My introduction to the gas versus diesel battle occurred in 1996, when my buddy Billy drove his dad's old '92 Dodge Ram 3500 with the 12-valve Cummins diesel to high school one day. These trucks will never win any beauty contest, but people didn't buy them for their aesthetics. Behind the wheel of my '85 S-10 equipped with the 2.5L Iron Duke, I felt supremely confident that I would show him my taillights once the stoplight turned green (after all I had a K&N filter, SplitFire plugs, and a chrome exhaust tip). What happened next was a lesson learned in torque output. His Cummins had more than 400 lb-ft, my S-10 had about 135 lb-ft—advantage diesel. The impromptu drag race was ugly.
My next diesel butt-kicking came in college. I was behind the wheel of my heavily modified '94 Camaro and my friend Brian was driving his '95 Dodge Ram 3500 standard cab dualie. He had just gotten the truck back from a local diesel tuner that had added injectors, upped the boost, and a 4-inch exhaust. I laughed when he said his truck was fast. Turned out, he was right and I lost another stoplight battle.
That leads me to this month's gas versus diesel debate. It's an ongoing topic of conversation, with today's diesel engines making absurd power while running quieter and cleaner. In this issue, we show you how to modify both engines to help them run at their best. Bolt-ons are easy to install, relatively inexpensive when compared to internal engine work, and you can reap the benefits instantly.
Our two Ram features in this issue are owned by longtime friend of the magazine Justin Veit. When the time came to decide on which truck to build, gas or diesel, he had the luxury of doing both. Check out his sick trucks and decide which powertrain is best for you. As for me, I'll be a little more observant when pulling up to a diesel and trying to outrun it.