5 Proven Power Recipes For 750 HP To 1,000 HP
In the modern era, which has no doubt proven to be the golden age for diesel performance, it’s common to find 600, 700, or even 800 hp trucks that still go to work every day. At the same time, it’s anything but rare to come across a daily-driven diesel that’s capable of turning out 900 or even 1,000 hp. Fresh back from the Grand Opening Hootenanny at LinCo Diesel Performance—an event that featured a dyno competition as well as various live-tuning sessions—we decided to profile a handful of combinations that made impressive power on the rollers.
All of the following trucks could be daily driven, some of them still tow, and one epitomizes what it means to be a sleeper. Their combinations are simpler than you might think, with all but one candidate sporting a big single turbo as opposed to compounds or even triples. Not surprisingly, most are Cummins-powered and graced with common-rail injection. Rest assured, there is a hot-running LMM Duramax on our list to help break the mold. If you’ve been on the hunt for a dyno-proven horsepower recipe for your common-rail Dodge or GM, you’ve come to the right place.
Though the paint-matched traction bars might give a little something away, the average Joe would never suspect this ’03 Ram makes four-digit horsepower, or that it sends a tire-frying 1,700 lb-ft to the rear wheels. Aboard Maverick Diesel’s reputable Mustang chassis dyno, Sam Gingerich pushed his third-gen to 1,019 hp and 1,719 lb-ft on fuel, followed afterward by a crowd-pleasing 1,228 hp and 1,953 lb-ft effort which was made possible courtesy of a healthy ghetto fogging. Sam sends his power through a Firepunk Competition Stage 3 48RE with an Anteater Pro stand alone transmission controller.
When you’ve already proven you’ve got a combo capable of four-digit horsepower but you want to make certain you finish in the money at the dyno day, what do you do? You pull the air filter, hand your best buddy a bottle of nitrous with good pressure, and you work out your “on” and “off” signals. Executed to perfection, Sam’s ghetto fogging was good for more than 200 additional ponies and a dyno sheet that nearly read 2,000 lb-ft.
Under the hood of Sam’s bright red Dodge, you’ll find a 5.9L common-rail Cummins that’s been topped off with a worked over cylinder head from D&J Precision Machine. It’s anchored to the block via ARP Custom Age 625+ head studs. Also notice the T4 Steed Speed exhaust manifold, which makes it possible to run an S400.
Sam sourced his Air Tec Innovations turbo through Midwest Truck Products. Based on an S400, the Air Tec charger uses a billet, 72mm inducer compressor wheel, an 87mm turbine wheel (exducer), and spools quickly thanks to its .90 A/R exhaust housing. At full tilt, Sam reports the Air Tec S472 produces as much as 55 psi worth of boost.
With a set of 250-percent over Exergy Performance injectors to feed rail pressure to, Sam opted for dual CP3’s. A stock displacement pump sits in the factory location, but a 10mm CP3 from Exergy gets belt-driven up top. Sam relies on a 165-gph Titanium series lift pump system from FASS to keep the CP3’s supplied with plenty of low-pressure diesel.
After you win the dyno day, it tends to draw a crowd. Minutes after laying down his 1,228 hp, 1,953 lb-ft number on spray, Sam began fielding questions about the truck’s setup. We were among them.
The second (of four) fire engine red Cummins-powered Rams on our list belongs to Devin Derry. His ’07 crew cab didn’t disappoint, on the dyno or in the looks department. Mechanically, Slayback’s Diesel Performance and Repair had a hand in Devin’s build. Cosmetically, Devin added his own subtle touches to the ultra-clean third-gen. This is one truck that could easily win a dyno day while simultaneously taking top honors in the show ‘n shine.
Up against the load of the dyno, the Nick Stamm S475 singing, and a Firepunk calibration making the most of the truck’s fueling arrangement, Devin’s third-gen knocked on the door of 1,000 hp. On a friendlier dyno (or on a different day), he might’ve broken into four-digit territory, but all “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s” aside, a 990hp graph is definitely nothing to scoff at!
In his quest for big power, Devin pulled out all the stops. His 5.9L common-rail was built with a gorilla girdle from Industrial Injection, Wagler Competition Products rods, and a Fleece performance series head fastened to the block with ARP Custom Age 625+ head studs. A pair of factory displacement CP3’s support a set of 250-percent over Exergy injectors on the fuel side, and a 48RE complete with a DPC converter and a full manual valve body from Goerend provide for solid drivability and efficient power transfer.
If we were writing a book on diesel’s best sleepers, Justin Norris’s ’06 Dodge would be in the first chapter. Not only is his 196,000-mile, stock bottom end third-gen making in excess of 900-rwhp, but the well-preserved body is all-original, too. A 48RE built by Chris Redlarczyk stands up to everything the 5.9L sends its way, thanks in large part to its DPC converter, TCS billet input, intermediate, and output shafts, and its RevMax Performance valve body. And because he still tows with the truck (as well as prefers full control over the 48’s shift points), Justin runs an Anteater Pro standalone transmission controller from Firepunk.
