While the performance benefits of LPG (liquid petroleum gas) have long been known to the modified automotive scene, and despite the fact that you'll find it at most gas stations priced cheaper than regular fuel, it has never really been accepted as a performance option en masse. Perhaps this is a result of decades of inefficient factory and aftermarket "dual-fuel" systems that compromised the vehicle's performance when running on either fuel, or maybe it's the old joke of running your car on BBQ gas that has turned so many away.
One guy that wasn't influenced by the negative public image was 35-year-old Australian John Colaidis. His '65 Mustang coupe is one of the quickest and fastest LPG-powered street cars in the world today and perhaps also one of the most surprising.
Lurking under its smooth House of Kolor Tangello hood is something that departs with the usual and expected small-block Ford V-8. Instead, what you'll find is a turbocharged six cylinder making an estimated 1,000-plus horsepower at the crank.
Based on an '00 Australian Ford Falcon 4.0L straight six, the engine uses a factory crank that's supported by a girdle and swings Scat H-beam rods and SPS pistons. When combined with the CNC-ported factory aluminum cylinder head, the static compression sits at a low, boost-friendly 7.4:1. Boost from the Garrett GTX45 turbo comes on strong to the tune of 40 psi, sucking in air through a 480-cfm GRA LPG throttle body and custom intake manifold.
John's Mustang boasts a sizeable fuel delivery system that starts with the trunk-mounted gas tank. Featuring three B2 LPG converters and the GRA throttle, John says he's completely maxed out the power-making potential of the current fuel setup. While the combo might have run out of head room, a dyno figure of 811 rear-wheel horsepower and a best e.t. of 8.98 seconds at 154 mph on a 10.5-inch slick is an astonishing result from the 4.0L six.
Incredibly, John and the Mustang almost didn't have the chance to get to this point, with the first rebuild dramatically burning to the ground in 2007.
"I bought the car as a rolling shell in 2005 in pretty poor condition," John says. "I spent the next two years in the shed at home restoring it with a few mates, but six months after I got it back on the road, it burnt to the ground."
It wasn't just the car that got scorched in the incident; John spent a week in the hospital as well, which gave him some time to consider his next steps. Where many of us would be more likely to send the wreck to the scrap yard, John took another route.
"The time in hospital gave me time to figure out what to do and I decided to get straight back into it once I got out," he says. "The fire had warped every panel on the car. There was very little to salvage."
Instead of tackling the second rebuild himself, he instead enlisted the services of some trusted workshops and talented friends to complete the bulk of the tough stuff. Over the course of the next two years, every panel bar in the roof was replaced and the car drenched in the almost luminous orange hue. Thanks to the low-profile nature of the six-cylinder engine, there's no need for ugly fiberglass appendages. And aside from the 15-inch Centerline Convo Pro rims, you'd never suspect that you were staring at a 1,000hp monster.
Inside, that impression is reinforced by the show-quality leather trim that even includes leather-covered false floor panels, Recaro front seats, Holden CV8 Monaro (Pontiac GTO) rear seats, dashpad, and custom center console. Besides the leather-covered, six-point rollcage, there's nothing in there to suggest the car's sub-9 second potential and that's just how John likes it.
811 rear-wheel horsepower and a best e.t. of 8.98 seconds at 154 mph is an astonishing result from the 4.0L six
"I've always wanted cars that I could actually drive," John says. "I have no interest in cars that you have to trailer to the track or can really only drive on weekends or once a month. I drive the Mustang to the shops, the gym...I drive it all the time."
It was during this two-year rebuild that the LPG engine combo was developed. No stranger to LPG cars, John had previously owned an XF Falcon that ran a turbo six on gas. However, this new engine was still the subject of intensive research and development, powering an EL Falcon while the Mustang was undergoing the second rebuild that would see it literally rise from the ashes like a Phoenix.
"I wanted to make the power on an easily available pump fuel," John says. "I didn't want to have to mess around with race fuels and stuff like that."
Despite the fact that LPG packs a meaty 102-108RON octane punch, John reiterates that he's come to the end of the line of LPG development using available fuel supply hardware. So, while his exploits have earned the car lots of fans both in Australia and on the Internet, John is elbow-deep in transforming the Mustang once again, including a switch to regular fuel.
"The car has been stripped," he says. "The RRS front end has been changed to a Mustang II-style kit and we're going to see just how much power we can make with an injected setup running premium unleaded pump fuel."
John says the long engine and driveline, which includes a Powerglide transmission and 9-inch rearend, will remain unchanged during the switch, with all the alterations occurring to the fuel side of the combo. Either way, John has already shown he's got nothing to prove when it comes to making prodigious power with the humble 4.0L six, but we're still keen to see what happens next.
John Colaidis' 1965 Mustang coupe
- '00 AU Falcon 4.0L inline six
- Stock crank with main cap girdle
- Scat H-beam rods
- SPS pistons (7.4:1-compression), Hastings rings
- CNC-ported aluminum head
- Wade solid camshaft
- Custom billet 2.1:1 rocker arms
- ARP head studs
- SPAL electric fans
- 480-cfm GRA LPG throttle body
- Custom Tunnel Vision intake manifold
- Triple B2 LPG converters
- Garrett GTX45 turbo at 40 psi
- Turbosmart eBoost2 electronic boost controller
- MSD 6AL-2 ignition
- MSD HVC-2 coil
- ICE 9mm spark leads
- Haltech wide-band air/fuel sensor
- Custom Powerglide two-speed automatic
- 3,000-rpm TCE stall converter
- Ford 9-inch
- 3.50 gears
- Full spool
- 31-spline billet axles
- Tunnel Vision exhaust manifold
- 4-inch straight through exhaust with optional 4-inch dump pipe
- Front: RRS struts and springs, chassis subframe connectors
- Rear: Reset leaf springs, relocated shock mounts, QA1 shocks, Slide-a-Link traction bars, mini-tubs
- Front: RRS disc, 11.8-inch slotted rotors, RRS two-piston calipers
- Rear: Nissan disc, R32 Skyline rotors and calipers
- Front: Centerline Convo Pro, 15x6
- Rear: Centerline Convo Pro, 15x10
- Front: Maxxis P205/55R15 radials
- Rear: Mickey Thompson P275/60R15 ET Street radials
SAAS steering wheel, Recaro front seats, Holden CV8 Monaro rear buckets, tan leather trim, tan leather false floors and center console, suede roof lining, Auto Meter gauges, Billet Specialties pedals, billet window and door handles, TCI Outlaw shifter, six-point leather-trimmed rollcage, Clarion head unit
Tunnel Vision, D&D Smash Repairs, Preston Automatics