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  • Real-World Project Trucks - Inside Perspective

Real-World Project Trucks - Inside Perspective

Budget-Minded Builds

Mike McGlothlin
Dec 19, 2013
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
Photo 2/2   |   If you look hard enough, you can always find a Diesel Power project vehicle at the TS Performance Drag Race and Sled Pull in May, the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza in August, and select smaller events throughout the year.
Staying on a reasonable budget and ensuring a truck remains reliable, functional, and versatile—yet still makes respectable horsepower. These are the criteria I am most adamant about living up to in all of my projects here at Diesel Power. I think it helps keep things as real-world as possible and best relates to our readership. I shy away from expensive, extensive, ground-up builds, and if a factory component is sufficient enough to get the job done, it’s left alone. Most importantly, I always include a parts list and price sheet.
It might be due to my being based out of our Midwest bureau, but I’m a little biased toward simple trucks that blend in with the crowd rather than ones that stand out. I prefer to let the truck’s performance do the talking—and I’ll take a sleeper over a showpiece any day of the week. Needless to say, you’ll never see a $10,000 paintjob or a huge lift and tires on anything I’m working on. The projects I get behind are subtle, low on flashiness, and more about making horsepower than anything else.
On a Budget
Keep in mind, we may have 10 to 15K invested in a truck by the time it’s all said and done, but the modifications are spread out over several months—if not a couple of years…a lot like your build may be. Although the $11,000 we spent on Project Street-Max might seem like a lump-sum amount, it spanned the course of seven months and took us from 254 rwhp to 600 rwhp. In the process, we were able to upgrade the Allison transmission, CP3, and injectors, and add head studs, EFILive, a DSP5 switch, a fuel system, and a bigger variable-geometry turbo, effectively showcasing just about everything you can do to a stock-bottom-end LBZ Duramax.
As for Project Outcast, our ’03 6.0L-powered F-250, we’ve just breached the $11,000-mark on a build that’s been ongoing for a year and a half. Now that the reliability items have been tackled, this project is fast approaching 550 hp. For any given power level, a parts recipe is provided, along with a dyno sheet to validate everything. By the time we retire Outcast, my goal is to make it as simple as reading the installment that best suits your needs and budget (be it 400, 500, or 600 hp).
Popular with Readers
Back when Street-Max was a regular in the book, we used to get reader emails all the time asking which lift, and wheel and tire combo was on the black-on-black GMC. The 6-inch ProComp lift and 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts mounted on 20x10 BMF Novakane wheels must’ve made an impression on hundreds (if not thousands) of people, as the truck has what many think is the perfect stance and appearance. Street-Max even won Best in Show in the GM category at this year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza.
The feedback I’ve received from Project Outcast has been as impressive as it’s been diverse. It ranges from power-making tips from enthusiasts who have been there, done that, to novice mechanics seeking advice on how and where to get started modifying their ’03 to ’07 Power Stroke.
As we progress with International Threat (an ’08 6.4L F-250), I expect reader feedback as well. With this build, we decided to exploit the hot-rod nature that is the 6.4L-powered ’08 to ’10 Super Duty and go after big horsepower. Before this project is laid to rest, we’d like to see it go mid-10s in the quarter-mile—reliably and consistently.
Out and About
It’s not uncommon to come across our Midwest project trucks at some of the larger diesel events. For example, Project Outcast, Street-Max, and my personal ’97 F-350 were all on hand at this year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, and they will be next year as well. As I write this, I’m just two days back from taking the ’97 to the annual dyno day held at Randall’s Performance, where it finished mid-pack with a 538hp effort. These trucks aren’t setting the world on fire, but they are real-world trucks. They don’t get built and then sold or parked—we drive them. So look for us at an event near you in 2014.
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