1400hp twin-turbo 1971 Ford XY Fairmont – TUFEXY

Darren Schembri adds a couple of turbos to his XY Fairmont and unleashes a 1400hp monster

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

ACCORDING to Darren Schembri, driving his brawny XY Fairmont can get a bit hairy. “Once a bit of boost comes in, it gets pretty scary,” he says. Mind you, he immediately follows that with: “It’s a lot of fun!”

First published in the April 2021 issue of Street Machine

Yep, it’s fair to say this car is a bit of a handful. After all, the twin-turbo, 440-cube small-block that lives up front cracks the 1000hp mark at just 9.8psi of boost, before ramping up to 18psi and a ballistic 1400hp!

Now, before you go assuming that Darren’s bitten off more than he can chew, the Fairmont has lived in his garage for 22 years. In that time, it’s had a number of normally aspirated engines, including a 520hp mill good for 10.8@123mph, a 650hp donk that ran 10.22@131mph, and a 440-cube, 800hp thumper that dropped the Aussie Ford well into nines.

Why the big change-up to a twin-turbo combo?

“The engine did a lifter, and we went from giving it a freshen-up to: ‘Let’s go all the way,’” Darren explains. “Zoran from Competition Engines has built and tuned all my engines and has done a number of turbo set-ups, including his own eight-second, twin-turbo ZD Fairlane, so it was a pretty easy decision.”

To get the car back on the road, Zoran slid in a smaller cam and dropped the comp from 12.5:1 down to 9.2. Surprisingly, it only dropped 100hp when they re-dynoed it. Once the freshened engine had racked up a few kilometres and was run in, Steve at Boosted Fabrications was tasked with adding the twin GTX 35/82 Garretts.

“He did a top job on the fabrication,” says Darren. “He did the turbo manifolds, added the three-inch intercooler and built the exhaust – all without scratching anything. I didn’t have to repaint a thing!”

As for that exhaust, it starts with 3.5-inch dump pipes that run up over the wheels and down underneath into an X-pipe. From there it’s three-inch, terminating in front of the diff. “One day I’d like to go the full exhaust,” says Darren. “However, the twin turbos have quietened it down a lot.”

While a lot of turbo set-ups use EFI, Darren and Zoran have stuck with a Ray Edwards full-billet, 4150 blow-through carb. “Yes, EFI is more tuneable, but it’s also a lot more expensive,” Darren says. “Besides, if it runs a mid-eight, it’s not going anywhere. Alex Moshopoulos is a friend of mine and another Competition Engines customer. His silver XY Falcon (SM, Feb ’18) has similar power and has gone 8.1. With all things being equal, my Fairmont should run those kinds of numbers pretty easy.”

Living on a staple diet of E85, TUFEXY is a tad thirsty. “As soon as you pour it in, it seems to just pour straight back out,” Darren says. “With the 60-litre fuel cell, I’m lucky to do 130-140km. Fortunately, I have a United servo close to home.”

Having previously run well into the nines, the car’s chassis and suspension were well sorted. Highlights include Viking adjustable coil-overs up front and Calvert mono-leaf springs and shocks in the rear combined with a fat Competition Engineering anti-roll bar.

“Before adding the roll bar, on launch one wheel was touching the ground and the other was a foot in the air,” Darren says. “With the bar, it launches dead straight; it made such a difference.”

With the XY now packing an extra 600hp and a mountain of torque on tap, upgrading from the old 275/50R15 tyre made a lot of sense. To accommodate the extra-meaty Mickey Thompson 325/50R15 ET Street R radials, Darren’s good friend Frank altered the rails and opened up the wheel tubs. It certainly gives the XY a tough stance and a fat arse.

Another recent addition is the Haltech IC7 digital dash. “I love it,” Darren says. “I don’t look at the old gauges at all anymore; it’s all there on the Haltech – and it works great with the Haltech Elite VMS that runs the ignition system. The car didn’t have a wire in it; [auto electrician] Admir wired in the IC7 and the rest of the car – he came over a few nights and it was done. From there, my son Deon made up a couple of different screen displays. In fact, Deon and my brother Jason helped a heap with getting the car done. We put the whole thing together at my house.

“I also have to give a big thanks to my wife Sue,” Darren says. “She really supports me and likes going cruising in the car – she actually prefers the new combo. It used to be a pretty aggressive with 4.3:1 gears and a 6500rpm converter. Now it’s got 3.5 gears and a 3000rpm converter, so it’s much tamer to drive – until the boost comes in, that is! She doesn’t like that so much.”

Despite the new combo being completed over a year ago and having racked up 1500 kays since then, Darren is yet to take the XY to the track. “It was ANDRA-teched with the old combo,” he says. “But they’ll take one look at the turbos and I’ll have to get it redone. I’ve been holding off because I want to use the car for my daughter’s upcoming wedding. After that, I’ll add the full ’cage, parachute, race seat and harnesses – about $10K all up. I can’t wait – drive to the track, run an eight and drive home again! I’ll maybe even look at doing Drag Challenge.”


Paint: Electric Blue

Brand: 440ci Dart small-block Ford
Turbos: Twin Garrett GTX 35/82
Wastegates: Turbosmart ProGate 50mm
Blow-off valves: Turbosmart RacePort
Intercooler: PWR 3in
Intake: CHI 3V
Carb: Ray Edwards 4150
Heads: Kaase 400 3V
Camshaft: Comp roller
Lifters: Crow
Pistons: SRP 9.2:1
Crank: Scat
Conrods: Oliver
Fuel system: Dual MagnaFuel 750
Cooling: Aussie Desert Cooler radiator
Headers: Fabricated turbo pipes
Ignition: MSD/Haltech Elite VMS

Gearbox: DTM Powerglide
Converter: Dominator
Tailshaft: 3.5in, chrome-moly yokes
Diff: 9in, Truetrac, 31-spline axles

Front: Viking adjustable coil-overs
Rear: Calvert mono-leaf springs, Calvert shocks, Competition Engineering sway-bar
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r)

Seats: Factory XY
Trim: Vinyl
Steering wheel: Ford GS
Instruments: Haltech IC7 digital dash, Auto Meter gauges
Shifter: TCI Outlaw
Rollcage: Chrome-moly

Rims: Weld Racing AlumaStar; 17×4.5 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 26x6x17 (f), 325/50R15 (r)

Zoran at Competition Engines; Steve at Boosted Fabrications; Admir for auto electrical work; Frank for the tub work; my son Deon, brother Jason and supportive wife Sue