Words & Pics by Thashen Naidoo
“When the ou’s in their M3’s and 63’s see this, they already know first place trophy is already gone.”
“Hey Thashen, I have a father and son combo for you to shoot, it’s a pair of Sierra XR8’s.” “XR8’s? You sure about that, weren’t there only like 250 of those made to begin with?” “Uhm, yeah, I’m sure they’re XR8’s.”
“Ok” I said, still not convinced by Harry’s words. Nevertheless I trekked across N2 towards the Shell Shallcross service station, curious to find out how one family ended up with two of most rare vehicles around. So it turns out Harry was not mistaken, in front of me were two white hunks of V8 power, fresh out of a wash, patiently waiting with their bonnets open.
To begin with, the condition that the cars are kept in is amazing. To think that they hit the strip is absolutely crazy. The mags are stock on Ravindh’s car but feature some meaty Mickey Thompson’s. Along with the tensioned and raised rear springs the car has a very aggressive stance, the back is high off the ground while the front sort of hunkers down. Gershon’s features 17” Kyowa Racing mags that have much lower profile tyres. The paint scheme on both screams 80’s through the two-tone that wraps around the car.
Back at his offices after the shoot is done Ravindh tells me how his car used to clock over 300km/h on nitrous, but on a trip to the States he brought back a stroker kit for the car, which after he fitted never had to use nitrous again. The modifications, working in harmony realised almost double the power of the engine with nitrous.
“When its gets onto the M7 and its on full cry, the mirrors fold in, the wipers pull out, the back tucks down, (because of the spoiler) the nose picks up, the steering becomes power steering and you just guide it, absolutely phenomenal power”
The car’s latest ¼ mile run achieved 11.7 seconds with a speed of 205 km/h. Keep in mind that the interior is completely stock and nothing has been removed. For a car that came out of the factory with 200HP you can imagine that a lot of work has gone into it. Since then the manual box has also been switched out for a TCI C4 3 speed auto drag gearbox with a lock up TCI torque converter, allowing much quicker shifts and almost no loss of power between gears.
The box on its own cost a rather large sum, but comes with the peace of mind that it can handle up to 1200HP. The car’s new power figure of around 600HP has been obtained using the previously mentioned, ford 347 stroker, (which brought the capacity up to 5.6 litres) aluminum heads, forged pistons and a Holley 950 double pumper carb. Along with the engine modifications the diff’ got upgraded to a limited slip system and the prop shaft also had to be reinforced.
“The engines got to be happy, although mine sounds very angry!” I couldn’t agree more after we disturbed the peaceful Shallcross population. When I went to inspect the source of all the noise, I couldn’t find the exhaust! Is there some Prius action going on here? Ravindh quickly drew my attention to the dual 76mm exhaust pipes, which abruptly ended under the diff. He tells me that he did this to reduce some weight and as a healthy byproduct it also causes some seismic sensors in Chatsworth to give false readings.
As with Ravindh’s car Gershon’s XR8 is a 1984 model but he acquired almost 20 years after his father. He described his car as more of a show and shine special rather than a full out dragster but after seeing it in action, I don’t think it is lacking in any power. The car’s engine is now running a Ford 307 with aluminum heads, 30 thou forged pistons, a Holley 750 double pumper carb and a 63mm exhaust.
He tells me that growing with a father that was always tinkering away with his fords, he was naturally attracted to them and previous to this he had a 1600 Sport. He bought the XR8 and soon after switched out all the nuts and bolts for stainless steel items, candum plated the suspension, polished the brake calipers and then put on a set of sweet 17” mags.
Gershon is now a chip tuning reseller and he insists that it is more of a passion than a business. This passion he says, came from the many years he spent with his dad as a member of his drag racing squad and also his own foray into drag racing. He started out at the age of 15 in a nitrous equipped Sapphire. Quite convenient then that the Sapphire had the very same engine that powers his current beast.
When asked if he ever races his friends, he says he doesn’t get the chance to, his dad has warned him that if he is to get caught racing on the street, he won’t be allowed to race on the strip. While this may sound very likely a reason, I think that maybe his friends don’t have cars capable of keeping up with his XR8!
Ford sierra xr8 both 1984 model
Year you purchased it?
Name and capacity of the factory engine?
Ford 302 V8 5.0litre
Ravindh: ford 347stroker 5.6litre aluminium heads cam forged pistons holley 950double pumper carb 76mm exhaust, making around 600hp
Gershon: ford 307 5.2 litre aluminium heads cam 30thou forged pistons holley750 double pumper carb 63mm exhaust, making around 400hp
Ravindh: tci c4 3speed auto drag gearbox with lock up tci torque converter, strengthened and reinforced propshaft, limited slip diff
Gershon: t5 tremec 5speed gearbox limited slip diff
Ravindh: tensioned and raised rear springs
Ravindh: Raised bonnet for bigger air filter, mickey Thompson semi slicks at the rear
Gershon: 17inch rims with Dunlop semi slicks at the rear, polished brake callipers candum plated and chrome suspension throughout the vehicle chrome mountings . Stainless steel bolts and nuts throughout the vehicle.
Best time of 1/4 mile and location?
Ravindh: 11.8 seconds @204km/h
Gershon:13.2 seconds @180km/h (slightly wet track)
These two are certainly the kings of XR8’s, firstly we should consider the fact that this was a South African only special, secondly only 250 were ever made and thirdly they have been through as many as 16 of these cars over the years! It’s no wonder that other XR8 drivers around the country always call Ravindh when they need some advice for their pride and joy.
As the cars roar through Malvern, plenty heads are turned. Streetlight after streetlight I was actually looking forward to seeing red just to hear the two pulling off from standstill. One particular stop saw an even greater commotion, caused by a bride to be, busy soliciting money from friendly motorists to fund her premarital party. Upon seeing the two XR8’s and me virtually hanging out the car to get photos, she happily posed and even tried to organize Gershon’s ride to be the wedding car!