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  • FrankenFord - 1960 Ford F-100 with a Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap

FrankenFord - 1960 Ford F-100 with a Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap

A Transplanted Caterpillar 3044CT Diesel Engine Brings Life to a Patina’d ’60 Ford F-100

Mar 26, 2016
Photographers: Todd Clontz/Pixel Frame Photography, Matt Tucker
People told Matt Tucker the ’60 Ford F-100 pickup you see here was unsalvageable and shouldn’t even be considered a parts truck. With a clean title in hand, he loaded the straight-framed “Effie” onto his flatbed trailer while ignoring those who laughed at the purchase. Sure, the engine was junk, the cab floor was completely gone, the interior was missing, and the bed was trashed, but Matt saw the pickup as a challenge. Since he works as a farmer and runs a small diesel repair shop when he’s not in the field, Matt figured he’d have some fun with spare parts that were lying around.
Caterpillar Engine Swap
The original gas engine was more of a doorstop than a powerplant, but Matt didn’t want to go the conventional route of swapping in a Cummins 4BT. With a burned-out Caterpillar 297 skid steer at his disposal, he came up with a plan to install its four-cylinder 3044CT diesel engine into the F-100 with custom brackets. Rainy days provided plenty of shop time and led to the development of an engine package that produces more than three times the power of the stock engine. A custom adapter plate was used to upgrade the injection pump to a Bosch VE/Zexel hybrid unit capable of pushing much more fuel to reconditioned and overflowed injectors.
Photo 2/34   |   025 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job Ford F 100 Emblem
An abundance of additional air is compressed by a Precision Turbo & Engine 5130 ball bearing turbocharger with a 39mm wastegate. The turbine spins with the help of custom exhaust headers connected to a T3 flange. The intake charge is fed through a large air-to-air Mishimoto intercooler that’s plumbed into a custom-fabricated, log-style manifold with individual intake runners for each cylinder. While a factory-fresh 3044CT is rated for just 80 hp and around 250 lb-ft of torque, the new setup is good for an estimated 250 hp and 500 lb-ft.
Manual MPG
The industrial gearbox was ditched for a Muncie three-speed manual transmission sourced from an ’80 Chevrolet C-10 wrecker pickup. Fitted with a Hurst Indy shifter, it sends twist to tall 3.00 gears in the rear, which allows the truck to get more than 30 mpg. The axle is a Ford 9-inch unit equipped with a limited-slip differential and brakes with all new components.
Photo 3/34   |   027 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job Passenger Side Rear View
Slammed Stance
For a proper cruising posture, the front suspension employs a 3-inch drop axle by Nostalgia Sid’s that’s supported by Atlas leaf springs and Monroe OESpectrum struts. The steering is matched to the ride height using 2-inch tie-rod drop blocks along with a drag link drop bar. The rear suspension also uses Atlas springs alongside Monroe shocks, and the rear framerails are C-notched to give the live axle room to travel. Everything rides on 18x8 Detroit Steel wheels.
Floored
Since the truck had no original interior, a battered cab, and a mangled bed, Matt went rogue and rebuilt everything with custom steel expanded metal panels. The back of the cab is reinforced with riveted panels that match the Iron Ace Bomber seats. The dash cluster maintains the retro rat-rod theme with a brushed and spot-welded frame surrounding gauges from a Kenworth truck, controlled by wiring from Painless Performance.
Photo 4/34   |   033 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Front Driver Side
Totally Original
The term “patina” has quickly become part of the auto enthusiast lexicon. It’s a way to describe a natural finish that embraces the years of wear, tear, and repair a vehicle has earned during decades of service. The unique original look of the F-100 was preserved with a clearcoat applied in the same shop where Matt performed all the work himself. He says the truck is “a blast to drive” and the FrankenFord gets lots of attention whenever he hits the road.
FAST FACTS
Year/Make/Model: ’60 Ford F-100
Owner: Matt Tucker
Hometown: Locust, North Carolina
Engine: 3.3L Caterpillar 3044CT I-4
Fuel: Direct injection, custom Bosch VE/Zexel hybrid injection pump with custom Caterpillar-to-Cummins adapter, Holley 160-gph lift pump, Wix filter, and reconditioned/overflowed injectors
Air: Precision Turbo & Engine 5130 ball bearing turbocharger with a 39mm wastegate
Intake: Custom log-style manifold and a Mishimoto air-to-air intercooler
Exhaust: Custom header with a T3 flange, 3.5-inch downpipe, and a 4-inch stack
Transmission: Muncie three-speed manual, upgraded clutch, and a Hurst Indy shifter
Horsepower: 250 hp (estimate)
Torque: 500 lb-ft (estimate)
Wheels: 18x8 Detroit Steel
Suspension: Nostalgia Sid’s 3-inch drop axle, 2-inch tie-rod drop blocks, drag link drop, custom Atlas 3-inch drop leaf springs, and Monroe OESpectrum struts in front; C-notched frame, axle-flip kit, Atlas leaf springs, and Monroe OESpectrum shocks in rear
Axles: Ford 9-inch, limited-slip differential, and Motive Gear 3.00:1 axle ratio
Body: Original “patina” paint with clearcoat, custom steel expanded metal bed floor, and custom lights
Interior: Iron Ace Bomber hot-rod seats, cabin reinforcement, custom steel panels, and expanded metal floor
Fuel Economy: 30-plus mpg
Fun Fact: Matt says people laughed when this truck was pulled onto his flatbed trailer. They thought it wasn’t even worthy of being a parts truck. With plenty of spare parts around his diesel repair shop, Matt was able to construct the FrankenFord monster to his exact specifications.
Photo 5/34   |   001 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Front
Matt Tucker says everyone laughed when he winched a worn-out, third-generation ’60 Ford F-100 onto his flatbed trailer. Who’s laughing now? After performing tons of work during his spare time, Matt has built a mad creation featuring a modified Caterpillar 3044CT diesel engine. The powerplant makes an estimated 500 lb-ft of torque and is good for more than 30 mpg, and the pickup surrounding it is definitely one-of-a-kind.
