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Big Bad Boss

This Ford BA XR8 will knock the wind out of you with its 500-odd horsepower at the wheels

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • High-strength engine rebuild
  • Vortech supercharger
  • Elaborate twin 3 1/2 inch exhaust
  • Around 500hp at the wheels - with excellent drivability
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Wayne Urbaniak’s modified Ford BA XR8 represents the fresh face of V8 performance in Australia. Not so long ago, a 500hp-at-the-wheels V8 meant putting up with a short revving truck engine with driveability, fuel consumption and emissions to make you cringe.

Well forget all that. This BA XR8 packs a mildly rebuilt engine with a bolt-on supercharger kit to achieve bulk horsepower together with all the sophistication you expect in the 21st century.

Wayne purchased his XR8 second-hand with just 2000km on the odometer. And the reason for choosing a Ford V8 over the rival Holden product? Reliability. Wayne had heard enough stories about oil-related problems in LS1s to make a lasting impression.

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Not long after purchase, Wayne treated the Boss 260 engine to an off-the-shelf Centrifugal Air Pumps Australia (CAPA) Vortech Stage 2 supercharger kit. This gave plenty of grunt but, back when not many people knew much about the Boss 260 engine, it wasn't realised that the stock conrods are pretty marginal in strength. Wayne soon had an engine with three stretched and four bent rods...

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At this point, Wayne enlisted Bryant Engineering to rebuild the engine using high-strength titanium conrods, lower compression forged pistons and the standard heads and cams. It’s nothing wild but it enables more juice to be squeezed from the supercharger set-up.

With his freshly rebuilt motor, Wayne fitted a custom supercharger and idler pulley to increase boost pressure. At elevated boost pressure we’re told that the existing intercooler caused up to 6 psi pressure drop at full power so a high-flow replacement unit was fabricated. This slashes restriction to just 2.5 psi.

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The new intercooler is installed with custom high-flow plumbing (which incorporates a Bosch recirculating blow-off valve) and a custom water injection system comprising a brass spray nozzle near the supercharger compressor outlet. The water spray provides extra insurance that the engine doesn’t detonate on variable fuel brews.

Exhaust backpressure is next to zero thanks to an elaborate twin 3 ½ inch system. Wayne says there are 28 mandrel bends used in each side of the system (56 bends in all) and the boot floor had to be raised about 50mm to provide necessary clearance for the huge pipes. The cost for this exhaust? Around AUD$3500.

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At the time of writing, the standard engine management system is retained with a retune courtesy of CAPA’s Flash Edit system. A 3 Bar MAP sensor is also installed. The fuel injectors are huge 1100cc jobs teamed with a CAPA pressure regulator and a custom pump configuration. There are no less than four Bosch Motorsport pumps pushing fuel through upsized 15mm lines.

With much time spent tuning at Bob Romano Performance Motors (BRPM), Wayn’e’s XR8 puts out enough power to give LS1 owners a nasty fright. With 12 psi boost (measured at the intake manifold), the XR has muscled out 493hp (368kW) at the wheels on BRPM’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. This is exactly double the standard output – and the standard XR8 isn’t a slow car to begin with...

The standard Ford driveline is pretty tough and, so far, the original 5-speed ‘box and LSD have performed trouble-free. The only change in this area is a CAPA twin-plate clutch that’s rated up to 1000hp.

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With a kerb weight well over 1800kg and almost 500 horses at the treads, Wayne has seen it necessary to upgrade the Ford Premium brake package. The front and rear discs are replaced by drilled DBA items and the pads are EBC Greenstuff – a great choice for performance street use.

The XR8’s Control Blade suspension is improved using lowered King springs teamed with adjustable Koni dampers. Wayne says the big Ford does a great job getting its power down but switch off the traction control an’ it’s easy to peel strips off the tyres. And they’re not cheap tyres. Wayne has had the guards pumped nearly a quarter of an inch to accommodate huge 275/30 tyres mounted on 19 inch FPV rims. You won’t fit any bigger.

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These FPV rims, lowered stance and the no-nonsense quad exhaust tips are the only external hints to the car’s performance. Oh, and you might also notice the BLOWN 8 number plates...

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Inside, the XR trim remains standard along with the factory option Premium sound system. The only changes Wayne has executed are a Momo short-shift, a flip-down screen in the roof lining and a DVD player concealed beneath the front passenger seat. It’s all well integrated and very useable.

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In all, Wayne says he has invested about AUD$140,000 on his XR8 and now that he’s accomplished everything he set out to, he’s looking at moving onto another ride - maybe a Mercedes E55 AMG or a Chrysler 300C (which Wayne instantly fell in love with at Indy this year). Whatever the case, the decision to sell has been made and the asking price is about AUD$68,000 – similar to what you’ll pay for a stock FPV GT/GT-P.

We don’t reckon anyone would turn down 100 percent extra power at no extra cost...


Bob Romano Performance Motors (BRPM) +61 7 3395 8255

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