Old Aussie Work Van Gets 1,100 HP Barra Motor and Seating for 7
That truly mighty power propels the entirely wrong vehicle, which is why it’s so fun.
Australia used to be known for rugby, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars, or at least that's how the ads used to go. Now, with the local auto industry dead as a doornail, the Land Down Under is more known as the sole source of the legendary Ford Barra engine. Slap a big enough turbo on the beefy straight-six and you'll get horsepower for days. Throw such a motor in a decrepit Bedford work van and you get suitably terrifying results.
The build is the work of The Skid Factory, the YouTube channel run by Aussie mechanics Alan and Woody. If Alan looks familiar, you might recognize him as Turbo Yoda, made famous by his work with the boys from Mighty Car Mods.
The swap first began back in 2018. The van's asthmatic six-cylinder Holden 202 "Red" motor was ripped out, replaced with a Barra motor from the last few generations of the Ford Falcon. As seen in the original build series, squeezing the 4.0-liter, double-overhead-cam engine into the Bedford was no easy job.
Much hacking and fabrication ensued, and finding room for the turbo required quite the inventive manifold design. But with the whole floor chopped out and lots of custom work, it all came together. 730 horsepower was the result and tires were readily smoked.
After hooning the vehicle for a few years, owner Millsi recently decided the Bedford needed some upgrades. An engine rebuild netted a 3.8-liter destroked Barra, fully built and paired with a Garrett G42-1450 turbo plus a worked 4L80E transmission to handle bulk power. The hope was to net 1000 kilowatts, or approximately 1,340 horsepower, though the turbo's size limited the final output to 1,100 horsepower. Most would agree that's enough for an old work van from the mid-20th century.
Out on Queensland Raceway at a "Happy Laps" event, Millsi took out the Bedford, complete with a Haltech digital dash, seven seats, and a full roll cage. The result is a terrifyingly quick party bus that the whole gang can ride around in. With the boost turned down for much of the day, the Bedford handily saw off multiple Commodores, Falcons, and Supras simply by rolling on the throttle on the straights.
Amazingly, despite the huge power and basic chassis, the van grips well and runs remarkably straight even under heavy power. The Skid Factory proposes that the van could potentially deliver an eight-second quarter-mile at the strip with the new setup—bold if true. In its original configuration, the van posted regular 11-second times in 2019 as seen below. It's likely to be much faster with the amount of work done in the meantime.
It's certainly not an engine swap for the faint-hearted. Virtually every part of the Bedford had to be worked over to handle the power and fit everything in. However, that's the price you have to pay to build something this unique and insane. From the looks of the faces of the passengers at the track, it was a price worth paying in the end.
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