10 Unique Diesel Engine Swaps That Will Boggle Your Mind
10 Of The Most Interesting Diesel Engine Swaps
Published November 9, 2017
Despite the best efforts of many automakers, the North American market has never truly accepted the diesel engine in much of anything other than trucks. Even then, the diesel engine has more of a cult following than a true sales base.
With diesel cars and trucks accounting for less than two percent of all new vehicle sales, most people are not interested in reading about the ho-hum, everyday diesel engine that can be found at the local dealership. However, we know that regular visitors to Gearheads want to hear about superpowered engine swaps(hell, any interesting engine swap for that matter) whether it is a diesel engine swap or any other fuel type. So, with that in mind, we scoured the internet with beady eyes and a greedy grin to bring you these ten diesel engine swaps that will make you think.
1. 1970 Plymouth Cuda “Torc”
When the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda hit the market, America was in the throes of muscle car mania. Every automaker was building horsepower monsters. Many of them still appeal to die-hard gearheads. In 1970, a ‘Cuda would have set you back a tad over $3,000 and could have been equipped with a 426 cu.in. Hemi V8 engine capable of 425 hp. Damned impressive for the time.
Well, the guys at Weaver Customs thought it would be a lot of fun to do a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine swap. The result of the project is a 1,500 hp monster aptly named the ”Torc.” As all gearheads know, ponies are not the most impressive aspect of diesel engine swaps; the torque is. The Torc thrusts 3,000 lb-ft of the stuff to the pavement.
2. 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
On the outside this David Browning built hotrod looks like every other Silverado 2500. The boys at Diesel Technology Source(DTS) where David works his magic kept that look on purpose. After all, there is nothing better than surprising the hell out of other drivers with the power from an average looking ride.
Pop the hood and you can see where the magic begins. Staring you in the face is a Duramax that hosts so many aftermarket parts that you need a secretary to read the build sheet while you drool over the powerplant. At the wheels, this Duramax creates 1,100 hp. To get there the crew at DTS added an ATI damper, Howard’s connecting rods, and ARP 12mm main studs. As your secretary continues to read, you will find Pro Gram main caps and high performance Mahle racing pistons.
The DTS boys didn’t stop there. They added a custom-built cam as well as specialty valvesprings and rocker arm bridges. The pushrods are another special order item and DTS did a complete porting job on the heads. Along with all of the custom material already mentioned, DTS needed to be able to move a lot of air and fuel to get their truck to finish the quarter mile in 10.41 seconds at 128 mph. DTS looked to Garrett ball-bearing turbochargers. To wit, a 75.8mm GTX4202R manifold turbo and a 106mm GT5541 turbo. With the airflow issue conquered, DTS decided to use a PPE Dual Fueler kit and a twin set of Stage 2 CP3 pumps built by Wicked Diesel Motorsports.
3. 1969 Chevrolet C10
Brett Deutsch’s 1969 Chevy C10 started its life powered by a gasoline engine just as every other C10 on the block did. In a plot twist, Brett’s grandfather dropped a three-cylinder Detroit Diesel into this C10 shortly after buying it. As any diesel fan knows, that engine is not impressive nor something to build upon. Brett found a way around those limitations, though.
Taking an interesting approach, Brett and his father decided to use a bus engine, transmission, and chassis for their build. A Duramax/Allison combo to be exact. The final result is a diesel engine swap that features Carrillo rods, performance main caps with a girdle, a SoCal Diesel 3388 camshaft, Stage I heads, and a 72mm VGT turbo. Toss in injectors that are 175 percent over and you get a 1969 Chevy C10 that Dynos 1,002 hp at the rear wheels and does the quarter in 9.99 seconds at 142 mph. After a few changes to his set up and some weight reduction, Brett managed 1,106 hp and a best run of 9.43 at 148 mph.
4. Demented Mustang
The Ford Mustang is a pretty popular car for diesel engine swaps, but no one has taken the same approach as Mark Kubik. His version is powered by a 7.3L Power Stroke, giving the Demented Mustang more power than most drivers could ever hope to handle.
The 7.3L powerplant you see under the hood is capable of 1,700 hp. To get there this superpowered diesel engine swap required a lot of aftermarket parts. Out went the HEUI injection system, in came a mechanical setup that uses a Bosch P-pump. Also coming in were forged connecting rods, low-compression pistons, and a camshaft from Hypermax. Approximately 100 psi of boost comes from a 98 mm Garrett GTX5533R Gen II turbo. Even the crankcase had to be swapped out in order to handle all of that power, so it was back to Hypermax for a compacted graphite iron (CGI) block. The quickest run the Demented Mustang has made is 5.24 seconds at 134 mph through the 660.
5. 1966 Chevrolet Nova II
Ryan Milliken of Hardway Performance built this 1966 Chevrolet Nova II specifically to drag race. Dubbed the Green Reaper, this car makes our list of diesel engine swaps with an eighth-mile time of 4.88 seconds at 150 mph.
