A 48-YEAR-OLD, 1700kg Aussie four-door that can run eights at over 170mph while remaining nice to drive on the street for hundreds of kays – it like a fantasy, right? But Mark Van Der Togt’s 1970 Futura is exactly that machine, as he proved by winning the first Street Machine Drag Challenge Weekend.
He has owned the car 20 years, and took it off the road from 2005 to 2009 to rebuild it into a twin-turbo street-and-strip monster.
“It’s had a few rebuilds as we’ve developed the package,” Mark explains. “Back when we started there wasn’t anybody building turbo Ford stuff in Australia, and we’ve had heaps of teething problems that we’ve sorted through.”
What is really cool is that the XW is powered by a small-block Ford.
“It’s basically a stock Dart Sportsman Windsor block, and used to be 408ci, but the longer stroke was destabilising the bottom oil ring and pulling it out of the block a bit,” Mark says. “When we first built it, the engine had $700 Scat rods and a $2000 Scat crank, and that got me down the track to an 8.40 at 22psi. Then I put the new pistons and rods in to push it harder, but left the crank, and broke that two years later. If we’d kept it at 20psi and 8.50s or 8.60s, it would’ve been fine.”
The heavyweight 3785lb (1720kg) four-door brute’s PB at DCW was 8.07 seconds, but it has since run a new best of 7.961@168mph, which is hugely impressive.
“We’ve never had it on the dyno to see what it makes now,” Mark says. “The car is so heavy and un-aerodynamic it has to make a phenomenal amount of power. It slide-rules at something like 1600hp because of those factors. I’ve been told to add 100hp to my slide-rule calculations, as the brick-like aero probably holds it back that much!”
Rebuilt by Tony O’Connor from TOCA Performance, the twin-turbo small-block Ford is as serious as Bob Hawke’s love of a cold frothy. Now swinging 393ci, the mill is based around the same Dart Sportsman block, but is now stuffed with Carrillo I-beam rods, a billet Bryant Racing crank and custom JE pistons. Compression is 10:1, which helps keep the combo snappy through a strict diet of E85; fed via twin MagnaFuel 750 pumps, twin –8 AN lines and eight 2400cc Siemens injectors, from a boot-mounted 70-litre tank that Mark made himself.
To make sure the spinning parts hang together, Mark modified a standard oil pump and added extra baffles to an oversize aluminium sump. “When we put the Link ECU in I saw the oil pressure dropping way too low on launches, so I gutted the sump and made my own baffles, copying them off Pat O’Shea’s XR,” says Mark. “He does heaps of wheelstands, so I figure his baffling works!”
The cam and lifters are a custom hydraulic-roller set-up from Bennett Racing Engines in the USA, rocking 0.594 lift and 245 duration at 0.050in. “I used to run solid-rollers when I had aspirated stuff, but they fail around the 10,00015,000km mark,” Mark says. “So we went back to a hydraulic-roller and added turbos to make the combo live longer on the street.”
A twin-turbo mill making four-digit power figures needs lungs, and Mark’s Trick Flow alloy heads have copped Ferodo 2.1-inch intake valves and 1.6-inch exhaust valves, with beehive springs, Trend pushrods and Jesel shaft-mounted rockers. “The Jesel rockers were all that suited the Trick Flow heads I’d bought out of America many years ago,” he explains. “They are made for very high boost, so they have stock intake ports but high exhaust ports, and very thick decks.”
HOW is this for value for money? Drag Challenge K&N DYO regular John Kerr has just pulled the Windsor out of his famous ’64 Mercury Comet for a freshen-up. The motor has been in there for seven years, which doesn’t sound impressive unless you know that John has put 40,000 miles on the car in that time and run damn-near 1000 passes down drag strips all over the country! The plan? “It is getting a set of rings, bearings, roller lifters and valve springs. Then it is going back together for another seven years!”
VICTORIAN racer Mark Sass builds and tunes some of the toughest street and burnout cars around, and his own toy is no slouch either!
Mark made his first assault on Drag Challenge back in 2016, behind the wheel of his VT Commodore dubbed LSXWAR. Back then, the car was powered by a Vortech V7-equipped, 402ci iron-block LS combo.
Mark broke into the eights at the event, but immediately began plotting something bigger and better. The result? A 427ci Dart-based LS combo, teamed with a monster 112mm Vortech V28 driven off the crank. The car is set up without an intercooler and runs on E85.
We filmed a crazy video of the car on the 4000hp Mainline hub dyno at Herrod Performance, which you can check out on whichcar.com.au/streetmachine. The VT spat out a very healthy 1234rwhp. The noise and vibrations generated were something else!
Shortly thereafter, Mark put the combo to the test at Swan Hill and reeled off a promising 8.77@160mph. “It has heaps more in it, but it was a good start,” he says. “We had a bit of a fright when the parachute failed to open and I ended up in the sand trap.” Running on 325 radials, the VT will be one to watch in Turbosmart Outlaw Blown.
