Video: XF Ford Fairmont Ghia sleeper

George Hatzi's Barra XF is the ultimate drag and drive sleeper

Photographers: Chris Thorogood
Videographers: Fullboost

You’ll struggle to find a happier face than George Hatzi’s in the Drag Challenge pits on any given day. He’s a top bloke who has contested our gruelling marathon a number of times in his super-slick XF Fairmont Ghia.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2022

In those earlier attempts, the XF was actually rocking a force-fed SOHC Intech six, a combo that’d had a long history with this car. “When I got it around seven years ago, it was actually a turbo single-cam on LPG,” George says. “I ran a best of 11.70 with the gas, and then we switched to E85 and it ran a PB of 10.20.”

As cool as the SOHC deal was, George knew it’d only get him so far. “It had its limitations, so we’d been planning a Barra swap for a couple of years, and then COVID hit, so we took that opportunity to finally do the swap,” he says.

The FG-spec Barra was assembled by Glenn Wells, using a pretty basic recipe for some killer stonk. The block, crank, head, camshafts and lifters are all standard, the bottom end only sporting PPM I-beam rods, CP Bullet pistons, and billet gears in the original oil pump. The top end is standard apart from the Crow valve springs and head studs.

Hanging off the intake side is a Plazmaman manifold, with Siemens 2300cc injectors and an 85mm cable-driven throttlebody, while the hot side boasts a 6boost exhaust manifold and a Garrett GTX42 hairdryer. With a Haltech 2500 Elite for brains and E85 for good drinkin’, the combo made 831rwhp (620rwkW) on 30psi, tuned by George Chalikouras.

“The conversion was easy because I already had everything we needed to do it,” says George. “I wired it in and did all that stuff, and with the Haltech it’s super easy to set up – plus the power is impossible to argue with!”

Supporting gear to help get the Barra’s power to the ground include the Powerglide transmission, which is home to an SDE converter stalling at around 3600rpm. As expected, the rear end is a nine-inch, and George recently managed to squeeze a 275 tyre under the factory tubs on the widened 15×9 XF Ghia rims he uses at the track.

“That’ll be a big change for Drag Challenge; we managed to make just enough room so we’ll be on the 275 rather than the 255 I used to run,” he says.

Because of the seemingly endless Victorian lockdowns during COVID-19’s peak, George didn’t debut the new package until December 2021 at the Ford-Powered Nationals, but it was well worth the wait. “The difference was immediate. We PB’d the car by over a full second at its first event!” he says. That PB was a 9.01@153mph, and rest assured, George is doing everything he can to bag an eight. “You won’t believe it, but since then we’ve run a 9.001, so a big goal for Drag Challenge will be getting that eight for sure!” he says.

Since then, George has got his eight with an 8.8@156mph. He’s now gunning for an 8.7 as it’s the fastest his racing license will allow him to run, so that’s one bloody fast Taxi!

When the XF isn’t tearing up the track, it actually doubles as a really nice street car. “Off boost, it’s a really cruisy thing. I even let the wife drive it,” George laughs. “It’s obviously a pretty hairy thing if you get into it, but it’s super easy to drive normally, and being a Fairmont means it’s still really nice inside, so I love driving it on the road.”


Class: Speed Pro Six-Cylinder

Brand:Ford Barra six-cylinder
ECU:Haltech Elite 2500
Turbo:Garrett GTX42
Conrods:PPM I-beam
Pistons:CP Bullet
Oil pump:Billet gears
Fuel system:Bosch 044 pumps
Converter:SDE, 3600rpm
Diff:9in, 31-spline axles, 3.55:1 gears
Front:King Springs, Afco coil-overs
Rear:Lovells springs, Koni shocks
Brakes:XF discs (f), EA discs (r)
Master cylinder:Standard XF
Rims:XF Fairmont Ghia; 15×7 (f), 15×9 (r)
Rubber:205/60R15 (f), 275/60R15 (r)