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2006 Ford E-350 - Odd Van Out

The Ultimate 600hp Sleeper

Mike McGlothlin
Aug 23, 2013
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
T n he diesel performance bug bites us all in different ways, and at different points in life. For Leon Darland of Bowie, Maryland, the proverbial bite came when his son asked if he would fly to Florida with him to pick up a new Ford F-350 diesel that he had purchased for his landscaping business. It was on the 15-hour drive back to Maryland with the new pickup that Leon realized the new diesel had far more grunt than his current work van did, and he made the decision that he needed to have one of his own.
Photo 2/16   |   2006 Ford E 350 On Drag Strip
Working as an independent contractor, for years Leon had used a Ford E-150 Econoline van to haul his supplies and tools from job to job, as well as pulling daily driver duties. And while he was lusting over the power and performance his son’s newly acquired pickup had, the sensible man inside wouldn’t let him part with a perfectly good vehicle. After a few weeks went by, like an answered prayer from above, a friend in need offered to purchase Leon’s E-150 for his painting business. Without hesitation, Leon tossed him the keys and he and his son headed back to Florida to pick up his new ’06 Ford E-350 Econoline van, equipped with the 6.0L Power Stroke.
Humble Beginnings
Leon’s first experience with diesel came when he was young: driving a late-’70s Cadillac Seville equipped with a 350ci Oldsmobile diesel V-8. It was unbearably slow but returned some pretty decent fuel economy—for its time. While his new E-350 was nowhere near as miserable as the old Caddy, Leon wanted more. The modifications started simple and slow. After all, the van still needed to be used every day to haul tools and supplies from job to job. First up was a Banks IQ programmer, followed soon after by an AirDog lift pump and filter setup. A custom 4-inch intake, 4-inch turbo-back exhaust, and CFM Plus air horn rounded out the first set of mods and netted Leon 340 hp and 680 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.
Photo 3/16   |   2006 Ford E 350 On Drag Strip
The Quest For More
With power numbers creeping higher and higher, the looming question of what to do with the transmission needed to be addressed sooner rather than later. Leon started by installing a Filtration Solutions FS-2500 bypass filter and Mag-Hytec deep transmission pan. He then handed it over to the competent hands at Maryland Performance Diesel where the crew tore down the 5R110 and rebuilt it with Sun Coast clutches, internals, and a triple-disc torque converter.
Stepping up the power game, Leon installed a new intake horn from BD Diesel Performance and an EGR delete kit before heading back to Maryland Performance Diesel for ARP head studs, 195cc injectors, and a Garrett PowerMax turbo with a Bullseye Power BatMoWheel. Leon turned to Innovative Diesel to tune the new setup by way of an SCT programmer. After an unfortunate nitrous backfire left the PowerMax wounded, Leon took the opportunity to upgrade to a 66mm BorgWarner S300 charger with custom up-pipes from MPD and also installed a Bullet Proof Diesel water pump at the same time. While this new setup hasn’t been back to the dyno, based on similar builds, it’s estimated to produce between 550 to 600 rwhp.
Hitting The Strip
It’s admittedly quite an odd sight to see the van lined up in the staging lanes, and it’s this very thought that keeps Leon moving toward quicker and quicker e.t.’s. After having issues hooking up at his first couple of races, Leon purchased a pair of Nitto NT05R drag radials and mounted them on Raceline Renegade wheels. A set of CalTracs traction bars and a Hellwig sway bar were added to aid in traction and stability, and a driveshaft loop was installed to stay legal at tracks that require them. Leon has run in the low 13s on fuel alone, and high 12s with a small shot of nitrous. The sleeper E-350 has turned heads at every dragstrip it’s been to, and Leon is confident it can go faster—and turn even more heads along the way.
Photo 4/16   |   Since Leon runs drag radials when he races, a driveshaft loop was added to pass tech inspection at his local dragstrip, Capital Raceway in Crofton, Maryland. Not all facilities have this rule, but having a driveshaft loop is never a bad idea.
Fast Facts
Year/Make/Model: 2006 Ford E-350 Econoline
Owner: Leon Darland
Hometown: Bowie, Maryland
Odometer: 84,500 miles
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Engine: 6.0L Power Stroke V-8
Aspiration: Single 66mm BorgWarner S300
Fueling: AirDog lift pump, MPD 195cc injectors
Horsepower/Torque: 600 hp/1,000 lb-ft (estimated)
Transmission: 5R110 TorqShift five-speed automatic
Tires: LT245/75R16 Michelin LTX
Wheels: Stock 16x7-inch alloys
Drag Radials: P305/45R18 Nitto NT05R on 18x10 Raceline Renegade wheels
Suspension: Stock with CalTracs bars (rear)
Weight: 7,800 to 8,200 pounds, depending on load
Fun Fact: Leon wanted to add a set of Horn Blasters train horns but couldn’t find room underneath for them, the compressor, and the air tank.



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