Photo 6/34   |   002 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Grille Front
Photo 7/34   |   003 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Engine
Photo 8/34   |   004 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Precison Turbo
Under the hood with its original “patina” finish sits a large 3.3L Caterpillar 3044CT inline-four engine that was pulled from a burned-down Cat 297 skid steer. It’s been modified with fueling upgrades, a ball bearing turbocharger by Precision Turbo & Engine, Mishimoto intercooler, and a custom high-flow intake manifold.
Photo 9/34   |   005 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Barn Find Front
Photo 10/34   |   006 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Barn Find Donor Trucks
Figuring the truck couldn’t go to waste since it has a good title, Matt overlooked the junk engine, deteriorated cab floor, missing interior, mangled bed, and detached frame. With plenty of extra parts around his farm and diesel repair shop, he knew it would be tough (but lots of fun) to transform this truck into a creature that turns heads whenever it’s seen roaming the streets.
Photo 11/34   |   007 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Barn Find Original Engine
Photo 12/34   |   008 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup New Engine Installation
The original engine was trashed, so a Caterpillar 3044CT was transplanted from a hobbled Cat 297 machine. The suspension features a 3-inch drop axle by Nostalgia Sid’s in front and C-notches in the rear frame to level the ride while giving the Ford 9-inch axle room to move. Leaf springs by Atlas provide a 3-inch drop all around and are supported with Monroe OESpectrum struts in front and shocks in the rear.
Photo 13/34   |   009 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Injection Pump Adapter Plate
Photo 14/34   |   010 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup VE Zexel Hybrid Injection Pump
One of the reasons the Cat engine puts out more than three times the stock power is the addition of a hybrid Cummins VE/Zexel injection pump using a custom adapter plate. The original injectors were reconditioned and overflowed, and fuel is supplied to the system from a Holley 160-gph lift pump.
Photo 15/34   |   011 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Turbo Headers And Log Intake Manifold
It’s not often that you’ll find a header on a turbodiesel, but that’s what Matt constructed for the Cat engine using a T3 flange and some hot-rod ingenuity. A log-style intake manifold was fabricated with individual runners for each cylinder.
Photo 16/34   |   012 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Muncie Manual Transmission
A Muncie three-speed manual transmission sends power to 3.00 gears in the Ford 9-inch rear axle. The gearing allows the pickup to achieve more than 30 mpg.
Photo 17/34   |   013 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Steel Interior
Since the original floor of the cab was a lost cause, Matt got creative with an expanded metal structure of his own design.
Photo 18/34   |   014 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Bed Installation
Photo 19/34   |   015 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Steel Mesh Bed
The floor of the bed was unsalvageable, so it was cut out and replaced with expanded metal to match the cabin.
Photo 20/34   |   016 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Beer Keg Fuel Tank
An Anheuser-Busch beer keg was repurposed as a diesel fuel cell using brackets welded to the bed.
Photo 21/34   |   017 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Exhaust Stack
A custom-built 3.5-inch downpipe leads from the turbine to a 4-inch exhaust stack in the bed of the pickup.
Photo 22/34   |   018 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Kenworth Gauges
Photo 23/34   |   019 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Painless Wiring Harness
A complete wiring setup by Painless Performance integrates the engine swap with gauges from a Kenworth semitruck.
Photo 24/34   |   020 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Original Dash Gauges
Photo 25/34   |   021 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Dash Gauges
Photo 26/34   |   022 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Dash Gauges
The original dash cluster was customized to fit the replacement gauges along with a brushed finish and spot-welding for an industrial look.
Photo 27/34   |   023 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job
Photo 28/34   |   024 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job Side View
Photo 29/34   |   026 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job Ford F 100 Hood Emblem
Photo 30/34   |   028 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Job Tailgate Chain
One big advantage to using a supposedly “clapped-out” truck for a project is the worn layers of paint. With some work and a clearcoat, the history of the pickup can be preserved with the patina it’s earned during decades of service.
Photo 31/34   |   029 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Mesh Bed
The FrankenFord’s bed design may not be very effective for hauling grain or gravel, but it provides a great view of the Ford 9-inch axle.
Photo 32/34   |   030 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Mesh Interior And Bucket Seats
Photo 33/34   |   031 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Custom Mesh Interior And Bucket Seats Passenger Side
Iron Ace Bomber Hot Rod seats match the reinforcement panels in the back of the cabin. The interior features the original steering wheel, an ammo box as the center console, and a Molson Golden beer tap atop the extended Hurst Indy Shifter.
Photo 34/34   |   032 1960 Ford F 100 Caterpillar Diesel Engine Swap Rat Rod Pickup Patina Paint Front Top

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