Josh Tuskin’s Barra-swapped XW Falcon

Josh Tuskin's Barra-swapped XW is heading for the seven-second zone, leaving a trail of broken parts in its wake

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

JOSH Tuskin didn’t get much of a say in where his automotive allegiances would lie. “My old man always had an XR Falcon, ever since he was 18,” he says. “He had that many XWs and XYs, I guess that’s why I fell in love with them. Dad was right into buying and selling these cars; at one point it was one or two a week. I listened to him and when I was 12 I bought a set of XY guards for $750 and sold them for $1500.”

First published in the March 2022 issue of Street Machine

Josh’s careful buying and selling of parts and cars led to him purchasing this XW as a shell on a rotisserie when he was 16. After putting it back together with parts he’d collected, he spent the next couple of years torturing pre-crossflow sixes to death, including one attempt to rip a fat skid that broke both engine mounts and punted the fan into the radiator.

Eventually the need for speed led Josh down the then-rare path of the Barra swap. “I wanted a car that would run a 10,” he says. “I’d never even drag-raced a car before, and it went 10.1 the first night I took it to Calder.”

The XW eventually ran 9.49@149mph with the standard engine, but after a lot more work and an ever-growing pile of broken parts, Josh got a new PB of 8.27@170mph. “I’ve broken every part of this car except… nah, I’ve broken every part of this car!” Josh laughs, presumably to keep from crying.

There’s a bit involved in forcing an old Falcon to cover the standing quarter in such a small unit of time, starting with the rather exorbitant amount of thrust required. The XW’s powerplant is a destroked Barra screwed together by the Dandy Engines crew that now displaces 3.8 litres thanks to a billet Nitto crank. Sealing the deck is a tickled head containing a pair of Dyno-mite Performance camshafts, while oil is stored in an expanded factory sump and supplied to the spinning bits by a Horsepower Junkie billet pump.

The shiny snail hanging off the modified 6boost exhaust manifold is a Precision Pro Mod 88mm that shoves silly amounts of air into a large water-to-air cooler behind the dash. Controlling boost production is a Turbosmart PowerGate60 electronic wastegate, while expended dinosaur gases leave the engine bay via a five-inch stainless dump pipe. Divvying up the dense post-cooler air is a Plazmaman throttlebody and plenum, and the fires are lit by a brace of R35 GTR coils in a Platinum Racing Products mount. An awful lot of E85 is supplied to the hungry engine by a Waterman Super Sprint cable-driven mechanical pump, and 12 Injector Dynamics 2600cc injectors dump it into the ports. Only six injectors are necessary for now, but if Josh decides to switch to methanol in the hunt for more power then the fuel system is about ready to go. How much power, you ask? Yeah, there’s a bit – the combo has made 1205kW (1615hp) on the hub dyno.

There’s no point making the power if you can’t get it to the wheels. Behind the Barra is a Reid-cased Turbo 400 from Protrans driven by a Hughes bolt-together converter. Considering Josh’s record with auto transmissions, it’s holding up extremely well.

“I’ve had the worst luck with gearboxes,” he says. “One broke on the dyno, then got fixed and broke at the drags again the next day, then broke again a couple more times. I had a tailshaft fail and it pushed the floor up, ripped the exhaust in half and broke the extension housing. Another one got delivered to me by a courier and it rolled around in the van and smashed someone else’s fibreglass hot rod guards.” It’s a good thing Josh doesn’t believe in voodoo curses.

The nine-inch was put together by Mark Schwarze with a Strange housing, Strange centre, spool and Mark Williams axles after Josh, true to form, managed to rip a carrier in half. Gazzard Brothers leaves and adjustable shocks keep the rubber pressed to the road, with Gazzard coil-overs keeping the front end off the ground. At some point a race car needs to slow down, so there’s a set of Hoppers Stoppers discs up the pointy end and Wilwood discs under the bum, with a manual Wilwood master to control the lot.

Now that Josh has pushed the XW deep into the eights, a seven-second pass must be just around the corner. After he breaks that barrier, he’s going to have a crack at running a seven on a 235 tyre, just to make it a bit harder! Is the XW still a street car though? “It’s now the most reliable and driveable it’s been in years,” says Josh, “I drive it to get lunch with mates sometimes, but I’ve bought a Starlight Blue XW Fairmont that I can put the car seat in so Hayley and I can go out with the bubs.” Some guys just seem to have it all.


Paint: Diamond White
Block: Barra
Crank: Nitto
Rods: Nitto
Pistons: Nitto
Cams: Dyno-mite
Valves: Manley & Ferrea Valve springs: Crow
Intake: Plazmaman
ECU: FuelTech FT550
Injectors: Injector Dynamics ID2600
Turbo: Precision Pro Mod 88mm
Wastegate: Turbosmart PowerGate60
BOV: Precision 
Oil pump: Horsepower Junkie billet
Fuel pump: Waterman Super Sprint .800
Cooling: Race Radiators custom, Spal fans
Exhaust: 5in dump, 4in single
Gearbox: Protrans Turbo 400
Shifter: M&M
Converter: Hughes bolt-together
Tailshaft: GJ Drivelines 3.5in chrome-moly
Diff: Strange 9in
Front: Gazzard Brothers coil-overs
Rear: Gazzard Brothers leaf springs and adjustable shocks
Brakes: Hoppers Stoppers PBR AU (f), Wilwood (r)
Rims: Weld 17×4.5 (f), Street Pro 15×8 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R 28x6x17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street
Radial Pro 275/60R15 (r)

My wife Hayley for supporting my addiction; Frank, Nads and Michael at Dandy Engines and FuelTech for the best ongoing support around; Jason Ghiller at Tunnel Vision; Quikbitz; Ryan at Riot Lab Fabrications; big thanks to Corey Benning, Sean Anthony and Brett Lowing for the ongoing banter, trash talk and help