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Dodge Cummins Diesel - First-Gen Performance

Big Horsepower For Your '89-'93 Cummins Diesel

Photography by Brian Block, , Jeremy Torgensen

As newer and flashier trucks became available, many people forgot about the older '89 to '93 Dodges. There's no doubt that this early 5.9L Cummins is a workhorse, but can it make power? The answer is, yes it can, and we've provided some suggestions on how it can be done. We'll go over the parts you need to really pump up your first-gen, compile a list of resources that are VE-pump friendly, and even give you a mini buyer's guide. Let's make some power!

The Basics
In 1989, Dodge introduced its 160hp Cummins-powered Ram 3/4-and 1-ton trucks into the market. They were non-intercooled, and actually made about 200 hp, rather than the advertised 160 hp. They were available with either a five-speed Getrag manual transmission, or a 727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic. In stock form, both the automatic and manual transmission-equipped trucks were gearing-limited, giving them a top speed of about 75 mph. The Cummins 12-valve engine was fitted with a Bosch VE rotary pump, which hid some free modifications that could give these early trucks more power. In the next few years, the Dodges gained an intercooler and an extra gear in the transmission, but other than those two changes, the '91 1/2-'93 models were virtually the same as '89-'91 1/2 trucks.

If you're going to try to build a 5.9L Cummins with a VE injection pump to make more than 400 horsepower, you'd better have some big injectors. The Bosch rotary pump only puts out about 17,000 psi of pressure versus more than 25,000 psi for '03-and-newer common-rail injection systems. This means that since there is no way to up the pressure to increase the amount of fuel that is sprayed into the engine, more volume (larger injectors) is your only solution.

Lucas Prince of Darkness injectors (commonly referred to as POD's) are a good starter injector, although they are smoky, and your mileage may suffer. Dynomite Diesel also offers injectors for first-gens that are a bit more expensive, but they make for a great daily-driver injector, and can still make good power. For those sled pulling guys who aren't worried about smoke or EGTs, custom six-hole injectors with .016-inch or .018-inch orifices (referred to as 6x16s or 6x18s) are available from places like Scheid, Buddha Power, and New Era Diesel.

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