8-second Barra-powered XR Falcon ute

Peter Nusser's XR ute packs 1250 horses' worth of turbo-Barra hell, and it's headed straight for Drag Challenge

Photographers: Luke Hunter

Like many, it didn’t take much for Peter Nusser to catch the Drag Challenge bug and start scheming a way to take on the five-day leviathan himself. But it required a major revamp of his beloved XR Falcon ute. “I went along to the last five-day event with a mate as a spectator, and straight away I wanted to build a car to take,” Peter says. “Turbo stuff looked to be the way to go, so I started looking into doing a Barra conversion.”

First published in the May 2022 issue of Street Machine

Peter comes from a Ford family and has owned the ute for around 10 years, saving it from a date with the crusher. At the time he got his first taste of Drag Challenge, the XR was still rocking its 600hp, 363ci Windsor, which sucked methanol through a 6/71 blower and had run a PB of 10.2. “It was more of an old-school muscle car build,” he says. “Gary Myers had a 6/71 blower, so I had to have one on my car some day!”

Peter put his motivation for a Drag Challenge weapon to good use during the COVID lockdowns last year, kicking off the XR’s turbo-Barra makeover at the workshop he co-owns with his brother, Azzi & Nusser Service Centre in Wodonga, Victoria.

The new Barra heart began life as a BF-spec mill. The boys had the block grout-filled before re-using the standard crank but upgrading the rest of the bottom end with Carrillo rods and pistons and a Boundary oil pump. The head is still a standard FG unit with untouched ports, but it now sports a new pair of Crow Cams and valve springs and breathes through a Tunnel Vision intake manifold.

Boost comes from a Garrett G42-1450 hairdryer sitting atop a 6boost manifold, which shoves over 40psi through the Henry six-pot. “It was running 40psi when it made the 1250rwhp on the dyno, but we’ve seen spikes of up to 43-44psi since then,” Peter says.

Jason Ghiller of Tunnel Vision Turbocharging took care of tuning the Haltech Elite 2500, and he also guided Peter through the conversion process to the new-school grunt. “I took too much advice from too many people earlier on that led me astray, so then I got onto Jason, who put me back on the right track,” Peter says. “He was terrific, and the car rips now!”

The build was finished up late last year, affording Peter the opportunity to give the XR a bit of a spanking at Supernats Winton, before heading to the strip at Heathcote Park Raceway to see what the new combo could do. “We got an okay number considering the car was stuck in second gear!” he laughs. “The Powerglide would only leave in second that day, so it’s off getting fixed. Then we’ll get some more seat time, which I can’t wait for.”

Even with the handicap, the car ran out the back door with a PB of 9.20@153mph, so a good launch should easily see it into the eights. “I’d love to get an 8.20 or similar out of it, which shouldn’t be too hard,” Peter says.

The Barra conversion has not only made the car faster but also more street-friendly. “I get it out and use it a fair bit on the road; it has great street manners and is really useable,” Peter says. “I’m all about using my cars; we don’t worry about things like stone chips!”

With 275 drag radials bookending either side of the XR’s nine-inch diff, Peter will be contesting the popular Speed Pro Six-Cylinder class at our full-length Drag Challenge rodeo later this year. “I can’t bloody wait,” he enthuses. “I’m sad we missed out last year, so I’m even keener this time around. We won’t bother with a trailer, either; it’ll all go in the back of the ute. If it doesn’t fit in there, we don’t need it!”


Since this story was published in 2022, Peter has run a PB of 8.6-seconds at 160mph at Heathcote Park.

He also successfuly completed Drag Challenge 2022/2023 in Speed Pro Six Cylinder class, though gremlines restricted him to an average of 9.912-seconds.


Engine:  Ford Barra
Intake manifold:  Tunnel Vision
Head:  Standard
Camshafts:  Crow Cams
Pistons:  Carrillo
Rods:  Carrillo
Crank:  Standard
ECU:  Haltech 2500 Elite
Turbo:  Garrett G42-1450
Exhaust:  6boost manifold
Fuel system:  2400cc injectors
Transmission:  Powerglide
Converter:  TCE
Diff:  9in, 35-spline, 3.25:1 gears

Azzi & Nusser Service Centre; Dusty Benson at DBE; Shaine Benson at Straightline Motorsport Plumbing