If the idea of a megawatt-powered block of flats that can haul lawn mowers, rev to 10,000rpm and chop almost everything at Powercruise appeals to you, then you might just be Mendoza ‘Millsi’ Miller. The Queenslander became an internet sensation back in 2018 when the first iteration of his Barra-powered 1980 CF Bedford van was featured on The Skid Factory’s YouTube channel.
First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine
“I built a really full-on Suzuki enduro dirt bike and Al from The Skid Factory wanted it, so we worked out a deal for him to get the bike and I get my van Barra-swapped,” Millsi explains. “I got it from a mate who had it on a Defence Force base with a 202, and it was pretty much rust-free, as it had been stored undercover. “The original intention was to use the Bedford as a mowing van, so it got a 730rwhp FG-X Barra combo.”
After the team overcame bulk packaging issues squeezing the huge DOHC four-litre six where a 3.3-litre pushrod one sat, the lawncare supervan ran around for a while before Millsi’s need for speed once again took hold.
“It just wasn’t fast enough!” he laughs. “It ran an 11.1, which wasn’t great, and the ZF auto was giving me grief. So I decided to fit a gearbox that would do what I told it, and do the de-stroke for something different.”
Robby Abbott was tasked with taking 200cc out of the Barra using a Nitto crank, rod and piston kit. He also added Kelford cams, Atomic rockers, hydraulic lifters, a Horsepower Junkie billet oil pump and Atomic block girdle. With Millsi chasing a 10,000rpm ceiling, Robby also touched up the head but left the valves standard size.
“A lot of the reason behind de-stroking the Barra was the sound,” laughs Millsi. “With more revs on board, everything sounds good! In the end, it made 1112rwhp on 40psi and E85, but that was turbo-limited, as we found out.”
A Haltech Nexus R5 VCU controls all the sparks and manages the boost pressures being pushed into the custom intake by the Garrett G42 turbo. Six 2400cc injectors serve up the fuel, but plans are afoot for running twin injectors per pot, along with some other choice upgrades.
“I’m going to a Garrett G45 turbo to overcome the back pressure issues found on the dyno,” Millsi explains. “It is a bolt-on upgrade, but the turbine-wheel inducer and exducer are a lot bigger, which will hopefully get closer to my megawatt goal. My brother David is also going to make me a new custom inlet manifold.”
Behind the 3800cc Barra is a 4L80E four-speed GM auto and converter combo, specially built by Hughes Performance in Arizona to handle the 10,000rpm potential of Millsi’s new engine.
While the van was undergoing a birthday, Millsi sent it to Campbelltown, Sydney to his brother David, who runs Miller Chassis. He built the eight-point rollcage and taxi bar; upgraded the suspension and brakes; and set up a tough nine-inch with a full spool, 35-spline Mark Williams axles and 4.11 gears. Custom coil-over struts using dual-adjustable Viking shocks live up front, while the rear has relocated Viking shocks and reset Bedford leaf springs (missing one leaf). David also reinforced the front leaf mount, which helps tie the van together with the rollcage.
“I want an eight out of it,” says Millsi. “The ’cage is tech-certified to an 8.0, but to push this brick there, it will need 2000hp, which will make it pretty much un-streetable.
“It is a lot of fun at Powercruise, and I wasn’t expecting to be one of the fastest cars out there recently,” he continues.
“It surprised a lot of people at Queensland Raceway, especially with how fast it actually is in real life. There were people all over it in the pits all weekend, and everyone wanted to go for a ride. You build something for yourself, but it is nice to hear the positive feedback.”
1980 BEDFORD CF SWB
Engine: Ford Barra 3.8L
Cams: Kelford 296
ECU: Haltech Nexus R5
Turbocharger: Garrett G42
Transmission: Hughes 4L80E
Converter: Hughes Pro SSX
Diff: 9in, Mark Williams 35-spline axles, full spool, 4.11:1 gears
Dave at Miller Chassis; Robby Abbott; Al & Woody; The Hoff; Hughes Performance; Haltech
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