CLOUD NINE

WITH CONSISTENT NINE-SECOND PERFORMANCE, YET GOOD ENOUGH TO SHOW, PAT O’SHEA’S XR FAIRMONT HAS IT ALL

STORY CRAIG PARKER PHOTOS MITCH HEMMNG

NINE-hundred-and-thirteen horsepower – no blower, no turbos, no giggle gas. This 440-cube small-block is all natural, yet stout enough to push Pat & Kasia O’Shea’s heavyweight XR Fairmont down the quarter in the mid-nines with monotonous regularity. And if consistent mid-nines isn’t enough for you, during the Willowbank Winter Warm-Up it ran 9.20@145mph!

Pat and Kasia are the driving force behind Pat’s Pro Restos, a Queensland shop that has turned out a string of show winners and SM feature cars – with another 14 builds currently on the go. Pat originally bought the XR 15 years ago after writing off his 10-second XR ute (SM, Jan ’05). But the purchase of a new house and relocation of the business forced him to sell it not long after completing a full rebuild. Fortunately, it was to a mate, John Brian, who really looked after the car.

PAT’S ORIGINAL PLAN WAS TO CHUCK IN A 500HP CLEVO, BUT THEN HE SUCCUMBED TO THE ALLURE OF DRAG CHALLENGE

“Around 18 months ago I started talking about doing another car, Pat says. “Kasia even joked that I should ring John to see if he was interested in selling. Then, out of the blue John rings me offering it back to me! It was still in exactly the same condition, complete with the original panel-and-paint I did over 10 years ago in the Hilliers’ Tenterfield shop. Done!” With the ’67 back in the O’Shea garage, Pat’s original plan was to chuck in a 500hp Clevo and cruise it. But then he succumbed to the allure of Street Machine Drag Challenge, and the new engine and driveline build quickly spiralled out of control in an effort to ready the car for the 2017 event.

“I got everyone together, pitched the idea and they were all keen to make it happen, says Pat. “Tony from TOCA Performance is not only one of the best engine builders in the country, he’s a great friend – I gave him free reign.

To run consistent mid-nines with a naturally aspirated small-block Ford, Tony called on his many years of experience to cut, move, weld and radically rework the CHI heads and Scott Cook Air Supremacy intake manifold. With its huge 2.125- inch throttle blades, the billet carby is quite obvious. The cam tunnel was bored out to accommodate 55mm roller bearings. Spinning inside this race-spec set-up is a solid-roller that not only features big lift and big duration (264/268@.050) but also gives the 440-cuber a different firing order. Why? Well, 915hp at 8100rpm and 648lb-ft at 7200rpm pretty much answers that question.

PAT O’SHEA 1967 XR FAIR IRMO MONT Paint: PPG two-tone red and gold

ENGINE

Type: 440ci small-block Ford

Carby: Custom billet

Intake: Scott Cook Air Supremacy

Heads: CHI

Camshaft: Solid-roller

Pistons: JE

Conrods: Callies Compstar

Crank: Scat

Fuel system: MagnaFuel 500

Ignition: MSD Power Grid

Exhaust: Custom headers, 4in pipes

Cooling: AFCO radiator, thermo fans

DRIVELINE

Gearbox: C4

Converter: 6800rpm or 7200rpm stall

Tailshaft: Mark Williams alloy, billet yokes

Diff: 9in, 35-spline Mark Williams axles, Strange centre, 4.56:1 gears

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Front: Suspension Dynamics springs, AFCO double-adjustable shocks

Rear: Split mono-leaf springs, AFCO double-adjustable shocks

Brakes: Wilwood rotors and fourpiston calipers (f & r)

Master cylinder: Wilwood (no booster)

Parachute: Deist

INTERIOR

Trim: Factory

Seat: Kirkey alloy race bucket (track)

Belts: Retractable

Rollcage: Six-point, removable door bars

Instruments: Auto Meter Pro Comp 2

Shifter: B&M Pro Ratchet

WHEELS & TYRES

Rims: Weld AlumaStar; 17x4.5 (f), 15x8 (r)

Rubber: M/T ET Street 26x6x17 (f), M/T Radial Pro 275/60R15 (r)

THANKS

Tony at TOCA Performance; Bob at Bob Grant Autos; Ross & Steve at Suspension Dynamics; Paul & Bec at Performance Steering & Tuning; all my mates who are always there to lend a hand; my amazing wife Kasia – I don’t know how I jagged that one!

