WHILE it seems impossible to buy a chrome-bumpered car for under a grand today, Harry and Corty Haig are aiming to run eight-second passes in one for under $10,000 – enter the Birdawg! The father/son team plucked the XM Falcon sedan from a paddock for just $600, and you don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to work out they weren’t buying a concourse-clean example for that modest sum – although they did sell the front seat it came with for $650!
“The price of terrible chrome-bumper cars is just crazy,” sighs Harry, the reigning Street Machine Drag Challenge champion. “The Falcon was so rusty, it was basically missing the bottom half of the car. But I can’t believe how expensive cars are right now.
“We’re trying to go 8s for $8k but we’re at the high end of $8k right now. I got all inspired to do this after I went to the Horsepower Wars $10k challenge in the USA. We had the Haulass Garage YouTube channel, so we decided to build the Birdawg to put something on there.”
Cleaving all the rotten tin out meant they (and lead fabricator Billy Bob Budget) had to make new sills, chassis rails, floors, firewall, wheel tubs and boot floor. Box steel was used to build a far stronger chassis than what Henry gave us Aussies, while a $50 Toyota KE70 Corolla dug out of a field supplied its complete rack-and-pinion strut front end, steering column, pedals and brakes, which was important to get the 60s-era Falcon steering like a more modern car.
The engine is an iron 5.3-litre LS from the USA, which the lads rebuilt for a grand total of $2500. They added the stout 6.0-litre rods and converted the factory slugs to floating pins, then added lifters, pushrods and a cam from Crow, plugged in ID2000 injectors, and wired up a Holley Terminator X that Harry brought back from the USA. Bearings and whatnot were reused, because budget.
The turbo is a Mitsubishi item off a boat and, like everything connected to Harry, has a story behind it. “It’s roughly the same size as a [Garrett] 4788,” says Harry. “The back wheel looks like a dinner plate, but it was free and the boys dared me to use it!”
A Gumtree Powerglide lives behind the LS, while the nine-inch diff and rear end was pieced together using components sourced across the internet. To make their deadline of April’s Holden Nats event at Heathcote, one of the key jobs to do was having their mate Nate TIG-weld the ’cage from the old Carnage Toxic Avenger Territory into the back of the Falcon.
On its second pass, the Birdawg ran 12.30@135mph after a half-track performance so lazy it may as well have been in a coma. “It picked up 35mph in the back half of the track, it just took off,” laughs Harry. “We’ll put 25psi in it for a while and we’ll see what it does, and then we’ll put more into it ’til it dies.”
“The converter is too tight and the turbo is too big, but we have to make it work with what we’ve got; it’s stuff people would throw away that we’ve repurposed,” says Shepparton’s mad scientist. “We’ll probably put a dry 100-shot of gas in it to get it spooling… actually, I’ve got a random jet here so it might be 100 or it might be 400.”
The boys returned to Heathcote Park a couple of days later and spat out a 9.1-second pass at 150mph! Great success!
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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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