Why The Diesel World Is on Nittos
Thanks to their ability to serve a multitude of purposes, diesel pickups have proven they’re some of the most versatile vehicles you can buy. The same truck you drive to work every day can suddenly become an 11-second hot-rod at Friday night’s test and tune, or the rig you tote a trailer with all week can double as a sled puller on the weekends. We’ve even seen a few trucks drag a camper into the fairgrounds, unhook from the trailer and clean house in a sled pull, drag race or dyno competition (sometimes even all three), then resume their primary role as the family workhorse.
Even with countless inherent assets at its disposal, a diesel truck can only perform as well as its tires allow. Whether you’re after maximum traction, ride comfort, longevity, fuel economy, load index or off-road capability, you have to decide which of your truck’s strong suits you want to capitalize on the most. For over a decade, Nitto tires have been the brand of choice for thousands of diesel enthusiasts. Drag racers have gravitated toward the NT420S, while the working class has relied on the Terra Grappler, Terra Grappler G2 or Dura Grappler, and truck pullers have opted to run Mud Grapplers or Trail Grapplers. Most recently, Nitto’s Ridge Grappler became an instant favorite among diesel owners that use their trucks for virtually any and every purpose.
The trucks spotlighted below help illustrate how Nitto’s diverse light truck tire line enables diesels to live up to their full potential, be it at the track, on the street or in the dirt. No matter the destination, their owners have entrusted Nitto to get them where they need to be.
For multi-purpose, street-and-track driven diesels, the Nitto NT420S is preferred by countless truck owners. Mark Vanadia of Big Time Kustomz Diesel & Off-Road Performance sure appreciates their ability to carry his ’08 F-250 through the quarter-mile in low-10-second intervals. With a built 6.4L Power Stroke graced with River City Diesel dual fuelers, 150-percent over injectors, a single Barder Turbo Service S476 and plenty of nitrous, Mark knows he’s asking a lot from the All Season tread pattern—but the 420Ss always seem to deliver. In addition to running a best E.T. to date of 10.26 seconds, Mark’s Super Duty has also made a nitrous-assisted 1,497hp on the chassis dyno.
Purpose: Drag race/dyno/show truck
Tyler Rabbage–Trail Grappler
It’s one of the most unique diesel engine swaps we’ve come across—and it’s on Nitto Trail Grapplers. When Tyler Rabbage elected to ditch the problematic LB7 Duramax in his ’03 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD in favor of a 12-valve Cummins, it was primarily done to restore the truck’s reliability. However, and in true Cummins owner fashion, Tyler couldn’t resist tripling the mechanical 5.9L’s factory power output. He did it by treating the 215hp P7100 injection pump to larger delivery valves, a custom fuel plate, full-forward AFC and 21 degrees of timing advance. For airflow, an HX35 over S475 compound turbo arrangement crams enough boost into the 2-valve head for the truck to make an estimated 550 to 600rwhp. Spending much of his time commuting 300 miles back and forth from college, Tyler sprang for the more comfortable of Nitto’s two mud terrain offerings in the Trail Grappler. He runs a 285/75R16 version at each corner.
Purpose: Daily commuter/light tow rig
R.C. Ellis–Ridge Grappler
For a truck that does it all, a do-it-all tire only made sense for R.C. Ellis and his ’12 Ram 2500 Mega Cab. Blending the best attributes of a mud terrain with an all-terrain, the Ridge Grappler is a quiet, highly capable off-road tire and just as comfortable as the time-tested Terra Grappler. After his extensive research pointed him toward Nitto’s new hybrid terrain, R.C. ordered a set of 35x12.50R20s and promptly mounted them on 20x9-inch BMF Novakanes. An S465 turbo, installed courtesy of a second-gen swap kit from Stainless Diesel, keeps the 6.7L Cummins reliable, tow-friendly and also supports more than 500rwhp.
Purpose: Tow mule/daily driver
Casey Clark–Mud Grappler
In the truck pulling world, going aggressive on tire selection has led to the widespread use of Mud Grapplers in recent years. Even though All-Terrains have made their way back onto the majority of the trucks required to run D.O.T.-approved tires, Nitto’s most extreme tread pattern remains the tire of choice for dozens of competitive pullers. One such truck puller is Casey Clark and his classic body, Duramax-powered, Chevrolet Silverado. Casey’s Mud Grapplers dug him to a twelth Place finish in the Limited Pro Stock Class at last year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza—which is extremely tough to do in a field that’s almost exclusively dominated by Cummins-powered rigs.
