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1997 Ford F-250 - Two-Wheel-Drive Terror

This ’97 F-250 looks stock, but a killer 7.3L Power Stroke provides big-time power

Tommy Lee Byrd
Mar 1, 2012
Photographers: Tommy Lee Byrd
When you live in a small town in the South, it’s common to see more trucks than regular passenger cars on an average day. Many are work trucks, but it’s also simply part of the culture to have a truck or two at your disposal—even if your line of work doesn’t require it. The ’97 Ford F-250 on these pages fits in this segment of society, as its location in middle Tennessee makes it just another truck on the road, upon first glance. Closer inspection reveals a long list of modifications made by the folks at Swamp’s Diesel Performance, who specialize in Ford Power Stroke applications.
Photo 2/12   |   It may look like a stock two-wheel-drive F-250, but this pickup makes lots of power and puts it to use on the dragstrip. Swamp’s Diesel Performance built the truck to perform, and Scott Garland doesn’t mind beating on it regularly.
Garland Scott owns the extended-cab Ford, and he’s spared no expense in making it very fast. He’s undoubtedly pleased with the current setup, as it performs well at the track but still offers plenty of street-friendly qualities, as evidenced by its 800-mile road trip last summer. It’s dependable and strong, thanks to the custom 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine under the hood, which is a product of many man hours from the entire crew at Swamp’s. There’s no question about the truck’s horsepower—even with no dyno-proven figures. Garland believes in using the blacktop dyno as his guide, and judging by the truck’s 7.51-second blast through the eighth-mile, it’s making nearly 800 hp and more than 1,000 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels.
This particular truck is unique because of its driveline, as most diesel trucks that frequent the dragstrip feature four-wheel drive, which enables a quicker launch with less chance of tire spin. Garland doesn’t mind the two-wheel-drive platform, as it greatly reduces rolling resistance and overall weight, even though the estimated weight of his truck is 6,700 pounds. He has great success with the stock rear leaf springs and only added a pair of Edelbrock shock absorbers to the original setup. Swamp’s installed a pair of custom traction bars to eliminate axlewrap, a common problem with nearly every leaf spring-equipped vehicle out there. The front suspension is completely stock, as is the original braking system, which consists of discs up front and drums out back. Rolling stock for the street consists of aluminum eight-lug wheels wrapped in 235/85-R16 Michelin rubber, but at the track, Garland relies on a pair of massive Hoosier slicks. The sticky slicks measure 32 inches tall and 14½ inches wide and mount to a set of custom Bart wheels. Thanks to a trusty Lincoln locker and a 3.55 gear set, the Ford 10¼-inch rear end sends equal power to each rear tire and sends this hefty pickup into motion.
Photo 3/12   |   Johnny Farrow at Swamp’s Diesel Performance built the 7.3L Power Stroke V-8 engine to withstand lots of boost from the Schwitzer S400 turbocharger. With enough boost to peg a 60-psi gauge, this truck makes serious power.
Providing motivation for Garland’s Ford truck is a 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine. Johnny Farrow of Swamp’s performed the engine build, fitting the filled block with a balanced rotating assembly, which consists of a stock crankshaft, stock rods, and a set of ceramic-coated Mahle pistons. Johnny used ARP main studs to keep the crankshaft snug and installed a set of A1 Technologies alloy cylinder head studs. The cylinder heads are ported and feature a multi-angle valve job with larger valves, stiffer valvesprings from Comp Cams, and a set of Smith Brothers pushrods. The exhaust manifolds are stock.
Photo 4/12   |   The heart of the diesel engine is this Schwitzer S400 turbocharger, which features a 74mm wheel and a 1.15 A/R housing. A Hypermax H2E kit mounts the turbo, which feeds an air-to-air intercooler from a late-model Super Duty pickup.
Big power comes from the custom Schwitzer S400 turbocharger, which features a 74mm inducer, an 88mm exducer, and a 1.15 A/R exhaust housing. Swamp’s used a Hypermax H2E turbo mounting kit to make easy work of the larger turbocharger and routed the custom piping to a stock intercooler from an ’00 Ford Super Duty pickup. A maximum boost number is unknown for Garland’s truck, but he knows it will peg a 60-psi gauge at full boost, so that tells you something about the amount of air being forced down the engine’s throat. With great quantities of air comes lots of fuel, and Swamp’s fitted Garland’s truck with a sumped fuel tank from a Ford Lightning and added an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump. Other fuel system upgrades consist of a Donaldson 2-micron filter, and 300cc injectors with twin high-pressure oil pumps to drive the injectors. The fuel injector drive module has been modified by increasing voltage from 115 to 140, and increasing the output from 8 to 12 amps.
Photo 5/12   |   At the track, Garland uses this pair of massive Hoosier slicks, which measure 32 inches tall and 14½ inches wide. These enormous tires attach to the stock 10¼-inch rear end, which features a 3.55 gear set and a Lincoln locker. Shod with these tires, Garland’s truck has run a best e.t. of 7.51 seconds at 91.8 mph in the eighth-mile!
Jonathan Ryan at Swamp’s tuned the 7.3L using Minotaur software from Power Hungry Performance, while most of the driving duties have been left up to another Swamp’s employee, Dan Morin. The automatic transmission, equipped with bulletproof internals, is a 4R100 unit built by Brian’s Truck Shop in Lead Hill, Arkansas. Power application is handled by a Precision Industries triple-disc torque converter, which stalls to 3,000 rpm on the line. The stock column shifter controls the transmission and retains the truck’s stock appearance. Other notable details are the completely stock body and paintjob, as well as the stock cloth interior. The only real signs of speed are the dash-mounted three-gauge pod, and the nitrous bottle mounted in the bed.
The nitrous system is from Nitrous Express, but it was not in use during this truck’s fastest run. Dan’s best pass in Garland’s truck resulted in a 7.51-second elapsed time at 91.8 mph at a local eighth-mile dragstrip. Just for reference, a mid-7-second pass generally equates to 11.70s or so in the quarter-mile. Much of the credit for getting this truck off the line without leaving a plume of tire smoke behind it goes to the big Hoosier slicks, as regular radials would never stand a chance of hooking. No matter the wheel and tire setup, the truck certainly doesn’t look like it’s capable of a mid-7-second pass, but that’s part of the sleeper effect. With an easy-going appearance and lots of power, Garland’s F-250 is a great sleeper that proves to be a fun ride—whether it’s on the street or at the track.
Photo 6/12   |   An open door reveals a nearly stock interior—another trait that keeps this truck from jumping out at the average truck enthusiast. It certainly blends in, making it a killer sleeper on the street and at the track. Garland went as far as to retain the stock column shifter for the sleeper appeal.


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