SOME people know exactly what they’re going to end up with when they start a project car, but Phil Edmondson didn’t begin building his righteous XB coupe with the intention of running an eight-second pass in it.
“I grew up in a small country town in New Zealand, and one day I saw an XA coupe cruising through. I’d never seen one before and it sort of stuck in my mind,” Phil says. “While I was looking for parts for my brother in 2004, a friend of a friend said he knew of an XB coupe for sale. It was a clean, rust-free shell that had been built as a budget drag car with a half-’cage and a big-block. The trans exploded and tore the floor apart – that freaked him out, so he stripped it.”
Needless to say, Phil snapped it up, and so began this Falcon hardtop’s long journey to the eight-second zone.
The paint the car now wears was slathered on by Auto Transformers of Adelaide in 2015, but the engine bay is a different story – it’s been painted four times since Phil’s owned it! “I even painted it silver at one stage because the car was going to be Silver Fox with orange stripes, but I ended up going back to white,” he says. Speaking of, you’d need to strap on some oxy goggles to view that duco in direct sunlight. What’s the colour code, Phil? “I found every factory white had a slight blue or green tinge to them, so I went with straight white tinter. If I park it next to a factory white car you can really see the difference; it’s just so bright.”
There’s a bit of a story behind the engine, too. “The first motor was a basic 383 Clevo that I built with an eBay stroker kit and iron 4Vs that I picked up cheap, with a C4 and nine-inch. That combo ran 11.7@115mph at the Ford Forums drags, and it was a fun street car.” Elevens out of an all-steel, street-oriented aspirated Clevo-powered Falcon isn’t too shabby, especially 10 years ago, but Phil had had a taste of the fast street-car lifestyle and wanted more. Obviously, the easy answer to the question of how to go quicker was to apply some unnatural aspiration!
“I really wanted a ProCharger, but at the time they were prohibitively expensive for me and they didn’t do kits for Clevelands,” Phil explains. “Charley, another Ford Forums member, had mentioned you could do a lowbudget turbo set-up with stock manifolds flipped back-to-front and a cheap turbo. I thought: ‘That sounds good; I’ll have a go at that.’ So that’s what I ended up doing: flipped cast-iron manifolds, a few pipes and a 75mm S475 BorgWarner turbo. I hurt the engine a couple of times with pistons melting and that sort of thing, but we got reasonable amounts of power out of it.” ‘Reasonable power’ for Phil means enough to push the coupe to a 9.9-second quarter!
The XB has had a couple of different iterations of this same basic engine package for a number of years now. The block is an SVO 9.2in-deck item that Phil picked up secondhand from a fellow Ford Forums member, after he damaged the original 383 for the third time. Phil decided that the top end could benefit from an upgrade as well, so a set of CHI’s 225cc heads and matching manifold replaced a wad of his hard-earned. Before Rino Conte of RC Performance Engines bolted the motor together, he waved his magic wand over the heads and manifold to extract a few more ponies. Underneath those wonderful chunks of aluminium hides a forged Scat crank, Oliver rods and custom 8.2:1 CP pistons. There’s a ton of cool stuff bolted on top of the motor too: Injector Dynamics 2000cc injectors, a 90mm throttlebody and ICE 20-amp LS-style coils, all controlled by a FuelTech FT600 ECU. Then there’s the real party piece taking pride of place in the front of the engine bay: a dirty great BorgWarner S480. On 25psi, the combo twisted the RC Performance engine dyno to a track-torturing 1423hp and 1301ft-lb!
IHERE’S a trend we’re seeing more often on today’s E85-swilling hi-po street fighters: a mechanical fuel pump!
“I used to run the biggest electric pump Magnafuel makes, and in the videos from Summernats it’s all you can hear,” Phil laughs.
In the interests of streetability, Phil turfed that in favour of a Magnafuel Pro Outlaw 1000, a pump capable of supplying 3000hp worth of NA engine with race juice. “It used to be belt-driven off the crank, but the fuel was getting cooked by the exhaust, so I moved it to the back of the car – it’s better at pushing than pulling anyway. Now it’s run off a Waterman cable drive, the same set-up they use in NASCAR. It’s been flawless, not a single issue, and it’s absolutely silent.”
