Aaron Young is one of a small band of pyrotechnicians and the sort of lad anyone would want organising their New Year’s Eve bash. It’s an entertaining trade to say the least so it’s little wonder he was after the same from his Falcon. Over the past few years we’ve seen plenty of turbo Fords break cover. As a cheap base, the E-series has the attributes to build a volatile yet functional daily driver.
First published in the July 2006 issue of Street Machine
With a passion for in-car entertainment, Aaron’s blue oval is definitely built for business. There’s more than a capable turbo six beneath the glitz and glamour. “With all the stereo gear and other upgrades you’re looking at around 1900kg with me on board. Added to that, I regularly tow my 1.5-tonne work trailer.”
His previous ride, an RB30-powered Skyline, enjoyed a couple of basic mods including exhaust, cam and intake, but this is his first real hottie.
“They used to tell me the car had the looks and the audio sounded great but it didn’t have the grunt. I took a mate’s turbo Nissan for a drive and was impressed with the turbo boost. I always liked the blow-off valve whoosh from turbo cars and thought the high torque output of the Ford motor would suit a boosted application,” says Aaron.
Fond of the clutch pedal, Aaron looked at converting a Fairmont Ghia but decided the aggressive look of the XR was a stronger starting point. Casing hundreds of cars at shows, the few that stood out to him were finished in chameleon paint — just the effect Aaron was after. Modern Panel Works & Detailing applied the tricky red-to-blue PPG mix after Aaron switched to Venom front and rear bars, a Talon wing and custom side skirts.
Engine-wise, the initial aim was around 370hp at the wheels region.
Racetec TIG-welded a suitable exhaust manifold and selected a Garrett GT35/40 turbo, rated to 700hp and one of the most popular street-spec turbochargers around. A fuel system consisting of a Bosch 800hp pump, Rochester 800cc injectors, Wolf 3D Version 4 ECU, along with extensive fine-tuning, was enough to see 400hp at the treads — albeit rather briefly.
“The T5 tranny only survived about a week so it wasn’t long before we grabbed a T5 Z-spec ’box from Mal Wood in Qld.”
In just 12 months Aaron had clicked more than 40,000 turbocharged kilometres (how many performance car owners can say that?) until the dreaded head gasket gremlin reared its ugly head.
“We did a quick fix but when another one went less than six months later we decided it was time to strip it down for a full rebuild.”
The current engine is anything but stock. Racetec pulled the 4.0-litre down and slotted in a set of Arias forged pistons in chrome rings. Interestingly, the guys opted for an OEM conrod replacement, using current design BA turbo rods.
Aaron says: “The longer rod and shorter piston give the same overall stroke, but with a higher torque output because of the different angle the rod moves on.”
The crank was also linished and Tuftrided and placed on ACL competition bearings. The head itself is heavily ported and features a Crow turbo grind cam, custom Crow springs and HSD valves. The hot side was retained as before but Racetec opened up the flow with larger intercooler piping. On the cold side, a new sheet-metal manifold was boxed up and installed after being extensively flow tested.
The end result is 545hp at the treads and 1010ft-lb of torque. Aaron says: “That power was made on the same 19.5psi boost as before, proving how efficient she is. On low boost at 9psi it’s still good for 320hp on unleaded.”
More power often leads to more headaches and Aaron’s had a few of those.
“As soon as we got it going again we ran into further gearbox and clutch problems as we were making more power than Mal told us the ’box was ever good for.”
For better reliability, Mal sent the boys a custom T56 six-speed and an 11-inch cera-metallic clutch that he says is good for more than 700hp.
Inside those EL GT rims are hefty AP Racing 330mm two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers that do a more than a stout effort of pulling up the heavy girl. The ABS is still in place too. The rears were upgraded to DBA Gold drilled and slotted rotors clamped by factory calipers.
The XR carries an awful lot of weight so Aaron has cleverly beefed up the undercarriage so that it doesn’t ride like a sponge. Pedders heavy duty Sports Ryder shocks and springs firm the ride up and there’s a full complement of Nolathane bushes easing the movement.
Aaron admits the interior won’t win any trophies but it’s clean and does the job. Even so, MOMO pedals, wheel and gear knob were fitted, along with custom kick and door panels. Custom black leather with firework embroidery is a neat touch.
“As I drive the car so much I couldn’t go too extreme inside or it’d end up looking very used. It had to be attractive but practical,” he says.
It plays a mean tune too. “The audio system was the reason I started this,” Aaron admits.
A stack of awards later and he’s still searching for improvement. The current audio arrangement has just been completed and is yet to be unleashed in competition.
Aaron’s previous set-up was good enough to see him crowned Australian Sound Quality Champion for 2004. That doesn’t mean it’s the loudest, however.
“The judges sit in the car and listen to all types of music, including classical, jazz and pop. They’re looking for smooth frequency response and precise imaging. I designed the system with a single goal in mind: pure sound quality.”
Sure, it’s not the first turbo EL hatched and it won’t be the last but Aaron’s ride is anything but common. “When I started building this I hadn’t seen many modified ones about. I had to be able to tow and I also wanted a manual so that narrowed it down a lot. The last thing I wanted was to build something that looked the same as the bloke next door.”
PURE SOUND QUALITY
This sound system oozes class, with a number of innovative ideas such as the three-way DLS Ultimate Iridium front stage with the tweeters in the custom fibreglass A-pillars, the mid-range drivers in the kick panels and mid-bass 6.5-inch units firing up through the foot wells. The magnets live in a 22-litre sealed speaker enclosure welded underneath the car which uses the chassis rail as one side and is made of sound-deadened 6mm steel. From underneath it looks factory and doesn’t alter the ride height since it sits flush with the rail. According to Aaron it produces very strong, accurate mid-bass and allows the drivers to play clearly even at extreme volume levels.
A detailed system diagram is laser-etched into a backlit Perspex mirror inside the boot lid. All up — with 16 speakers, six amps, two batteries and more than $2000-worth of sound deadening — the only thing that seems to be missing is a partridge in a pear tree. Aaron says the new and improved 2006 system sounds even better than his 2004 Australian Sound Quality title-winner, so his ICE competitors had better watch out.
How much does a system like this cost? You’re looking at around 1100 hours of installation time, close to $40,000, and 295kg in additional weight. Whichever way you measure it, that’s hefty.
1997 FORD FALCON EL XR6
|PPG Chameleon, red-to-blue
|4.0-litre six OHC
|Ported and polished
|Linished, balanced & Tuftrided
|Crow turbo grind
|Garrett GT35/40 turbocharger, custom intercooler and inlet plenum
|Bosch 800hp pump, Rochester 800cc injectors, Wolf 3D Version 4
|Standard coil with Bosch module
|Custom turbo extractors, three-inch mandrel system
|T56 six-speed, 11-inch cera-metallic clutch
|Borg Warner four-pinion, 3.45:1
|Pedders Sports Ryder springs and shocks, Nolathane bushes (f&r)
|AP Racing 330mm two-piece rotors, AP Racing four-piston (f); DBA Gold cross-drilled & slotted (r)
|Custom black leather & embroidery
|EL GT 17×8.5 (f&r)
|Hancook Silica 235/45/17 (f), 255/40/17 (r)
My wife Lisa for understanding; Phatt Audio Concepts — stereo & alarm; Car Toys & DLS (www.dls.se) — support; Racetec — engine and performance; Modern Panel Works & Detailing — bodywork, paint & detailing; Thermboys — car care; Fordmods.com; caraudioaustralia.com; fordforums.com.au.