Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Project X: Diesel Done Right

Kirk Manuel

Kirk Manuel is head manager of Manuel Auto Group in Fort Worth, Texas

It all started in June of last year, when a couple of truck guys and me came up with a pretty wild idea: Why not create a high-performance truck to blow the doors off the competition?

We put our heads together and thought that with all of the focus on diesel technology as of late, a diesel truck would be a pretty good place to start.

We all had solid backgrounds in drag racing, so the idea was easy to swallow. We found ourselves a stock 2003 Dodge Ram Quad Cab truck and got to work making it race-worthy. This was actually a pretty well-used farm vehicle with a stock 5.9-liter Cummins diesel engine and over 200,000 miles on the odometer.

Needless to say, we were going to have to put some guts in the thing to make her run like a drag racer. The 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel was already a solid piece of work, but it was going to require some serious upgrades to qualify as worthy of the raceway.

We added all kinds of equipment to make her quick, from new computers to control the boost and output, to new transmissions, gears and tires to keep it gripping the road. Thirty grand later, we had ourselves a real beast with over 900 horsepower and more than 1,800 lb.-ft. of torque. ‘Fast’ would be an understatement.

The Project X truck can blow the doors off of a Mustang GT, and we clocked a quarter-mile on the Houston drag strip at 11.30 seconds at well over 120 miles per hour. Not bad for a workhorse that used to lug ranching equipment and feed for livestock. We’ve gotten the needle all the way to 161 in the Texas Mile.

This truck has gotten pretty good coverage in everything from the Dallas News and, to enthusiast magazines like Diesel Power Magazine (the editor, David Kennedy, was one of the guys who helped put this thing together).

In the coming months, we’re racing X at a number of tracks in different states. If you want to see a good example of Project X in action, a video of one of our runs down the dragway can be found here.

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