It's project vehicle time, and again, I'm sticking with the ol' reliable 12-valve Dodge. For those of you who don't remember, I had a '97 two-wheel-drive dualie a few years ago that ended up making close to 350 rwhp and getting more than 20 mpg with ease. After Project 12-valve (the dualie), I bought Project Rust Bucket, my '89 Dodge, with the idea of going fast down the quarter-mile (first-gens are really light) and exploring a much-ignored platform. To me, the idea of building a truck that could make good power with all the wrong parts (non-lockup transmission, no intercooler, VE injection pump) sounded like a fun challenge.
Now, I'm moving on to a different task. The goal is to build a powerful diesel truck that can sled pull, drag race, and be a competent daily driver-hence the name: Project Triple Threat. The truck I picked up for the job is a '95 regular-cab longbed, which was the lightest configuration available for that generation Ram. Since our usage was to be so widespread (I was also looking at going camping and off-roading), the truck had to be a four-wheel drive. Still, it is only 6,260 pounds, which will give me a good jump on fast dragstrip times and good fuel economy. It also has the Bosch P7100 injection pump, which is thought to have excellent power potential.
The truck itself will be built in three different stages to show what type of performance one can expect from various budgets. The first stage will revolve around stock parts with some upgrades to the intake, exhaust, and injection system. I've learned a lot since I built my '97, and I'm hoping to pull off 400 to 500 rwhp with only minor modifications to the Cummins engine. The transmission will be another matter, as I only want to build it once. So a good deal of money will be spent in order for it to handle the second two stages of the build. Stage two will revolve around different injectors, different turbo setups, and the goal will be 600 to 700 hp to the tires. We'll also be focusing on keeping the engine together with head studs and valvetrain modifications. The final stage will be a gloves-off, no-holds-barred build. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for the last part of the process, so I'll keep quiet about those for now.
I've already put almost 1,000 miles on the truck in the last month, and so far I'm very pleased with it. After driving Rust Bucket, it takes a little getting used to how slow a 160hp '95 Ram 2500 actually is. I've made a pass with my G-Tech Pro SS, and with a quarter-mile time of 19.9 seconds at 65 mph, I have a long way to go. Good news came on the daily driver front, however, as the truck's 3.55 gears meant 18.9 mpg at 70 mph. It's also off-road capable (went camping in Big Bear, California), and it handled the terrain well. Look for installments on Project Triple Threat to start appearing a few months from now and continue on throughout the year, as I try to make more and more power, while keeping the Dodge reliable and streetable.