Bad Life Decisions: The Racewars AU Falcon
The Greatest Story Ever Told

I’d hate to sound arrogant, but prepare yourselves for one of the greatest stories ever uncovered by a Speedhunter.

This is modern-day Shakespeare. Forget Romeo and Juliet, this is the epic saga of two man-children, one dumb idea and an unhealthy love for Australia’s shittiest car. Let me introduce you to Jon, Jamie and their AU Ford Falcon.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-13
RW18_AU_MEveringham-4

Fellow Aussies and our New Zealand cousins will need no introduction to the AU Falcon, but let me quickly introduce the rest of the planet to the ugliest car Australia has ever produced, in ‘Forte’ specification. In standard form, its asthmatic ‘Intech’ 4.0-litre inline-six produced a stated but questionable 157kW (210hp). The struggle was exacerbated by a sluggish automatic gearbox that just barely managed to drag the 1,550kg (3,420lb) of cockroach-shaped land barge from point A (usually a taxi rank) to point B (usually a pub).

RW18_AU_MEveringham-21

Locals have spent much time debating whether the low point of the AU Falcon was its lacklustre styling, borderline-adequate power delivery, or its ability to handle like a wet bar of soap during any driving conditions.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-12

A story of this magnitude, dare I say one of Australia’s most important moments of motoring, demands more than a simple secondhand retelling. So, for now, I shall let Jonathan Murray, destroyer of tyres and also a founder/co-owner of Racewars, loose. Take it away, Jon.

The Best Of Bad Life Choices

It took several hours and innumerable messages, endless memes and a bewildering level of support from people not usually known to involve themselves in my silliness for us to finally convince a UK-based friend that the reason the AU Falcon is now so highly revered is because it was initially received with such distain.

In spite of well-founded reservations that we were out of our minds, the collective members of a rather large and boisterous group chat were able to explain with questionable but profoundly unwavering logic that the AU Falcon is so goddamn good because it’s so utterly f**king terrible.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-36

With his understanding of the world rearranged and the AU Falcon now implanted in his mind as something akin to an automotive demigod, Lukian’s next question was just how brave we were going to be when it came to winding the boost up. You see, we didn’t just have any old series one AU Forte…

RW18_AU_MEveringham-29

The story of this burgundy beast goes back a few weeks prior to this group chat re-education session. In the lead up to Racewars 2018, fellow event director Jamie and I were headed down for a pre-event planning meeting with the local authorities. A four-hour long drive may sound like a tedious trek to some, but Jamie and I have always relished the time on the road as it’s a great chance to switch the phone off, escape our crazy real-world commitments, and talk endless amounts of shit about what we love most: car culture.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-26

It was about two hours into the drive when we got talking about what we were going to do for a course car for RW18. There were no more LS3-powered Holden Commodores SS-Vs in the local rental car fleets and at the time we were having no luck getting a press car. It was then we had what turned out to be a truly inspired idea – we’d build a course car.

We went back and forth between all manner of things, but we kept on returning to the AU Falcon. Fast forward a few more hours and upon our arrival into beautiful Albany the laptops were whipped out and we were logged into Gumtree (Aussie’s Craigslist) looking for a suitable base car.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-31

Not even a minute after kicking off our search, the holy grail appeared: A one-owner, series one Forte (the absolute poverty pack base model), just a couple of minutes drive from our hotel. The ad had only been live for a few hours but we couldn’t contain our excitement – we needed that car and we needed it now!

The seller didn’t really understand our excitement; to him it was just a car that was used to commute from his farm into town. The legendary robust engineering and durability these AUs were blessed with meant he’d enjoyed a trouble-free 112,000kms with it, but now it was time to move it along for something newer. I took the car for a short drive and found no issues; Jamie handed over the cash and it was done.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-41

When word first got out that we’d gone and bought an AU our inboxes lit up with mates asking what the hell we were smoking. Both of us already had garages full of other toys and we certainly didn’t need another one. However, when we said that we were going to turn the Falcon into a 10-second ¼ mile car for less than $10,000, people started to take an interest.

