- Barra swaps gaining traction in US and Europe
- Several importers selling engines and accessories
- Engines becoming popular in South Africa
AS PERFORMANCE nuts across the world cotton-on to the boost-loving nature of Ford Australia’s mighty Barra, we’re seeing more and more of the inline-six donks transplanted into all manner of cars, so we’ve hunted high and low to find the coolest Barra conversions taking place far from home.
We’ve excluded cars from NZ, because – let’s face it – they’re mostly putting locally-sold engines into locally-sold cars. So without further ado, here’s a round-up of what the rest of the world is doing with the Barra…
Mazda RX-7 – USA
AS ANTI-PURISTS wedge LS donks into every unassuming RX-7 they can get their hands on, Chris Porter of Forced Induction Pros took a slightly different route with his ex-rotary drag car. In late 2019, he had Buschur Racing build him a stonking Barra, force-fed by a BorgWarner 80mm snail. The car runs an SFI Powerglide good for 1500hp, and a nine-inch diff.
Chris threw the RX-7 on the dyno late last year where it made 986rwhp at 21psi before failing spectacularly on the next run, punching through the block and sending debris flying. An all-too-familiar broken Barra teardown revealed a scattering of bearing material and mangled rod caps.
Chris plans to resurrect the Barra, this time with a billet crank and aluminium rods, though for now he’s turned his efforts to an LS-powered RX-8.
Ford Granada – USA
THE backyard mechanics at Fuel Injection Sucks have a wide array of crazy swaps on their YouTube channel, ranging from a Vortec 4200-powered Checker taxi to an LS’d Winnebago.
Last year they turned their hands to a 1976 Granada; a car comparable to an XD Falcon in size and weight. Like their Australian cousins, Granadas were offered with a 200- or 250-cube straight-six or a small-block V8.
The Fuel Injection Sucks hosts procured a front-sump, green-top Barra from a BF Falcon and installed new oil pump gears, valve springs and head studs. Interestingly, the Granada’s US-spec 250ci engine mounts were usable after some notching and massaging.
In keeping with the channel’s budget philosophy, they bolted up a billet-wheel turbo sourced for $50 from a Volvo diesel truck engine. With the Barra being fed 23psi, the Granada pulled 538rwhp on the dyno.
They took the Granada drag racing in the last instalment of the series. According to the hosts, the car was redlining at the 1100ft mark with its 3.73:1 diff gears, though it still managed a 10.72@124mph.
Ford Mustang – USA
ROB Rabon’s YouTube channel features an in-depth look at sticking a naturally-aspirated FG Barra and T56 manual ’box into a ’65 Mustang. He covers everything from fuel management to steering in his (so far) 10-part series. The Mustang is still a work in progress, so keep an eye on the channel for updates.
Volvo 945 – Sweden
WHILE most Northern Hemisphere Barra swaps are taking place in the US, Sweden’s GZ Racing is working hard delivering Aussie goodness to the Euro market.
Its centrepiece is this Volvo 945 wagon that packs a boosted FG Barra. It’s backed by a six-cog ZF manual ’box and Ford 8.8 rear end. The performance house aimed to make 945hp and run a 9.45-second quarter-mile in the Swedish missile. In 2019, the Volvo made 946rwhp on 32psi of boost.
The car also serves as a test mule for the company’s array of Barra conversion accessories, which include engine mounts, transmissions and even long-block engines.
You’ll find GZ Racing’s YouTube channel here. Even if you don’t speak Swedish, it’s worth checking out to see the fab work involved.
Nissan Silvia S13 – Sweden
GZ RACING found a customer in Thomas Nyqvist and his Nyqvist Drifting Team, who built this Silvia to compete in the Swedish Drift Championship.
The car previously ran a boosted Toyota 1UZ but is now powered by a 702hp Barra with forged internals. Boost comes from a BorgWarner S369 turbo, and power gets to the wheels via a ZF six-speed manual.
Ford Ranger – South Africa
SOUTH Africa has long received Australian cars, with notable examples including the XY GT Falcon and HG Holden. Ford more recently exported the Territory, which is now serving as a handy donor for all manner of Barra swaps.
Coenie Stols of Pretoria’s Muscle Cars Service and Conversions Centre helped put together this 2013 Ford Ranger swap. Out came the 2.2-litre diesel lump in favour of a turbo Barra backed by a Getrag T5. Stols says the company is working on an adaptor plate to use the Ranger’s original 4×4 ’box. On low boost and with long gearing, the ‘bakkie’ made 300hp at the wheels.
Ford Escort Mk1 – South Africa
IN A previous incarnation, Talha ‘Tolla’ Daniels’s Mk1 Escort was the fastest eight-valve Pinto in all of South Africa. He’s since replaced that donk with a killer Barra powerplant, capable of laying down 901hp with 21psi of boost.
A broken manual gearbox has so far prevented Tolla from making an all-out dragstrip pass in the ‘Barrascort’, though he’s undoubtedly shooting for an ET well into the single digits.
We’ve brought you a few other overseas Barra swaps in the past few years, like Jonas Andersson’s BMW 2002 in Sweden. Since then, the car has made 700rwhp with a faulty exhaust VCT cam, with a goal of over 1000hp now in sight.
More recently, Kasey Eastman swapped out a 1JZ in favour of a green-top Barra in his drift-weapon Prius.