DRIFTING? Isn’t that the favoured pastime of youths who own smashed Silvias with mismatched wheels and anime stickers covering the windows? Well, the world has changed since Initial D, and drifting is now a major sport that attracts big crowds around the world. Sometimes, you’ll even find the odd Aussie rig in a sea of late-model Japanese cars and Mustangs. However, precious few western drift cars have as much history and are as well engineered as Danny Probert’s 1979 XD Falcon, XDrift.
First published in the March 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Ben Hosking & Thomas Pappin Photography
Back in 2004, Danny spotted a small article in the NT News about a local drift have-a-go day. “I come from a speedway background, so the idea of sliding on bitumen sounded pretty intense to me!” he says. “I researched drifting as much as I could, and nobody said you couldn’t drift a Falcon.”
Danny had just finished rebuilding the 351 Clevo in his single rail-equipped XD, so he entered the event and promptly punted the Falcon into the Armco. Many would have given drifting the one-finger salute at that point, but Danny had been bitten by the bug. “I think what kept me going was the crowd reaction when I got it back on the track; everyone was yelling and screaming,” he says. “I thought: ‘I kinda like this; it’s probably as entertaining for everyone watching as it is for me driving’.”
Fast-forward many years and Danny is still entertaining spectators by chucking an XD sideways, although this is a different car to the one he started with. This is his second XD, which in a previous life was likely a police chaser. “In hindsight, I’ve probably destroyed a pretty rare Falcon, but when I bought it, it was a paddock-basher,” he says.
Long gone are the lowering blocks under the bum and the front springs adjusted by Makita; the XD got a total makeover in the name of going sideways while going fast. A 410ci Cleveland was initially put to use, but it wasn’t exactly ideal and it did Danny a favour when it died. “When we got this XD running in 2009 it had a Clevo, TKO600 and nine-inch,” he says. “The Clevo made all the right noises, but it was extremely heavy and had some bad manners. We won a couple of rounds with it and placed a few times, but then it dropped a valve.” Enter the Barra.
The broken Clevo was replaced with a fresh FG F6 long motor straight from Ford. The engine copped a few choice upgrades, like an Atomic stud girdle and heavy-duty timing chain and guides, but the spinning bits are dead stock. A Garrett GTW3884R snail is fed exhaust gases by a fabricated manifold, and a 60mm Turbosmart ProGate controls the flow. The intake manifold is bog-stock FG turbo, though a cable-actuated 75mm Wilson throttlebody controls the airflow. Jungle juice is sprayed into the engine by 2200cc Bosch injectors, zaps are provided by LQ9 coils, and the lot is controlled by a Haltech Elite 2500.
Backing up the 680rwhp Barra is a bloody tough driveline, starting with a Mantic dual-plate clutch contained in a steel Quick Time bellhousing. Danny swaps cogs with a G-Force GSR four-speed dogbox, and a Driveshaft Shop 3.5-inch carbonfibre tailshaft twists an M86 diff from a BA. Oh yeah, the leaf springs and lowering blocks have been replaced with independent rear suspension that Danny and his XDrift team fabricated based on an AU set-up. “The AU IRS has really good geometry, but it weighs about 380kg,” he says.
A similar fate befell the original front suspension, as everything below the top arms got chopped out and replaced with tube and box section. This time though, the guys added a bunch of gear designed for a Nissan Silvia from European racing suspension boffins Wisefab. “The problem with X-series Falcon front suspension is that the steering gear is way behind the axle centreline, but to achieve the big lock required for drifting you need it to be very close to the centreline,” explains Danny. Even with a big dose of Silvia DNA injected into it, the XD’s a lot larger and heavier than most of the competition on track, and hurling it sideways between concrete barriers is still an intimidating prospect.
Danny competes in the pro category of Hi-Tec Drift All-Stars, where the XD stands out like dog’s bollocks. He loves travelling around Australia, with the Barra on the limiter and a blaze of tyre smoke. “It’s an epic thing to do,” he says. “It’s so important to share the adventure with other people. That’s why we take such a big team with us to events.”
1979 FORD XD FALCON
Paint: Protec MY45 Blue
Block: Ford Barra inline six
Intake: Stock FG manifold, Wilson 75mm throttlebody
Head: Stock FG
Camshafts: Atomic Stage 4
Valve springs: Crow
Pistons: Stock FG
Conrods: Stock FG
Crank: Stock FG
Sump: Atomic dry sump, Peterson pump
Exhaust: Helps Metalworks manifold, Turbosmart 60mm ProGate, 4in exhaust
Turbo: Garrett GTW3884
Fuel system: Two Walbro 460 in-tank pumps, Bosch 2200cc injectors, E85
Ignition: LQ9 coils
Cooling: eBay radiator, EL thermo fans, PWR intercooler, PWR oil cooler, PWR power steering cooler
Gearbox: G-Force GSR dogbox
Bellhousing: Quick Time RM5000 custom
Clutch: Mantic 9000 dual-plate, Tilton concentric slave
Tailshaft: Driveshaft Shop 3.5in 1350-series carbonfibre
Diff: M86, Independent Motorsports diff hat, 3.75:1 gears, full spool
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Wisefab S14 arms and knuckles, S14 rack, MCA coil-overs, MCA Red Series shocks
Rear: MCA coil-overs, MCA Red Series shocks, XDrift Industries custom IRS
Brakes: Brembo 365mm discs with four-piston calipers (f), AU T3 330mm discs with VTTR six-piston calipers (r)
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Rota P45R 18x10 ET12 (f & r)
Rubber: Valino Pergea 265/35R18 semi-slick (f & r)
My family Larissa Jones, Terry Probert, Ashton Probert, Crystal Probert and Annie Pitcher; our amazing team Joshua Bone, Kaya Rubin, Leo Jian, Ryan Hoare, William Chin, Zenek Randomski, Matthew Cavanagh, Brad Stott, Sam McGrade, Allan Barlee, Bevan Pierce and Andrew Pearce; our sponsors: Andrew Pearce at Australia Container Unloading Group, Tim Hayward at Tim’s Surf & Turf, Michael & Malcolm at Valino Tyres Australia, Ian Anderson at Valino Tyres International, Malcolm Holmes at Ryco Filters, Shane Parker at Fuchs Lubricants Australasia, Matty Cav at McMedia, Zenek Radomski at iSpark Electrical & Fire, Brent at Luxe Performance and Benny Maxwell at Axesent Creations; our technical partners: Glen Kelly at Extreme Street Performance, Ian Porter at Porter Performance & Steering, Scotty at XDFWreck, Pete at Spoilertek, Leon at 247 Hose & Fittings and Mick Anthony at Forced Ford Forums; special shout-out to the Cavanagh family – Matty, Jaqueline, Lizzy and Heydog – for looking after our crazy rocket ship for the past two years
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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