WHILE bleaters on the internet complain about how bored they are when someone builds a car to their own tastes, anyone who has a project car that uses a left-of-centre drivetrain knows how much brain, wallet and gumption is involved. Townsville’s Daniel DiBella took the less-trodden path with his XB Falcon sedan build, though he never actually intended to end up with the killer 900rwhp streeter he now enjoys.
First published in the February 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Mitch Hemming
“I had a nice XE Falcon street car with a small-block Ford in it, and I sold that,” explains Daniel. “The XB had been a race car out of Brisbane, and it was tired. It had been run with a blown small-block Ford, then a nitrous SBF. I bought it sight-unseen off the internet as a roller.”
“The interior is pretty wild, but this is what I love,” says Daniel. “My local trimmer did the whole thing and I love it because it’s different and cool. I had other people telling me to do wild paint and put a black interior in the car, but I wanted the outside to be subtle, with more pop inside”
Once it got to Townsville, Daniel unfortunately discovered it wasn’t quite what he’d expected. “It was a Red Pepper GT mock-up with red interior, and I hated it,” he says. “It looked good on the outside, but being a race car, everything was tired. I bought the Falcon because I couldn’t afford a ’69 Camaro – and then I spent [the equivalent of] four ’69 Camaros on the Falcon!”
The ladder bar, Afco Menscer coil-overs and nine-inch diff are the only parts left over from the purchase. Everything else has been switched out or modified.
“It won Top Ford at Sugar City Powerfest in Mackay, but it hasn’t been to any shows due to COVID,” says Daniel. “It drives like a new car, so it gets street-driven every week with the family, including school drop-offs and pick-ups”
“The car was blasted and built on a rotisserie,” says Daniel. “It needed new sills, new quarters, new boot floor, completely new B-pillars, new plenum, bottoms of doors and guards, boot and bonnet replaced… I just wanted it semi-straight, so it’s only been blocked twice, but I wanted a job that I could use as a street car.”
While we’re used to seeing GT replicas, Daniel went for a subtler look, harking back to the car’s heritage as a factory V8, nine-inch, sunroof-equipped Falcon 500.
Down the back, a 9in has been stuffed full of good gear like a Pro Iron centre and 35-spline axles from Strange, plus a full spool and pinion support
“I love silver muscle cars, so I didn’t want anything crazy,” says Daniel, who shaved the gutters, badges and fuel cap, and put a stock Falcon 500 bonnet back on. “I wanted a smooth, clean car that didn’t attract attention.”
Another area this X-chassis differs from others is the twin-turbo Coyote powerplant, which, Daniel admits, was actually a conversion his mate led him to.
“My mate Paul Morel at Xtreme Motorsport suggested doing something different with the XB and said he wanted to build a Mod motor, but I didn’t even know what that was,” laughs Daniel. “I started the Coyote swap about six-and-a-half years ago with a supercharged Miami that had gone into the back of a tow truck and snapped the blower off. But the block and heads were cracked, so all I got from that was the crank, although they’re still good for 2000hp as a factory part!”
Built by Xtreme Motorsport, the snail-fed quad-cam makes 900hp on a conservative 17psi at just 5000rpm, drinking E85 corn juice. A replacement five-oh block from the USA was fitted with Oliver Speedway rods and JE FSR slugs, while the CNC-ported heads were fitted using ARP hardware and are otherwise stock for now. This is because there is a pair of Gen2 Garrett GTX35 party-starters hooked up to their exhaust ports on custom manifolds, plumbed through Turbosmart 50mm wastegates and a Plazmaman intercooler.
“Paul from Xtreme and I built the car ourselves, mounting the engine, sorting out the bellhousing and starter motor,” explains Daniel. “It was a nightmare fitting the engine, intercooler, radiator and all that. I didn’t want to lose my factory bonnet catch; I wanted it like it had come from Ford. We fitted and pulled the intercooler and radiator 30 times, and I had to relocate my alternator and reverse its operation!”
