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Ford Diesel Truck - Ford's First Diesels

How The International-Powered Fords Came To Be

Photography by Courtesy Of Oldoilers.Net

The Arrival Of The Turbo IDIIn 1993, Ford pickups came with two diesel engine options. For the first time, and in keeping up with Dodge's already turbocharged 5.9L and GM's 6.5L, a factory turbocharger was offered on Ford IDI trucks. While the naturally aspirated version was still available, the turbo option easily proved to be the better seller and netted the 7.3L 190 hp at 3,300 rpm and 388 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm.

Performance Upgrades That WorkAlthough the factory Ford IDIs were non-turbocharged and underpowered in their first decade of existence, the aftermarket was very busy developing ways to bring these beasts to life. One pioneer in the aftermarket industry was Max Lagod of Hypermax, who had a bolt-on turbo system designed and ready to go at virtually the same time the '83 Fords made it to dealer lots. According to Lagod, it is not uncommon for a 6.9L or 7.3L outfitted with a turbo, intercooler, freer flowing exhaust, and a little fuel pump work to make 325 flywheel hp. Companies like Banks and ATS also offer turbo and intercooler systems.

Performance Upgrades That Don't WorkNever known for having as much factory potential as the 5.9L Cummins during this era, an aftermarket turbo was the best way to gain any respectable amount of power. Tinkering or turning up an IDI Ford's fuel pump won't net you any noticeable gains. Cutting out the "soup bowl" on the bottom of the air intake cover won't make much of a difference, so anyone wanting to really see what an old IDI is capable of will simply have to pay to play.

A Proven DesignWhile not nearly as state-of-the-art as the newer Power Stroke engines, these early diesels put out respectable power considering their naturally aspirated design. Like GM (and partially because of their 5.7L), at the time of their arrival, these IDIs faced an uphill battle against a public that was convinced diesels were unreliable. The first Ford diesels not only proved that assumption wrong, but were so reliable that virtually the same basic design and technology underwent no changes in its 12-year production run.

Think idi can't make big horsepower?Back in the early 1990s, max Lagod of Hypermax put together an extraordinary engine package for a customer yearning to compete in sled pulling. With nothing holding him back, Lagod designed a 7.3L that included two Garrett turbos (which were state-of-the-art then but probably not manufactured anymore), a Bosch inline P-pump, custom injectors, a fabricated intake and exhaust manifolds, and slight cylinder head work.

Surprisingly, much of the factory engine components were retained, such as the crankshaft, block, and pistons-although the connecting rods were heat-treated. Compression on the engine was 15:1, which called for ether-assisted startups. Soon after entering this wild IDI into area-sanctioned sled pulling events, the engine was banned. Not to be discouraged, the owner turned to drag racing. Rumor has it that the truck graced with this 7.3L beast put out 1,200 hp and ran quarter-mile times in the 9-second range!

All of that power came with a price though, as the engine was infamous for its unreliability. Apparently, the engine block flexed so much on several occasions that the rear of the engine block broke off and required the utilization of rubber freeze plugs!

Year: 1983
HP: 170 hp at 3,300 rpm
Torque: 315 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm
Transmission(S): C6 (three-speed) T-19 BorgWarner (four-speed)
Engine Notes: 6.9L 420ci, naturally aspirated 20.7:1 compression

Year: 1984-1987
HP: 170 hp at 3,300 rpm
Torque: 338 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm
Transmission(S): C6/T-19
Engine Notes: 6.9L compression increased to 21.5:1

Year: 1988-1992
HP: 180 hp at 3,300 rpm
Torque: 345 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm
Transmission(S): C6 & T-19 ('88)E4OD & ZF five-speed ('89-'92)
Engine Notes: 7.3L 444 ci, naturally aspirated Increased 6.9L bore from 4.00 to 4.11

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