In among the cult of the Barra turbo, it’s easy to forget that Ford offered another boosted powerplant late in the Falcon’s life.
Though it wasn’t a powerhouse in stock form, the 2-litre Ecoboost was a smart (though almost entirely ignored) addition to the FG range. Good for 179kW, just short of the aspirated Barra’s 195kW, the donk was also 75kg lighter than the big six. Thanks to appearances in the Focus ST and Mustang, the aftermarket is also solid.
Ecoboost conversions are pretty rare in Australia, but Perth bloke Jason decided the turbo four-banger was the perfect candidate to power his two XP Falcons.
Both cars came to Jason as neatly restored examples with pre-crossflow sixes. “The old motors are pretty good, but once you put air con on they become a bit gutless,” he says. “They’re fine for a cruiser and they’re simple and easy motors, but I wanted to do something different. You can put a Barra in them but they have to be N/A.”
After snagging two conversions from Athol Park Ford Wreckers, Jason and North City Speed shop found the Ecoboost sat in the engine bay without too much grief. “We just had to modify the intake for the turbo because it was touching the tower,” he explains.
“It’s got solid engine mounts, because to pass engineering you need 10mm clearance from the strut towers, and the only way to do it in these cars was solid mounts.”
Much of the FG gear was retained, including the radiator, intercooler with shortened piping, and a/c compressor, which powers a Vintage Air system. On the custom side, there are fabricated airbox and expansion tanks, while the control modules are tucked in the boot.
“Brett from Custom Machine Works unlocked the ECU; he’s the only person in Australia that unlocks them,” Jason says. “With the first one he unlocked, he put an Ecoboost in a Bobcat! My Ford mate helped me out with the files for all the wiring, and then my electrician who’s really good pulled like ten metres of wiring out of the loom.”
Jason stuck with the factory ZF six-speed auto, which sits in a new transmission tunnel. It now spins a custom two-piece tailshaft. “There’s no power upgrades, it’s moreso for reliability; just turn the key and go,” he says. “You can run air con and not worry about overheating and all that, it’s just peace of mind.”
That’s not to say the Ecoboost lacks potential, as Jason says. “They reckon they’re equivalent to an SR20, with how you can put power into them. They’ve got strong blocks.”
The first Ecoboost conversion was finished last year, while the black car has only been on the road for a few months. While he’s happy with the conversion, Jason’s keen to point out they still handle like six-decade-old Falcons. “They’re not what people think,” he says.
“People in the [Facebook] comments say ‘oh, they must drive nice,’ but at the end of the day it’s still an old body. Nothing is going to drive and handle as smooth as it does in a new car.”
Jason’s now selling the black XP to focus on other parts of his impressive Ford stable. “I’m good,” he laughs when asked if he’d do another Ecoboost Falcon. “I just want to look after my ‘55 and ‘56 Fairlanes moving forward.”