AU_dyno1_Speedhunters1

You see, our Forte left the Ford factory with a near on bomb-proof iron block engine. While this era of car predates the legendary ‘Barra‘ twin-cam motors, the fundamentals of the older single-cam 4.0L six are the same. In stock naturally aspirated trim they’re exceptionally lazy, but they love boost.

Our first evening of AU ownership was capped off by Jamie and I doing a live feed in a pub carpark introducing the world to our latest bad life choice. The comments section erupted and we quickly realised that we had a hit on our hands. People loved it, and faith in our stupid idea was reaffirmed. The AU was clearly the car of the people, the loveable anti-hero, and the four-wheeled middle finger to common sense, better judgement and rationality.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-40

With only a few months before Racewars it was going to be a mission to get the AU done in time. Most of Western Australia’s performance workshops were already up to their eyeballs in RW builds, but I was able to get the car slotted in with a friend who shares our penchant for poor life choices and has the spanner-swinging skills Jamie and I lack. The only catch was this person didn’t want anyone to find out he was building it as he wasn’t keen on a heap of numpties coming to his workshop wanting to do copycat builds. With the condition of anonymity agreed to our mysterious mechanical artisan took the AU and set about making it great.

2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-129

Many things happened in the intervening few weeks between the car going away and it being reborn as a bad-ass boosted sleeper. Various turbos were tried and didn’t fit; parts were fished out of rubbish bins; our spare parts for some of our other cars were raided/donated to the cause, and all manner of ghetto, everything-fits-if-you-hit-it-hard-enough-with-a-hammer engineering was unleashed on the Intech. We opted to keep it as near on stock as we could hope to while bolting on a turbo, so mechanically all the engine block copped as some fresh valve springs and a head gasket.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-38

After trying an old school Garrett T51R we dropped back to a Garrett GT35 so we could fit it under the bonnet and not have to move too much around in the engine bay. We then bought a cheap and very nasty turbo manifold and intercooler kit off eBay. After de-capping some spare R35 GT-R VR38DETT injectors and fitting an upgraded pump that was laying around, we now had the fuel system to feed the engine the copious amounts of E85 it would need.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-37

Rather than try and reflash the stock ECU, my spare MoTeC M800 was wired in to control the chaos with a Shift Kits Australia transmission controller manualising the stock BTR 4-speed automatic. Fab work was kept to an absolute minimum in order to keep the costs down and abide by our goal of keeping the whole project under $10K. Dumpster diving even scored us a catch can off an E46 M3 race car that slotted into the AU’s engine bay perfectly.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-42

The AU was built to handle Australia’s roughest and toughest roads (the model designation actually stands for AUstralia) so it had a sky-high ride height with marshmallow-soft suspension and more body roll than an ocean liner. Given we wanted to turn the wick up we couldn’t run the risk of having a shitload of power in a shit-handling car, so we ordered brand new shocks and a lowering kit from our friends at a local auto parts store. We also swapped the tiny 15-inch factory wheels for some larger 17 inch wheels (which were once again found in a pile of parts out the back of the workshop) so we could get some rubber under it.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-46

It ran, it drove well enough, and then it was time for us to see what it had. After a grand total of 30 minutes on the dyno it made 420hp on 17psi boost. That may not sound like a lot, but given it had 150hp stock it was a massive improvement.

