Tim Grillot's 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura

By: Alex Healey | 06/26/2015 < Back to Motor Life Home
While a 1978 Ford Fairmont Futura may not immediately elicit the response of some more recognizable cars, Tim Grillot's certainly packs more than meets the eye. Underneath the plain-jane body and malaise-era paint lies a very auspicious drivetrain that creates one of the most dangerous sleepers you will ever see at a drag strip. This humble looking car has an equally humble history. Grillot says that the car was actually an impulse buy. It was such an impulse that he borrowed money from strangers to purchase the car. You might think that he had a vision for the car, but you would be mistaken. Tim just "thought the car was cool." The rest was just details. The car came into Tim's possession with the factory-installed 302 cubic inch small block and automatic transmission still intact. It only showed about 80,000 miles on the odometer and had a very well cared for interior. After getting the car home, Grillot knew that the drag strip was destined to be the car's second home. In which guise it would fly down the 1320' was an uncertainty though. Tim was on the fence between NMRA Coyote Stock and prepping it for Hot Rod Drag Week. Thankfully, for that pristine interior's sake, Tim settled on a Drag Week build, which will also allow him to compete in some True Street events. To be competitive at both Drag Week and True Street events, the Small-Block Power Adder class was the target. That meant a cage meeting NHRA 8.50 specifications was fabricated for the car by Tim. Up front, a UPR Products K-member provides the base for mounting the venerable iron 4.6 liter DOHC engine from a Terminator Cobra. CP pistons and billet connecting rods hang off of the 2003 Cobra crank. The top end features ported heads that are filled with some custom-specced turbo camshafts while it is all held down by a set of ARP head studs. A Sullivan intake manifold sits where the factory Eaton roots-style blower normally would. Instead of that blower, a Precision 7675 turbo now pressurizes the intake charge. A Tial blow off valve disperses air when the throttle snaps shut while a Tial wastegate and 4" downpipe control the exhaust. A TH400 transmission backs the 4.6 and sends power to a Ford 8.8" rear end filled with 3.27 gears, a spool, and 33-spline axles. Considering his place of employment, I'm sure that you will be surprised to learn that there is a plethora of Holley parts in the mix. A Dominator ECU controls all of the fueling and ignition parameters of the engine and it is also tasked with controlling the boost produced by the Precision turbo. Fuel is delivered by a Holley 12-1600 pump through Earl's lines all the way up front and into the Holley 120 lb/hr injectors. Tim also took advantage of the Dominator's ability to control GM drive-by-wire throttle bodies as all air enters the engine through a 90 mm GM DBW throttle body. A Holley Digital Dash allows him to monitor every aspect of the tuneup from the driver's seat. At the time of this writing, Tim did have the chance to begin the shakedown process. Normally I'd say the pass came "right off the trailer", but that would be selling him short. After driving to the track, Ole Butterscotch clicked off a 9.63 at 143 mph with a 1.49 60' time! Keep in mind that this was on a soft tune up. With a more aggressive tune and some suspension tuning, I think it's safe to say that we will see some even faster times in the near future!
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