a place called Isaac Performance Vehicles (IPV), just on the right as you enter Taumarunui. But before we find out what makes this Ford tick, a word of warning to all you Holden fans. It’s not just the BAs that IPV has done the deed to. No, beware of AUs (among others) that will put you to shame, for IPV has been around for a while, and really knows how to get the most out of the blue oval.
Anyway, this particular BA is driven by the boss, Paul Isaac. His wealth of experience — combined with the go-fast bits from the likes of Herrod Motorsport and CAPA — has made this XR8 into a very drivable yet very quick saloon. When you jump behind the wheel there is no real sign of the ground-covering potential this beast has, although there is no hiding the custom leather clad interior. The colour coded stitching and embroidered logos along with custom floor mats, alloy foot pedals and HMS stainless sill plates add to the overall feel.
A quick flick of the key and the 5.4-litre quad-cam alloy lump bursts into life. Once again, there’s no real sign of anything special lurking under the hood.
There is, however, a very pleasant note emitting from the rear of the car. Nothing untoward¦ just a tone that lets you know there are eight cylinders up front. Of course this sound is being produced courtesy of a set of custom-made IPV ceramic-coated headers mated to a Herrod Motorsport 304¯stainless steel exhaust system.
Slip the car into first using the IPV/Momo knob kit and you’ll find yourself double-checking that this isn’t a MkII BA with the six-speed ’box. Nup, just the five cogs to choose from, but a short shifter (another Herrod Motorsport item) that gives the five-speed a much better feel. Ease out the clutch and for all you know there only 260kW is being produced¦ except you can hear another noise. This one is coming from up front. Not loud at all, just a sound that’s there in the background.
Once on the move it becomes apparent that this XR8 has had some changes in the suspension department. Gone are the standard shocks and springs from the Ford factory, and in their place there’s an IPV-tuned suspension package better suited to the extra power. Koni adjustable shocks front and rear together with Herrod Motorsport springs (35mm lower) give this BA a very confident ride. The upgraded suspension
hasn’t degraded the ride quality. Over our bumpy open highways the Falcon soaks up the bumps without making anyone on board feel uncomfortable.
Start to push the loud pedal down and things really begin to change. Taking on the twisty bits heading north out of Taumarunui the turn-in response from the steering is excellent. A lot of that is to do with the K-Mac adjustable castor/camber kit IPV has thrown at the front end. That’s only half the story. It’s one thing to fit the kit, it’s another to get it set up right. And setting up right is exactly what IPV has done. Makes you want to find the twistiest piece of road just so you can feel the response from the front end.
Press on a bit harder and it becomes more apparent that the 400 badging on this car is not just there for decoration. Exiting a corner and nailing the pedal sets you on a course for instant licence loss as the CAPA Vortech supercharger lets you know it’s there.
The response is typical of a supercharger. Instant. The speed piles on at an effortless rate as the Goodyear 275/30 R19, wrapped around the TSW Kyalami chrome alloys, put the power to the tarmac. Getting held up by traffic is no longer a drama. You find yourself just waiting patiently for the next opportunity to unleash the 400kW powerplant. While you wait for that opportunity you’ve got time to take in the interior a bit more. Ah yes, those gauges on top of the centre console shouldn’t be here.
After all this is an XR8, and these dials are usually the reserve of the FPV vehicles. In this case it’s another IPV enhancement, with the pods housing the all-important fuel pressure and boost gauges. Time to overtake again. One eye is definitely required to keep a close watch on the speedo, as a simple overtaking manoeuvre could get you in trouble with the boys in blue.
There is a lot more to this quad cammer than just simply bolting on a blower. Whilst the bottom end of the latest Ford V8 is very strong, the standard rods and pistons need an upgrade to cope with the extra power. A bit of blue-printing and balancing, along with a Herrod Helix 75mm throttle body spacer plate, help take the power up to 400kW. Of course the standard ECU isn’t going to know what’s hit it with all this extra air being forced into the system, so once again Herrod was called upon. A Stealth computer module with a supercharger program takes care of the electronic side of this to ensure the right mixture reaches the cylinders.
To stop all this go there’s the Ford premium upgrade package, along with Formula Ferodo brake pads. And just to cope with extra load the brakes are likely to encounter, a high performance brake fluid is put in the system.
Those of you familiar with the way Ford feels about aftermarket mods will be pleased to hear that IPV has that all covered. You can get up to 36¯months and unlimited kays warranty on those go-fast bits for your peace of mind. Not that there is much to worry about, as Paul has had over 30,000km of trouble-free modified motoring out of this XR8 — and let’s just say he knows where that go fast pedal is.
Which is all good considering the move that is coming up. Yep, IPV is on the move to Taupo. Not just anywhere in Taupo, mind you, but the business park at the soon to be upgraded Taupo race circuit. What could be better than a test track in your own back yard!
Beside the fact that this machine is quick, people stop and second glance because of the overall look. The ‘Shaker’ bonnet scoop is reminiscent of the GTHOs of days gone by, and certainly adds to the aggressive look along with the body kit from DJR. To give it the finishing touches an IPV biplane spoiler is added to the rear. The best people to tell you what the spoiler looks like will be those somewhat stunned drivers of that car from that other company.
Engine: 5.4-litre quad-cam 32-valve V8, after market upgraded internals, blue-printed and balanced, Herrod Helix 75mm throttle body spacer plate, CAPA Performance Stage 2 Vortech 8psi supercharger kit and fuel system, Herrod Stealth computer module — supercharged program IPV ceramic coated extractors and cat replacement pipes, Herrod Motorsport 304 stainless steel full twin 2-1/2¯inch big bore
Driveline: Factory five-speed manual, Herrod short shifter, factory diff 3.45:1 ratio.
Suspension/Brakes: IPV tuned suspension package, Front — Herrod Motorsport springs (35mm lower), Koni external adjustable shocks, K-Mac adjustable castor/camber kit; Rear — Herrod Motorsport springs (35mm lower), Koni internal adjustable shocks, Ford Premium brake upgrade package, braided stainless steel brake lines, Formula Ferodo brake pads, performance brake fluid
Wheels/Tyres: Front — 19×8 TSW Kyalami chrome alloys, Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 245/35-19 tyres, Rear — 19×9.5 TSW Kyalami chrome alloys, Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 275/30-19 tyres
Interior/Exterior: IPV full leather seat package with colour coded stitching and embroidered logos including door panels, centre console lid, gear lever boot and handbrake lever; custom carpet floor mats, boot liner; alloy foot pedals and HMS stainless steel sill plates. Dash mounted fuel pressure and boost gauges. XR Momo sports steering wheel. Shaker bonnet intake kit, IPV intake bumper grille kit, IPV biplane spoiler, C2R-DJR body kit.