A few days later we returned to the same dyno for a pre-Racewars dyno competition and after some more fine tuning (adjusting timing and screwing in even more boost) it made 475hp at the wheels on 20psi, on a scorching hot and humid Perth summer afternoon. Speaking to the mysterious mechanical artisan, he was confident that it had close to 500hp in it if we spent some time on it, but we were more than happy with tripling the factory output and driving it was already absolutely hilarious as it came on boost so damn early and so damn hard it was impossible to keep it from lighting up the tyres.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-49

With its newfound lease of life thanks to a lung full of boost, the Forte was put on the trailer and sent back to its old stomping ground in Albany ahead of its time to shine at Racewars 2018. We’d been driving the AU around on its 420hp tune for a week and a bit and had marvelled at just how nice it was to drive considering what it was. It didn’t get hot, it idled nicely, it was timid enough in traffic and then if you stomped it would hunker down and feel like it would rip a hole in space and time. Our random impulse purchase had delivered. Come what may we’d built ourselves an absolute weapon for next to nothing and it wasn’t an absolute shitbox either.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-35

When the Speedhunter arrived in Albany and needed wheels to get around we chucked him the keys to the AU. Matty didn’t manage to break it, which given what he does for a day job is testament to the AU Forte’s fortitude. Everyone who drove it loved it.

RW18_AU_MEveringham-47
Broken Dreams

Race day arrived and Jamie and I were run off our feet. I’d broken my head (a story for another time) and should have still been in hospital or at the very least resting, and to make matters worse as a result of the stitches and open wound on the top of my head couldn’t put a helmet on to race the Falcon. I was gutted.

Thankfully the mysterious mechanical artisan happened to be in Albany for the weekend supporting some of his other cars and could take up driving duties.

He grabbed the keys and lined it up for its maiden competition pass against a good friend of ours with his modified LS7-powered Corvette race car. The ‘Vette got the jump on him off the line as the Falcon fried its tyres through the first and second of its four gears, but by the time it clicked into third the tables had turned.

2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-135

The AU came storming past the Corvette and started to gap him, but as it clicked into fourth all went to shit in a smoky haze of shattered dreams and a shattered block.

2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-126

The mysterious mechanical artisan still won’t tell me how much boost he rammed down its throat to chase down the Corvette, and I’ve not seen the logs off the MoTeC yet either, although we did see evidence that it was able to achieve its 10-second ¼ mile goal (if only just).

A track side post mortem revealed the mighty AU fell victim to a connecting rod failure and for most people that would be the end of things. The AU wasn’t going to go out like that, though.

2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-128
2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-132

Mortally wounded, it was left safely at the end of the track while racing resumed for the day, but when it came time to load it up on the trailer it gallantly fired up on its remaining five cylinders, fluids still seeping out of its obliterated block. It wanted to win; it knew it could win and we’re going to bring it back to life and make sure it does nothing but f**king win.

2018_Racewars_Speedhunters_MatthewEveringham_-134

Plans are already in place to revive the AU, and this time, with more than a few months up our sleeves and some knowledge from what we learnt the first time around, we’ve decided it’s time to step it up properly and run a 9-second ¼ mile pass. Oh, and to also hopefully not bust another block!

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham
matt@mattheweveringham.com

Story by Matthew Everingham and Jonathan Murray

ADVERTISEMENT

Comments

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

50 comments

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
1

This is a great example of how writing can make an article come to life. Really well done.

2

This is what Speedhunters needs, less RWB, more AU Falcons! Great article, though I don't think the rest of world can truly understand just how hideous an AU actually is! Though the quad-headight XR models are a guilty pleasure of mine...

3

I'd love a TS50 AU. They didn't have the XR styled headlights but I think they looked great!

4
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Speedhunters is about everything car culture. As long as RWBs exists, there will be articles on them.

5
Jonathan Murray

RWB should build AU's and then everybody wins!

6

I would buy an RWB AU with 600whp. That sounds fucking awesome.

7

So good !!

8

The Falcon Forte in silver with the stock hubcaps is the perfect example of how crap these were.

That said, do a google for "AU Falcon memes" and see what comes up

9
Jonathan Murray

Some of the Internets "finest" work.

decom_eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3_5ab47c903e165.jpgdecom_eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3_5ab47c903e165.jpg
10

I'm so proud of this build now I no longer want to remain anonymous... Come one, come all AU fans to Specialised Service Centre in Burswood

11

One day we will built a car that's half as amazing as the AU and quicker than a stock R32.