INTERIOR: The neat fabricated dash filled with Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges is a carry-over from Pat’s written-off gold XR ute. For strip work, the factory buckets make way for a set of Kirkey aluminium racing seats, along with a sixpoint harness and bolt-in side intrusion bars

REAR RUBBER: With no mini-tubs or flares, the 275/60R15 M/T Radial Pros really are a guardful

FUELPROOF: Pat concedes that the car (pictured left during Drag Challenge 2017) could have made even more power and gone quicker at Drag Challenge if the motor had been built for E85. “But we didn’t want the hassle; finding E85 became a real issue for some competitors,” he explains. “All I took was a 20-litre ROO16 drum to race on. Then all we did was knock the timing from 28 degrees back to 25 to run 98 on the highway. This way we could fill up at just about any servo. At one point we couldn’t get 98 and had to put 94 in it just to get out of trouble. It ran fine; no way we could have done that with an engine built for E85. Also, with E85, you have to carry a shitload of fuel, and it corrodes up and makes a mess of the fuel system if the car sits for a long time.”

DURING DRAG CHALLENGE I GENTLY ROLLED OUT OF THE HOLE, BUT AT THE WINTER WARM-UP I SMASHED THE THROTTLE AND IT STOOD STRAIGHT UP ON THE REAR BAR

Next up was a C4 gearbox, again built by a mate of Pat’s: “Bob Grant Autos does all our gearbox work for the shop. Bob’s always going above and beyond for the cause – nothing is too much to ask.

For Drag Challenge, Bob went a bit soft on the converter to cope with all the highway miles, but post-DC, the ‘soft’ 6800 stall converter was swapped for a 7200, and the Fairmont responded with a scintillating 9.26@144mph timeslip.

With a full workload at Pat’s Pro Restos, Pat left it to Paul and Bec from Performance Steering & Tuning to put the car together. “They were awesome, he says. “I cannot thank them enough; they really built a killer car. They also did the pipes, the four-inch exhaust, brake system, fuel system and wired the car.

Ross and Steve from Suspension Dynamics can take credit for the car’s wheelstanding antics. Up front they dropped the upper control arm mounts and fitted longer tie-rod ends to eliminate the factory bump steer. The front wheels now sit nice and straight on launch. Out back they fitted custom CalTracs, split mono-leaf springs and AFCO double adjustable shocks, with no rear sway-bar in sight.

“During Drag Challenge I gently rolled out of the hole, says Pat. “But at the Winter Warm-Up I smashed the throttle and it stood straight up on the rear bar. There’s video of it on Willowbank’s FB page.

While Pat admits the rebuild went pretty smoothly because he had the best people around him, that didn’t mean it wasn’t down to the wire.

“We finished the car and took it to Willowbank for a test ’n’ tune, Pat says. “It worked straight of the trailer, running a 9.49@142mph. We only did one half-pass and two full passes – that’s it. With less than one road mile on it, we loaded it onto the trailer for the 2000km trek to Adelaide for Drag Challenge.

Despite the lack of testing and sorting, the Fairmont ran exceptionally well – good enough to take second place in the Pacemaker Radial Aspirated. It ran mid-nines all week, with a best of 9.47 on the last day.

“Despite four of us on board and a trailer on the back, the car ran awesome, says Pat. “Even on those 40-degree days. In fact, other than checking valve lash each day, we never laid a spanner on it.

We all had an awesome time – as far as car events go, it’s the best one I’ve ever been a part of!” In February they backed it up with another second-in-class performance at the inaugural Drag Challenge Weekend in Queensland.

“I’m spewing I’m not doing Drag Challenge this year, says Pat. “The car is ready to go; unfortunately with work and family commitments it’ll have to be next year. Kasia is awesome, she supports me so much it’s almost wrong – she even works harder at our business than I do! We need a bit of time for ourselves.

With wheels-up action virtually every pass and consistent mid nine-second performance, the in two-tone 2018. All XR I and can Pat’s say is: team Bring will on be 2019! sorely s missed