9 Quirky Things Diesel Owners Do

As the popularity of diesel trucks continues to grow, many enthusiasts look for ways to set their ride apart from the rest of the pack. Outside of the usual performance mods, lifts, wheels and tires, some opt for vanity plates or stickers, while others install custom badging. Some slide a unique hitch cover into the receiver or perform a controversial engine swap. And then there are those that make light of the kinds of trends they see within the diesel industry (i.e., gigantic exhaust tips, truck nuts and so on).

As you can imagine, brand loyalty plays into much of the uniqueness many owners try to mold into their trucks. But, as you’ll see in this article, brand loyalty spans beyond simply the truck’s make. Oftentimes, more allegiance is paid to the manufacturer of the engine powering the truck than the sheetmetal itself (Cummins-powered Rams and Power Stroke/Navistar-equipped Fords, for example).

Read on as we highlight the latter, along with several other methods diesel heads use to make their trucks stand out from the crowd.

1. Vanity License Plates

Vanity license plates have always been a way of adding uniqueness to a vehicle, and a lot of diesel owners indulge in them. This plate graced Jim Rendant’s ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 — a 5.9L Cummins-powered four-door packing 1,000 rwhp.

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We’re not sure how many motorists he baited into racing him with this line, but with a handful of 10-second time slips (at speeds approaching 130 mph) we doubt he ever lost. In addition to not being afraid to race anyone or anything, Jim didn’t seem to be too worried about the local law enforcement in his area, either, having sported a hood stack for quite some time.

2. Carnage Souvenir

We love when enthusiasts own the fact that their particular engine had a few shortcomings. Enter the ’01-’03 model year Ford F-250 pictured below. During this production run of the 7.3L Power Stroke, powdered metal connecting rods made their way onto the assembly line, which handle roughly 100 to 200 hp less than what the previous forged-steel rods could handle.

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When the owner of this truck inevitably bent one of his powdered metal units in his pursuit of more power, he decided to hang it (from the big end) from his sled pulling hitch.

3. Got Tork?

From heavy industry to agriculture and locomotives to over-the-road trucks, low-end twist has always been one of the diesel engine’s primary selling points. And thanks to diesel’s utilization of high compression and a long stroke, plenty of torque is always on the menu.

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Such was the case with Jonathan Wayne Coblentz’ Cummins-powered late model Dodge. In order for the 7,000+ pound Ram to click off the consistent 12.0-second quarter-mile passes it does, torque production is a big part of the feat. Jon’s truck sends at least 1,300 lb-ft and 650 hp to the wheels.

4. Swap a Cummins Into Anything

Stirring the pot comes easy for Tyler Rabbage and his Cummins-powered ’03 Chevy Silverado HD. While Cummins swaps performed on Ford trucks are widely accepted throughout the diesel industry, it’s always been an unwritten rule (of sorts) that ditching a Duramax in favor of a Cummins is a big no-no.

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Needless to say, Tyler’s build invokes every type of reaction you can imagine. He gets two thumbs up from Cummins/Dodge fans, yet hears comments like “you ruined it” from Chevy loyalists (and everything in between). Good or bad, Tyler enjoys the attention and takes comfort in the fact that he did the right thing.

After accumulating 350,000 miles, the Duramax was due for its third set of injectors (a common problem on ’01-’04 LB7 code engines), and Tyler believed at least one head gasket was blown. For the price of fixing these issues, a 12-valve 5.9L Cummins and its corresponding 47RH transmission could be added. Obviously, he chose the latter and hasn’t looked back since.

5. One-Off Hitch Cover

We love seeing old parts repurposed, but this might be the best example we’ve ever seen. After welding a receiver tube to the back plate of the compressor housing of a spare turbocharger (the turbo is void of its exhaust housing and center cartridge), the owner of this late model Ram 3500 dually effectively created the ultimate hitch cover.

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6. Bought, Not Built

As with any form of automotive excess, you’ll see high-end vehicles built with someone else’s checkbook. In this case, the owner made no bones about the person who footed the bill for not only purchasing his Duramax-powered Silverado, but also paying for the go-fast goodies under the hood.

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7. Paying Homage

We all know that Cummins brand loyalty runs about as deep as it gets, but engine brand loyalty is especially common for 7.3L Power Stroke owners. Built by Navistar (i.e., International, formerly International Harvester), the 7.3L’s reputation for reliability, durability and its workhorse nature is a point of great pride for many of its owners — reason enough to wear an International badge in place of the Blue Oval emblem on this particular Super Duty.

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Oddly enough, we don’t see this level of engine brand loyalty on 6.0L and 6.4L Power Strokes, although they too were produced by Navistar International.

8. Bigger Is Better

Whether it’s designed to lighten the mood or make a statement about the owner’s masculinity, sporting a massive (12-inch) exhaust tip will definitely get some folks talking. The type of mentality where bigger is always better has caught on in a lot of diesel circles, and as a result we’ve seen huge tips like this on conventional exit exhaust systems, massive 16-inch (sometimes larger) stacks in the bed and even 6-inch hood stacks.

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Whether it was done to one-up his buddies or improve the truck’s curb appeal remains to be seen, but it definitely attracts attention. Just bear in mind that exhaust tips this big do nothing to improve performance.

8. Makin’ Bacon

Just like monster trucks, nearly all truck and tractor pullers pick out a catchy name for their ride — and in the pulling game, a lot of competitors have fun with it. In many cases, the name of the truck is either a play on words as to which engine sits under the hood (“Cummin Get It,” “Cummin Atcha”), draws attention to the low rate of return involved with the sport (“Wasted Wages,” “Good money after bad”), or reflects the line of work the owner is in.

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Justin Gearhart chose the latter scenario but added a touch of humor to it. Raising pigs in his formative years (and being an avid lover and consumer of bacon), Gearhart fittingly named his (formerly owned) Cummins-powered Dodge “Makin’ Bacon.”

9. Six Leaker

It’s well-documented that the 6.0L Power Stroke is one of the least reliable diesel engines ever assembled. Atop the list of its catastrophic problems is head gasket failure, which affectionately earned it the nicknames of “6.Blow,” “Sick-Liter,” and as is the case here, “Six Leaker.” So — with that said — if you’re going to drive a 6.0L-equipped Ford Super Duty, you might as well own up to the fact that you’ll always have a target on your back.

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The owner of this ’04 model did that and more. He tackled the 6.0L’s reputation for popping head gaskets head-on by adding this giant sticker to the windshield. In a strange twist of fate, perhaps the joke is really on any Cummins or Duramax owner that lines up against him. This photo was actually taken at the drag strip, where the “Six Leaker” was laying down some impressive passes.

Next, check out 11 diesel truck failures you should really try to avoid.

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