Purpose: Dedicated puller
Street-bound show trucks are nothing new in the diesel realm, and Lane Wakeland’s Super Duty proves that the right mix of show and go can be pulled off easier than you think. His ’08 F-250 sends more than 600hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque to the wheels and looks good doing it. For optimum ride comfort, traction and looks, a set of 305/40R22 420Ss are wrapped around flashy, 22x12 American Force Stackz Face Plate series wheels with a -40 offset. To complete the Ford’s stance, Shifted Industries 2-inch wheel spacers were added, the front coil springs were cut and the rear blocks were pulled.
Purpose: Daily driver/show truck
Single Turbo 6.4L
Under the hood of Lane’s Super Duty, you’ll find a show-ready engine bay. Despite not having a whole lot of performance upgrades installed, the violet intercooler and intake piping, braided stainless nitrous and oil lines and the polished compressor housing make the 6.4L Power Stroke look like a million bucks. Most noticeable is the single turbo, a BorgWarner S369 SX-E, which mounts in place of the restrictive factory compound arrangement thanks to a Smeding Diesel S300 single turbo kit. Other key mods that help the truck make in excess of 600rwhp on fuel include a Z-Max Jr. ported intake manifold from Elite Diesel Engineering, a No Limit Fabrication cold air intake and Beech Performance ceramic coated up-pipes.
Andy Inman–Terra Grappler
Part OBS Ford, part Super Duty and all hot-rod, Andy Inman’s ’97 F-250 is the ultimate old-school Blue Oval. It sports a coil spring, radius arm front suspension out of an ’08 model year F-250, along with the corresponding Dana 60. Out back, a 10.5 Sterling sits in place of the factory 10.25. Performance wise, the 7.3L Power Stroke has been treated to big Unlimited Diesel Performance hybrid injectors, Full Force Diesel dual high-pressure oil pumps, an Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting system with a BorgWarner S476 and custom PCM tuning from Dorsey Diesel. To help plant the 680-plus horsepower the truck turns out, Andy relies on four 305/55R20 Terra Grapplers to get the job done. They’re mounted to 20-inch 8x170mm lug pattern wheels off of a ’15 King Ranch.
Purpose: Play toy/weekend driver
Mario Williams—Trail Grappler
This Mega Cab monstrosity belongs to pro football defensive end Mario Williams, and it runs every bit as good as it looks. Its menacing stance comes courtesy of a Full Throttle Suspension lift granting 10 inches of lift up front and an additional 8 inches out back, with a 2.0 remote reservoir shock at each corner. A set of 38x13.50R24 Trail Grapplers mounted on 24x14 American Force SF8s only adds to the Ram’s aggressive posture. While the Longhorn Edition Laramie packaged Mega Cab is big, it’s not an impractical build, with Mario using it for anything and everything.
Purpose: Anything and everything
Compound Turbo Cummins
To get Mario’s 4.5-ton behemoth moving, the 6.7L Cummins makes use of a Fleece Performance Engineering PowerFlo 750 CP3 (labeled as such for its ability to support 750hp), Fleece 200hp injector nozzles and a 165-gph AirDog II fuel supply system. A compact compound turbo arrangement introduces two stages of boosted air for the Cummins to ingest. A box BorgWarner S362 SX-E acts as the high-pressure unit, while a Fleece S475 serves as the atmospheric charger. Power is harnessed via a full billet 68RFE six-speed automatic and the truck has dyno’d 711hp and more than 1,400 lb-ft in the past.
Cole Matthews—Mud Grappler
Another Mud Grappler candidate that also happens to campaign a competitive Duramax in a Cummins-dominated world is the ’05 Chevrolet Silverado of Cole Matthews. His Limited Pro Stock Chevy earned him a Second Place trophy in the PPL Western Series Points race in 2016 and he’s also been known to shake things up at the Super Bowl of truck pulling: the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, where he’s qualified fourth and fifth in the past.