BEN ‘Mechanical Stig’ Neal’s Barra-powered ’87 Toyota Cresta has built a legendary following as a two-time Hot Rod Drag Week finisher, with a PB of 8.18@168mph to its name. The proprietor of Benny’s Custom Works came to Drag Challenge Weekend last year, finishing runner-up in the six-pot class, and he wanted to do even better in 2020.
The Empire Mechanical-built FG Barra runs Spool rods, CP pistons and a half grout-filled block, while Kelford cams, Hypertune manifolds, a Haltech Elite 2500T ECU and a G42 turbo help the 4.0-litre make 1265rwhp on up to 45psi.
Benny drove the JDM import more than 1000km up to Willowbank towing his trailer, which unearthed some overheating issues that he tried solving with several Drano flushes.
“While it doesn’t look like much has changed over the years, the whole combo is pretty much new compared to the last DCW,” said Benny. “I have a different diff and converter, plus we’ve got new ShockWorks front struts instead of the $70 Monroes it went 8.1 on, and we’ve raised the ride height so it doesn’t do wheelies or smash pans.”
Ben led the Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class from Day One, reeling off a trouble-free 8.53@165mph early in the day at Willowbank, before hitting the road and discovering his cooling woes hadn’t been solved.
Following more Drano science and a 5.75@129mph at Warwick, he got on the road using his taller 275 radials instead of his street tyres, which apparently fixed the cooling gremlins.
With his tune set to kill, Benny was gunning for an 8.0 on Day Three, but an arrow-straight 8.40@163mph first thing in the morning and launching in second gear was the best he could make stick in the hot, greasy conditions.
Still, Benny snared the Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class win and came fourth Overall (just 0.071sec off third) – and also bagged Quickest Six-Cylinder and Longest Distance Driven. He then drove the Toyota all the way back to his NSW Southern Highlands home. “I might have to trim the Kirkeys before I try that again,” laughed a sore Benny the day after getting home. “They’re not really designed for road trips like that!”
1987 TOYOTA CRESTA
Class: Speed Pro Six-Cylinder
Engine: Ford FG Barra 4.0L
Supercharger: Garrett G42-1450
Converter: Hughes Performance
Diff: 9in, 3.23:1 gears
Previous PB: 8.18@168mph
Best DCW 2020 pass: 8.40@163mph