Author12
Matthew Everingham

Ambitious...

13

Awesome. The Napoleon Dynamite of cars.

14

This car is so ugly, IDGAF how fast it is and I've only said that once in my life, now. Keep going, but don't.

Author15
Matthew Everingham

This comment has made my week.

16

Seeing this car brings back memories of the Falcon TS50, as featured in NFS Hot Pursuit 2. Good times...

decom_d2b620efe4587e527f3fd7253943274a_5ab45443c3833.jpgdecom_d2b620efe4587e527f3fd7253943274a_5ab45443c3833.jpg
17

If you remember the Just Cars insurance ad that featured a TS50, I knew the guy who owned that car. It had a big centrifugal supercharger and a Motec, and made.750hp with some issues. The EPA got wind of it and invited him to demonstrate that it still met emissions regs with the non factory ECU. This was going to cost $10k because it is basically the same process the manufacturers use, so that was effectively the end of the car.

Coincidentally I think the guy who bought it had a turbo AU - which was an issue too because it didn't have an engineering certificate.

This is all about 12-14 years ago now so I'm a bit fuzzy on the details now. I do remember that the blown TS50 would shoot 3 foot flames from the exhaust, so there may have been something in the emissions thing!

18

Ah, memories of the Minginator.
EPA SUX

19

Yes, that is the one... What a saga that was! Just had a look back and I've got things slightly wrong, and it seems like it wasn't when I thought and I was probably conflating it with the other AU turbo 6 that was bought cheap by a guy who didn't understand fully why a big dollar build was being sold cheap.

Also some more info, the engine was making 800hp, and it ran a 11.9 quarter limited to 5,000 rpm due to build/tuning 'issues'. Also at one stage the flames out the back were five feet long! It was sold later and is now on at least the third owner but no idea what it is up to now.

20
Sebastian Lammel

Are those builds street legal in Australia? Or stuff like using cheap spare parts from ebay? Just a curious European here.

21

They can be legal. Different states have different rules, so in Victoria aftermarket replacement standard parts are fine, and there are certain general parameters that you can modify within, eg ride height, rim width increase etc.

Beyond that you need a registered automotive engineer to certify the car. This applies to things like structural modifications or other areas that go beyond the basic mods, eg major power increases usually require improved brakes and to make sure that the rest of the car can handle it. Adding a turbo would be a clear trigger for this.

Radical things can be done working with the engineer however, a guy called Rod Hadfield built a 55 Chev powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin blown 27 litre V12 making 3000hp and got it registered.

22
Sebastian Lammel

Thanks for the detailed information. Its crazy how different these regulations are from country to country, but I guess it's pretty okay here in Germay. On the other hand, it's quite some pain to get a rocket bunny kit registered.

23
Jonathan Murray

Sebastian it's not "legal" for normal road use but it's not an every day driver so there's some wiggle room to play in with regards to permits for event attendance / participation and so forth.

It's not outlandishly unsafe / illegal as it is though so if you wanted to spend the time and money to engineer it properly it could be made fully legal.

24
Jonathan Murray

Actual want for one of those now... So expensive these days as well :(

25

#mysparemotecm800 #miningmagnatelife

26
Jonathan Murray

It's hard to explain to people outside Australia "the vibe of thing thing" but a quick trip to "AU Falcon's Doing Incredible Things" on FB will explain at least part of it's charm...

https://www.facebook.com/aufalcons/ (Sorry if links aren't allowed...)

decom_d7222fcc14366268f3f5b1edf9fa6fd5_5ab47ea964b32.jpgdecom_d7222fcc14366268f3f5b1edf9fa6fd5_5ab47ea964b32.jpg
34
Jonathan Murray

AU Swaps are the best!

decom_e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5_5ab4a20b33a6f.jpgdecom_e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5_5ab4a20b33a6f.jpg
35
Jonathan Murray

#NSFW

decom_c20ad4d76fe97759aa27a0c99bff6710_5ab4a26ccff06.jpgdecom_c20ad4d76fe97759aa27a0c99bff6710_5ab4a26ccff06.jpg
36

Thats what most of us needed. Sure RWB's are good cars and very importand for car culture.
And most of us need those kind of aticles.

