Barra-powered VL Commodore runs eights – Video

James Kelly's VL Commodore isn't RB or LS-powered - he's gone with a Ford Barra!

Photographers: Dave Reid

LET’S ask the most obvious question first: Why would you put a Ford Barra motor into a Holden VL Commodore? Well, Queensland’s James Kelly wanted to do something different. “Everyone uses RB, LS and JZ engines in VLs,” James said. “I wanted to have some fun and use the Barra and see what we can do with it. I enjoy learning along the way and find it more interesting to do something different rather than dropping in an engine that most people have used before.” Fair enough!

Twin-turbo 440ci LS-powered HDT LE VL Commodore

 And if you’re going to stick a Barra into a Holden, you’d want it to be a pretty serious combo, and James has gone the whole hog while keeping to a budget. The bottom end is built with Atomic rods, Cosworth pistons and an Atomic crank girdle. Up top, this tough Barra turns with Atomic cams and timing gears. The whole deal is boosted by a Garrett GTX45 turbo mounted on a CRG Promod manifold. A Plazmaman intake manifold and intercooler complete the engine combo.

Ex-Highway patrol VL Commodore runs sevens

The motor is backed by a Mr Transmissions-built Powerglide auto, but interestingly James has retained the BorgWarner diff! Having said that, he’s thrown the kitchen sink at it; it now has a full spool, Altra 9 billet axles and an upgraded diff hat, and the whole thing is suspended by coil-overs. Up front James has even gone to a Spot On tubular front end. The engine build and fab work was all done by Derek from DJZ Fabrications.

 On the dyno the Barra churned out 955hp on 34psi, with Sean from EFI Performance on the laptop tuning the Emtron ECU.

Last week James raced the VL for the first time at Willowbank and stuck it straight into the eight-second zone under licensing, running a best of 8.81@152mph with the boost turned down.

“Now we have a baseline, we will start to ramp the boost in and see what it can really do,” said James.