James Brendle originally purchased this '05 Duramax as a testbed to develop modified transmissions for his chain of retail stores. But like many diesel truck owners, James soon became addicted to the extra power of the aftermarket components installed on the truck, and before long, he had transformed his daily driver into an incredible show truck with the kind of horsepower that makes your spine tingle. We first saw his lowered, black Duramax in Las Vegas at the '06 SEMA show, and after a couple of other incidental appearances-including a 960hp dyno run-we were finally able to snap some photos of the truck in an old industrial area of Pocatello, Idaho.
1,000 HP Goal
At this point, there are only a few Duramax trucks around that can produce 1,000 hp, so we had to find out how this truck was able to make so much power. James and his crew of technicians at Custom Auto began to modify the engine early in 2006 with a host of products from ATS, but after running into some problems making their combination work together, they loaded the truck up and headed down to the ATS facility in Denver to get some assistance. The truck stayed in Denver for several months as ATS used it for development of its dual CP3 injection pump kit, Extreme Allison 1000 transmission, Five Star torque converter, and SFI-approved flexplate.
Inside The Engine
At ATS, the engine was torn apart and the camshaft, rods, and pistons were upgraded. At the same time, a set of ARP head studs was installed to deal with increased boost and cylinder pressures. Amazingly, the head studs do such a good job of maintaining the seal between the block and head that there was no need to machine the engine for O-rings.
With the engine back together, ATS' dual CP3 kit was installed using upgraded CP3 pumps from Industrial Injection. Even with two CP3s, the truck had trouble maintaining proper rail pressure, so an Industrial Injection dual-feed fuel line was added-and it seemed to fix the problem. The electronic tuning of the engine was done with EFI Live programming software to create a custom engine calibration.
A single ATS Aurora 5000 turbocharger provides the boost and runs air through a custom air-to-water intercooler. An ice-water tank in the bed (arrow) feeds the intercooler in the engine compartment with 32-degree-F water to chill the air going into the engine. This is especially useful when dyno testing because there is often very little moving air available to cool a conventional intercooler.
Oh, Yeah, There's Nitrous, Too
A Powerfool 2 nitrous kit from TS Performance fed by dual NOS bottles in the bed really spikes the horsepower chart on the dyno and made the 960hp run possible. Although that's a very impressive number, James is confident he can get more than 1,000 hp out of the engine. "We still have a few more mods we are planning to do, but we'll need some more time on the dyno to get it dialed in," James says.
James was eager to show off his truck to the world at the '06 SEMA show, but for it to look good in the star-studded arena of Las Vegas, it needed some more modifications. So the truck was lowered 2 1/2 inches in the front and 5 inches in the rear and fit with a set of black 22-inch KMC Rockstar wheels shod with Nitto Dune Grappler rubber. This gave the truck a mean lowered stance, but it was still too stock-looking.
The truck was sent to the guys at Bauer Body Shop in Blackfoot, Idaho, so they could work their creative magic. It returned several weeks later with shaved door handles, Lamborghini-style door hinges, a Street Scene grille, a roll pan, a Snug Top tonneau cover, and blue ghost flames on the front fenders.
The next order of business was the interior. It needed to be stylish but still functional because the truck will be used for everyday driving after the show season ends. Two-tone Katzkin leather seat covers custom embroidered with the Custom Auto logo jazzed up the seating area. More than a dozen gauges in a series of different pods fill the driver's view and provide lots of numbers. A pretty intense series of Eclipse amplifiers and a subwoofer were mounted under the seats, and back-seat passengers can enjoy movies by watching a set of Icon monitors mounted in the headrests.
James' Duramax is a real showstopper filled with custom modifications done to all areas of the truck. It's a well-rounded package with changes made to the engine, exterior, interior, and stereo. And everything has been done with a great deal of craftsmanship, making the end result a very high-quality product. But make no mistake, this truck is no trailer queen. It's just as likely to be seen winning dyno competitions or show 'n' shines as it is at the local market picking up groceries.