Pushrod Powerhouse

It's got 45mm individual throttle bodies, a 347ci stroker kit, giant cam and more - it's one of Australia's most potent road-reg Windsors!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • High-quality 45mm individual throttles
  • 347ci stroked Windsor
  • Monster camshaft
  • Almost 450hp at the wheels
  • Amazing drivability
  • Australia's hottest street-driven NA Windsor?

You want neck-snapping grunt like a V8 Supercar?

Well, check out this baby. You’re looking at a stroked and trumpeted Windsor V8 – one of the most extensively modified NA Ford 8s in Australia!

The ol’ Windsor has never been one of our favourite engines but taking Bob Romano’s EBII Fairmont for a honk is a real wake-up. The throttle response of this beast is simply incredible – merely touch the throttle (at any revs) and the big Ford leaps forward. Keep the throttle down and, yep, it’s obvious this vehicle makes some grunt. Try about 450hp at the wheels!

But it’s not necessarily the amount of top-end power that’s the clincher.

The on-road manners and driveability of this highly-tuned atmo V8 are absolutely top notch. It fires into life without whirring away on the starter motor, it idles without complaint, there are no ‘fluffy’ spots and throttle response is razor-sharp.

All this without using an airflow meter or MAP sensor!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Long-time AutoSpeed readers may recognize Bob Romano’s EBII Ford Fairmont from an article in 2000 – see Muscle Freak

At initial glance the car looks exactly the same. It still wears 16 inch Simmons wheels, a subtle DJR body kit and the paint remains as-new. However, its previous mechanical configuration gave ‘only’ 290 – 300hp at the treads – the new motor spits out about half as much again...

One of the key modifications is an engine rebuild to the tune of 347ci (5.7 litres). Bob uses a Scat steel crankshaft, Carillo H-beam rods and high-quality Ross pistons providing a compression ratio of almost 11.0:1. Bob says he has no problems running such a high CR with pump fuel thanks to the time and effort invested in the tune. The cylinder heads are ported Trickflow alloy jobs and the block is a mega-buck 4-bolt motorsport piece. A high volume oil pump keeps everything spinning freely.

The broadest possible spread of torque comes from an Isky camshaft which Bob won’t elaborate on, except to say it’s similar to a V8 touring car profile. The cam teams up with Crane lifters, upgraded springs and 1.7:1 roller rockers.

The exhaust system is a monster. Bob replaced the previous Genie headers for custom-fabricated units linked to a twin 3-inch mandrel system with high-flow mufflers. Bob makes the point that a twin 3-inch set-up is unnecessary in the vast majority of engine builds – only the hottest of the hot need that much exhaust capacity.

And the induction system offers airflow aplenty.

Bob has recently changed to a DCNO 45mm individual throttle body kit, which is a work of art. Available as a kit from Bob Romano Performance for about AUD$3300–3500 you get a set of 45mm throttles, a dedicated manifold, fuel rails, trumpets and all necessary brackets. Bob points out that the DCNO throttles can be individually adjusted at idle (for improved low speed characteristics) and the sophisticated shaft system never jams.

Out of interest, Bob says the original Ford 65mm throttle body and intake manifold limits the naturally aspirated Windsor to around 220hp at the wheels. It’s one of the first things that needs to go when modifying, except when you’re bolting on a supercharger kit. 

Tuning a big cam’d and individual throttle’d Windsor is no task for cowboys and Bob Romano’s son – Chris – did a great job. Mapped on a TPS versus RPM basis, the software-upgraded MoTeC M48 controls a set of Bosch 803 injectors and a Jacobs ProStreet computerized ignition with a Jacobs coil. The fuel system has recently been altered so there’s now a high-volume in-tank pump supplying an under-car mounted Bosch Motorsport pump. A Bosch fuel pressure regulator is also used.

Mapped for 98 RON pump fuel, Bob’s Ford EBII has reached a maximum of 446.9hp at the wheels – and that was with a small problem with the angularity of the butterflies. Note that another 50hp ATW was achieved using a set of 50mm throttle bodies but Bob says it didn't drive as nicely on the road - it wasn’t worth the trade-off. As it stands, the engine really starts to push you back from about 3500 rpm and it tapers off toward the 8000 limit.

The driveline has also been completely redone since our original article.

Bob says the EBII’s electronic-controlled auto trans never received much local development and, as a result, no one seems to know how to make them perform in conjunction with a high power engine. We’re told the original auto driveline was never set up 100 percent correctly.

Bob cut his losses and switched to a Tremec T56 6-speed manual ‘box and heavy-duty full-face clutch. Bob is a big believer that there’s no need to have a nasty, grabby clutch in the majority of street cars.

Looking further astern, the standard 8½ inch diff housing spins a 4.11:1 LSD centre. Bob says he doesn't run the diff too ‘tight’ because it makes the car difficult to handle in real-world driving conditions.

If you’re like us, it would be easy for you to think of a 450hp ATW live-axle EBII Fairmont as an outa control tonne-and-a-half but, surprisingly, it handles the grunt quite capably. It doesn’t constantly erupt into wheelspin, it feels stable and the body doesn’t creak or rattle (note however, the car has an amazingly low 44,000km on the clock!).

Having driven only about 4000km per year, it is obvious Bob has other vehicles to use from Monday-to-Friday and on the weekend. His immaculate ’66 Mustang is hard to go past when the sun is out and there’s no work that needs to be done (well not urgently, anyway!).

It’s a sad situation when the 450hp ATW Ford gets left in the garage gathering dust.

“I just don’t have any more use for it,” says Bob.

 “I’ve done about everything I can development-wise and, really, I’d like to get on with another project. If somebody offered me about AUD$30,000 to AUD$35,000 they could take it – it’s worth that in parts.”

Believe us, this car is a whole lot more impressive than the sum of its parts!


Bob Romano Performance
+61 7 3395 8255

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