WE’VE seen some crazy sleepers over the years, but one of the best would have to be the Barrapowered VE Valiant sedan of Mick O’Halloran from the ACT.
“I was checking out Gumtree and a guy was selling it with a blown head gasket,” Mick recalls.
“The car had a new paintjob and because it didn’t run and possibly needed an engine, he couldn’t shift it. Well, one trip to Newcastle and six grand later, it was sitting in my garage.
“I started looking for a motor and I came across a guy selling a crashed BA XR6 just around the corner from my house for just $1300. The car had hit an Armco and he couldn’t start it, despite there really not being much damage to the car.
“The seller had spent a ton of money on it with injector upgrades and a turbo off an FG Falcon, as well as a bunch of other mods, mostly body. He nearly died when my sparky mate got it running in about 30 seconds!”
Mick and his mates stripped the car down and found a company on Facebook that specialised in Barra conversions. For just $200 the loom was stripped and the body control module removed, so there were only about four wires to hook up to get the motor running. With the BA motor being front-sump, Mick bought an FG motor for $250 for its rear sump set-up, which was a better fit for the Valiant.
“My mate Scotty got the motor in with no problems, without a single modification to the transmission tunnel, K-member or engine bay,” Mick says. “Using the factory Ford mounts we made adapters to go to the Valiant K-member and had to make a new gearbox crossmember. Initially we wanted to run with the six-speed auto from an FG, but there wasn’t enough room in the tunnel, so we ran a BA four-speed. In fact, the only thing we had to modify was the inside reinforcement at the front underside of the bonnet where it touched on the rocker cover.
“We had a few issues when we tried to get it running,” he continues. “The car was just in limp mode due to the loom being set up for a manual transmission, so we added a speed sensor and we were away. Being a six-banger, there was a ton of room around the starter motor near the steering box, and the only part that is a little close to the body is the turbocharger.”
Knowing that the car was destined to make reasonable power, Mick had M&A Engineering in Canberra build a new drum-to-drum nineinch differential with Truetrac and 4.11:1 gears, matched to a custom-built tailshaft.
Fuel supply is courtesy of a pair of Bosch 044 pumps plugged into the factory tank, and the boys even fitted the factory intercooler up front, but went for an aftermarket B&M shifter on the stock auto.
“We sent the ECU back to Barra Conversion and initially set the car up on 16psi of boost after having a flash tune done,” Mick says. “I’ve since decided to wind that back to 10psi, as the car gets out of
shape pretty easily on the butter-cutter tyres on the rear. It’s a lot of fun and pretty scary on boost! I’m going to get some widened factory-style rims so I can squeeze a bigger tyre under the rear.
“The Mopar guys just love ragging on it; they hate it. I’ve spent so much on 265ci Hemis to make 200hp, so I say: ‘Go ahead and hate it, I’ll see you at the track, or cruising past you broken down on the side of the road!’
“A while back I did a 1UZ Toyota V8 in an AP6 and had guys telling me I had destroyed the car. Let me tell you, that car is mint; it is so good to drive.
“As for the VE, I’m not looking for big power, just something family friendly; I fitted five seatbelts to the car last week, so the whole family can cruise in it. The only downside is that I don’t have a lot of room for my thermo fans at the moment, so it’s an area I need to address shortly as the Canberra weather has been scorching lately. Apart from that, it’s all fun times.” asily
$6000 Initial purchase $3000 Fabrication to fit engine, transmission, all wiring, fuel system and a million other little jobs $500 Computer flash tune and harness preparation $250 FG engine for oil pan $2000 Exhaust (single 3in with catalytic converters) and intercooler pipes $900 Custom tailshaft $1300 BA donor car $250 B&M shifter $300 Fuel pumps $120 Surge tank $2000 9in diff with Truetrac, 4.11:1 gears $200 Radiator $160 Fans $140 New engine mounts off eBay
NOONAN Race Engines in Queensland has just released two versions of its billet LS block; one for water and the other a solid block. The water block takes a Darton sleeve up to 4.20in-bore and comes in standard or tall-deck with a raised cam tunnel that can swing a 4.25in-stroke crank. The blocks run a steel cap and up to a 60mm camshaft. Noonan has 350kg billets machined in the USA, and then the finished blocks are shipped Down Under. Rumour has it there are already two on order for cars looking to run in Street Machine Drag Challenge this year. With a maximum capacity of 471ci, the cost is $9950 for the wet block and $8950 for the solid.
WITH the supply of Mopar Mega Blocks all but dried up from the late 1990s production run, building a big-cube 440 or Hemi has become a challenge. But the guys at Muscle Motors have now done their own run of blocks, and their RB series includes head-bolt patterns for both Hemi and Wedge heads.
One of the main bonuses of going with their new core – simply called The Block – is the redesign of the priority main oiling system. This supplies oil to the big end and main bearing first, instead of to the lifter bores.
These blocks go for around US$3900 before you start speccing it up. For more information check out Muscle Motors in the US of A.
WE SPOTTED Victorian Lou Yalcin running high eights at Calder with his turbo-six EA Falcon.
Lou drives the car to the track, and recently ran 8.81@156mph with 41psi at 8300rpm!
“I’m hoping to get into the 8.50s in the next few meetings,” Lou says. “I can run up to 50psi of boost with the GT45 turbo, and have managed to run a 1.31sec 60ft on the 275X radials.”
Backing up the powerhouse is a twospeed Powerglide by Preston Automatics and a custom-built nine-inch rear end by LNS Motorsport with 3.5:1 gears.
QUEENSLANDERS Brian and Dianne Jensen are set for another crack at Hot Rod Drag Week in 2017. The couple finished third in their class in 2015 in their 560ci big-block LX hatchback, but suffered an engine failure on Day Two at last year’s event. They have a new crank and rods and a couple of pistons on the way, and it will be great to see them back in the USA waving the flag.
“The car had run into the mid-nines here at Willowbank, but we’ve been a little off the pace over there so I’d like to see us get that sorted,” Brian says. “Not finishing last year leaves me feeling like I have unfinished business, so we want to have another crack at it.”