Every car has a story. It's just that some are more interesting than others. The best ones begin back when the car was new. John Urgo didn't buy this car new. His grandfather was the one who plunked down a couple large in 1964 for a Falcon with a 260ci V-8 and a three-speed on the column. Fast-forward to 1988, when the little Ford finds its way into John's possession, instantly becoming fodder for a string of increasingly more powerful engines. It's the American way.
Once John took on the task of updating the Futura, his first effort was to chuck the little 260 for a bigger Windsor that ran 12.30s. John and his dad, John Sr., built the motor backed by a Top Loader four-speed, and that effort was worth a gratifying 12.30 on pump gas. Some of this performance can be attributed to the fact that a Falcon Futura weighs less than Anna Nicole did before her latest fasting program. In fact, even with a 9-inch rear and a chrome-moly roll bar, the Falcon barely scales out at 3,200 pounds.
Low-12s were nice for a year or so, but once the budget had a chance to recuperate, a bigger cam and heads found their way into the 351, which pushed the little Ford into the 11s. You know how the story goes next, right? Tens became too attractive, so John bolted on a small nitrous kit and soon was running 10.30s. That was fun until the combination of too many revs and too much cylinder pressure did in a connecting-rod bearing and the fun meter hit the red zone. And that's when the horsepower escalation program took shape.
The details on the CFO-built Windsor can be found in the Tech Notes, but it's worth noting that 700 hp divided by 358 ci is all but 2 hp per cubic inch. Of course, when you're squeezin' 14.9:1 compression, that pushes the pony count up a couple of notches. Even this kind of power in a light car is hardly cause for headlines, but sprinkle in the idea that John pulls the handle on a Jerico four-speed, and now we're talkin' true musclecar malevolence.
The clutch pedal is stock, and John hasn't really had to turn it into a bridge support. The McLeod Soft Lok clutch only has 20 pounds of static load on it with the rest all dialed into centrifugal force once the rpm comes up. With that little base, the clutch pedal at idle feels more like the pedal in a Focus than a 10-second street car. But the real fun starts when John lets the pedal fly. With more than a 15:1 overall First-gear ratio, he drops the clutch and pulls the handle into Second almost instantly. The McLeod clutch is designed to slip ever-so-slightly on the launch so it doesn't tear up parts by using a lightweight flywheel and pressure-plate assembly. For upshifts, "All I do is nip the clutch and it falls into gear," John says. "I love it." He can also quickly tune the clutch for different track conditions, and all this works to the tune of 1.33 60-foot times. Think a rabid four-speed isn't consistent? In five straight passes in Las Vegas, the car ran between 10.11 and 10.15. John can also make 45 to 50 passes before he even thinks about maintenance. Nice.
The little Falcon now has more than 260,000 miles on the original clock, but it's fair to say that most of those were before this latest generation engine and drivetrain. It still sports its original black and gold license plates, and except for the deep rear gear, you could consider this a street car, right down to the in-dash CD player and stock upholstery.
John admits, "Yeah, it's a bit stiff on the freeway...and the trans is a little noisy. But, hey, it's got a 29-inch-tall tire, so it's not bad. Mostly, I just take surface streets." Quickly, we're sure.
What: '64 Ford Falcon Futura
Owner: John Urgo, go-fast guy
Hometown: Camarillo, CA
Engine: It all started with a 351W block that CFO Racing Engines bored 0.040-over to create 358 ci. Then came the stock stroke Scat steel crank that pushes a set of Groden aluminum rods and a gnarly set of Ross pistons squeezing 14.9:1 compression. Akerly & Childs rings and bearings keep everything sealed and moving smoothly. Lubrication duties fall to the Milodon pan and Moroso external oil and vacuum pumps.
Camshaft: Like many racers, John is secretive about the mechanical roller camshaft, but with almost 15:1 compression, you know it's long on duration. Call it "large by large" with more than 0.700 inch of lift.
Heads: Edelbrock Victor Jr.'s were the raw product, but only long enough for CFO to do its full-tilt porting job. Ferrea supplied the 2.08/1.60-inch stainless steel valves loaded by Isky valvesprings, massive 3/8-inch Smith Brothers pushrods, and a complete T&D shaft rocker system.
Induction: This may be the simplest portion of the entire engine, with just an Edelbrock Super Victor single plane and a Barry Grant mechanical secondary 750 cfm carb.
Exhaust: John and the Fast Guys Fabrication company put some thought into the entire header and exhaust system starting with 1 3/4- to 1 7/8-inch stepped headers that feed into a 3 1/2-inch merge collector and into a Fast Guys-fabbed cross-pipe that eventually leads to a pair of DynoMax Bullet mufflers.
Power: CFO dyno tested this Erik Jones-built 358ci motor and came up with 545 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 and 700 hp at 7,800 rpm. "The torque curve looks like a pool table," John says.
Transmission: Instead of a boring automatic, John opted for a 3.19 First-gear Jerico backed with a Long shifter. The key to making this trans work is the clutch, which is a McLeod Soft Lok dialed in by Les Freeman using a 15-pound aluminum flywheel and medium-friction disc. Coast Driveline built the 3-inch chrome-moly steel driveshaft.
Rearend: John found a '70 Ford Ranch Wagon 9-inch housing that fit the Falcon perfectly, laying the foundation for a set of 5.14:1 gears and a spool to apply all that power through a pair of 31-spline axles.
Suspension: When you have 700 hp, you know it will take some suspension work to hook that grunt to the ground. John worked with Fast Guys Fabrication in Oxnard, California, to add Suspension Technology front springs and Koni SPA 1 front shocks to work with the otherwise stock front suspension. The real effort was in the rear, where Fast Guys tubbed the Falcon and added adjustable ladder bars, a track bar for stability, and a set of QA1 adjustable coilover rear shocks. The Fast Fab guys also added a set of subframe connectors just so the windows wouldn't pop out of the car on the launch.
Brakes: Run 134 mph in the quarter and you'd better have good brakes. Wilwood front discs dissipate most of the braking force while stock Ford rear drums handle the rest.
Wheels/Tires: Bogart Racing Wheels keep the rotating weight down with lightweight 15x3 1/2-inchers up front with a pair of Mickey Thompson 24x4 1/2-inch ET Fronts. In the rear, John mounted a set of 28x11 1/2-inch ET Drag tires on a pair of Bogart 15x10-inch wheels.
Body: This was actually the first work completed on the car way back when John first started the project. Later, the rear wheelwells were stretched 2 1/2 inches when the tubs were added. The only other changes are a brand-new GlassTech fiberglass hood and front bumper. John shot the paint himself in his garage using Oxford blue enamel with a little pinstripe help from Mike Shartell.
Interior: When the emphasis is on going fast, the main move in the interior is to make it safe. The Fast Guys added an eight-point roll bar, which offered a place to hang the Crow Industries safety harness. John then hung the Auto Meter Pro Comp tach, oil-pressure, temperature, vacuum, and fuel-pressure gauges, which still allowed room for the in-dash Kenwood CD player.
Crew: Race cars don't build themselves, and John had plenty of help from the aforementioned people plus West Coast Race Crafters' Big Joel Ganguish, Paul Bartlett of Fast Guys Fabrications, Erik Jones, Jason Holt, and Anthony Ruiz. A special thanks goes to his wife, Cheryl, for her patience and willingness to spend cold rainy Saturdays at the dragstrip, and especially to his dad, John Sr.