The boxy-shaped Ford Falcons of the mid 1980s are not common vehicles in NZV8’s pages, but Hamiltonian Chris Brennan has shown there is potential in these machines.
I know I’m stating the obvious, but here at NZV8 magazine we have a passion for all things V8. The tell-tale rumble of a free-breathing eight-cylinder motor just can’t be beat. But although the office is most definitely true to the cause, I sometimes wonder if we lose sight of the real Kiwi V8 culture, or a good portion of it in any case. Not everyone can drive a drop dead gorgeous Mustang like the one on this month’s cover. Nor does everyone have the time or the money to build the sub-10-second drag weapons often found in these pages. Some people just want to own a car they love, that they can build in their own time, and with whatever spare cash they can get their hands on ” sound familiar? I know it does to me. I’m pretty sure it does to Hamiltonian Chris Brennan, too.
An ordinary, everyday Kiwi bloke, Chris has poured a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears into what he loves, his 1985 XF Ford Falcon. From the rear the bright blue Falcon looks just like any other you might see cruising the quieter streets of New Zealand. A big, boxy body covered in custom paint, lowered and sporting a GT Falcon wing ” it is a classic piece of Kiwiana that can be found in most towns, and probably will be for a good time to come.
Chris’s Falcon, however, is not like the rest. It is more of a no-holds-barred, out and out beast of a car. In fact, it is really more of an engine that happens to have a body built around it. Although it’s not the prettiest car around, we have a great appreciation for things built with a passion, in the garage at home and with a clear purpose in mind. So let’s take a closer look at this big old box
As you might notice when looking at the car, Chris likes power. Lots of it. Running a 5752cc (351ci) Cleveland under the chopped up bonnet, the Falcon is powered by one of Ford’s best. This particular motor, however, is something a little special.
It originally ran a tunnel ram setup but Chris quickly grew tired of the power levels, so when a complete BDS 6-71 blower kit turned up at a very good price, the decision was made to ditch the tunnel ram and go nuts.
Running 10 per cent under-driven and peaking at 10psi of boost pressure at 5900rpm, the supercharger is an angry piece of equipment, and would most definitely rip a factory motor to pieces in a matter of minutes. So the motor was pulled out from between the struts and sent off to Ron and the guys at Motor Preparations in Otorohanga,
even though Chris prefers to do most of the work on the car himself. “You name it, I’ve tried or done it on this car,” he says, “but the trick is knowing when to have a go and when it’s time to get an expert in. Hence my motor was built elsewhere.”
The engine runs a two-bolt mains with Milloden studs and spins a completely balanced and super-strong 4MAB crank, working with Eagle H-beam rods and custom-made JE pistons. Everything inside stays well lubricated thanks to a Mellings high-volume oil pump, an oil restrictor kit and a High Energy enlarged sump, while sitting up above a set of Lefpro gaskets and accompanying ARP studs is a very nicely worked pair of CHI alloy heads. Wrapped in Ford Motorsport covers, the heads are match ported and feature Lunati lifters, springs and roller rockers, while Crower has supplied the retainers and Manley the valves. Once reassembled the tough new motor was returned to Chris, who set about sinking it into the seam-welded engine bay. This time round, however, the motor was crowned with that angry big blower, meaning there would now be a whole new host of gear under ” and above ” the hood. Twin Mighty Demon carbs feed the motor with the required compressed air from the charger and fuel from a Holley Blue fuel pump. Ignition duties are handled by a Mallory Unilite dizzy, an MSD 6AL and an MSD Blaster SS coil, all of which equates to a strong and reliable spark, ready to light the fire and help create some serious power.
Peaking at 410kW (550hp), the motor has been expertly tuned by the boys down at RPM Motorsport, and barks menacingly through a twin three-inch exhaust system. Just quietly, Chris is a huge fan of the odd big, dirty burnout, so a massive custom-made four-core alloy radiator has been plumbed into the cooling system to keep everything under control, which it did nicely upon ‘running in’ the new motor at the Mystery Creek burnout competition recently.
