440-cube XY Falcon GT tribute

Thanks to 440 cubes and 855 horses, Peter Haravitsidis's XY GT tribute is as quick as it is mean

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

THIS beautiful black XY stopped us in our tracks when we first clapped eyes on it at Meguiar’s MotorEx 2018. The miles-deep Onyx Black duco and righteous stance were complemented by one hell of an engine bay, filled up with 440 cubes of Ford’s finest Windsor, tunnel-rammed and topped by a pair of EFI throttlebodies.

This article was first published in the October 2020 issue of Street Machine

According to the show board, the XY belonged to one Peter Haravitsidis and was apparently destined for duty in the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated class at Drag Challenge. To be honest, the car looked way too tidy to be subjected to such torture, but we were excited as hell at the prospect of Peter showing us what his creation could do at DC 2018.

Of course, old mate Murphy had other plans. On the eve of Drag Challenge, Peter’s XY was not playing ball; a few roller lifters had stopped rolling. Exhausted from getting the car ready, a dejected Peter had pretty much thrown in the towel. But his wife came to the rescue, making an emergency call-out to Peter’s mates: Jim, Dean, JP, Con, Christos, Nick and Angelo. Dubbed the Man Cave Crew, they got stuck in, replacing the lifters and completing a full diagnosis on the valvetrain.

After all that, just finishing the event was going to be a major victory. Talk about exceeding expectations: Despite a complete lack of shakedown runs, testing and track tuning, Peter finished runner-up in class at DC ’18.

The XY was nothing more than a bare shell just four weeks before its debut at MotorEx 2018. “A big thanks to Tony from Flash Automotive for taking on the project and smashing it out of the ballpark,” Peter says. “Right up to the last moment, we didn’t know what colour we wanted. On the day it came down to a coin toss between Vermilion Fire and black. After just making it, we were astonished to win Best Overall Modified Muscle”

“Everybody involved put a lot of effort into getting there,” says Peter. “Being a brand-new build, to come runner-up to Al Vella’s very fast and very well-sorted Capri was a massive achievement.”

And it was smiles all ’round when the XY ran a 9.81@139mph on the final day at Calder. “Our set-up was very conservative,” says Peter. “The car had run 9.63@138mph with the previous combo.”

With factory suspension and no mini-tubs, it took a lot of massaging to get the 275s on double beadlocked 15x10s to fit under the rear

Previous combo, you ask? Originally a Monza Green, 302 GS, Peter picked up the XY 21 years ago looking very presentable but minus its running gear. First up, Peter threw in a 4V-headed 351 Clevo, followed by a 383 stroker with CHI 218 alloy heads that was good for 10.5@128mph. By the time 2008 rolled around, the engine bay was home to a 427ci SVO with 225cc CHI 3Vs, which ran 9.57. It was ranked fifth on APSA’s True Street Aspirated Top 10 list and won the class at the Sydney APSA event in 2012.

The 440 in its tunnel-rammed guise; Pete now runs a single-plane manifold and a single throttlebody. For reliable oil delivery, the 440ci small-block relies on a belt-driven R4 Peterson pump. Over on the right is an oil primer that Peter spins up with a drill if the car has been sitting for more than half a day

With aspirations of claiming top spot on the Top 10 list, Peter tore the XY apart in 2013 for a comprehensive rebuild. A key new addition was a 1000hp, normally aspirated 440-cube small-block. “It was a bit of a baby Pro Stock engine: 15:1 comp, 9800rpm, one-inch valve lift, 1200lb valve springs,” Peter says. “It wouldn’t have been very driveable – pretty much a trailer queen. But that is where True Street was at back then.”

Then along came Drag Challenge and the whole direction of the build changed. The biggest problem was the engine. Theo from High Energy Performance Heads had already completed the heads, and both the short block and huge, short-runner sheet-metal intake were also done. Rather than start over, Peter looked at ways to make the combo survive on 98 PULP.

“I met Dave Storlien at Engine Masters in the US,” Peter says. “He’s a camshaft guru and came up with a grind that bleeds off cylinder pressure. It’s massive – way too big for this engine.”

This, along with a couple of other little tricks (like 55thou head gaskets to drop the comp to 14:1), made the 440 sort-of PULP-friendly. Another key element was the Holley Dominator EFI and twin 2200cfm Accufab throttlebodies.

The 9L sump was an expensive component. “I designed it myself as I wanted more oil capacity, but I chopped and changed it three times until I was happy, which was far from cheap,” Peter says

“I’m in IT, so the tech stuff rocks my boat,” Peter says. “Every aspect of tuneablity is unlimited: timing, fuel curve, fuel delivery, engine protection and torque management to help with traction. I went with the Holley as it looked to be the most user-friendly, and it has proved to be so; it’s a very powerful system. The dash can have up to 10 different screens, which can log and display all the vitals and then some; the boys tell me it’s got more sensors than the space shuttle! Richard from EFI Expert does all my tuning and we’ve also got help from Fast Man EFI in the USA.”

After Peter finished screwing it together, Lou from Dandy Engines bolted it onto his dyno. After a lengthy tuning session, they were rewarded with 855hp@8000rpm.

