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5 One-of-a-Kind Diesels: Unique Swaps, Volume 2

On our second installment of the unique swap series, we have everything from Hondas to rat rods. For these one-off diesel swap candidates, it’s not just about the powertrain; it's the story behind the build itself. How about a high school student who performed a diesel swap for his senior class project? Or the shop owner who stuffed a twin-turbo 6.0L Power Stroke into a ’92 Civic? Or how about the first street-driven diesel truck in the 10's? It’s all here.

Read on and you’ll see why each of these swaps inspired us to bring you their full backstory.

1992 Honda Civic, Twin-Turbo 6.0L Power Stroke

PURE AUTOMOTIVE EXCESS

This is easily one of the wildest diesel swaps we’ve seen. It's a ’92 Honda Civic hatchback with a twin-turbo’d 6.0L Power Stroke shoehorned in. It was built by Outlaw Diesel in Miami, Florida, a company that once put together a twin-turbo, supercharged, nitrous-fed Ford Ranger with a 12-valve 5.9L Cummins, a ’74 Chevy Donk fitted with a common-rail 5.9L Cummins, and that used to campaign a 9-second ‘00 Ford Lightning with a 7.3L Power Stroke under the hood.

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You’ll notice that this first photo is from the mockup stages of the build, with the Holset HX35 turbos mounted in their initial location behind the front bumper.

THE UNICORN

Conveniently named “the Unicorn,” the tubbed, slicked, rear-wheel drive Civic has been relatively elusive as far as photo ops are concerned, and even its trips to the drag strip have remained somewhat secretive. But, as Outlaw Diesel owner Felix Aleman tells us, it was fast and it proved it at the track.

002-Power-Stroke-Diesel-Twin-Turbo

How does a 9.80 in the quarter-mile sound? Thanks to the 6.0L V8’s heft, the car tipped the scales at 3,500 pounds, which means a little more than 600-rwhp was on tap to march it down the track that quickly.

But where is the car now? Rumor has it that the 6.0L took a hike in favor of a 2,200 hp Cummins. Stay tuned…

1932 Ford Victoria, 3.9L 4BT Cummins

DIESEL-POWERED MUD-BOGGER

Whoever thought they’d see a ’32 Ford Victoria blasting through knee-deep mud and navigating a 200-foot pit in less than three seconds? With a nitrous-assisted, 1,000 hp 4BT Cummins, lightweight tube-chassis, and fine-tuned suspension system, this unique creation from South Bend Clutch puts on one heck of a show wherever it goes.

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In fact, the 239-cubic-inch Cummins keeps pace with big cube (600+) big blocks — many of which are alcohol-injected. The ’32 Ford’s front end consists of a Dana 44 front axle that incorporates a Detroit Locker and 3.73 gears, along with a four-link suspension system employing 14-inch King coilover shocks. A Corporate 14-bolt —equipped with a spool and 3.73 gears — can be found in the rear, along with a spring-under style suspension setup.

FUEL, NITROUS AND RPM... LOTS OF IT

The 3.9L 4BT Cummins benefits from the same injector and injection pump combination many competitive sled pullers are using on the 6BT engine. Huge 5x25 injectors and a nasty, 13mm P7100 from Northeast Diesel Service. Making an estimated 600 hp on fuel alone, a whopping 400 hp shot of nitrous is added to the mix.

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Driver Manseil Washburn told us he leaves the starting line at 5,300 rpm, and that the rail holds 4,800 rpm while digging through the pit. An NV4500 five-speed manual transmission and South Bend dual disc 3600 clutch are responsible for getting all of the mighty 4BT’s power to the axles.

1969 Chevy Camaro, 3.9L 4BT Cummins

BETTER THAN EVER

The ’69 Camaro: one of the most coveted classic muscle cars ever produced. Even folks that aren’t Chevy fans want one for their collection. After Jerry Frey began restoring this version, the idea of repowering it with a 4BT Cummins entered his mind, and would soon become a reality. Fear not, muscle car purists, this swap was cleanly performed, with no detrimental hacking or cutting required to make the 4BT work.

