Eight-second Barra-swapped VF Valiant

Warwick Meldrum has cracked the eight-second barrier in his controversial Val

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic, Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner, Noah Thorley

UPDATE February 10, 2023: Warick Meldrum came into Drag Challenge 2022/23 with some more development behind his Barra-powered VF Regal, and a view to run quicker than his mid-nines of DC2019. “I’ve made changes, but not really for performance,” Warick says.

“I went from Bosch 044s to the new 200 Series because I was out of pump. I did an engine rebuild just to freshen it up, with some Atomic chains and gears in the front of the engine, but largely it’s the same.”

There’s now an anti-roll bar and new shocks under the Val, which he reckons have made a huge difference in the car’s manners. “I had 90/10 shocks on the front which is normally pretty good, but it held the car up really high in front and you lose all your castor, which made it really unstable in the top end,” he says. “Now I’ve got a set of 60/40s, and it settles really quick and drives so much better.”

Warick kicked off his DC week with a middling 9.51@145mph at Heathcote, with similar results over the Portland and Mildura eighths. Day four yielded a 9.06@151mph, with an 8.90@153mph for a new PB, and third position in his Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class.

“The car had done a 9.1@157, with a terrible 60ft at Heathcote,” he says, “but this is the first time I cracked into the eights, with not as much power as when I ran the 9.1.”

It wasn’t all fun and games, however, with the Falcon-sourced BorgWarner bits crying ‘no more’ on the final day. “I had a tailshaft vibration, and I think the tailshaft just wasn’t up to the speed I was spinning it at,” Warwick recounts. “As you do, you just kind of drive through it, but I didn’t drive through it! I did maybe four runs like that, and then on the last run it just smashed the gearbox case and split it all-’round.”

It capped off a challenging week on the road, which Warwick says involved a few unexpected failures. “I had the gearbox out after it pushed the rear main seal out, and a guy in Mildura let me use his hoist. Then my transbrake wouldn’t work, and I found the tyre pressure gauge had made its way into the cigarette lighter and shorted it out!”

A Reid-cased Turbo 400, beefier tailshaft and nine-inch rear are next on the list, though Warick’s happy to work with the current mill. “I’ll keep pushing this engine to see how much more it can handle. It’s pretty basic, it’s just got an NA headgasket in it and a stock NA head I bought from the wreckers; it hasn’t got turbo valves or fancy valves,” he laughs.

“I think I’ll give this car a birthday this year, and paint it and make it a bit tidier. It’s just a good combination. For a car that’s gone eights it doesn’t owe me much; it probably owes me 25 grand! I do have a 6.1-litre Hemi and a GT55 turbo to go with it. I’m keen to build that, I’m just not sure what car I’ll put it in.” If Warwick’s history of cross-pollination is anything to go by, there’s a good chance it’ll ruffle a few feathers!

The story to here

November 20, 2019: WARICK Meldrum has absolutely no issues upsetting purists, and his Barra-swapped Valiant is just the tip of the iceberg. He first stuffed a Barra into a VP Commodore for Drag Challenge 2017, before taking it to another level of hater-proof and putting the same Ford mill into a GM cult classic, a 1967 Chevy Camaro.

For 2019 he’s taken aim at the Mopar crowd, pulling that same donk out of the ’Maro and throwing it into a 1969 VF Valiant Regal. “It’s not like I was worried about what people thought before, so why stop now!” he said.

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The mill is largely unchanged from its life in the Camaro. The FG XR6 Turbo donk still bears the factory crank, cams and head, polished off with some ARP bolts and studs, Spool conrods and Ross Racing forged pistons. The biggest changes are the turbo and manifold, getting an upgrade to a drool-worthy 6boost feeding a Precision 76/75. Rounding out the driveline is a Turbo 400 ’box and 31-spline BorgWarner BW78 diff.

Warick’s unsure of the power, given he has been self-tuning the Haltech ECU on the fly, but his bum tells him it’s around the 450rwkW mark, with a fair bit of juice left to burn.

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“We’re still learning the car, as it’s largely untested,” he said on Day One of Drag Challenge 2019. “We only bought it as a painted shell in March.” Initial testing prior to DC only yielded an 11.0@112mph and a pair of broken rear shocks from axle twist.

Warick shared the driving duties with John Urquieta, another Drag Challenge alumnus who piloted his own VH Valiant Charger at DC 2018 with a turbo V8 Gen III Hemi. “It’s still a real handful to pedal, so we’re just hoping to run nines this week if we can and make it through,” said Warick at the start of the week.

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The boys certainly smashed that goal on Day One, handing in a 9.81@143mph. putting them in sixth spot in the XR6 Turbo Developments Six-Cylinder class. Warick and John continued to improve throughout the week, lowering their eighth-mile times from a 6.37@115mph on Day Two at Mildura to a 6.12@116mph on Day Four at Portland. Day Five saw the boys scream home with yet another PB, clocking a 9.35@145mph to finish up fourth in class for the week. “It’s cool to make it to the end of the week and run a PB at just about every track, and we know there’s still more left in it,” said Warick.



Class: XR6 Turbo Developments Six-Cylinder

Engine: 4.0L Barra

Turbo: Precision 76/75

ECU: Haltech

Transmission: Turbo 400

Diff: BorgWarner BW78, 31-spline, 3.23 gears

Previous PB: 11.0@112mph

Drag Challenge PB: 9.35 @145mph