XR6T with Tow

Want to tow a boat with a modified turbo car? Well, what could it be apart from Ford's wonderful XR6T?!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • XR6T for fun, work and towing
  • 365kW at the hubs
  • Interesting relocated throttle body arrangement
  • Will run an 11 second pass - on 20 inch street tyres
  • Glossy black paint and a hybrid GT/DJR-style body kit

When you’re looking for a car that’s practical for work purposes and can tow a 21-foot (6.4 metre) ski boat, the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo is a pretty unusual choice. But not when, more importantly, you’re also into high performance!

Phillip Chain purchased this Mark II BA Falcon XR6T in ’05 after getting rid of his LS1-powered Commodore SS. He opted for an auto version of the XR with the extra cost luxury pack interior (leather and top-line interior command centre) and a power sunroof. Interestingly, the genuine Ford tow kit for the XR6T is rated at only 1600kg so Phillip opted for an aftermarket tow pack capable of lugging up to 2500kg – more than enough for his ski boat.

It seems strange that the 240kW/450Nm XR6 Turbo isn’t factory rated to tow more than 1600kg but, at a guess, it’s probably because of the difficulty in maintaining acceptable charge-air temps under extended loads, and also transmission life. But none of that’s a problem anymore!

A friend of Phillip put him onto the team at Sydney’s MRT Performance and, at the time, they were keen to kick along development of their XR6T power-up kits. It just happened that Phillip’s plans coincided with MRT’s goals.

With the desire to run an 11 second quarter mile, the team identified they’d need around 350kW at the hubs. So that was the challenge – to make around 350kW at the hubs together with strong torque, reliability and at a modest price.

You’re looking at the MRT Stage 3 upgrade with a few alterations here an’ there. The Stage 3 kit comprises a Flash Tuner reprogram, a 500hp in-tank fuel pump, 440cc injectors, a modified turbine housing with an enlarged wastegate valve, and a mandrel bent exhaust with a 5 inch cat converter. Phillip’s car strays from the formula by running even bigger injectors, a larger 0.7 compressor cover, a twin pipe rear section of exhaust and a couple of MRT’s optional extras...

Airflow into the airbox is enhanced with a stainless cold air snorkel (in addition to the factory snorkel) while the relatively restrictive intercooler is upgraded with a bigger and better core. Phillip also went for the top-of-the-range induction system upgrade which comprises mandrel plumbing and relocating the throttle to the opposite side of the valve cover. This increases the plenum volume and eliminates what MRT claims is a restrictive section of the standard plumbing. A ‘stealth’ black painted blow-off valve is also installed before the throttle body. Note that the 4-litre engine remains stock – valve springs and all.

With these mods, Phillip’s auto XR6T has belted out a massive 365kW at the hubs on MRT’s Dynapack hub dyno. This was achieved with around 15 psi boost held through the top-end of the rev range and 98 RON pump fuel. On another dyno – a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno – the car has made 306kW at the treads on slightly less boost. But torque is what this monster is all about – there’s no problem towing with this brute!

Unfortunately, the factory auto transmission isn’t coping well. Since the engine mods began, the transmission has died three times and an upgraded torque converter has been required. A transmission cooler has also been added but that hasn’t stopped the troubles. Phillip is still unsure about the cause – perhaps the combination of huge torque and towing a large boat are too much to handle.

So far, Phillip hasn’t been able to make a clean run down the quarter mile but he has recorded a best time of 12.0 seconds at 120 mph. An 11 second pass is well within grasp with no mechanical changes – and while running 20 inch street tyres.

Painted black, Phillip’s XR6T looks tough-as. The appeal is aided by a GT ‘power bulge’ bonnet and rear wing while there’s a DJR-style lower body kit (skirts, aprons and inserts). You’ll also find clear lens taillights and twin polished canon mufflers under the rear. The body has been brought down thanks to Whiteline Group 4 adjustable coil-overs and the sharp lookin’ chrome rims are the perfect finishing touch. Rims are 20 x 8.5 inch HP Design wearing 225/35 front and 245/35 rear tyres.

With the ski boat hitched onto the rear, Phillip soon became aware of the limits of the standard XR6T braking system. But there were no surprises here – the plan was always to fit some big anchors. Gleaming from behind those 20 inch rims are red painted Brembo four-pot callipers front and rear. These squeeze upsized discs measuring around 350mm at the front and 330mm at the rear.

Remember, Phillip uses the car for work as well as play so it needs to remain useable. The luxury pack trim remains factory with the exception of AutoMeter gauges for boost pressure and oil pressure. A bigger audio system might soon be added but, as Phillip say, it won’t help in his quest for 11 second ETs.

Phillip admits he’s done more to the car than he thought he would but, you know how it goes, it’s damn hard to call it quits. Once an 11 second pass has been achieved, Phillip says he’ll probably go for a bullet-proof C9 auto trans and get the engine built with beefy rods, upgrade valve springs and all the good bits. And, yes, the car will still be required to tow!

Who needs a F-series truck with a puny 195kW and 475Nm?!

Contact/Thank you:

MRT Performance +61 2 9767 4545


Phillip would like to thank the team at MRT Performance, Mick and Lance from Acacia Smash (for their fitment of the body parts) and Dave from Kewish Automotive in Victoria (for his work on the transmission).

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