280Z-Powered Falcon Ranchero Bonneville Speed Week Results

280Z powered Falcon Ranchero Race Results

ford falcon ranchero, 1961 ranchero, land speed racing falcon


Remember this car? Just looking at it’s low, built-for-racing stance, it was easily one of my favorites from Bonneville – and that’s before I saw under the hood. With a Nissan 280Z inline six suppying the power, I had to ask the owner to keep me posted on his first year racing results from 2012 Bonneville Speed Week. If you need to see so more pictures, check out this 1960 Falcon Ranchero here.


Here’s what Alan Morris out of Montrose, CO had to say about the first time out with his Ranchero:


“I apologize for not replying sooner. I’ve been busy cleaning the car, removing the engine and assessing the engine damage. Plus I needed a rest. I have thrown most of my energy at the car for about two and a half years. At 70 years old I don’t seem to have that much energy anyway.


The first run (the maiden one for the car and me as well) they only want you to run to the two mile mark and pull the parachute. They don’t want you to run over 150. I was getting the feel for the car and course so my entry speed at the one mile mark was only about 100 just getting into 5th. The exit at the two was around 130 giving me an average of low 120’s. The car was pulling hard at the two and I felt it would perhaps run up to 150 with another mile to run. I was phsyched.


We took the car to the pits and looked it over good to see if there was loose parts or any issues I had overlooked. The next morning we went back out and ran the alternate short track again. Only running two miles again, the line on the regular three mile track was very long and I still needed to license. I had a better one mile speed and an identical exit speed to give me a 125 and chance to get a D license, good to 150 mph. The car didn’t run as strong, I sort of had to coax it up to achieve speed. That day was Monday and we took the car back and leaned it out a bit, the air/fuel meter was reading in the 12:1 area. Made it out the same afternoon and the car ran worse, only able to get it up into the hundred-teens.


On Tuesday morning I changed the air/fuel meter lead from the rear three cylinders to the front three, the headers are the front three into a collector about one foot down and the same for the rear three. The O2 sensors for the meter are in the collector areas. I also changed from 110 octane to 118 and added ice to my intake air supply box located just behind the left headlight area. The car ran worse still only around 106. There was obviously more wrong than fuel. Running it in the pits it is hard to tell much; the engine doesn’t clean up well until over 4000 rpm, but it was popping like it had some kind of a valve problem. I managed to find a guy who had a leak down tester with him and established I had a dead hole. Then I started taking things apart and found the exhaust valve in #1 stuck open with the rocker and the lash pad knocked clear off the cam. I assumed the piston would be damaged so we loaded up and came home.


We needed an excuse anyway; the week before going to Bonneville I had been on a commercial air flight and within 24 hrs after arriving home, I had a substantial head and chest cold. After a few days of camping on the hill I had managed to infect two out of three of my buddies. Everyone was ready for chicken soup and their blankey.


Once I got the engine out and apart I was pleasantly surprised to find the piston intact. With a 3.425 bore and a 3.11 stroke everything has to fit fairly tight to make the compression I wanted so I have domed pistons and a radically milled head. The pistons are fly cut for the valves at the correct angle so the piston was batting the valve back in (minus clearance) until it shucked the rocker. I knocked the valve out of the head and the stem is scarred like it had debris in the guide which is practically impossible. I suspect a cracked guide, but don’t know yet.


I’ll be back next year and try to run on all 6. For anyone out here contemplating a Bonneville build be advised, as I have been several times now, that it’s a five year commitment. Then, as one guy advised, “then by five you are hooked.”


1960 Falcon, 1960 Falcon Ranchero, Ford Falcon

Owner Alan Moss shown with his 1960 facon Ranchero race car while still under construction


Anyone following this site knows I’m partial to the round bodied Falcons… so much so I’m building a 1963 Falcon Wagon myself. Keep following this story… Alan’s got a clone Falcon Ranchero (although with more traditional Ford 302 Power) I’m writing about now.


Thanks for the extra info Alan. I hope to see you there next year. I’m hooked too!


For more Falcon fun, check out Pikesan’s project: 1963 Ford Falcon Wagon Build


If you’re looking for more great Bonneville Race Cars, check out these stories: see Bonneville Baddest Race Cars

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