The vicious new motor package sounds amazing on song, and is backed up by a fully strengthened Ford C10 transmission and high stall converter. The trans feeds power down through the driveshaft and out to the old school Cragar 10-inch wide rear wheels via a Ford nine-inch differential. Those Cragars measure 15 inches at the back, and 14 inches at the front, giving it a very tough ’80s look ” something you don’t often see these days. The rims sit high up into the guards thanks to super-low King springs, mated with KYB shocks. Handling has also been improved with the addition of XF Falcon sway bars and an EA Falcon four-bar rear end, complete with Watts linkage. Stopping power has been upped with the addition of DBA Gold slotted and cross-drilled rotors. As for the rest of the car, it was a simple case of a lick of fresh Bayside Blue paint, a GT wing and some simple interior modifications, including Monza seats and a very nice roll cage fabricated by Chris himself.
As I hopped into the passenger seat with the man himself for a quick blat around the Waikato countryside, I thought about how it always amazes me that people like Chris seem to have no problem seeing past the massive spinning supercharger, complete with very cool Gattling gun-style safety cage, again built buy Chris.
Planting his foot to the floor, Chris wrestled with the steering wheel as the blower wound up with a menacing whine and the big Aussie tank surged forward with a pants-fouling urgency.
A car like Chris’s Falcon won’t be to everyone’s taste, but as I have come to realise while working here at NZV8, it is nigh on impossible to please everyone. Hopefully this car offers something to whet the appetites of those readers partial to a little classic ’80s Aussie muscle. It’s big, it’s boxy, and it’s damned powerful ” what’s not to like?
SPECS 1985 XF Ford Falcon – Specifcations
Engine: 5752cc (351ci) Cleveland V8, two-bolt mains, 30 thou over bored, 4MAB crank, balanced rotating assembly, Milloden main studs, Mellings high volume oil pump, oil restrictor kit, High Energy deep sump, Eagle H-beam rods, custom JE pistons, Lunati Bracket Master II cam, Lunati lifters, Crower push rods, ARP head studs, Lefpro gasket set, CHI alloy heads, match ported, Manley stainless valves, Lunati springs, Crower steel retainers, Lunati roller rockers, Ford motorsport covers, Complete BDS 6-71 blower kit, twin boost referenced 750 double pumper Demon carbs, Holley Blue fuel pump, Holley regulator, braided fuel lines, Mallory Unilite dizzy, MSD6AL ignition, MSD Blaster SS coil, Top Gun leads, Road Runner high torque starter motor, 4V Pacemaker headers, twin three-inch exhaust system, Flowmaster mufflers, custom four-core radiator, 406mm electric fan, extra mechanical fan, trans cooler, seam-welded engine bay
Driveline: Ford C10 trans, full manual reverse shift pattern, extra clutches, Kevlar bands, custom stall converter, Ford nine-inch limited slip diff, B&M Quicksilver shifter
Suspension: KYB shocks, King Super Low springs, Nolathane bush kit, XF sway bars, EA Falcon four-bar rear end, Watts linkage
Brakes: DBA Gold cross-drilled and slotted rotors, XF callipers
Wheels/tyres: Cragar SS 15×10 rear rims, Cragar SS 14×8 front rims, BFG 265/50R15 rear tyres, Bridgestone 205/50R14 front tyres
Exterior: Bayside Blue paint, GT Falcon wing
Interior: Autotechnica Monza front seats, Momo wheel, Auto Meter gauges, custom four-point roll cage
Performance: 410kW (550hp)
Chris Brennan – Owner Profile
Age: Dirty thirties
Occupation: Machine operator
Build time: Six years
Length of ownership: 10 years
Chris thanks: Jo, Jayden, Shinae and Amber for putting up with me, Ron and the guys at Motor Preparations, Otorohanga, Chuck Mann, Tim at Autotrans Ltd, Craig and the boys at RPM Motorsport, Segedins of Dominion Rd Auckland, STA Parts, Wayne Fleet (Bertelsen — sorry mate, had to write it), Wayne Griffiths, Sam, Andy at Etchells Race Partz, his work mates, and “the mighty Waikato Draught for the nights it just didn’t work out, all the others (you know who you are) that I’ve forgotten about, thanks
Words: Peter Kelly Photos: Jared Clark