Turbo Barra-powered 1968 Ford XT Fairmont sleeper

If you ever needed proof that Ford’s venerable Barra six-cylinder engine has reached cult status, Damien Boyce’s gloriously stealthy XT Fairmont is it

Photographers: Steve Kelly

If you ever needed proof that Ford’s venerable Barra six-cylinder engine has reached cult status, Damien Boyce’s gloriously stealthy XT Fairmont is it.

This article on Damien’s XT was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Street Machine

BEFORE the Barra arrived on the scene, the flagship performance engines for most Ford fans were carby-fed Cleveland and Windsor V8s.There have been EFI Windsors, quad-cam 5.4L Boss motors and even factory supercharged Coyotes in the years since, but none of these have been embraced by Aussie enthusiasts to the same level as GM’s LS series, for example. But the Blue Oval’s answer to the LS is well and truly here in the shape of the Barra inline six, and they’re now being stuffed into everything, including Holdens.

Damien’s Fairmont was a factory six-cylinder and a very clean, honest car when he bought it, finished in a pewter colour with a champagne roof

Damien’s Fairmont represents a bit of a changing of the guard from the Windsors and Clevos of old to the new-age, DOHC four-litre, EFI turbo six-pots. You see, when he first built the car he equipped it with a screamer of a Clevo that powered it to 11.8-second quarters on the motor and into the 10s with a 100-shot. It had a reverse-cowl scoop and a set of Convo Pros for a bit of Pro Street attitude, and was by all accounts a good thing. But it wasn’t perfect.

When Damien did the initial resto, he went with Silver Fox on the body, and a shade of maroon from a European Ford on the roof to tie in with the standard interior

“It was loud and a bit too aggressive-looking, and I used to get defected a bit. I had a lot of gearbox issues and sometimes it ran hot,” Damien says. “I got tired of being hassled by the cops and having to stare at the gauges all the time; I wanted to be able to drive the car more often and enjoy it more when I did.

“Besides that, the car was kind of stuck in two worlds. It had the stock-looking body, paint and trim with the Convos and reverse-cowl, so I made the decision to go with the Barra motor and make it less conspicuous. I wanted it to look stock, but have just enough poke to have some fun.”

Fitting the Barra into the XT was a straightforward proposition. Damien made custom engine mounts, though off-the-shelf items are readily available these days. No sump mods were required, and the existing C4 transmission crossmember was merely tweaked to suit the Powerglide. A BA Falcon radiator and thermo fans take care of cooling duties

To that end, only a very keen eye would pick that the car is anything other than stock. The maroon-over-silver paint scheme isn’t factory, but with the roof colour tying in closely with the OEM interior, it looks like it easily could be. The standard 14-inch steelies, whitewall tyres, venetian blind and pensioner peak all hammer home the look.

Rather than adapting a factory harness and ECU, Damien opted for a Holley HP unit, wired by Ash from Wiring &Tuning Solutions. It’s self-learning, and allows plenty of scope for future up-grades

Underneath the bonnet is a different story indeed. With the Proboost GT42 turbo on one side and a custom-fabricated plenum on the other, Damien’s Barra looks like a fearsome bit of kit. It is, however, a $200 aspirated BA wrecker motor with nothing more than a set of aftermarket valve springs!

“I had the motor sitting there for another project, so I thought I might as well use it,” Damien says. “The intent was to rebuild the motor eventually, but it’s working out pretty well as it is at the moment. I don’t want to take it off the road to do the motor because I enjoy driving it too much!”

The fuel system consists of a boot-mounted Aeroflow surge tank with integrated fuel pump, which is topped up by the same Holley Blue that Damien used as a main pump when the car had the V8 in it

The fab work for the engine mounts, exhaust manifold, dump pipe and turbo plumbing were done at home by Damien with assistance from Danny at Spot On Performance. Danny is also responsible for the custom intake plenum that neatly clears the strut tower, as well as a great deal of overall guidance on the build. The remainder of the turbo system consists of a Turbosmart wastegate, Tial blow-off valve and Aeroflow intercooler.

The pristine original interior was one of the deciding factors that convinced Damien to buy the car in the first place. Aside from a smattering of Auto Meter gauges and a billet shifter, it’s all standard and in excellent shape

Damien opted for a Powerglide transmission after experiencing issues with the C4 he had behind the previous combo. It’s fitted with a transbrake and 3200rpm Converter Shop converter, and funnels grunt rearwards to a mini-spooled nine-inch.

Thanks to the self-learning Holley HP ECU, the car is yet to go near a dyno, but it has been to the track. On a conservative 10psi of boost and hampered by the limited traction on offer from the tiny 205-wide whitewalls, Damien managed a best of 12.3@111mph.

“I decided to go for a drive to the track and see what it would do,” he says. “I have plans to put radials on it and wind it up a bit, and once that’s done I’m pretty keen to leave off the transbrake and see what happens. Maybe I’ll throw a turbo motor in it down the track and try and go faster again, but as it is it’s a lot of fun on the street. With the way it looks and how quiet it is, it surprises people on the freeway when they realise it’s a turbo!”


Colour: Silver Fox with maroon roof

Brand: Ford BA Barra inline six, stock internals
Induction: Custom plenum, Turbosmart wastegate, Tial blow-off valve, Aeroflow intercooler
ECU: Holley HP
Turbo: Proboost GT42
Head: Stock BA with PAC valve springs
Fuel system: Holley Blue lift pump, Aeroflow surge tank, Aeroflow in-tank main pump
Cooling: BA Falcon radiator and fans
Exhaust: 4in dump pipe, 3.5in single exhaust system
Ignition: LS1 coil packs

Gearbox: Powerglide with transbrake
Converter: Converter Shop 3200rpm
Diff: Nine-inch, mini-spool, 3.7:1 gears

Springs: Six-cylinder coil springs (f), leaf springs with CalTracs (r)
Shocks: 90/10 (f), stock (r)
Brakes: Four-wheel discs

Rims: 14x7in steelies (f & r)
Rubber: 205/75/14 whitewalls