Ford Australia has detailed the extensive engineering process involved in bringing the Falcon Sprint range to fruition, despite the fact that only 1400 units will be built.
The Falcon XR6 Sprint and XR8 Sprint models were engineered by a team of 15 in Melbourne that worked on the car for almost two years. During that time, a vehicle was sent to ZF Sachs in Saarbucken, Germany, and to Ford’s global engineering operations in Detroit and Arizona.
A unique carbon-fibre air intake designed and engineered by Ford Australia, and built by a Ford supplier in Geelong, Victoria, can now also be used across Ford’s global range of products thanks to a validation process that tested the material across a wide range of temperature and humidity ranges.
CarAdvice spoke with Falcon Sprint program manager, Justin Capicchiano, who detailed the lengths the team went to, to bring buyers the most powerful XR6 and XR8 ever.
“That material and that process [the carbon-fibre air intake] is validated to a Ford global standard. We’ve tested that product at minus 40 degrees and at temperatures and humidity you’ll never see in Australia,” Capicchiano said.
Capicchiano refuted claims that the Sprint is simply a sticker package. He insisted that Ford spent a great deal of time engineering the entire car from the ground up to ensure it was the best it could be.
“We have effectively built a new engine iteration. It has its own engine number. We tested it as if it was a new engine. The suspension — it had to go through the whole global certification process and requirements. There were no pardons because this was a small limited program. Everything had to be signed off,” Capicchiano said.
“That takes time. And, it takes resources and testing. It helped that we were a small program. We were able to get help where help was required and be self led where we needed to be led.
“The transmission is another example. We could have done a transmission calibration that we had used before, but we wanted to do one that was just for this car.”
Capicchiano told us about the process of air-freighting a Sprint to ZF Sachs in Germany for the gearbox to be calibrated. The German engineers called Capicchiano and explained that there was a vibration at the top end of fifth gear that they wanted to address.
Much to his surprise, they removed the vehicle’s electronic speed limiter to test the full range of the gearbox, at speeds that well exceed the vehicle’s maximum chassis certification of 230km/h.
During the development phase, ZF Sachs fitted an instrumental driveshaft transmission and worked on calibrating the car with a number of checks and balances, required for different load conditions and throttle applications.
A car was also sent to Ford’s global engineering heads in Detroit for a final evaluation and sign-off, something all Ford’s products must receive before going on sale. The Sprint was no exception.
“Detroit was a ride and handling sign-off. The guys here do all the work at the proving ground and then the car needs to have global sign-off. They then send the car to Detroit, and then they test it for braking performance and tyre durability.
“It’s the same for all cars we work on in Australia. We are a fully-functioning proving ground and we can perform all the testing here. But the global engineering core is based in the States.”
We asked Capicchiano what the engineers in Detroit thought of the Sprint. Unsurprisingly, they loved it.
“They loved the cars [that were sent to Detroit]. What’s not to love about our rear-wheel-drive performance cars?”
Images in this story are from the engineering evaluation period prior to the car’s launch. As a result, most of the car’s pictured feature old bodies and a mix of parts.
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