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1994 Ford Mustang Duramax - Maximum Effort

An 800HP, 35MPG, Duramax-Powered Mustang

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For more than a year now, we've been grinding about how a diesel engine in a muscle car could create a vehicle that would be blindingly fast, yet achieve some very good fuel economy numbers. Well, someone finally did it. While there have been diesel engine swaps before, none have been as fast, mean, or powerful as Mike Wood's '94 6.6L Duramax-powered Mustang. Mike has taken diesels to a whole new level, and he's honestly not even a diesel guy. "I wanted something different," Mike said. "I had a Chevy (LS1 gas-powered) Mustang before this one, and I knew the potential of the diesel engine after seeing a 6,500-pound truck run low 10s. Plus, Mustangs have some of the biggest engine bays ever produced, so the potential to swap in any engine was there."

Speaking of Mustangs, Mike put a tremendous amount of time into the chassis to make sure it was up to the task of being pummeled with 1,500 lb-ft of diesel torque. The car was mini-tubbed, and the chassis was strengthened and fitted with a funny-car cage by Wolfe Racecraft in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to the chassis work, the Mustang was fitted with a Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.25 gears along with Strange coilover shocks. A Wolfe Racecraft sway bar helps keep the tires firmly planted on the way to 140mph quarter-mile passes. Up front, an AJE tubular crossmember was used, along with AJE drag struts. The K-member and struts free up the engine compartment even more, to make room for the Duramax diesel engine.

And what an engine it is. Mike relied on Diesel Performance Research out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to supply him with one mean Duramax engine. The engine was fitted with a modified CP3 pump from Industrial Injection, along with 30% larger injectors, while the pistons, rods, cam, and standalone engine management system were all from Diesel Performance Research. To supply air to the fully built 6.6L diesel, Mike relied on a Phat Shaft 71 turbo built by Industrial Injection. The turbo also has a 55mm Engineering Diesel wastegate to relieve drive pressure, and to make sure the turbo maintains a steady 45 psi of boost. To keep exhaust gas temperatures in check and add some additional power, Mike uses a Snow Performance water-methanol injection kit, since the Mustang has no intercooler.

Mike also just happens to be the owner of Nitrous Express, so of course the Mustang had to have one of its NXD 4000 progressive nitrous systems. The amount of nitrous that is delivered to the engine can be varied depending on boost, from 0 percent all the way to 100 percent. This way, Mike can leave the line with very little nitrous to make sure he doesn't spin the tires, then pour it on down the track where he can use the added power.

The transmission is one area where Mike goes back to his gas-powered roots. Most people think a diesel's torque will overwhelm any gas-based transmission, but Mike may just disprove that theory. Instead of running an Allison 1000 diesel transmission, Mike runs a 4L80E that was built by Gordon Stoney. The transmission is a typical drag race setup, with a full-manual valvebody and a Coan 4,000rpm converter, but the 4L80E has a lock-up converter and an overdrive gear, making it very well suited to diesel applications.

At Hot Rod magazine's Drag Week, Mike proved just how well his Duramax-Mustang combination works with a string of low 10-second runs with no nitrous, and a final 9.91-second pass once Mike turned the bottle on. Oh, and he drove it 900 miles just to get to the event. On the return trip, Mike let us know he averaged an astounding 35 mpg at about 75 mph. What's scary is that there is a lot more left in the car. On his 9.91-second pass Mike shifted late, ran out of nitrous, and had a slow launch. Once Mike gets the current combination dialed in, he is confident the car will run low 9s, and that's with a "small" tune courtesy of Volker Schwartz. With more aggressive tuning and more nitrous, the car should virtually walk into the eight-second range. Oh, and did we mention it gets 35 mpg?

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