Built, Not Bought - 1993 Chevy K3500

A surprisingly stock yet powerful 6.5L IDI Chevrolet

Jason Sands
Jun 1, 2013
There’s something to be said for making the best of what you have, especially when you’re a starving college student. For Morgan Chenoweth of Cody, Wyoming, that meant dismissing the idea of a killer $50,000 diesel until later in life, and instead working with a vehicle he could afford. In 2010, Morgan purchased a bone-stock ’93 6.5L IDI-powered Chevy K3500 with an NV4500 five-speed transmission and 4.10 gears. He scored the clean rig for a mere $2,000, which made it a very cost-effective ride. Of course, Morgan couldn’t leave well enough alone, even on a budget, so he immediately started modifying.
Photo 2/14   |   built Not Bought 1993 Chevy K3500 front Three Quarter
First, came more power. With his vehicle rated at anywhere between 180 and 215 hp in stock form, Morgan performed a few budget modifications that enabled the engine to produce 203 rwhp (about 250 hp at the crank), along with 330 lb-ft of torque. A quarter turn on the fuel screw of the DB2 injection pump, a wastegate that was wired shut, an AFE air filter, and a 4-inch exhaust added 50 hp more than stock, at 18 psi of boost.
"I built this truck on a very real-world budget."
Morgan wasn’t satisfied, however, and soon came across a deal on an engine from a military-spec HUMMER H1, with an International GEP 506 block—which had a good reputation for strength. Since Morgan’s original engine had 378,000 miles on it, he made the deal and took the swap as a sign that he needed to up the power once again. A set of modified Bosch injectors from Diesel Injection Services and an A-team turbocharger helped the Chevy make 274 rwhp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Horsepower peaked at a whopping 3,500 rpm, but due to the low backpressure of the new turbocharger, boost was actually down to a mild 10 psi.
Photo 3/14   |   At the heart of Morgan’s Chevy is a 6.5L GM diesel V-8 that has produced a best of 274 rwhp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Currently running 18 to 20 psi of boost, the IDI will soon see a set of head studs to assure maximum durability.
Since Morgan lived at 5,200 feet of elevation and towed often, the large turbo proved to have a bit too much lag, but he was able to find a solution. A BD spool valve for a Cummins application was fitted and provided twice the response without sacrificing too much top end power. The latest trip to the dyno at G&J Diesel in Billings, Montana, produced 254 rwhp, but the truck was smoke-free by 2,000 rpm.
Photo 4/14   |   The large exhaust housing on the A-Team turbo means it has very good efficiency at higher engine speeds. In fact, it can produce plenty of power with as little as 8 to 12 psi of boost.
Even with the engine swap, paint, assorted repairs, and three years of ownership, Morgan reports he only has about $9,000 total into the truck. Thanks to a weight advantage, even though the K3500 has less power than newer models, it can still run with them and achieve more than 20 mpg on the highway—even with the 4.10 gears. Morgan told us he’s not done yet, as head studs and some more fueling modifications are on the way. We’ll look for him to be breaking that 300hp mark soon.
Photo 5/14   |   built Not Bought 1993 Chevy K3500 rear Three Quarter
Fast Facts
Year/Make/Model: 1993 Chevrolet K3500
Owner: Morgan Chenoweth
Hometown: Cody, Wyoming
Odometer: 412,368 miles
Engine: 6.5L indirect-injection V-8
Aspiration: A-Team turbocharger, AFE intake, 4-inch exhaust, BD spool valve
Fueling: Custom injectors from Diesel Injection Services
Horsepower at rpm: 274 hp at 3,500 rpm
Torque at rpm: 430 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm
Transmission: NV4500 with a replacement clutch
Suspension (f/r): Stock
Tires: 285/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Wheels: Factory
Fun Fact: Morgan told us his build was something he felt readers could “relate to.” We’d have to agree.

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