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A different kind of inline

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“Apple,” as the car was nicknamed by the previous owner, wears a 1960-’61 front fender because of accident damage decades ago. Owner Dillon Merkl retained it because he enjoys the “Frankenstein look.” Images courtesy Dillon Merkl.

You’ve seen that movie, right? Where the exiled American teenager makes his mark on the Tokyo drifting scene with a ‘60s Ford stuffed full of Nissan Skyline engine? Well, this isn’t that Ford and it isn’t that Skyline engine, but it’s the same kind of thing and definitely unusual enough in reality or on the screen that it’s worth taking a closer look at.


“What in the heck is under that hood?” is a common reaction when people first see the Falcon’s engine bay or hear the combination of turbocharger and exhaust.

Dillon Merkl of Brooks, Alberta, Canada occasionally likes to exhibit photos of this well patina’d 1962 Ford Falcon Deluxe in the Ford Falcon Owners Group on Facebook. The intake protruding through the grille usually raises some eyebrows and questions ensue. Sadly, the presence of a Nissan engine instead of a 302 means a lot of interest drops off amongst the hardcore Fordophiles, but those with open minds never fail to be impressed by the swap from a 2.3-liter OHV six making 85 gross horsepower to a 2.5-liter DOHC six making 250 horsepower, net, in stock tune.

“It was a six-cylinder car,” Dillon observes, “Why ruin it? So it stayed a six. For once in my life I decided to keep the same amount of cylinders in a car as it came with. My love of the Nissan RB series motor, their sound and packaging, made it a sure thing in my mind.”

Better yet, in addition to the over 165 additional horses, the Nissan engine is “lighter than the stock and with the [Nissan] five-speed it makes 28-35 mpg highway.”


Brass hood vent was originally found in a boat and was painstakingly patina’d to match the car and then silver soldered into the hood.

The RB25, originally found in early ‘90s Nissan products, features a cylinder head with Dillon’s own Stage 1 port work, Tomei Procams camshafts with improved duration and fixed timing, GT3071R turbocharger, DeatschWerks 550 cc injectors, 90mm throttle body and Snow Performance methanol injection. In current form, with the turbo providing 13-14 pounds of boost, Dillon estimates the Nissan inliner is pumping out “low- to mid-300 rear-wheel horsepower.” But, Dillon says he’s shooting for 26 pounds of boost by the end of the year.

“When it gets turned up to 26 PSI,” he says, “is when the magic happens. It makes people look when they see the car and hear a motor in boost doing 7000 RPM.”

Amazingly, all this power is going through the original Falcon 7.25-inch rear axle, albeit with a beefier 3.40:1 ring and pinion from a Ranchero. An 8-inch swap is planned.


White lettering on the lower fender indicates the “zoomie screamer pipe” where extra exhaust gasses from the turbo waste gate exit.

Dillon found his ’62 in a coulee, wearing one 1961 front fender, where it had sat since 1983. After hauling it home with the intent of using it as a donor car for his 1961 Ranchero, Dillon realized the car was too nice to part out and elected to treat it to a ground-up rebuild.

All that patina was earned the hard way and Dillon took care not to disturb the exterior during his rebuild. Don’t be fooled, though, all of the other surfaces were taken down to bare metal and refinished to ensure quality and longevity.

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Top: Military surplus ammo cans were sunk into the trunk floor to create a battery box. Bottom: The interior was completely re-worked with at least one layer of Dynamat on all surfaces, memory foam seat cushions and a connecting-rod floor shifter.

In addition to the engine swap, Dillon performed many other subtle modifications, including a heated, memory foam bench seat and Ridetech air suspension providing four inches of adjustment in the front and six in the rear, Tasca Ford dealership emblem doubling as a battery-shutoff switch and many other tricks you may have to look close to see.

“It’s one of those cars where the longer you look, the more little tidbits you will find,” Dillon says.


Tasca Ford emblem doubles as a battery shutoff.

Crossbreeds like this aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially where engines designed overseas are concerned, but you must appreciate the ingenuity that goes into combining a Kennedy-era compact with such a fast-and-furious powertrain. Especially when the builder goes to such lengths to keep the character intact.

“More people love it than hate it,” says Dillion, “If they do hate it all they have to do is sit in the modded, heated, memory foam bench seat—then they love it too.”