Air flows into the Edelbrock Victor Jr inlet manifold via a 94mm electric throttlebody mounted on an elbow Mark whipped up at his metal fabrication business. “I port-matched the Victor Jr to the elbow, which I made low to fit under the bonnet. I put the scoop on because the heat under there used to cook and melt everything. The scoop fixed that,” he says. Managing the whole shebang is a Link G4+ Thunder ECU. The Kiwi-designed and made ECU has the kind of heavyweight sensor outputs and datalogging Mark needs to be able monitor to keep his eight-second street car alive.
The snails are twin Garrett GTX35 items, with boost controlled via twin Turbosmart external wastegates, and firewall-mounted boost solenoids operated by the ECU. “The turbos are really too small for the combo, but we never envisaged going so far with the car,” Mark says.
“We only had it on 26psi during Drag Challenge Weekend, but it’ll handle another 4psi. The problem is the car isn’t capable of handling it, so that’s where we have pulled it up so far.”
Behind the 2500rpm Converter Shop torque converter is a transbraked, Reid-case Powerglide, as Mark tore the clutches out of his freshly built C4 at its first meeting. It’s backed by a Ray Bernard-built nine-inch packed with 35-spline axles, but no exotic parts like floating hubs or a sheet-metal housing.
Despite being able to hit over 170mph in the standing 400m, Mark didn’t go crazy upgrading the Falcon’s suspension. Up front he’s gone for a rack-and-pinion steering set-up from RRS, and the shocks are how Ford intended, while at the rear there’s a mono-leaf CalTracs set-up.
To fit under the 15-inch rollers, the brakes are now VY SS Commodore discs up front, with Wilwood discs out back, retaining the standard Ford stud pattern.
“I haven’t touched the suspension on my car,” Mark says. “I bought a CalTracs system and leaf springs for the rear and I put Monroe GT-Gas shocks in it; that’s all we’ve done.”
While it is a simple package, it has worked beyond Mark’s expectations. “When we built this car we never expected it to go so far. Back in 2009 and 2010 there weren’t many turbo cars around, and for some reason this combo works extraordinarily well. But if it does a seven, then that’ll be the end of it. We’ll pull the pin; it’s not worth pushing further as it hurts how streetfriendly the car is.”
Mark told us this before his tough XW had that first seven under its belt, so we’ll see if he stays true to his word. It’d be a damn shame to make his ballistic Futura worse to drive on the street.
MARK was super-lucky to take out the first Drag Challenge Weekend still in one piece, having gone backwards through the traps on Day One at over 160mph, and then tapping both walls in the braking zone on his first pass on Day Three.
“It seems to unload the rear tyres and pick them up when I get off the throttle and hit the ’chute,” says Mark of his Day One scare. “I ran an 8.23 at over 160mph, but as I went through the traps I pulled the ’chute and it went around on me. I think I stood on the brakes too hard, as it swapped ends in its lane and ended up facing the wall. It’s made me rethink everything, as I was so lucky not to end up in the wall.”
Mark sadly wasn’t so fortunate on the final day. After running an 8.0@169mph, the sedan got loose in the braking area, slapped both ends on the left wall, and then bumtapped the right.
“It has always been a bit of a handful when I lift off it, and this time I couldn’t catch it,” Mark says. “I drove the car to the event and I really wanted to drive it home, so we patched it up to get it home.”
Despite the dramas, the XW’s cumulative ETs over the three days of Drag Challenge Weekend saw it take the win in both Tuff Mounts Radial Blown and the outright standings.
MARK VAN DER TOGT 1970 FORD FALCON FUTURA Paint: Glasurit Almondine Black
Brand: Dart Sportsman Windsor
Intake: Edelbrock Victor Jr
ECU: Link G4+ Thunder
Turbos: Twin Garrett GTX35
Heads: Trick Flow alloy
Camshaft: Bennett Racing Engines custom hydraulic-roller
Conrods: Carrillo I-beam
Pistons: JE custom
Crank: Bryant Racing billet
Oil pump: Modified stock
Fuel system: Dual MagnaFuel 750
Cooling: Alloy radiator, EL Falcon thermo fans
Exhaust: Custom 3.5in
Ignition: Eight M&W CDI coils
Gearbox: Powerglide, manualised and transbraked
Converter: Converter Shop 2500rpm
Diff: Ford 9in, 35-spline axles, 3.0:1 gears
Front: RRS rack ’n’ pinion, stock shocks & springs
Rear: Mono-leaf, CalTracs, Monroe shocks
Brakes: VY SS Commodore discs (f), Wilwood discs (r)
Master cylinder: Standard
Rims: Simmons V5; 15x7 (f), 15x9 (r)
Rubber: Kenda 215/65 (f), Nankang 275/60 (r)
Graham, Kim and Leon; John at Next Up Performance; Kristian at Goleby’s Parts; Tony at TOCA Performance; my son Joshua and daughter Naomi; special thanks to my wife Tammy