1969 Chevy C10 - Back In Black

The Saga of an 1,100hp Duramax-powered Chevy

Jason Sands
Jan 15, 2014
Photographers: Jason Sands
Oddly enough, Brett Deutsch’s Chevy C10 started its life as a diesel very early—before the Duramax engine was even invented. Originally owned by Brett’s grandfather, the ’69 Chevy had a three-cylinder Detroit Diesel two-stroke that was swapped in. It was different and unique, and Brett’s grandfather drove it as often as possible and entered various parades to show off his creation. Brett always admired the truck, and when he turned 15 in 1998, his grandfather surprised him by handing him the keys. Brett was now the proud owner of a diesel-powered C10 pickup.
But there was a problem for the Elburn, Illinois, native: rust. Luckily, Brett and his father Don were the hands-on types, and they swapped cabs, found a step-side bed off a ’95 Chevy, completely restored the frame, and painted the truck gloss black—all in less than a year. After the truck itself was restored, Brett got the go-fast bug and swapped in a 350ci small-block Chevy, then later a 383. Two superchargers and three blown engines later, Brett decided to go back to the truck’s diesel past, so he sold his gas drivetrain and used the money to purchase a Workhorse bus chassis that had been outfitted with a Duramax/Allison combo.
"I figure I have about 2,200 hours in the diesel swap so far… — Brett Deutsch"
Brett knew he wanted to use all the parts he could off the bus, so the engine was set back about 6 inches to make room for the big radiator and intercooler. He also needed to make room for the Allison transmission, so he bought another C10 from a local junkyard and reworked and re-welded the truck until he felt he got it right. After the engine and transmission were test-fit in the junkyard truck, Brett went through and performed the exact same modifications on his ’69, moving the firewall back, installing a trapdoor for rear engine access, and extending and boxing the framerails to make room for the large intercooler and radiator, as well as adding some much needed strength to the chassis.
Photo 2/13   |   1969 Chevy C10 Burnout
After shortening the ECM and TCM wiring by 56 inches, integrating it into the C10’s chassis, and swapping the fuse box out of the bus, Brett and his father pulled everything apart again and had the firewall, floorboard, core support, and frame painted.
Brett remembered the days of the anemic Detroit Diesel, and this time around he wanted some power. His LLY-based engine got a tune-up from Danville Performance in the form of 50-percent-over injectors, a 68mm VGT turbo, head studs, a modified LBZ CP3 pump, and an AirDog lift pump. He also contacted Mike Lovrich of Inglewood Transmission out in California and had all the right parts shipped to him so the Allison would survive. Brett rebuilt the Allison 1000 himself and, along with a custom 2.91-geared Dana 61 rear axle, the Chevy was just about ready to run.
With a dyno-proven 702 rwhp, Brett took his ’69 to the dragstrip and clicked off low 11-second quarter-mile times right away. Soon Brett got tired of 11s and built a compound setup using an 80mm S400 as an atmospheric turbocharger. After three 10.6-second runs, Brett heard a ticking noise and drove home and pulled the engine apart. The ticking turned out to be bent rods, which were causing the pistons to hit the crankshaft! Undeterred, Brett pulled the engine apart to go bigger and better.
Photo 3/13   |   An accidental runaway situation would be a nightmare on such a cool project, so Brett installed an air guillotine that will kill air to the engine, shutting it off.
The new powerplant was built with Carrillo rods, aftermarket main caps with a girdle, and ARP bolts and studs throughout. A SoCal Diesel 3388 camshaft and Stage I heads were also added, and Danville Performance upgraded the truck’s turbo setup to a 72mm VGT turbo and an 83mm BatMoWheel in the S400. With 175-percent-over injectors and Danville tuning, the truck smoked the dyno to the tune of 1,002 rwhp and broke into the 9-second zone with a 9.99 at 142 mph. After a best run of 9.8 seconds at 145 mph, Brett decided the Allison 1000 was holding him back, and he made an interesting decision.
While many people might look toward a traditional drag racing transmission, Brett went a different route and swapped in a Ford 4R100 built by Brian’s Truck Shop and controlled by a PCS computer. While the truck was down, Brett also cut a lot of weight by four-linking it, installing a custom Mark Williams 11-inch rearend out of a 2,500hp Pro Modified car, and redoing the front end with a Ron Davis radiator, custom intercooler using a Spearco core, and a complete front end using Mustang II parts from Scott’s Hot Rods in California. Brett even went as far as re-fabricating his frame, using lighter material to box the framerails than he previously had.
Since the Duramax and 4R100 transmission was an odd combination, Brett sought out Danville Performance once again and spent an entire day on the dyno sorting out the tune. After laying down 1,106 hp (and picking up 104 hp with the new transmission and rearend), Brett had a “small” EFILive tune built that made “only” 960 rwhp. The weight reduction (from 5,300 pounds to 4,650) and new combination proved successful, as the first few passes in the truck resulted in mid-9s, with a best of 9.43 at 148 mph in late 2012.
Photo 4/13   |   The factory ECM and TCM mated to the Duramax engine in its previous life were swapped over to the C10, along with all the rest of the wiring.
In 2013, Brett had mostly been working out gremlins in his new combination, trying different converters and transmission parts to extract the maximum performance out of his unique Chevy. It’s also still street legal, insured, and even has air conditioning, so Brett has hit his fair share of cruises and car shows in addition to racing it. As it gets nearly 30 mpg, traveling isn’t really a problem. We don’t know where the story of Brett’s C10 will end, but he now has his sights firmly set on the 8-second zone and thinks he can get there on the big tune. We wish him luck and congratulate him on building such a capable ride and sharing such an awesome story.
Fast Facts
Year/Make/Model: 1969 Chevy C10
Owner: Brett Deutsch
Hometown: Elburn, Illinois
Odometer: “A few thousand miles on the new build.”
Engine: 6.6L Duramax, SoCal Diesel cam and heads, aftermarket caps and girdle, ARP rod and main bolts, and head studs
Air: 68mm VGT and 83mm Double BatMoWheel spec’d by Danville Performance
Fuel: 175-percent-over Exergy Engineering injectors, twin CP3 pumps, AirDog lift pump
Horsepower: 1,106 rwhp
Torque: 1,800 lb-ft (est.)
Transmission: Brian’s Truck Shop 4R100 with forged shafts, a triple-disc converter, and PCS controller
Tires: 27.5x4.00x15 Mickey Thompson (front) 29.5x11.5Wx15 Hoosier (rear)
Wheels: Weld Pro Star
Suspension: Scott’s Hot Rods tubular A-arm (front), and owner-built four-link (rear) with a Mark Williams 11-inch rearend with 2.91 gears
Fun Fact: In addition to an Allison 1000 transmission and a Ford 4R100, Brett also tried a TH400 for a while with limited success.

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