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  • Keep Your Diesel For The Long Haul - Inside Perspective

Keep Your Diesel For The Long Haul - Inside Perspective

Older Diesels

Mike McGlothlin
Oct 29, 2013
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
Ten years ago, 500 hp was a big deal. Today, it’s par for the course. That’s why I’ve been on a “keepin’ up with the Joneses” train of thought lately. Not to trade up to a newer vehicle in order to elevate my social status, but to juice up the reliable workhorse already parked in my stable. The simple truth is that with today’s easy-horsepower, common-rail trucks, it’s easy to fall behind—and it’s time to either pull the trigger or retire my ’97 F-350. Starting on page 136, you’ll see the first leg of my attempt at keeping an aging 7.3L a step ahead of the game. Whether your truck gets treated to added performance, improved cosmetics, or extra versatility, I hope you plan to keep yours for the long haul, too.
My Plan
On paper, my goal seems simple: push the old-body-style Ford to 550 rwhp and deeper into the 12s. While reality sometimes trumps theory, it’s by no means a lofty goal. One of the biggest advantages of the older Fords when it comes to drag racing is that they weigh considerably less than Super Dutys. In fact, on race day I can get the OBS down to a little less than 7,100 pounds by pulling the tailgate and bedliner, emptying the toolbox, and showing up on a quarter tank of fuel. This makes it possible to run with lightweight, tuned Duramax trucks, as well as tuned 6.4L-powered Fords cranking out 550 to 600 hp at the wheels.
"If it’s direct injection and turbocharged, you can always teach an old diesel new tricks."
Less Complicated, More Reliable
It’s no secret that diesels are becoming more and more complex. And as complexity is usually accompanied by cost, it’s flat out expensive to modify or even replace parts on a newer truck. How long does it take to change a K16 on a 6.4L Power Stroke? The quick answer is: a long time (and it may have even lunched the injectors). Reliability is another factor worth considering when you’re contemplating a trip to the dealership. I often wonder how worried I’d be as my newer diesel approached the end of its factory warranty. With EGR choking up the intake and heads and regeneration cycles diluting the oil for 100,000 miles, I’d be a nervous wreck once I was on my own. Maybe that’s why our ’05 Jeep Liberty is the newest staff-owned diesel vehicle at the magazine.
Older Diesels are in High Demand
In the age of emissions-regulations overload, I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to hold onto (and modify) my pre-clean diesel truck. Just look at the price of a used 7.3L Power Stroke or ’03 to ’07 5.9L Dodge. I recently saw a 650hp ’07 MegaCab bring $35,000 when the owner decided to unload it and get into something newer. The fact that it sold for that price within a week’s time means there are plenty of folks interested in getting their hands on what’s left of the pre-emissions diesels. And thanks to these trucks’ stellar track records, they don’t need to come with a warranty.
Don’t get me wrong, The Big Three build great products, and the newer trucks can be tempting, but I prefer to stick with what’s proven in terms of reliability and performance. Staying in a truck that’s paid for, cheap to insure, has sentimental value, and still responds well to power-adders doesn’t hurt matters, either.



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