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John Garner: 2012 Diesel Power Challenge Competitor

1978 Ford F-350, 5.9L Cummins

Jason Thompson
Sep 1, 2012
Photographers: Diesel Power Staff
The hulking-green Ford you see before you received more votes than any other truck in this year’s Diesel Power Challenge. We think we know why the readers of Diesel Power chose John Garner’s ’78 Ford F-350 to compete in the event: They’re clearly all diesel-conversion crazy. Since diesel engines were never installed in our beloved classic trucks, enthusiasts like John have to take it upon themselves to make it right. Last year, Rocky Horn took First Place in his Ford F-350 (powered by a 5.9L Cummins), so the precedent has been set for John to make a run at it this year in this Ford.
Photo 2/11   |   diesel Power Challenge 2012 Contestant John Garner 1978 Ford F 350 Pulling Sled
Gas-To-Diesel Conversion
John got his start in motorsports by drag racing gasoline-powered cars. Then, in the ’90s, he began building this ’78 Ford pickup. Yet long before his truck was diesel-powered, it actually had a 521ci big-block Ford under the hood. John figured he had a pretty potent package, and he should have known, as he owned his own dyno-tuning shop. But then he let a bunch of diesel trucks into his place to run on the rollers. One by one, each truck laid down a huge torque number, but to John’s surprise each diesel also made a ton of horsepower. Though he didn’t run his Ford that day, if he had, his big-block would’ve lost to every single diesel truck that competed on his dyno. After that experience, his mind was made up that a diesel was going in his pickup.
Photo 3/11   |   diesel Power Challenge 2012 Contestant John Garner john Garner
Just Getting There Is Half the Battle
Perhaps next year we’ll send GoPro cameras to all the competitors so they can chronicle the epic feats that go into getting to the Diesel Power Challenge. John Garner drove his 5.9L Cummins-powered ’97 Newman motorhome 4,100 miles to get to Colorado. During that trip, he had 5 flats, had to purchase 11 new tires, and ran into fierce sand, wind, and snowstorms. Along the way, he stopped at his son’s college graduation and even found time to add a larger intercooler to his Ford.
Photo 4/11   |   diesel Power Challenge 2012 Contestant John Garner front Alcoa Wheel
Name: John Garner, Mound, Minnesota
Vehicle: 1978 Ford F-350
Driver Experience: Dyno, drag racing, towing, and wrenching
Engine: 5.9L Cummins common-rail
Turbos: Aurora 3000/5000 turbos, Hypermax Tapercore intercooler
Electronics: TST
Injection System: Dual FASS lift pumps, ATS dual CP3s, Dynomite Diesel 90hp nozzles
Injectables: Snow Performance Diesel Stage 3 MPG-MAX water-methanol injection system
Intake/Exhaust System: ATS intake with a custom exhaust
Transmission: ATS Stage 6 Ford 4R100 four-speed with an ATS Five Star converter
Suspension: 6-inch lift with Bilstein shocks and Kelderman rear air suspension
Tires: 37x13.50R22 Nitto Trail Grappler M/T
Wheels: 22.5-inch Alcoas turned down to fit 22-inch tires
Differential: Dana 60 front, Dana 80 rear
Photo 5/11   |   diesel Power Challenge 2012 Contestant John Garner 1978 Ford F 350 Passenger Side Front Three Quarter