10-Second Terror: Jake White's 1996 Ford F-250
When you think about a 10-second diesel truck, you probably don’t picture a 22-year-old F-series with a 7.3L Power Stroke under the hood. We can’t blame you there, as these old-school, square body trucks left the factory making a docile 210-225hp at the crank. In stock form, they struggled to get out of their own way, even though they made plenty of noise. That said, things have come a long, long way over the last 10 years. No longer is 7.3L performance a laughing matter. In fact, with the right injector, turbo and tuning in the mix, it’s relatively easy to build a 600rwhp 7.3L-powered old body style Ford.
Unbeknownst to many, the older Fords are featherweights in the diesel pickup realm. This means that all-important power-to-weight ratio is on their side. After picking up his ‘96 F-250 for $1,500, Jake White fixed what was wrong with it (a broken third gear synchronizer) and slowly began to see what the old rattlebox was made of. With his first injector upgrade, the truck ran a 14.1-second quarter-mile (keep in mind it was a five-speed manual at the time). Soon after that, another injector upsize yielded a 13.04. Then, seeing that 12s were within reach, Jake introduced the 7.3L to nitrous and proceeded to bang gears to the tune of a 12.69 at 110 mph.
Then things got serious. Real serious. “I just said ‘screw it, I wanna go fast,'" he told us, and embarked on a full engine build, an even bigger set of injectors, an S476 turbo, nitrous and a weight loss program. To date, the truck has run 10.90s at more than 120 mph. This is its story.
3 Tons of Fun
After his already-light truck underwent a few weight-ditching measures, White’s ’96 F-250 tips the scales at just 6,000 pounds. To help promote his Nokomis, Florida business, White’s Diesel Performance, while he storms through the quarter-mile, Jake treated the old Ford to a sharp-looking, full body wrap.
Once he’d gotten away with plenty of 12-second passes, Jake decided to stop playing with fire and address one of the 7.3L’s biggest weak links: the factory connecting rods. The beefed up bottom end consists of forged-steel Carrillo rods, stock replacement, factory compression Mahle pistons and a Stage 2 Colt cam. Smith Brothers chromoly pushrods, Comp Cams beehive valvesprings and ARP head studs are the extent of the engine’s top-end mods. Aside from the stiffer valvesprings, the heads themselves are completely stock.
Still making use of the oil-fired, HEUI injection system, Jake’s engine sports a set of massive 400cc injectors equipped with 300-percent (larger than stock) nozzles. Built by Full Force Diesel, the 400/300 injectors are of a B-code design, which means they require considerable high-pressure oil volume in order to perform at the top of their game. Jake also turned to the folks at Full Force for his oil needs, opting to run the company’s dual high-pressure oil pump (HPOP) setup. In this photo, you’re looking at the top-mounted HPOP at the front of the lifter valley.
Big Single Turbo
Due to its 444 cubic inch displacement, the 7.3L is known to be capable of spooling a fairly large turbocharger—and this S476 SX-E is no exception. The big BorgWarner unit features a forged milled wheel (FMW) compressor with a 76mm inducer, a 360-degree thrust bearing, an 87mm turbine wheel and a T4 turbine inlet flange. A T4 turbo mounting kit from Irate Diesel Performance (complete with pedestal, stainless up-pipes and intercooler piping) positions the S476 SX-E at the rear of the valley, near where the factory charger sat. Before boosted air makes it into the heads, it sees a considerable temperature drop by passing through an intercooler from a 7.3L Super Duty application.
Competition Fuel System
To keep the fuel side of the big 400/300 injectors happy, Jake runs a competition fuel system from Irate Diesel Performance. The race-ready system combines a Fuelab pump, water separator and fuel filter together along the frame rail. Fuel supply is regulated on the return side, and Jake keeps the adjustable regulator set between 75 to 80 psi.
Like most 7.3L enthusiasts these days, Jake uploads and navigates his custom PCM tunes using a Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip. His tuner of choice is Gearhead Automotive Performance. Under Gearhead’s tutelage, not only has the truck run 10s, but the massive 400/300 injectors are tame enough for street driving.
After three years of beating on the ZF-5 manual the truck came with, and because he wanted to see how much faster the truck would go, Jake decided to swap in an automatic in 2015. The four-speed E4OD he went with was gone through and fitted with TCS billet input, intermediate and output shafts at Ralph’s Transmissions in Sarasota, Florida. A proven, triple-disc Stallion torque converter from Precision Industries provides efficient engine-to-transmission power transfer.
Solid Axle Swap
Boosted four-wheel drive launches can wreak havoc on the old Dana 50 TTB front ends, so swapping a solid axle under the ¾-ton was a no-brainer for Jake. While he was at it, the same 2000 Super Duty donor was robbed of its rear 10.5-inch Sterling. Both the front and rear axles sport 3.73 ring and pinions.
Two Stages, Two Bottles
For that little extra push through the 1320, a two-stage Nitrous Express system is activated. When in use, the two-stage system (which makes use of an .088 jet and a .110 jet) adds another 250 to 300rwhp to the equation.
Fuel Tank Delete
If you recall, all ’94.5-’97 Fords had dual fuel tanks from the factory. However, this particular F-250 is missing its rear unit. In an effort to save weight (roughly 150-200 lbs) and because it simplified the process of installing the aforementioned competition-ready fuel supply system, Jake decided to solely run the front tank, which is the larger of the two.
NT420Ss on 20s
To get his F-250 off the line in a hurry, Jake relies on Nitto NT420S tread at each corner. Beyond their hard-hooking nature at the track, Jake also prefers the quietness, ride comfort and (of course) on-point price tag that comes with the all season 420S. The 305/50R20 tires ride on 20x9-inch gloss black and milled Fuel Strokes, one of Fuel Offroad’s latest wheel designs.