The dash can be configured many different ways and can log and display data such as trans temp, trans pressure, fuel pressure, fuel temp and tailshaft speed

Impressively, during DC it averaged 23L/100km – towing a trailer! “Not bad,” says Peter. “Heck, my Jeep Trackhawk used to guzzle 22L/100km!”

The prodigious mill breathes through a set of custom pipes by Dandy’s Frank Marchese, and is backed by a Neal Chance Powerglide. The converter used at DC 2018 was from the previous engine, so it was not particularly well suited to the new mill, where everything happens at much higher rpm. This ultimately hampered the Falcon’s times that year.

For DC 2019, Peter changed a few things up. The tunnel-ram and twin throttlebodies were swapped for a long-runner CHI single-plane intake manifold and just one of the 2200cfm throttlebodies.

“The tunnel-ram looked good, but it wasn’t the right thing for street duties,” Peter says. “Now we’ve gone from 610hp at the hubs to 670hp. The driveability is better and so is the fuel economy.”

Peter’s PB dropped to 9.599 seconds at DC 2019 and he nabbed the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated runner-up spot once more. It didn’t come easy though! “The front brakes locked up on Day One, causing both the front tyres to blow out,” he says. “The throttle locked open, so I killed the motor, hit the brakes gently and pulled it up, but it blew out both the front guards. It was an expensive exercise!”

For racing, the Falcon runs a 4.33:1 Strange HD Pro diff; for street duties it’s swapped out for a 3.9:1 Strange Pro Iron with Truetrac. Being an aspirated car, it needs the big race gears. However, at 100km/h it’s pulling 3200rpm, which is a bit hard on the valvetrain, so for DC they dropped to a cruisy 85km/h at 2900rpm.

The 14-segment LED bank is the master warning system. If something approaches an out-of-range reading it will go orange, then flashes red if it gets worse

A full Calvert split mono-leaf rear gets it off the line, while RRS struts and rack-and-pinion steering gives it super-nice highway manners. For DC’s drive sections, the Falcon gets fitted with a proper set of street wheels and tyres.

“On the open road, you can let go of the steering wheel and it runs dead straight, even with the ‘tradie trailer’ on the back!” Peter says. “It also made it much nicer and a lot safer to drive for Dean and me.” Peter describes Dean as both his crew chief and lucky charm: “If he doesn’t come, I don’t race,” he declares.

“Anybody who thinks Drag Challenge is a walk in the park is kidding themselves,” Peter says, having completed two DC campaigns in the XY. “It’s hard on the car, the driver, the crew – it’s hard on everything. Just finishing is a major victory”

For his next challenge, Peter and a group of mates were hours away from booking their cars on a trip to the States to take on Hot Rod Drag Week when the news of COVID-19 prompted a rethink. “The plan was to do Drag Week, then stay on for No Mercy and Lights Out,” he says. “It would have been awesome; everything came together planning-wise.”

Only time will tell if Peter can make the stars align again in the future, but he has other ideas for the XY beyond that. “Once I’m done with drag racing, I’d love to put a manual behind it and go circuit racing. I reckon that would be fun.”


Paint: Glasurit Onyx Black

Brand: Ford 440ci, Dart 9.2 block
Inlet manifold: CHI custom single-plane
Throttlebody: Accufab 2200
ECU: Holley Dominator EFI
Injectors: Holley 85lb
Ignition: Holley smart coils, ICE race leads
Heads: CHI Kaase C400
Camshaft: Crower .937 EnduraMax roller
Conrods: Oliver I-beam
Pistons: CP forged
Crank: Callies 4.0 Magnum
Oil pump: Peterson R4 external
Cooling: VF HSV LSA radiator & fans
Headers: 21/8in primaries; merge collectors
Exhaust: Dual 3.5in, Hooker Aero Chamber mufflers
Fuel system: Dual Walbro 460L/h

Gearbox: Powerglide
Converter: 9in SDE, 6500rpm stall
Diff: Chrome-moly housing; Strange HD Pro centre with 4.33:1 full spool (race), Strange Pro Iron centre with
3.9:1 Truetrac (street)
Tailshaft: Strange 3.5in chrome-moly

Front: RRS struts, single-adjustable shocks
Rear: Calvert mono-leaf springs, Calvert shocks
Steering: RRS manual rack
Brakes: Wilwood 13in discs and four-piston calipers (f), Wilwood 12in discs and four-piston calipers (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood

Dash: Holley EFI
Seats: OMP
Shifter: Hurst
Harness: Simpson five-point, plus factory belts
Rollcage: Chrome-moly six-point weld-in

Rims: Weld AlumStar 17×4.5 (race) or Supalite 17×8 (street) (f), Weld AlumaStar 15×10 (race) or Supalite 17×8 (street) (r)
Rubber: M&H ET (race) or Pirelli 225/55R17 (street) (f), M/T Radial Pro 275/60R15 (race) or Pirelli 235/60R17 (street)

Tony (Flash Automotive); Dave Storlien (CHI Porting Dynamics, USA); Theo (High Energy Performance Heads); Lou and Frank (Dandy Engines); Michael (ICE Ignitions); Chris (Ford 9-inch Diffs); the Man Cave Crew: Jim, Dean, JP, Con, Christos, Nick and Angelo – without their countless hours of helping, I’d still be working on it; huge thanks to my wife and daughters – without their love and support, neither me nor the car would be where they are today