900hp nine-second ZD Fairlane

Dom Luppino’s dad bought this Fairlane new in 1971. Fifty years later, this priceless keepsake is now a nine-second, 900hp monster

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

THE BOND between a family and the car that transports them is one that Victorian fruiterer Dom Luppino knows all too well. While he may be best known for his beastly turbo race Mustangs, Dom’s heart is with this stout ZD Fairlane.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2021

“My father purchased this Fairlane brand new when I was born, so it is a genuine one-owner car,” says Dom, who now owns the Nugget Gold barge. “As a kid I never caught a bus, train or tram because Mum drove us in this car. My two sisters and I learned to drive in it and did our P-plates in it, so the Fairlane has so much sentimental value to my family.

“It had a great body, but I pulled it off the road 24 years ago to give it a full resto with a mild 302 Windsor I built for it.”

While that sounds like a recipe for sweet cruising success, a chance encounter with a late-model turbo tuner caused Dom to put the fresh rebuild straight back under the knife. “I picked it up from John Condello Motors, and on the way home I was at the lights next to a WRX. He left me for dead, so I did a U-turn back to Condello and told him to build me a 351, which he did,” Dom laughs.

“It got a 408ci stroker with a 200-shot of nitrous, and ran 9.9s until ANDRA told me it was too fast and needed safety upgrades. I wasn’t willing to cut the car up, so I purchased a dedicated race car and have been racing ever since.”

With a PB of 6.20@240mph, Dom’s current Pro Line Racing-powered ’67 Mustang certainly fills his need for speed, so he was keen to chase different thrills in the precious heirloom Fairlane. Though the gas-huffing 408 powered the big-hipped ’Lane to a 9.98@140mph, Dom recently decided to go all aspirated with a fresh donk.

“I was tempted to do a turbo engine, but I’d never get it engineered,” he explains. “I have a fast race car in the garage to do big speed, so I decided to build a tough aspirated street machine to have fun with instead.”

Dom’s gone with a Dandy Engines-built 458ci Clevor, which combines a Windsor bottom end with the deep-breathing, rev-loving Cleveland top end. Spinning out 890hp on the Dandy engine dyno, it is a spicy bit of gear packing a 9.5in-deck-height Dart SHP block, Bryant crank, 11.5:1 Diamond slugs and BME rods.

The top end is all Cleveland, featuring a pair of Higgins CNC-ported heads and a single-plane intake set up for port EFI, controlled by a FuelTech FT600 ECU. T&D rockers and Isky lifters keep the valvetrain connected.

“I had always been a straight Windsor guy, but Frank from Dandy had done three of these Clevors and they made great power, so I went with his recommendation,” Dom says.

An Accufab four-barrel throttlebody and Proflow spacer suck the atmosphere into the chambers that the custom-ground Comp solid-roller cam opens and closes. An MSD dizzy lights the pump unleaded fed by twin Aeromotive pumps that live in the fuel tank.

A Protrans TH400 auto and 7000rpm TCE converter send the grunt rearwards, while a nine-inch packing 31-spline axles and 4.5:1 gears splits the drive to each beadlocked 15-inch Weld wheel. Dom wasn’t going to take a grinder to this piece of Luppino family history, so leaf springs have been retained, though Gazzard Brothers provided the upgraded handling hardware at both ends.

“This car has never needed metalwork or big repairs,” Dom says. “There were four Fairlanes in the family, but the other three were absolutely annihilated. Dad looked after this car, so it meant it was in great condition when we got it painted the original Nugget Gold 20 years ago. There is no bog in this car!”

While the Fairlane is a rad machine, isn’t it overshadowed by a six-second race car capable of nearly 250mph on the quarter? Not for Dom, it seems. “I’m concentrating on the street-car scene more now, because I’m having a lot more fun,” he explains. “I worked out that I only got six minutes of seat time [in the Mustang] over a whole season of racing. All that work for that little amount of time in the car! I love it, but I’ve grown away from it a little bit now.”

He’s keen to come back to Drag Challenge for another crack, as he ran the ZD in the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class at DC 2019, turning 11s in the big Blue Oval.

“I don’t play around on the street; I love the power, but I’m sensible on the road,” Dom says. “The long-term plan is to pull this engine out and put a blown Godzilla in it, to make it factory-style reliable. I have a Torana with a 450hp 1JZ Toyota motor, and it just works. I don’t need more power; I just want the easy, stock-style reliability.”

With nine-second, 8500rpm capabilities as it sits now, we can’t wait to see the big gold four-door at Drag Challenge this year!


Paint: Nugget Gold
Brand: Dart SHP Windsor 458ci 
Induction: Higgins single-plane, Accufab four-barrel throttlebody, Proflow spacer
ECU: FuelTech FT600
Heads: Higgins CNC Cleveland
Camshaft: Custom-ground Comp
Conrods: BME
Pistons: Diamond
Crank: Sonny Bryant
Oil system: External oil pump
Fuel system: Bosch 1000cc injectors, Aeromotive twin in-tank pumps
Cooling: Copper radiator, twin thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom four-into-one headers, twin 3in system, Hooker mufflers
Ignition: MSD distributor
Gearbox: Protrans TH400
Converter: TCE 7000rpm
Diff: 9in, 31-spline axles, 4.5:1 final drive
Front: Gazzard Brothers springs & shocks
Rear: Gazzard Brothers leaf springs
Brakes: Wilwood discs, (f), Falcon GT drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: Weld 17×5 (f), Weld beadlock 15×8 (r)
Rubber: Hoosier front-runners (f), Mickey Thomspon ET Street