Nine-second turbo LS-swapped AU Falcon wagon

Three workmates set out to have bulk fun for minimal bucks, mixing up the go-fast recipe to produce a staunch Drag Challenge sleeper

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

It is a well-established fact that AU Falcons can do incredible things, but how does a 9.90@139mph quarter-mile pass strike you? And all because Brett, Chris and Connor from Gawler Mechanical in South Australia decided to do something different with their Drag Challenge-tested AU wagon.

You see, while many would be expecting to see a turbo Barra or Intech six under the 2002 AU’s bonnet, these enterprising lads chose to anger the masses by slapping a stock-bottom-end 6.0-litre L98 up front. How the heck did they come up with a force-fed, LS-powered AU Falcon wagon as a Drag Challenge rig?

“The point of this project was to have a laugh, really,” Brett explains. “We’re definitely not passionate Ford men. We’ve got a dyno here, so we muck around with a lot of old-school cars and we do motors, and this car was just to build something that anyone can hop into and have a go, have a race.”

While the trio’s mighty AU debuted at the first Victorian Drag Challenge Weekend earlier this year, don’t think these guys are DC rookies. “I’ve got an HT that has done Drag Challenge a few times, Chris has an EH getting a turbo LS, and Connor has an EL with a turbo Barra in it,” says Brett.

“We looked at a lot of different cars to build and settled on the AU,” he continues. “In the end, the AU is just a cheap car, and the appeal is that it doesn’t really matter if something happens to it; we won’t be broken-hearted.”

To prepare the car for a life of pain, the alloy Gen IV LS’s ring gaps were touched up, while the sump copped a baffle for improved oil control, and a Melling oil pump got the nod. Power mods include 2200cc injectors, a 102mm FAST throttlebody, double valve springs, Crow pushrods and a Camtech bumpstick. Twin Walbro 460 fuel pumps supply 98RON premium unleaded on the road and E85 on the track, while a Holley Terminator controls the mayhem.

Stock exhaust manifolds were retained to mount the Proboost S480 turbo, which blows down a four-inch dump and exhaust system. All up, it is good for 600kW (804hp) on conservative boost.

“We knew how much power we can make out of these combos, but not in an AU Falcon,” Brett laughs. “We were going to put two little turbos on a 5.7 with stuff we had lying around, and we ended up with an S480 on a 6.0-litre!”

Behind the angry late-model small-block is a transbraked Powerglide with a 3500rpm converter, a GJ Drivelines single-piece chrome-moly tailshaft, and a long-suffering BorgWarner diff. That poor Borgy does run a mini-spool and 3.23:1 gears, but Brett reckons the 28-spline axles are very likely here for a good time rather than a long time.

Other supporting mods to get the Falcon race-ready include SAAS front seats, a B&M shifter, Holley dash, and a rollcage by Walker Chassis. So far, the Gawler trio have left the suspension and brakes alone, only choosing to swap the 16-inch rear hoops out for 15s clad in 235/60R15 radials for race day.

“It actually drives really well,” Brett says. “It cruises on the street so smooth and it’s really easy to drive down the track, so that has been great. It weighs about 3600lb, which isn’t silly.”

While they ran a low 10 on Day Three of this year’s Drag Challenge Weekend, more seat time since has allowed the trio to dip into the high nines!

“It ran 9.90 at Summernats Slam at Heathcote,” Brett explains. “Chris has entered it for the five-day Drag Challenge [in October] for another tilt at the 235 Blown class, so hopefully we can do a dual-entry deal.”

We can’t wait to see that!


Class: Tuff Mounts 235 Blown

Engine: 6.0L L98
Turbo: Proboost S480
Transmission: Transbraked Powerglide
Converter: Altorque 3500rpm 
Diff: BorgWarner, mini-spool, 28-spline axles, 3.23:1 gears
Power: 804rwhp
Best DCW 2022 pass: 10.10@138mph
PB: 9.90@139mph