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US:Drifting Down Under: 509-hp Ford Typhoon DRIF6

Drifting Down Under: 509-hp Ford Typhoon DRIF6

Feeling the force of this Australian Ford Typhoon

By Dean Evans
Inside Line

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
The standard FPV Typhoon F6 is one of Australia's finest muscle cars with 362 hp from its twin-cam turbocharged 4.0-liter inline-6.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
FPV's DRIF6 takes the Typhoon F6 a few steps further with 509 hp from relatively simple tweaks.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
The Typhoon body shell is lightened, and runs the factory 19-inch tires — not the most economical tire size for drifting.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
The DRIF6's modified intake plenum is the main departure from the standard-spec turbocharged twin-cam 24-valve inline-6.

On Sydney, Australia's only drift track, the view through the Ford Typhoon's windscreen is at low-threat green level; the fluids are still warming, its 509 horsepower at least two laps away. First corner out of the pits, through what is normally a 50-mph corner, circumspection enforces a lazy throttle and a safe 25 mph. This is the first time the DRIF6 has been driven by a non-factory driver and Ford boffins are keen to see it's not the last.

The front tires point to the apex,, No, NO! The rear end starts sliding like a forklift cranked on full lock. What is going on? At this pedestrian speed, it's an easy catch, but it's the first lesson of the day: This is a drift car, and drift cars go sideways. Easily.

This is, in fact, Australia's only factory-built, supported and endorsed drift car. Based on a Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) Typhoon F6, itself based on a Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo, the one-off FPV DRIF6 is a Frankensteined backroom project built after hours by a few keen enthusiasts within Ford's white-collared hallways.

"We wanted to conjure up something unique and exciting for our new turbo fans," explains FPV Communications Manager and DRIF6 Project Leader Andrew MacLean. The DRIF6 uses a 4.0-liter six that twists out massive 509 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque. At least after some tuning.

Starting point
FPV started with what is arguably Australia's finest performance car, the Typhoon F6. FPV turns Ford Falcons into Typhoons the same way as AMG fettles Mercedes-Benzes or M massages BMWs. Except with fewer zeros on the bill.

In stock trim, the Typhoon F6 uses an Australian-designed inline-6 with twin-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, variable-length intake manifold and cam timing, and a Garrett turbocharger with intercooler running an unstressed 9 psi. FPV claims 362 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque for the F6, but rumors from within Ford during initial testing suggested there was a lot more than just 360 hp hiding in the turbo six. With a mild boost increase, larger intercooler, ECU tuning, and mild intake and exhaust systems changes, the power and torque figures both jumped beyond 500.

Plus, the 4.0 liters endows the F6 with torquey drivability lacking in a Mitsubishi Evolution or Subaru STI. F6 power is delivered with a turbinelike rush, building with minimal lag from 2000 rpm, and with a meaty power band from 2500 to 6000 rpm. But it's the 500-plus lb-ft of torque that gives the F6's Dunlops nightmares. Strong engine: check.

DRIF6 donor car wanted
All FPV needed was a body to put its hotted-up engine into. So when this red Typhoon finished its press-car duties, it was spared from the crusher and released to MacLean and his FPV crew with one main rule: Don't spend any money on it!

So MacLean started wheeling and dealing to secure everything from the six-point roll cage, to MOMO racing seats, steering wheel and vented black hood. The interior and trunk were gutted to help shave 400 pounds from its 4,000-pound starting weight, and FPV partner Dunlop started a supply line of 245/35 19-inch tires.

Brembo brakes with six-piston monoblock calipers up front are standard fare on a Typhoon, not so the hydraulic handbrake fitted within easy reach of the shifter to help throw the car sideways into turns. Like it needed help.

Starter up
Thumb the high-mounted starter button and the unmuffled six barks to life, its flat turbo drone amplified by the side exhaust under the open driver window. Far from melodic, it's like a long, low and loud digestion issue.

As the shoulder harnesses are cinched down, MacLean suggests monitoring the water temp gauge, as there have been some cooling problems in testing. One problem: It's hidden behind the custom shift light — that's not yet working.

So with a slight judder from its twin-plate clutch, and a heavy hand to shove its six-speed manual gearbox, the Typhoon hits the track, negotiates that first corner, and warms itself up for a few hard laps looking out the side window.

The first surprise is the engine: It's so linear with a torque spread so wide that 2nd-gear corners become 3rd-gear corners, even with the transmission's widely spaced ratios. The engine sounds ferocious in a harsh way, like the static channel on full volume. It's rarely on the limiter — it just doesn't need to be with such masses of power across its rev range.

And then it arrives at its party trick, a corner. Many drifters can wax on about the different methods for getting a car sideways, but today we were concentrating on the two easiest: the handbrake and the pendulum flick.

Engage Plan B, uh-oh, Plan C
New problem: The handbrake doesn't work. Well, it does work, but the 500-pound gorilla who is needed to pull on it hard enough to lock the rear tires is on holiday. Seems the donor parts "found" around the workshop aren't the right size and render the handbrake useless. Work in progress.

So with seemingly insane amounts of speed, the DRIF6 barrels into a corner with a heave of right-left-right on the steering, but instead of unsettling and throwing itself sideways, the locked rear differential induces the kind of understeer that only the nose-heaviest front-drivers from the Eastern Bloc country could get close to matching.

"The handbrake would counter that," offers MacLean. Thanks....

So, today at least, the DRIF6 will need to rely on its bulk reserves of power to invoke power oversteer. Which is like asking Paris Hilton to act easy. On the throttle early, the rear tires ignite and throw the F6 sideways into long, lurid slides of screeching rubber and wailing engine, and send the steering corrections into full opposite lock.

Finger-painting with Dunlops
Even through an impossibly slow corner in 3rd gear, it musters up a lungful of torque and blows the tires down with a long arc of black lines exiting the corner, into a series of swerving black parallel lines for more than 100 feet. From 30 mph to 110 mph, 3rd gear is the go gear.

In competition
Having modified the handbrake and fixed the cooling issues shortly after our drive, FPV took the DRIF6 from concept to competition by drafting in experienced drifter Adam Newton to run in the Drift Australia national championship. Newton and FPV are hoping to boost both the profile of the car and the sport in what is a traditionally Japanese-car-dominated sport.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
The DRIF6's stripped interior allows the exhaust to heat the cabin floor enough to melt rubber shoes.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
The DRIF6, doing what it's designed for, with some added showmanship in the spirit of drifting.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
Mirrored graphics conform to unofficial drifting regs, while the black fiberglass hood shaves weight and helps keep the turbo cool.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
Spin recovery is easy with the locked differential, though look closely and it's just possible to see the dollar bills evaporating up in 19-inch tire smoke.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne)
Another morning, another set of tires destroyed down to the steel belts.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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