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ANTHONY BURNS'S BARRA-POWERED FORD XE UTE SLEEPER

By Tas McMillan | Photos: Chris Thorogood, 19 Mar 2018 TV

A budget-built Barra-powered XE Falcon ute - now running mid-tens down the quarter mile

Ford xe ute 1896

FEW things in life are better than blowing someone’s doors off with a car that looks like granny’s grocery getter. Anthony Burns knows a bit about sleepers – his 6.0-litre LS-powered XD wagon ran 11.4 at Street Machine Drag Challenge in 2016. The wagon is only a set of heads or a few psi away from running 10s, but having to ’cage the car would ruin its family-friendly aspect.

This article on Anthony's Falcon ute was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Street Machine

Ford Falcon XE ute sleeperAnthony decided to build something new for the 2017 event, and he found the ideal candidate in this ’84 XE ute. It didn’t have any real rust issues and, shopping trolley dings aside, was reasonably straight. The engine choice for the new project was a simple one.

“I’m well aware of how fast Barras can be, and how reliable and smooth they are,” Anthony says. “I like having a Ford-powered Ford!”

Ford Falcon XE ute canopyThis particular Barra came courtesy of an aspirated Territory. Anthony has added ARP head studs, some billet oil pump gears and a second-hand set of Plazmaman valve springs. The intake and exhaust manifolds are standard BA turbo, but the stock BA snail soon evolved into a Gen 2 GTX35/82R. All of the plumbing bar the power steering high-pressure line was fabricated in Anthony’s shed. On E85, the poor old N/A motor spat out 380rwkW.

Ford Falcon XE ute engine bayAnthony was determined to use as many standard Ford parts as possible. The base of a BA radiator support was welded in so that the standard radiator and fans could be used. The engine mounts are a combination of XE and early E-series. The fuel tank return line is from a BA ute. The steering box, fuel tank and 3.45:1 LSD diff were donated by an XG XR6. However, as far as using factory parts and keeping the car sleepy goes, the pièce de résistance is the trans and shifter.

Ford Falcon XE ute engine bay“I worked so hard to make sure nothing stood out,” says Anthony. “As a car guy, if you walk up to a car with an RACV badge and a bloody sun visor but it’s got a reverse-cowl and Welds on it you go: ‘I think something fishy is going on there.’”

Ford Falcon XE ute interiorAnthony wanted overdrive for travelling long distances between tracks, but a big shiny shifter on the tunnel would’ve ruined the car’s snoozy demeanour, so he slapped together a brilliant mish-mash of Ford parts. The internals from a BA turbo BTR were stuffed into an AU column-shift case, and a linkage was cobbled together from AU and XG parts. The column itself is from an XG but is dressed in XE plastics. “We only had to drill two holes to make it all work,” he says.

Ford Falcon XE ute dashApart from the running gear, the ute is very stock – even the suspension is standard except for adjustable rear shocks. 

UPDATE:

Since successfully completing Drag Challenge 2017, the ute has posted a PB of 10.6-seconds at Heathcote Park Raceway. "Everything is still in DC-spec," says Anthony. "The only change has been a Bluetooth OBD2 reader from eBay, which hooks up to an app on my phone. That is now my boost gauge so I know how much to build on the line. I racked my brains for ages to figure out how to fit a boost gauge without wrecking the look of the interior." 

Ford Falcon XE uteANTHONY BURNS
XE FALCON UTE

ENGINE
Brand: Ford Barra
Induction: Factory manifolds, eBay intercooler
ECU: HP Tuners and nGauge
Turbo: Garrett Gen 2 GTX35/82R
Head: ARP Head studs, Plazmaman valve springs
Oil pump: Billet gears
Fuel system: 20L fuel cell; 2 Bosch 044 pumps for E85, XG tank and Walbro pump for 98
Exhaust: 3.5in stainless system, two mufflers transmission
Gearbox: AU BTR, BA turbo internals
Converter: 3000rpm
Diff: XG 3.45:1 LSD

SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Springs: Pedders (f), stock with two leaves removed (r)
Shocks: Pedders (f), adjustable shocks (r)
Brakes: Stock XE with slotted rotors (f), stock XG with slotted rotors (r)

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Jeep Sunraysia; 15x6 (f), 15x8 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson ET Street 255/60 (r)