I Phil’s a fan of the FuelTech FT600 ECU. “It’s an amazing piece of gear. I can change maps in the car with gloves on and fiddle with tunes without a laptop. At DC, every run I sent the logs to Nathaniel and Frank at Dandy Engines and they tell me what adjustments to make”
AdMoFab is responsible for almost all of the fab work in the car, including the rollcage, fuel cell mods, turbo headers, water tank for the intercooler, throttlebody elbow, shifter mount, intake plumbing and anything else made from aluminium. “If I have an idea for a part I’ll mock it up and have a proper one made later,” Phil says
Backing the mental Clevor is a Neal Chance converter and Reid-cased Coan Powerglide. A 3.5in chrome-moly tailshaft carries the prodigious twist back to a Competition Engineering 9in housing 3.5:1 gears, 35-spline axles and a Detroit Locker. The rear end swings off a McDonald Bros triangulated four-link, controlled by Viking coil-overs and a Competition Engineering anti-roll bar. Phil says it's yet to be set up correctly, so there should be more in it after it gets a bit of attention
“It’s too quiet!” Phil laments of the current exhaust system. The twin 3in arrangement is suffocating the 1400hp Clevor somewhat, so a new twin 3.5in stainless system is due to be built before Drag Challenge this year
Phil entered the XB in the past two Street Machine Drag Challenges and is already psyching himself up for this year’s event, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing.
“On my first pass in the 2016 DC some crap went through the injectors and plagued us with problems all week,” he says. “So on the Thursday night we cleaned the whole fuel system out and a bloke in Bendigo cleaned the injectors properly for us, then we managed two good passes on the Friday.” Unfortunately, one of those injectors turned out to be dodgy and later resulted in a torched piston, prompting the most recent engine rebuild. 2017 was a different story: the car performed flawlessly all week (apart from a small wiring gremlin that was fixed on Day Five) and Phil’s PB for the event was 9.018@158mph!
Phil’s passion for Drag Challenge is obvious. “It’s all about racing with your mates and driving an obnoxious, tough, old-school car through the countryside,” he says. “We were right up there in Radial Blown for the first couple of days and we PBed every pass, but we ended up just outside the top 10. I’ve already booked leave for this year’s one!” He’ll have a new time to beat too – the big coupe recently smashed out an 8.46@165mph at AIR just as we went to print! There are also some changes to be made before DC: a new twin 3.5in exhaust, new converter with less slip and a new billetwheel 88mm BorgWarner from Jose at Forced Inductions in the USA.
There are many ballistic cars packing Windsor- or Cleveland-based engines, but the past decade has seen the rise of the Barra as the go-to mill for fast Aussie street Fords. “I’ve stuck with the small-block because it’s been a progression from the first 383 Clevo I built for the car,” Phil explains. “If I hurt this engine badly again I’ll look at going to a Barra or a turbo Coyote, and I’ve already got the engine management to handle them.” What about that engine from that other brand that lots of people like to turbo? Phil is emphatic: “I should hang up on you for saying that shit!” s
Paint: Straight white tinter
Brand: 383ci, SVO Ford Motorsport block
Induction: CHI intake manifold, 90mm throttlebody
ECU: FuelTech FT600
Turbo: BorgWarner S480
Heads: CHI 3V 225
Camshaft: Comp solid-roller
Pistons: CP custom
Crank: Scat forged
Fuel system: ID2000 injectors
Exhaust: 4in dump pipe, twin 3in exhaust
Ignition: ICE 20A LS-style
Gearbox: Coan Powerglide
Converter: Neal Chance 3500rpm
Diff: Strange 9in, Competition Engineering housing, 3.5:1 gears, 35-spline axles, Detroit Locker
Front: King Low springs, Competition Engineering shocks
Rear: McDonald Bros triangulated four-link, Competition Engineering anti-roll bar, Viking coil-overs
Brakes: Hoppers Stoppers (f), Wilwood (r)
Rims: Weld ProStar; 15x6 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Continental 205/60/15 (f), MT 275/60/15 (r)
My wife Lori; Greg Milne; Daniel Shaw; Barry Van Laatum; Stuart and everyone else at Outlaw Speed Shop; Andy and Gav at Adelaide Motorsport Fabrication; Rino Conte at RC Performance for all the engine work; Frank and Nathaniel at Dandy Engines for all their help with tuning the FT600