A time like that requires a lot of work. The base car had been run by Mickey Tessneer, but Milliken swapped in an inline six built by Freedom Racing Engines. The powerplant boasts such amenities as a Hamilton Cams cast-iron block, billet steel rods, and a Wagler Competition billet-aluminum head. Inside, there are Diamond Racing pistons and 400 percent over injectors supplied by an 88 mm Garrett GTX5533R providing 65 psi of boost.
6. 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
What do you do when your diesel truck has two blown head gaskets, bad injectors, and 350,000 miles on it? If you’re Tyler Rabbage, you do an engine swap. Where most owner’s do diesel engine swaps and stay with the same type, i.e, putting a GM product back into a GM truck, Rabbage chose to go with a 5.9L Cummins instead of a Duramax.
Rabbage’s truck didn’t make our list of diesel engine swaps because of its raw power. It made the list because the swap was done in just eight days. That includes rebuilding the Cummins, pairing it with a beefed up Dodge 47RH, and getting the truck back on the streets. Granted he had help from Outlaw Diesel. Even though a Cummins 5.9L is one of the most common diesel engine swaps around, eight days is still pretty impressive.
7. Dodge Ram 3500
The Dodge Ram 3500 dually is already a great truck whether it is equipped with a diesel engine or not. The available 6.7L Cummins is a very efficient engine, but not the most powerful diesel on the market. So, what do you do if you want more power? Well, if you are Calibrated Power Solutions(CPS), you swap in a commercial QSL9. QSL9 diesel engine swaps into a pickup truck are not common because of space limitations in the engine bay. After some careful work with a shoehorn, CPS was able to make it happen.
The bulk of the QSL9 was increased further by a threesome of BorgWarner S591 turbos and all of the necessary pipes. Once room was made for the new powerplant, CPS went to work beefing up the QSL9 beyond adding the turbos. First up was a new gearbox to handle the massive amount of low-end torque envisioned. The new one is a Competition Stage 3 47RE built by Firepunk Diesel replete with manual valvebody and TCI Automotive pistol-grip shifter. The QSL9 had an original displacement of 8.9L. After some serious boring and stroking, that was increased to 10.4L. The flow from the fuel system was increased with dual Exergy Performance 14 mm CP3 injection pumps. The air/fuel mixture is completed by the 100 psi of boost created by the BorgWarners.
8. 1967 Ford Falcon XR
In 1967, buyers had six engine options to choose from when buying a Ford Falcon. None of them were diesels. In addition to being the only Falcon we have ever heard about with a diesel engine swap, this build makes our list of diesel engine swaps because it was built using 100 percent recycled parts. Dubbed Zero’d by its builder Mark Faber, the car was billed as the world’s first ”elite eco-friendly custom-built muscle car.”
Starting with a 7.3L Ford Powerstroke diesel engine, the Australian custom builder upped the output to 600 hp at the wheels. That may not be massive, but it was achieved running B20, a blend with 20 percent biodiesel included. Faber stressed the ”green” aspects of the car to the point of reusing fenders, installing custom seats that were stitched together with hide scraps, and using old nuts and bolts. The only new parts he used were rubber, glass, and a custom-built radiator and intercooler.
9. 1963 Chevrolet Nova II
The power coming from the standard engines offered in a 1963 Chevrolet Nova II is anything but spectacular. How do you improve on the base output? Well, to make our list of diesel engine swaps, you have to choose an oil burner of some type. John Fyffe went with a Duramax.
John turned to the performance experts at Fleece Performance Engineering to turn his LB7 Duramax into a seven second drag car. Fleece installed a great Wagler Competition water-to-air intake, parallel 63 mm BorgWarner turbos, and a Chrysler 47RH gearbox with a manual valve body to handle the torque. Output is north of 1,200 hp at the rear tires.
10. 1949 Willys
That vision involved a engine bay stuffed with an inline four 4BT Cummins. Hey, we didn’t say the Willys was on our list of diesel engine swaps for its amazing power. It does hit the interesting factor pretty hard, though.
Gerry’s build includes a 3.9L 4BT equipped with a rotary Bosch VE injection pump. There is no intercooler to be found under the cowl, but you will see a Fluidyne radiator. The 4BT is paired to a durable Turbo 400 automatic. As you can see in the image, this is a raised off-roader. To that end, Rommel installed a tough NP205 transfer case, a Dana 44 front axle, and a Dana 60 rear. Both axles have 3.55 gears.
Bonus Interesting Diesel Engine
This has absolutely nothing to do with our list of diesel engine swaps other than being an interesting-as-hell fact. The Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine is the most powerful diesel engine in the world. Built for marine applications, you can not do diesel engine swaps with this motor…well, maybe if you own a supertanker or something.
The Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C is available in 6 through 14 cylinder configurations. Each cylinder has a displacement of 111,143 cubic inches. That works out to 1,820L each. Each cylinder is capable of 7,780 hp. That means that the 14-cylinder version produces a total of 25,480L and a whopping 108,920 ponies.
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