THE cat’s officially out of the bag by now – the Barra has earned the title of the ‘Aussie 2JZ’ for its ability to make bulk twist and upset many more exotic engine combos on the street and the strip. Take a look under the bonnet of Corey Benning’s wickedly quick Cortina and you’ll find a particularly cranky Barra with enough stuff to blaze the quarter in a mere 8.49 seconds!
This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Street Machine
Corey’s love affair with the mid-sized Pommy sedans makes for a pretty short and sweet story: “I bought my first Cortina when I was 19 and sold it a bit later,” he says. “Once you’ve had a Cortina you always want another! Then five years ago I had an FG XR6 Turbo and I decided I was ready to buy another Cortina and merge the two into one.”
Corey soon found this TD in Brisvegas with a Clevo under the bonnet and a mod plate to match, so he had it shipped down to sunny Victoria.
Unfortunately, the V8 wasn’t long for this world. “The Cleveland wasn’t the best engine to have to put up with the way I treat them,” Corey laughs. “After the second time I hurt it I pulled it out, and over a few beers at a mate’s workshop we made the Barra fit.”
While TDs did come from Ford with an inline six, the Barra’s dual-overhead-cam arrangement makes it much longer and taller than its predecessors. Even though it had already copped a nip-and-tuck with a grinder when the Clevo was fitted, the firewall needed more surgery to clear the Barra without modifying the radiator support. There’s not enough room in front of the radiator for a giant ’cooler, so Race Radiators knocked up that nifty water-to-air jobbie sitting on the passenger inner guard. On the street, water is circulated from the tank in the boot to cool the boost, but Corey adds ice at the track.
The engine itself is no longer as it left the Geelong plant, thanks to some masterful spanner-twirling from Glenn Wells. CP pistons and Manley conrods swing on a stock Ford crank, which sounds downright crazy when you consider how hard Corey spins this puppy. “I turn it to almost 9000rpm when I shift!” he says. “I was going to put a billet crank in it but I wanted to see how fast I can go with the standard one. It’s only rpm; it’s all good!”
The slippery stuff is handled by a Dyno-mite sump and billet oil pump gears, with one of Dyno-mite’s mechanical tensioners controlling the timing chain. Bolted to the deck is a standard head modified with oversized valves, Supertech springs and a pair of Stage 5 TBRE cams to move all that air and fuel. Huge quantities of air are squished by a massive Garrett GTX50 turbo, and exhaust gasses are carried away by a four-inch dump pipe feeding a twin 3in system.
Behind the nasty six is a BTE-cased Powerglide from Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions and a converter from TCE. The diff is a custom-built nine-inch from Pro9, with a Strange case and centre, 3.25:1 gears and Dutchman 31-spline billet axles. The diff hangs on adjustable Pro9 arms, with Strange coil-overs and a Pro9 anti-roll bar controlling its movement. Propping up the front end are standard shocks and springs, and lightweight Wilwood brakes take care of stopping duties.
When it comes to carrying home the weekly shop, the boot of the Cortina’s not going to be much use! The big tank on the left holds the water for the intercooler, and there’s the fuel cell, battery, catch can and nitrous in there too. “I only used the bottle to get the old BorgWarner S475 to build boost on the transbrake,” Corey says. “The nitrous is ECU-controlled – it’s activated with 90 per cent throttle and the transbrake applied, and shuts off at 14psi of boost.”
Inside the cabin, Corey’s left most of it the way it was when he purchased the car, though it’s far more race-oriented these days. All Race Fabrications mounted the aluminium racing seat, built the six-point ’cage and the parachute mount. “I had the seat trimmed to match the rest of the interior and replaced the carpet,” says Corey. “The two front arms aren’t painted because I didn’t want to paint the windscreen – I’m not a very good painter!” Speaking of paint, the exterior is pretty much as Corey bought it, though the engine bay did receive a new coat of sparkling blue from Mick at Motorstyle.
Since the Cortina has been well into the eights, Corey’s got his sights set on running a seven. “The old combo ran 8.49@167mph on 27psi,” he says, “but with the GTX and refreshed engine we’re aiming for 35-40psi.” Whether it remains streetable is another question, as the temptation to remove weight and add rubber is always there. “It’d be nice to keep it a street car, but I always want to go faster,” Corey says.
A FRESH CHALLENGE
THOUGH Corey really enjoyed campaigning the Cortina in Drag Challenge last year, he won’t be racing it this time around. “It was perfect to drive on DC,” he says. “The intake air temperature was 17°C while driving from Swan Hill to Mildura, and it only used 270L of E85 over 1600 kays!
“It was a lot of fun, but this year Brett Lowing and I will be in our Sigma. It’s a low-budget toy we built for a bit of fun, with a single-turbo LS2 – it should make 460-480kW and we’re hoping it’ll run high eights. It won’t weigh much, and we’ve used a lot of parts that got upgraded in the Cortina, like the turbo, wheels and axles. It’s not the prettiest car, but it should be pretty fun!”
1975 TD CORTINA
Brand: 4.0L Ford Barra
ECU: Haltech Elite 2500
Valves: Supertech 1mm-oversize
Valve springs: Supertech
Exhaust manifold: Modified 6boost
Wastegate: Turbosmart 60mm
Turbo: Garrett GTX50
Injectors: Siemens 2400
BOV: Twin Turbosmart Race Port
Cams: TBRE Stage 5
Oil pump: Atomic billet gears and backing plate
Fuel pump: 3x Walbro 460 in Aftermarket Industries hanger
Exhaust: 4in dump pipes, twin 3in system
Converter: TCE Custom
Diff: 9in, 31-spline axles, 3.25:1 gears
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Standard springs and shocks
Rear: Strange coil-overs
Anti-roll bar: Pro9 custom
Steering: Standard Ford
Brakes: Wilwood (f), Ford drums (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 17×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 26/6/17 (f), 255/60/15 (r)
Glenn Wells Engines; Paul Rogers Performance Transmissions; Mark Schwarze for building the diff; John Lang from Pro9; Dean Gianginis from Dean G Fabrications; Stix and all the boys from QuickBitz; All Race Fabrications; Mick and Alan for the use of their sheds for the photoshoot; Josh, Sean, Brett and all my good mates who help out