This Falcon is ready to fly.
The Freebird is a 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint coupe built to burn rubber by burning hydrogen.
The classic was rebuilt by Arrington Performance with a 5.0-litre Ford V8 from a Ford Mustang modified to run on petrol instead of petrol.
It is the company’s second hydrogen hot rod, following a 1948 Chevrolet pickup that it designed with a 6.2-liter GM V8.
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Several automakers, including Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, currently sell hydrogen-powered vehicles, but in a different way.
They combine stored hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen in a fuel cell catalyst to generate electricity and replace the need for a large battery pack.
Freebird simply burns the hydrogen, a process that doesn’t create carbon dioxide, but can generate nitrogen oxides if not properly controlled.
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However, it is not as simple as changing tanks. The Ford V8 features direct and port fuel injectors, the latter of which are now used to introduce a small amount of water into the mix to control combustion temperatures. It’s an old hot rodder trick that BMW recently experimented with in its M4 performance model.
“As in any industry, you need to approach the issue from more than one direction,” said Mike Copeland, CEO of Arrington Performance.
“I love performance vehicles and happen to be an expert on internal combustion engines. It only made sense to move forward with hydrogen as a direct fuel source and enable gas conversion as a zero-emission option.”
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The exact specs of the Freebird have not been released, but the company said the engine should produce about 10% more power than the petrol version, which is rated at 460 horsepower.
The car, which is equipped with a hydrogen tank of 5.3 kilograms, can be filled between five minutes and 4 to 5 hours of driving. It has also been updated with modernized suspension, brakes and other parts.
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Hydrogen is not readily available to consumers outside of California, where there are a few public stations, but is being explored by some major companies as an alternative to gasoline in addition to fuel cells. These include a partnership between Toyota and Yamaha to build their own high-performance V8.