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A Chevelle, A C10 and A Rare Second-Gen Dodge: 3 Faultless Diesel Swaps You Can’t Afford to Miss

What do you get when you feature a Duramax-powered ’70 Chevelle, a common-rail second-gen Cummins and a 7-second ’69 C10 packing a 2,200hp Duramax? How about the coolest list of diesel swaps we’ve ever compiled. Ride along with us as we explore Rick Fletes’ 9-second, camper-toting, 30-mpg-obtaining muscle car, take a look at Kenneth Donkersgoed’s common-rail swapped, 750hp ’02 Dodge and shed some light on Brett Deutsch’s track-proven, masterfully-built, wheels-up Pro Mod C10…

Rick Fletes’ ’70 Chevelle

1970 Chevelle Duramax

Rick Fletes and his 1970 Chevelle are the best kind of anomaly. His Duramax-propelled classic represents everything a diesel engine is capable of doing these days. It’s a diesel swap, it’s fast, it races competitively, it gets 30-mpg and it tows! After hauling his single axle camper to the races, Rick unhooks, bolts on the rear slicks and hops in the staging lanes. Then when the weekend’s racing is in the books, the street tires go back on and the camper gets lugged back home. Perhaps the coolest part about Rick and his Chevelle is that he’s not afraid to travel. We’ve seen him competing in races in the middle of Indiana—and he’s from Sacramento, CA!

Mostly-Stock Duramax

LB7 Duramax Chevelle Musclecar

At the heart of Rick’s Duramax Chevelle sits an LB7 Duramax from an ’04 model year GMC Sierra HD. Though Rick rebuilt the 6.6L V-8 diesel in 2017, it was assembled using the stock crankshaft, factory connecting rods and de-lipped factory cast-aluminum LB7 pistons. The cylinder heads are completely untouched, not even receiving a valve job during the rebuild. Horsepower comes by way of S&S Diesel Motorsport fueling, a BorgWarner S467.7 turbo, a bit of nitrous and it’s all backed up by a Turbo 400 that’s tethered to a Gear Vendors Overdrive.

High 9’s with Regularity

Duramax Swap Chevelle Diesel Drag Race

It’s all in the launch, right? Rick’s Chevelle always delivers for the camera thanks to its boosted, wheels-up starts. At diesel events, you can find Rick competing in 6.70 Index, an eighth-mile category that translates into mid 10’s in the quarter, and he has a mild-ish tune-up that allows him to run that number virtually every pass. As for quarter-mile ventures, his quickest time slip to date shows a smoldering 9.78 at 135 mph. Lately, he and his Chevelle have been mixing it up in the NHRA’s ultra-competitive Super Gas class (9.90 Index) at West Coast Hot Rod Association events.

Kenneth Donkersgoed’s Common-Rail Second-Gen Cummins

2002 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Common Rail

Meet Kenneth Donkersgoed’s immaculate ’02 Dodge Ram 2500. Even though it represents a Cummins swap for a vehicle that already came with a Cummins in it from the factory, it’s extremely rare. Instead of living with the fueling-limited VP44 pumped 24-valve 5.9L the truck came with or ditching the VP44 in favor of a P-pump (which many horsepower-hungry enthusiasts often do), Kenneth ushered his second-gen into the modern era. The new power plant is a fully electronically controlled, 6.7L-based Cummins with a common-rail injection system.

6.8L Cummins

Common Rail Cummins

To get optimum drivability, quietness and refined horsepower all in the same package, a common-rail 6.7L-based Cummins was decided on rather than sticking with the previous electronic over mechanical 5.9L 24-valve. The balanced and blueprinted, 6.8L displacement Cummins was pieced together by Freedom Racing Engines and features Carrillo rods, stock compression Mahle cast-aluminum pistons and a fire-ringed Performance Series head. Six, 100-percent over 5.9L common-rail derived injectors from S&S Diesel Motorsport, along with a Fleece PowerFlo 750 CP3, support the truck’s 750rwhp. A 5.9L ECM is also employed.

Second-Gen Style Turbo Arrangement

Fleece S463 BorgWarner Turbocharger

Working in conjunction with a T4 foot Steed Speed exhaust manifold, a Fleece second-gen turbo swap kit allows an S463 turbo to handle boost production. Thanks to the common-rail’s added displacement, head flow and precise fueling over the 5.9L it replaced, Kenneth’s second-gen has no problem spooling the S400 series charger. The S463 sports an 83mm turbine wheel inside of a .90 A/R exhaust housing, is supported by a 5-inch Fleece ManTake and GDP elbow on the intake side, and a 4-inch stainless steel downpipe that transitions into a 5-inch conventional exit exhaust system evacuates exhaust gases.

Brett Deutsch’s ’69 Chevy C10

1969 Chevrolet C10 Duramax

This truck has been turning heads for years. When it isn’t pulling wheelies, Brett Deutsch and his C10 are busy clicking off high 4’s in the eighth-mile. Handed down by his grandpa at the age of 15, Brett immediately got busy making the classic Chevy his own. The 3-53 Detroit Diesel screamer he inherited was replaced with an L98 TPI engine out of an ’89 Corvette and then a 383 stroker before he turned to the Duramax. Though Brett gave the Allison automatic a chance in the beginning, he soon ditched it in favor of a 4R100 from Brian’s Truck Shop. The same can be said for the GM AAM 1150 rear axle he originally campaigned, which was eventually replaced with a lighter weight (and stronger) Mark Williams 11-inch.

More Than Bling

Chevy C10 Pro Mod Duramax

Work of art much? When you pull the C10’s front clip, an engine that’s as beautiful as the truck itself is revealed. Assembled by Matt Hatfield of Danville Performance, the mirror polish Duramax features an Ultra billet Callies crank swinging a set of billet rods and anchored in place via a girdle. Ross Racing pistons, Wagler billet heads, twin stroker CP3’s and sizeable injectors from Exergy Performance, a massive single turbo and ECM tuning from Danville all make Brett’s Duramax the beast that it is. How beastly is it? We calculate somewhere around 2,200 hp making it to the wheels!

High 4’s in the Eighth-Mile

Brett Deutsch 1969 C10 Duramax Drag Race

In the quarter-mile, and several years ago, Brett sent his C10 through the traps in 8.39 seconds at 168 mph. More recently, and on his current engine build and single turbo setup, he’s been working on his eighth-mile game. Even when forced to pedal his wild ride, Brett still usually manages to put together a low 5. When the truck hooks and the front wheels aren’t sent air born, Brett sees high 4’s at speeds approaching 150 mph. The last time we saw him out and about, the truck sailed to a best of 4.91 at 146 mph.

As proof that diesel repowers are everywhere these days, check out this swap special on a truck, a tractor and a rat-rod school bus!

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