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Seven-second Drag Challenge Weekend-winning XW Falcon

By Iain Kelly | Photos: Nathan Duff, 14 Aug 2018 Features

Seven-second Drag Challenge Weekend-winning XW Falcon

Mark Van Der Togt’s XW Futura won our first Drag Challenge Weekend, running eights while still being a mint streeter

A 48-YEAR-OLD, 1700kg Aussie four-door that can run eights at over 170mph while remaining nice to drive on the street for hundreds of kays – it sounds like a fantasy, right? But Mark Van Der Togt’s 1970 Futura is exactly that machine, as he proved by winning the first Street Machine Drag Challenge Weekend.

He has owned the car 20 years, and took it off the road from 2005 to 2009 to rebuild it into a twin-turbo street-and-strip monster.

If you’ve seen Mark’s XW on Brissy roads you’ll have seen it wearing the awesome vintage 15x7in and 15x9in Simmons V5 three-piece wheels. When it comes time to race, he swaps to Convo 15x4in and 15x8.5in rims

“It’s had a few rebuilds as we’ve developed the package,” Mark explains. “Back when we started there wasn’t anybody building turbo Ford stuff in Australia, and we’ve had heaps of teething problems that we’ve sorted through.”

What is really cool is that the XW is powered by a small-block Ford.

“It’s basically a stock Dart Sportsman Windsor block, and used to be 408ci, but the longer stroke was destabilising the bottom oil ring and pulling it out of the block a bit,” Mark says. “When we first built it, the engine had $700 Scat rods and a $2000 Scat crank, and that got me down the track to an 8.40 at 22psi. Then I put the new pistons and rods in to push it harder, but left the crank, and broke that two years later. If we’d kept it at 20psi and 8.50s or 8.60s, it would’ve been fine.”

Currently, the heavyweight 3785lb (1720kg) four-door brute’s DCW PB was 8.00@172mph, which is hugely impressive but it has since gone 7.96@168mph

The silver bar behind the grille is a CO2 sprayer to force-chill the charge-air running through the air-to-air intercooler in front of the X-Dub’s radiator. The gas can be fired off a button or can also be hooked up to a micro-switch on the accelerator pedal and automatically sprayed under full throttle

“We’ve never had it on the dyno to see what it makes now,” Mark says. “The car is so heavy and un-aerodynamic it has to make a phenomenal amount of power. It slide-rules at something like 1600hp because of those factors. I’ve been told to add 100hp to my slide-rule calculations, as the brick-like aero probably holds it back that much!”

Rebuilt by Tony O’Connor from TOCA Performance, the twin-turbo small-block Ford is as serious as Bob Hawke’s love of a cold frothy. Now swinging 393ci, the mill is based around the same Dart Sportsman block, but is now stuffed with Carrillo I-beamrods, a billet Bryant Racing crank and custom JE pistons.

Compression is 10:1, which helps keep the combo snappy through a strict diet of E85; fed via twin MagnaFuel 750 pumps, twin –8 AN lines and eight 2400cc Siemens injectors, from a boot-mounted 70-litre tank that Mark made himself.

Spark is provided by eight M&W CDI coil-packs mounted on the alloy rocker covers. “Matty Spry from Performance Injection Tuning Services convinced me to go CDI coil-packs instead of having a distributor,” Mark says

To make sure the spinning parts hang together, Mark modified a standard oil pump and added extra baffles to an oversize aluminium sump.

“When we put the Link ECU in I saw the oil pressure dropping way too low on launches, so I gutted the sump and made my own baffles, copying them off Pat O’Shea’s XR,” says Mark. “He does heaps of wheelstands, so I figure his baffling works!”

The cam and lifters are a custom hydraulic-roller set-up from Bennett Racing Engines in the USA, rocking 0.594 lift and 245 duration at 0.050in. “I used to run solid-rollers when I had aspirated stuff, but they fail around the 10,000-15,000km mark,” Mark says. “So we went back to a hydraulic-roller and added turbos to make the combo live longer on the street.”

Because the goal for the car was to run in the single digits at the track as well as regularly drive on the street, Mark wanted to ensure the safety was top-notch. To this end, Velo fixed-back seats have been solid-mounted in front, with Extreme Custom Engineering designing a ’cage that would still let Mark carry passengers in the back seat

A twin-turbo motor punching four-digit power figures needs lungs, and Mark’s Trick Flow alloy heads have copped Ferodo 2.1-inch intake valves and 1.6-inch exhaust valves, with beehive springs, Trend pushrods and Jesel shaft-mounted rockers. “The Jesel rockers were all that suited the Trick Flow heads I’d bought out of America many years ago,” he explains. “They are made for very high boost, so they have stock intake ports but high exhaust ports, and very thick decks.”

Air flows into the Edelbrock Victor Jr inlet manifold via a 94mm electric throttlebody mounted on an elbow Mark whipped up at his metal fabrication business. “I port-matched the Victor Jr to the elbow, which I made low to fit under the bonnet. I put the scoop on because the heat under there used to cook and melt everything. The scoop fixed that,” he says.

Managing the whole shebang is a Link G4+ Thunder ECU. The Kiwi-designed and made ECU has the kind of heavyweight sensor outputs and datalogging Mark needs to be able monitor to keep his eight-second street car alive.

The snails are twin Garrett GTX35 items, with boost controlled via twin Turbosmart external wastegates, and firewall-mounted boost solenoids operated by the ECU. “The turbos are really too small for the combo, but we never envisaged going so far with the car,” Mark says. “We only had it on 26psi during Drag Challenge Weekend, but it’ll handle another 4psi. The problem is the car isn’t capable of handling it, so that’s where we have pulled it up so far.”

Behind the 2500rpm Converter Shop torque converter is a transbraked, Reid-case Powerglide, as Mark tore the clutches out of his freshly built C4 at its first meeting. It’s backed by a Ray Bernard-built nine-inch packed with 35-spline axles, but no exotic parts like floating hubs or a sheet-metal housing.

Despite being able to hit more than 170mph in the standing 400m, Mark didn’t go crazy upgrading the Falcon’s suspension. Up front he’s gone for a rack-and-pinion steering set-up from RRS, and the shocks are how Ford intended, while at the rear there’s a mono-leaf CalTracs set-up.

To fit under the 15-inch rollers, the brakes are now VY SS Commodore discs up front, with Wilwood discs out back, retaining the standard Ford stud pattern.

“I haven’t touched the suspension on my car,” Mark says. “I bought a CalTracs system and leaf springs for the rear and I put Monroe GT-Gas shocks in it; that’s all we’ve done.”

While it is a simple package, it has worked beyond Mark’s expectations. “When we built this car we never expected it to go so far,” he says. “Back in 2009 and 2010 there weren’t many turbo cars around, and for some reason this combo works extraordinarily well. But if it does a seven, then that’ll be the end of it. We’ll pull the pin; it’s not worth pushing further as it hurts how street-friendly the car is.”

And having seen it cruise effortlessly between tracks on Drag Challenge Weekend, while towing a heavy trailer, it’d be a damn shame to make Mark’s XW worse to drive on the roads.