11-second small-block Ford-powered XL Falcon ute at Drag Challenge 2018

Bruce Howie’s 450hp XL ute has been running consistent 11s so far at DC 2018

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic, Shaun Tanner

BRUCE Howie was only 16 years of age when he bought his XL Ford Falcon ute as a stock six-cylinder from his high-school janitor.

Bruce Howie Ford XL uteThree decades later, most of the factory driveline and suspension is long gone, making way for the current 11-second combo. “It’s a 347ci that I built 10 years ago and it’s been untouched since,” Bruce said. “I’m really happy with it!”

The toughened small-block Ford features a girdled bottom end, forged components, a Camtech cam, AFR heads, an Edelbrock Victor Jr manifold topped with a Pro Systems-built 750 Holley, and is sparked by ICE ignition. “It has 450rwhp at a guess,” Bruce said. “I’ve got NOS to run on it, just not yet.”

Bruce Howie Ford XL uteBehind the mill is a Jerico four-speed cog-box coupled with a 7¼-inch Tilton clutch, and under the rear is a BorgWarner diff with full spool, 4.11s and 31-spline axles. A Gazzard Brothers split-leaf rear finishes off the back end.

We caught up with Bruce on Day Three of Drag Challenge 2018 to see how he was travelling. “I’m running a full exhaust, and my 60ft isn’t any good,” he said. “I’ve recently changed to the Jerico four-speed, so I’m finding that I need to stall it more and drop the tyre pressure to get out of the hole.”

Bruce Howie Ford XL uteBy Day Four they were trying the two-step, set to 4800rpm, to see if the XL could best the PB Bruce set at Heathcote only a few months earlier: 11.1@128mph. By day’s end, he was two-tenths off with an 11.31@119mph.

Ford XL ute engine bay“This is my first Street Machine Drag Challenge, but I’ve been watching for a while,” Bruce said. “I was keen last year, but I wasn’t near being ready and I’m glad I didn’t push it to come. My whole goal is just to finish the event and run 11s at every track.”

And yep, he nailed it, finishing with a 11.466-second pass at Calder on Friday.

Bruce Howie Ford XL uteBRUCE HOWIE

Class: Tuff Mounts Outlaw Aspirated

Engine: 347ci
Intake: Edelbrock Victor Jr, 750 Holley
Gearbox: Jerico four-speed
Clutch: 7¼in Tilton
Diff: BorgWarner, 4.11:1
Power: Approx. 450rwhp
Previous PB: 11.1@128mph