In Justin’s own words: “It’s a budget build, with good fuel and air.” With fuel we’d consider better than “good,” a set of experimental S&S Diesel Motorsport injectors are in place beneath the valve cover. They benefit from internal body modifications and 200-percent larger nozzles with a 118-degree spray pattern. Quick-firing injectors with great nozzle flow mean very conservative duration is commanded to meet Justin’s power goals (just 1,600 microseconds of duration was being called for on his 935hp dyno pull). The trade-secret injectors are supported by a high speed, 12mm stroker CP3, also from S&S.
Strapped to Maverick Diesel’s Mustang chassis dyno and under load, Justin’s Dade a 550-mile round trip to see what the truck could lay down on these specific rolleodge responded with 935 hp and 1,704 lb-ft of torque. What’s more is that he mrs. On top of all that, Justin’s Ram is his sole means of towing his tandem axle camper. So in addition to making 900-plus horsepower and running low 7’s in the eighth-mile, it often serves as a tow-rig and even a commuter when he needs it to.
Among the short-list of hard-part upgrades Justin has performed on his 5.9L Cummins is a set of ARP 2000 head studs. Instead of pulling the head, each stud was installed in place of a factory head bolt one at a time and torqued to spec. Valvetrain upgrades came by way of Wagler Competition Products and Manton in the form of chromoly pushrods and beehive valve springs.
Departing from the S400 crowd, Justin went with a unit from Precision Turbo & Engine for his forced induction needs. Originally intended for tractor pullers, Precision’s 2.8 x 3 turbo makes use of a 71mm inducer compressor wheel with a sizable 110mm exducer, and a 75mm/82mm turbine wheel. Its .98 A/R exhaust housing features a T4 divided turbine inlet flange and bolts to a three-piece exhaust manifold. Justin tells us that peak boost checks in at 65 psi.
Live-tuned while aboard Maverick Diesel’s dyno, the finicky ’10-’12 Ram ECM was tamed on Jake Unkrich’s fourth-gen Cummins and his combination of parts also produced 898 hp. Not quite satisfied in the sense that you can never have enough power, Jake is already making plans to build a 6.7L long-block. In his own words: “The plan is always to go bigger. It’s actually going under the knife next week in search of four digits next time!”
It’s the only 6.7L Cummins in this group, but its factory rotating assembly is having zero issues handling the estimated 1,000 to 1,050 hp being generated at the crank. Upgrading the essentials, Jake threw in 115-pound valve springs, HD pushrods, and ARP head studs, but left all of the other hard parts alone. A potent fueling combination consists of 250-percent over Exergy injectors, dual CP3’s with a Fish Tuning advanced dual pump controller. The OEM Bosch pumps are supplied low-pressure fuel courtesy of a 265-gph FASS system.
Boost production for Jake’s fourth-gen comes in the form of an S475 from Midwest Truck Products. Its billet, 6-blade 75mm compressor wheel moves plenty of air, while an 87mm turbine wheel provides solid exhaust flow at high rpm. The charger’s relatively tight, .90 A/R exhaust housing helps keep it responsive, especially at low rpm. The S475 mounts to a T4 flange exhaust manifold from Steed Speed.
To make his path to big power a bit easier to come by, a 48RE swap was performed on Jake’s ’12. The four-speed automatic is a Competition Stage 3 unit from Firepunk that’s been fitted with a full manual valve body. Here, you can see the TCI Automotive Outlaw shifter—along with Paul Cato working his magic to dial in the overall setup.
With a low-profile stance and hard-to-spot CalTracs bars, it would be easy to assume Brian Martin’s ¾-ton Sierra as just another run-of-the-mill, 500hp daily driver—but you’d be dead wrong. His ’10 GMC is packing a healthy fuel system, compounds, and a Sun Coast-built Allison 1000. Brian has done everything but build the LMM Duramax, and smart tuning has made the infamous ’06-’10 cracked piston issues a non-issue thus far.
Above the 138,000-mile, stock bottom end LMM, Brian’s Sierra sports a set of compounds from Screamin’ Diesel Performance. The arrangement combines a billet-wheeled S475 (the low-pressure, atmospheric unit) with the factory Garrett VVT in the valley. For big boost insurance, ARP head studs sit in place of the factory head bolts. A PPE dual fueler kit that pairs a second, stock displacement CP3 with the factory pump maintains rail pressure for a set of 60-percent over S&S Diesel Motorsport injectors to use. Low-pressure fuel supply is provided by a 150-gph FASS system and a FASS sump.
At 765 hp, Brian has surpassed what the SDP compounds are rated to support. However, the turbos—and more importantly the engine—are kept safe through conservative tuning practices. Notice that peak torque checks in at 3,000 rpm rather than 2,000 or even 2,500 rpm. This is done to limit the amount of torque (i.e. cylinder pressure) the factory bottom end is exposed to. And instead of allowing the stock VVT in the valley to run away on boost and drive pressure, maximum boost (combined) is just 38 psi.