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A Falcon In Trans-Am?: '63 Ford Falcon

Michael Eisenberg Restores A Little-Known Piece Of SCCA History.

Photography by Don Gwynne, , Jim Taylor

Engine: In order for the car to race in the HTA, the engine has to be the same vintage casting as was previously raced in the car. That means no roller cam 5.0L motor. The original V-8 in the Falcon Sprint was a 260 ci, but by the time the Falcon raced in Trans-Am, it was fitted with a 289, so Maeco dredged up a vintage block and carefully machined it to Hi-Po 289 specs. All early 289s came with a cast crankshaft, which could be questionable for this kind of track abuse, so Maeco translated that into a 2.87-inch-stroke steel crank along with a set of forged connecting rods. Since this is purely a race car, compression jumped to 13:1 with a set of forged JE pistons fitted with Childs & Albert gapless rings, while the bearings are Polymer Dynamics-coated Clevites. Michael is reluctant to talk about the cam specs, but he did say the flat-tappet mechanical is an Engle custom grind running Crower 1.6:1 rocker arms with Manley pushrods. The very rare C6FE factory race heads on this small-block were used in several different Ford motorsport applications, including the early GT40 289 engine program. The heads were carefully ported by Maeco and fitted with Ferrea stainless 1.98/1.625-inch valves that are a bit bigger than the stock 1.78-inch intake and 1.45-inch exhaust valves that came in the early 289s. Isky valvesprings handle the 7,500-plus-rpm engine speeds where this little motor generally lives. ARP head bolts and Cometic gaskets glue it all together.

Intake: Trans-Am rules allowed multiple carbureted induction components if homologated by the SCCA. This meant Michael could run the factory over-the-counter 2x4 barrel intake (casting No. C6ZZ-6B068-A) with a pair of 415-cfm Holley carburetors. The 110-octane leaded race gas is pumped with a Carter mechanical fuel pump. Maeco fabricated the cold-air package for the twin carbs, since ducting cool air to a tight engine compartment is always worth a few extra horsepower. While everyone now uses an electronic ignition, rules still require a set of dual points in a stock Ford distributor along with an Echlin coil.

Exhaust: Maeco custom-fabricated the four-tube headers that merge into dual 3-inch exhaust pipes and dump just in front of the rear tires. Don't bother to look for mufflers.

Cooling: Race cars make a lot of heat, and it's hard to make horsepower when the engine temp spikes over 250 degrees. An oversize racing brass/copper radiator handles the engine cooling, while an Edelbrock aluminum water pump and Weaver Brothers engine pulleys control coolant movement through the engine. Fluidyne is responsible for keeping the oil temperature in line.

Transmission: Road racing is hard on parts, especially transmissions. While the Falcon would be much more fun to drive with a latest-generation G-Force G-101 box behind that 289, vintage rules calls for a period-correct '64 Ford Top Loader four-speed using a small-diameter Tilton flywheel and bellhousing that covers up a Quartermaster clutch and pressure plate assembly.

Rearend: Here's at least one place where the early Fords didn't have to compromise. Even back in the early '60s, a near-stock Ford 9-inch could easily take the abuse of this high-winding 289. Michael uses a '63-era 9-inch using a full-floater assembly that separates the axle from the hubs. That way, if the axle breaks, the tire and wheel assembly remains on the car. Speedway Engineering parts were used in the conversion, and Speedway also supplied the axles. Depending on which track the Falcon runs, gearing can be anything from 3.70s to as deep as 4.56:1.

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