Controlling the ’Yote is a Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, which fires stock ignition coils and ID1000 injectors, which get their corn sauce from a Waterman cable-drive fuel pump out of a boot-mounted cell.
“Coyotes are a strong motor and they respond so well to boost,” Daniel says. “At 5000rpm on 17psi it made 900rwhp, but once I change the valve springs, I’ll put more into it. I want to run an 8 with it. It went 9.30 with the old owner”
“It was all very new when I was doing it; there wasn’t much info around,” sighs Daniel. “Everyone wants to do a conversion, but nobody wants to deal with you when you have problems! I wouldn’t advise anyone to do something different, because it was just so much pain. The amount of plumbing you do with twin turbos is an extra level of headache. Everything was tight and hard, but we tried to go the extra mile to make it all neat.”
Daniel used a Fairlane dash in place of the stock Falcon piece, but trimmed out the speedo to fit the moulded-in Haltech IQ3 screen. Kirkey seats wear the last pair of red covers Daniel could find online, while bolt-in door bars for the ANDRA rollcage make the car more useable
Xtreme cut the stock strut towers and fitted the notch kit so the big DOHC donk fits, sitting on custom engine mounts. The XB now uses RRS coil-overs and a factory manual steering box, though Daniel plans to fit an Astra electric power steering pump to make it nicer to steer.
“I did a test pass on the 10psi run-in tune and it went 10.1@133mph with lazy shifting, but it is now on 17psi and making 900hp,” Daniel says. “The combo is capable of over 1000hp, and once I fit the MMR timing chain kit and better valve springs, I’ll turn it up. I want to drive it to the track, run an eight, and drive it home.”
While there were plenty of hoops to jump through in the long-term project, at the end of the day Daniel is stoked with the result and really enjoys sharing the finished product with those who matter the most to him. “I put the kids in it and we do at least 100km every weekend I’m home,” he says. “It was a lot of heartache, but my family loving it is enough of a reward.”
1974 FORD XB FALCON
Paint: DeBeer Arctic Silver
Brand: Ford Coyote 5.0L
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Turbos: 2 x Garrett GTX3582 Gen2
Heads: Stock, CNC-ported
Conrods: Oliver Super Speedway
Pistons: JE FSR
Oil system: MMR oil pump, Herrod Motorsport sump
Fuel system: Injector Dynamics ID1000 injectors, Radium fuel rails, Aeromotive pressure regulator, Waterman cable-drive pump
Cooling: PWR radiator, Spal fan, Plazmaman intercooler
Exhaust: Custom manifolds, custom dump pipes, twin 3.5in exhaust, Demon Flow mufflers
Ignition: Stock coils
Gearbox: TH400 with JW bellhousing
Converter: Converter Shop
Diff: 9in, full spool, Strange Engineering Pro Iron centre, 35-spline Strange axles, Strange pinion support, anti-roll bar
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: RRS coil-overs
Rear: Afco Menscer coil-overs, ladder bars
Brakes: DBA slotted rotors and VY Commodore calipers (f), GT finned drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Nankang 165/80R15 (f), M/T 275/60R15 (r)
Paul Morel, Jono Bayley and Bray Jones at Xtreme Motorsport in Townsville; Mark Debono and the team at East Coast Paint & Panel in Cairns; Michael Beatts at Beattsy’s Mobile Auto Electrical; Chris Cousins at Hinchinbrook Trimming; Ben Gup at Ground Up Motorsports; Damien Floyd for the sandblasting; Phil Rion and Damon at Cheapa Auto Spares in Townsville; Barry at Performance Plus Parts; Lindsey at Beatts Fabrications; Jesse Chatburn; Chris Gofton; Ian Muldowney; Terry Evans; Gerrard Cecil; Chris Anderson; David Giliberto; Joe Van at Doc’s Auto Clinic; Glynn Butterworth, Dale Butterworth and Simon Butterworth at WOT Engine Reconditioning; last but not least my girlfriend Kaylene Gough and kids Charlotte, Chloe and Ethan