Remember no one watch initial d if Takumi drives an RWB.

37

This one must take part in next Fast & Furious serious. Sexy Car.(https://goo.gl/Uy3iWb)

38

Awesome article! The writing from both of you was really enjoyable to read. Excellent photos as well!

39

Absolutely loved following the progress of this beast... top work boys and hope it goes one better next time.
I may be a (biased) ... somewhat uncommon AU Falcon fan - this could go down as one of the best street cars in the scene yet!!!
The car personifies what you guys set out to achieve - what start out as regular cars transformed into absolute track demons. Kudos!!!
Now here's a AU meme that's a corker

decom_2333821efd127cb8952929db023ef15c_5ab4ff31a2777.jpgdecom_2333821efd127cb8952929db023ef15c_5ab4ff31a2777.jpg
40

An Aussie and Ford owner, I must say, the AU is not as bad a Falcon as this article illustrates. Yes every man and his dog knows the AU is as ugly as a fist full of a$$h0les, BUT the AU was a turning point in the Falcon range. It was actually a good car. It was ugly as sin but a good car. And I will say you need to judge how it looks by the AU-III XR Tickford Sprints.. You could get em in black and they looked NICE.

My second comment....is there any 4L+ Ford 6 that doesn't like forced induction? Does the old pushrod log and 2V's do alright? I have an old log hi comp that had 116kw and boatloads of torque from factory... compression was around 9:1. It used to go like a stabbed rat! Ok, time to go look at gumtree for an AU XR.

41

The AU looked like shit, drove like shit and was generally shit compared to the VT which killed it.

Series 3 was the car they should of launched.

42
Sebastian Lammel

Great story, bro. I've never driven a Falcon, not to mention its AU version, but your writing style made me really feel this boosted piece of soap. And thank you for providing the video, I absolutely had to hear this beast breathe. Way to go, man!

43

This made me all kinds of moist.

The pics are bordering on pornographic, the video belongs on Pornhub and the article itself makes you feel like it's you there wishing for the shitbox to win!
I felt deviated when I got to the end and I read it blew up.

These guys need to fix it and race again!

44

Fucking Perthanalities disgracing our good name once again. An AU Falcon. Seriously?

This isn't normal.

Author45
Matthew Everingham

It's not normal. It's amazing.

46

Great article! So much fun to read.

Author47
Matthew Everingham

Thank you, kind sir.

48

The AU was actually a bloody good car when it comes to being what it was designed to be: a bomb-proof reliable, very comfortable large family car that eats miles without fuss. It was slow if you’re used to driving something bloody quick and like all auto Falcons (well, pre ZF 6 speed auto Falcons) it’s a slug off the mark thanks to that horrendously tall first gear, but the big 4.0 straight six, like all big Falcon sixes, churns out big torque down low and is a fantastic work horse engine.

In saying all of that, I’m not detracting from how hilarious this article was to read - and what a cool project!

49
Jonathan Murray

3.08 gears in the rear end don't help either. It does mean HUGE skids though 1st & 2nd (and 3rd if you're rough enough) with significant wheel speed!

50

Great article Matt Everomst'd've'ly'yaingham

decom_c23ae5807f66a4612ae2c8720d57a214_5abdb767c6fd9.jpgdecom_c23ae5807f66a4612ae2c8720d57a214_5abdb767c6fd9.jpg

OFFICIAL SPEEDHUNTERS SUPPLIERS