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Hydrogen Genius Mike Copeland Strikes Again

Zero Emission Muscle Car Ford Falcon Coyote V8 2022 SEMA Show

The hydrogen hype is real. Mike Copeland and Arrington Performance just unveiled Freebird, a hydrogen-powered 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint at the 2022 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Freebird Falcon uses a hydrogen-fueled zero emissions 2022 Ford 5.0 Coyote V8 engine. And while this may sound like brand new stuff, this is actually the second V8 Copeland and Arrington have converted to run on hydrogen power. The first being the hydrogen-fueled supercharged LS3 truck, named Zero.

The engine started life as a 2022 Ford 5.0L Coyote V8 crate engine, rated from the factory for 460hp at 7,000 rpm. As delivered, the Coyote uses both direct and port injection, for the sake of driveability, performance, and longevity. The team at Arrington retained the use of sixteen injectors, replacing the factory direct injectors with Bosch units designed to spray hydrogen, while the port injectors are now responsible for introducing water, which is used to control the burn rate. This marks a significant mainstream advancement in the world of hydrogen internal combustion.

One of the issues facing hydrogen combustion has been its propensity for pre-detonation due to extremely high combustion temperatures. Previously, the burn rate was controlled through the use of EGR, something we saw from one of Ford’s own patents, but using water injection is a much cleaner solution with fewer moving parts, and a smaller impact on the actual air/fuel mixture being burned in the cylinder. Hydrogen is capable of burning at super lean lambdas, in excess of 2.00– unfortunately, lean mixtures can produce harmful NOx emissions, something Copeland’s water injection system should mitigate.

Zero Emission Muscle Car Ford Falcon Coyote V8 2022 SEMA Show

Copeland didn’t deliver hard numbers at SEMA, but he did say the Coyote running on hydrogen could produce 10 percent more power than the crate engine could when running gasoline. According to a fact sheet provided by Arrington, the Freebird hydrogen-powered 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint is expected to travel 4 to 5 hours on a single tank of pressurized hydrogen, of course, distance is a variable dictated by speed so your mileage will certainly vary. The SEMA car is currently equipped with a 5.3 kg tank which is capable of being filled from empty in roughly five minutes.

The hydrogen-fueled Coyote is bolted to a Tremec TKX 5-speed manual, with a Mcleod Racing clutch in between. A QA1 carbon-fiber axle flows power to the Moser rear axle which holds a 3.50 rear ratio and a Detroit True Trac limited slip differential. This thing should absolutely smoke tires like they’re cigarettes.

As for the rest of the car, it’s a pure resto-mod in all the right ways. Complete TCI suspension, front, and rear with QA1 double-adjustable dampers on all four corners. Stopping is handled by a set of Baer Pro + brakes with 14-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers all the way around, while the project rides on wheels from 3030 Autosport wrapped in Continental Tires.

Zero Emission Muscle Car Ford Falcon Coyote V8 2022 SEMA Show

Inside, the Freebird hydrogen-powered 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint uses new front black leather front seats with suede inserts from TMI, the same company also wrapped the car’s original rear bench seat to match the updated interior. The instrument binnacle was CNC’d from billet aluminum which was custom designed in-house at Arrington, with gauges provided by Classic Instruments.

Exterior modifications are quite minor, save for the NASCAR-style rear spoiler. Most of the brightwork on the car is actually original due to the severe lack of aftermarket support for the Falcon. The Liquid Blue paint was provided by Axalta, and it adheres to a zero-emission ethos thanks to a waterborne application. According to Copeland, paint is the second most emissions-intensive activity involved with building a car. In case you were curious, it takes thirteen different hues and three kinds of pearls to mix a batch of Ford’s Liquid Blue.

The Freebird hydrogen-powered 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint sounds just like any resto-mod classic with a performance engine and exhaust system, it just happens to produce zero emissions. The best part is, Arrington Performance has submitted for zero emissions certification from the California Air Resource Board which it hopes to receive before the year’s end.

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his career. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael works for several motorsports organizations.

He was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR race cars, has ziptied Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars back together, been over the wall in the Rolex 24, and worked in the cut-throat world of IndyCar.

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