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Ford Time Machine

400+ kilowatts at the wheels the Ford XR6 Turbo way!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Up to 416kW at the wheels
  • Standard turbo (being pushed!)
  • Three broken gearboxes
  • Unbelievable grunt with limited mods
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Let’s take a step back in time for a moment. During the early days of AutoSpeed, in 1999, we featured a 5-litre Ford XR8 with head work, an SVO airflow meter, bigger injectors and many other tuning accessories. The result of all these cubes and go-fast bits was a measured 136kW at the wheels. And that was considered pretty tough - at the time...

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Now check out at this graph. You’re looking at an amazing 400+ kilowatts at the wheels achieved by a run-of-the-mill BA Ford XR6 Turbo with a relatively modest number of mods.

Boy, how times change!

The 400+ kilowatts at the wheels figure can be credited to the XR6T owned by Spiro of Sydney’s Autotech Engineering. The car is an early ’04 build which means it’s a ‘Series 1’ and its manual gearbox is a T5 five-speeder, rather than the six-speed found in later models. Spiro says it’s been an incredible vehicle to develop – the amount of power the 4-litre turbo motor can put out with relatively little $ is simply unbeatable. But there are a couple of weaknesses that appear when pushing this heady level of power.

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That T5 five-speed has blown up on three occasions and Spiro says a stronger T56 six-speed is being considered as a solution. Transmission loads aren’t helped by the fitment of an Xtreme ceramic button clutch – the standard clutch started playing up with around 280kW at the wheels.

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The Ford donk is built strong but with big power on the agenda from Day One, Spiro decided to remedy the engine’s known weak spots – the valve springs and conrods. A set of Crow aftermarket springs maintain valve control while billet rods replace the stock conrods (which can bend under extreme combustion pressures).

Of course, none of this does much to improve power output – so where does the 400+ kilowatts at the wheels come from?

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Well, lift the bonnet and you’ll notice the APS (Air Power Systems) throttle body feed pipe and blow-off valve. These are an indicator that the car is equipped with the complete APS Phase 3 kit which comprises a high-flow exhaust, replacement airbox, upgrade DR-series front-mount intercooler and plumbing, replacement wastegate actuator and wastegate swing valve. This hardware increases engine airflow capacity while a UniChip interceptor takes care of fuel, ignition and boost control. An additional fuel pump and high-volume injectors are also incorporated as part of the kit.

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The official advertised output for the APS Phase 3 kit is 390kW at the flywheel – a 150kW gain over stock. However, Spiro’s car was built to push the limits so has been tuned to punch out more than 400kW at the wheels. With boost pressure cranked up to around 20 psi and in-house modified injectors, the car easily puts out 406kW at the wheels on Autotech Engineering’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno and has achieved a best of 416kW at the wheels at the 2006 AME show. But we must reiterate this car has been built to push the limits of the APS Phase 3 set-up and stock turbocharger – Spiro say’s he would dare supply a customer with a vehicle in this highly stressed configuration!

If you really, really must have more than 400kW at the wheels, Spiro will be more comfortable recommending Autotech Engineering’s in-house ‘Phase 3.5’ upgrade. This is essentially the APS Phase 3 kit augmented with a replacement exhaust manifold and turbocharger. Spiro recommends the stockie turbo ‘only’ for up to around 400kW.

Click for larger image

Spiro hasn’t yet run the car down the quarter mile or thrown it around a racetrack as he says the stock XR6T brakes are a big letdown. Get a couple of high speed stops into ‘em and you’ll notice the fading stopping power... The suspension is enhanced with lowered springs and Bilstein dampers while the guards are filled by 19 inch DTM alloys wearing Falken rubber. Nothing over the top.

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With even more power on his mind, Spiro dipped under the bonnet not long after our photo shoot and installed their Phase 3.5 turbocharger and exhaust manifold. Tuning is yet to be completed but, with no other changes, he’s expecting around 450kW at the wheels (still on 20 psi boost).

450kW at the wheels? That’s more than three times the amount of power achieved by that grunty XR8 back in 1999. At this rate, we’ll be seeing tweaked Ford sedan generating 600kW (around 1000hp) at the wheels by the end of the decade...


Autotech Engineering      +61 2 9897 1378

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