X Why?

29. September 2014 14:47 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Meet James Mackie. James loves old Ford’s. James also loves drifting. Finally, James loves the Holden V8 LS series engines. What do you get if you combine these three things together?  One crazy XY Falcon.

James would describe himself as a Ford man, but loves all cars.  His previous collection included another XY Falcon, an XW Fairmont and an EB Falcon that he modified with a turbo and drifted over the course of a decade.  He has also owned a VT Clubsport R8, so it is not just all about Fords.

“I’d bought a XW Fairmont for a thousand dollars and then sold it on again not long after, but I regretted not putting the EB Falcon running gear into that XW so I kept a look out for another similar car.

James bought the current Falcon XY you see for $3,000 but his original engine swap idea didn’t turn out as appealing as he had first thought.

“I’m into burnouts, Performance Car Mania, drag racing, drifting and circuit racing so I needed the new car to be a real all rounder.”

“I was going to put the engine and gearbox from my EB Falcon turbo in to the XY, but it was going to be complicated, expensive and require some cutting of the radiator support so I wasn’t keen on cutting up the chassis for an engine swap.

James then spent time thinking through the various other engine options for the XY.

“The two common paths are to build a Cleveland 351 or a 351 Windsor engine, but my budget was limited and to get the horsepower I was looking for (400hp+) I was probably looking at up to twenty thousand dollars to build one properly.

A Toyota 2JZ engine is a super strong engine popular in the drift scene and James even considered this, however it was also going to require chassis modifications so it was ruled out.

James remembered reading about a XY Falcon in a Street Machine magazine that was running a supercharged LS1 engine, so figured it could be an option. However going down this path, James knew he would be (according to some) committing a cardinal sin.

“I knew it was one of Australia’s most iconic cars and it was a hard decision to make, but putting that aside, the LS1 seemed to be the smartest, most practical and cheapest swap available to be able to do all the things I had in mind.”

A friend was selling a LS1 engine and gearbox for only $1,100 which was too good to pass up and very soon the build began.  

“I started by pulling the car down to fix some rust issues and also prepare it for a roll cage.”

 

The cage is very comprehensive and not only stiffens the chassis but will keep James safe in any motorsport discipline he chooses.

New engine and gearbox mounts were fabricated at this time in preparation for the engine. James also purchased some XY floor pan panels, sills and rubber seal kits from Rare Spares to assist in the restoration.

The engine was modified with a camshaft, new valve springs and new oil and water pumps. A custom exhaust system was also produced, before a tune was carried out, which resulted in a solid 370hp at the wheels.

“It took 12 months to build and was a full restoration, without the paint job. I love the rat rod look so the car doesn’t actually look like it has been restored” said James.   

“I nearly had three nervous breakdowns over the build and it really hit home what I had done when I got the car running. Many times during the build I thought ‘what the hell am I doing?”

After unveiling the car on social media and at his first few events, James copped a lot of negative comments which he expected, but after explaining the reason he went that way, most people seemed to come around.  

One of the car’s early outings was at the Calder Park drags where it ran a solid 12.2 second pass down the quarter mile.  

The car remained bulletproof for a year but then things started to go wrong in 2014 when James competed in the Victorian Drift Championship. During Round 1 the wheels studs snapped. At Round 2 the clutch let go and in Round 3 he snapped an axle.

Snapping an axle at Calder Park while going sideways at 100km/h was not part of the plan.

The mid-season drifting festival resulted in a spun bearing so the engine was rebuilt properly with head work and pistons for Round 4. Unfortunately at Round 4 the motor self-destructed. James believes it was something oil related but the engine was so badly damaged he is not sure the exact cause.

Although James is now in limbo with the car’s future, he hopes the next step will be a 6 Litre LS2 with a supercharger, which is the dream.  

A lover of all motorsport, James is keen to have a crack at hill climbs, circuit days and motorkhanas moving forward and the car will no doubt attract attention and divided opinions wherever it goes.

James hopes people can look past the engine swap and just appreciate the car for what it is.

“I absolutely love the car now and don’t have any regrets. I can drive it in just about any form of motorsport. There are not many XY Falcons that can do that and do it well.”

“Nothing is over the top, it has a standard steering box, it still has leaf rear springs and is quite mild to drive. Anyone could take an X series Falcon and do what I’ve done without breaking the bank.”

“I want to thank Mick, Mish, Chris and Dale for all their assistance in the build.  I couldn’t have built it without them and of course my girlfriend Tanya for her support.”