DAMIEN ‘Jeno’ Genrich knows a killer car when he sees one. “I’ve had a 600-cube big-block nitrous Falcon that was a seven-second drag car; I’ve had Camaros and a eight-second, twin-turbo big-block Chevy Chevy Nova on methanol,” he says. Yep, he’s owned some real hotties, and this big-horsepower Fairmont streeter is the latest in that line.
First published in the December 2023 issue of Street Machine
Fellow Queenslander and mate Christie See is the bloke originally behind the XT, having conceptualised and developed it over the past 15 years. “I bought the car in 2007,” Christie begins. “I’ve always had a love of Fords in general, my all-time favourites being XTs. This one was very straight and in good condition.”
It still had some tinworm, though, so Christie dove into his first full nut-and-bolt resto, replacing both the inner and outer sills and fabricating new lower and rear quarter panel sections in the days before repro versions came onto the market. “That took quite a bit of work to get them to fit,” he admits. “I fitted and aligned the doors and welded the edges to get better gaps. That took some time and it was a very tedious job, but it was worth it in the end.” A Powerglide with all the trimmings from the BTE Racing catalogue and a 35-spline nine-inch by Chris’s Diffs were slotted underneath, while the interior’s factory-ordered burgundy vinyl was given a birthday with a fresh headliner.
After painting the XT in his garage, Christie whacked a tough aspo 393 Cleveland up front, which was enough for consistent 10.5@131mph ETs. “I got bored with that, so I decided to go with twin turbos to gain more power, and my friend Aaron built the complete turbo set-up over a two-week period.”
An Arrow Cleveland block would form the heart of the new combo, and Christie collected the rest of the turbo gear during a 12-month wait for the block to land in Australia. Trent Cowley of TC Engines filled it with a Callies crank and rods and JE pistons for a 410-cube displacement. The heads and manifold are both from CHI, while compressed air and E85 come in via a Wilson throttlebody and 2400cc injectors respectively.
TIG welded by Christie’s mate Michael Lewis, the custom log manifolds wear 66mm BorgWarner turbos, and the fuel rails, crank trigger brackets and other requisite EFI goodies were custom-machined by Tim Maas and Mick Whitehead. “Trying to fit everything neatly in the engine bay without cutting the bay up – let’s say it was very difficult,” Christie laughs. “A lot of choice words were used during the process!”
Christie wired the engine management himself, which features a FuelTech FT450 ECU, before Justin Wilkinson and Michael at JW Automotive handled the tune. On 22psi, it made 1375hp at the wheels. “With more in it,” Christie adds.
He enjoyed the XT until 2022, regularly hitting the street and gigs like All Ford Day before the time came for a new project. “This is where Damien came into the picture,” he says. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to take care of the old girl!”
Jeno was on the phone with Christie within 10 minutes of him listing the XT online, and money changed hands the next day. “It’s not a cut-up car; that’s what makes it so appealing,” Jeno enthuses. “It’s not tubbed or chopped up; it’s an absolute work of art in what they’ve done to it. I’ve seen and had a lot of cars, but this is one you rarely come across.”
Jeno’s urge to play with the car a bit more drew him back to JW Automotive for even more power. “It had a five-gallon-per-minute pump and it was running out of fuel, believe it or not,” he says. Justin at JW swapped in a 7gpm, two-stage Aeromotive pump and upgraded the rest of the system to match, before turning the boost to just shy of 25psi and pumping out 1440hp on the JW hub dyno. “It’s got three tunes now: 8.5psi, 15psi and 24psi,” Jeno explains. “On the low tune it punches out 800hp with ease, and on the big tune it will fry the tyres at 100mph. You can drive it with no problems, but let’s be brutally honest – any of those HP figures are stupid for the street!”
It’s awesome power, and Jeno reckons he and Justin have found the limits of the turbos and FT450 management. “I don’t think you’d find a tougher full Cleveland car in Australia; a lot of them are Clevor combos,” Jeno points out. “A lot of people are amazed that the thing is punching out those numbers, which is a testament to everyone involved with building it. We saw it leaning out in the end, so we think the turbos are maxed out.
“If I was gonna do anything, I would upgrade the FuelTech from the 450 to the 550 or 650 for independent fine-tuning; then you might squeeze 1500hp out of it at the hubs,” Jeno continues. “It’s all just wank factor, really; it’s not as if you’re going to use that extra 100hp on the street anyway!”
Jeno loves a chrome-bumper car with gargantuan power figures, so he’s now building a serious pro street XR ute as a Street Machine Drag Challenge, Summernats and MotorEx-ready counterpart to the XT. “The only thing that’s original on the XR is the skins,” he laughs. “I love my turbos, but I’m old-school, so the ute’s going to be N/A with a very angry small-block combo. The build’s been ongoing for a few years now, and there’ll be a few more before it’s finished.” We can’t wait to see – and hear – that!
DAMIEN ‘JENO’ GENRICH
1968 FORD XT FAIRMONT
|Concept Paints Polar White
|410ci Arrow Cleveland
|Wilson throttlebody, CHI manifold
|Twin BorgWarner 66mm
|Callies Ultra XD
|Callies Magnum Ultra
|Aeromotive 7gpm pump, 2400cc injectors
|AFCO 31x19in radiator
|Custom log manifolds
|9in, 35-spline axles
|SUSPENSION & BRAKES
|Calvert leaf springs with CalTracs
|Wilwood 320mm discs (f & r)
|WHEELS & TYRES
|Weld Star RT 15in (f & r)
|Bridgestone Ecopia 205/65R15 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 275/50R15 (r)
Terry Hosking for building the first 393 engine; Trent Cowley at TC Engines for building the 410ci Cleveland; Justin Wilkinson and Michael at JW Automotive for tuning; Craig at Pro Performance Coatings for the powdercoating on the suspension, engine and other components; Tim Maas and Mick Whitehead for machining small pieces for the engine; Aaron Cross for creating all the pipework for the turbo set-up; Joel Dodge at JD Transmissions for building the Powerglide.