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As for the engine, a balanced rotating assembly, shot-peened factory connecting rods, marine pistons, a fire-ringed cylinder head, and a camshaft from Scheid Diesel round out the hard part upgrades, while 5x13 injectors, a 13mm P7100 injection pump, and S300-based turbocharger (all from Scheid) complete the power-making recipe.

MID 11's, 25 MPG

Trips to the local eighth-mile with the 4BT Camaro yielded consistent passes in the 7.30s (mid 11’s in the quarter). At a race weight of just under 3,700 pounds, that means approximately 400 hp was making it to the rear wheels. Making this kind of power with a 4BT is akin to producing 530-rwhp with a 6BT — it’s relatively easy to do, and the engine will last forever under these circumstances. In addition to all of the car’s power, seeing 25-mpg was icing on the cake for Jerry (especially since the fuel system was tuned for all-out power and not efficiency).

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But why are we speaking in past tense? Well, unfortunately Jerry ended up parting the car out. The engine took a trip to Pennsylvania while the car itself wound up in Ohio, and is now powered by a 383 stroker.

1969 Ford F-100, Compound Turbo 6.9L

BLAST FROM THE PAST

As you can probably tell by the title of this one, it’s not exactly new. Still, most people have never heard of this wild Pro Street Ford owned by Bill Jahns. Built in the mid ‘90s (long before diesel performance began to take off), this ’69 F-100 shortbed ran high 10-second quarter-miles in the 125 mph range. And that isn’t even the craziest part.

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The engine was based on the 6.9L IDI International V8, which with its indirect injection fuel system, weak rotary injection pump, and ultra-high compression ratio, was never known for being a good platform to make horsepower with. However, once left in the capable hands of Hypermax Engineering, the factory 170 hp 6.9L was transformed into a real fire-breather.

PRE-POWER STROKE

A main bearing girdle, proprietary 15:1 compression pistons (considered ultra-low at the time), reworked heads, custom intake manifold and exhaust manifolds, a eight-cylinder inline Bosch P-pump and compound turbos were included in the engine build.

008-Hypermax-International-Diesel-V8-Compound-Turbo

Surprisingly, the factory connecting rods were retained (as was the camshaft). In today’s horsepower-soaked world, the 6.9L is most often viewed as a boat anchor, which makes this story all the more intriguing to us. Remember, when it was built in the ‘90s, the 7.3L (direct injection) Power Stroke hadn’t even been released yet. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that after this truck was retired from service (most likely due to breakage gremlins), almost a decade went by before a street-driven diesel went faster than Bill’s insane, 10-second F-100.

1940 Dodge Rat Rod, 5.9L Cummins

RIGHT OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL

How’s this for a senior project? Trust us, it’s way cooler than anything we drove in high school. Based on a 2-ton 1940 model Dodge dump truck, Frank Mohr’s diesel rat rod is right at home in today’s diesel rat rod craze.

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With help from family, friends and a sponsorship from Xtreme Diesel Performance (XDP), it was built over the course of eight months (the school year) on Frank’s family farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The truck makes use of a bed off of a 1950s era International pickup, a visor off of a Peterbilt 379 and a front grill robbed from an old Caterpillar 505 motor grader.

OLD SMOKEY

As for the powertrain, a 12-valve 5.9L Cummins and NV4500 transmission out of a 1994 Dodge Ram motivate it. For fuel, the inline-six mill is graced with a healthy set of 5x12 injectors and the 160 hp P7100 injection pump has been maxed out, hence the name “Old Smokey.”

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Matching the fuel is an HX35/S475 compound turbo arrangement, which positions the atmosphere charger (the S475) above the valve covers. The turbocharger combo crams more than 70 psi of boost into the Cummins. The rear axle is a Dana 70 furnished with 3.54 gears, and the steering box was salvaged from an International Scout.

Need some basics? Learn about compound turbocharged diesel engines.

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