Project Cowboy Cadillac

December 5th, 2011

Text and Photos by Kevin Wilson

Diesel World’s latest project truck is this clean 2006 Ford Super Duty.

Souping Up a Super Duty

There’s no question that the economy has put the brakes on new diesel sales—unless you’re Donald Trump and can afford a $50,000 to $60,000 pickup.

That leaves the used market wide open for the pickin’. Diesel enthusiasts are flocking toward used trucks for a variety of reasons, including a lower purchase price and the fact that with the money you save from NOT buying a new one, you can customized your rig to fit your needs and tastes.

Then there’s the matter of the new emissions equipment that limits what you can do in terms of modification.

Diesel World has done its share of showing you how to hot rod and fix up used diesel pickups over the years. We did a series of stories on Project Box Hauler, a 1999 Ford Super Duty with more than 200,000 on the odometer, to make it a solid towing vehicle. We are currently in the process of building Project 2nd Gen, a 1999 Dodge with a 24-valve Cummins, for performance and towing and just put the finishing touches on Project 1st Gen, our 1992 Dodge 12-Valve field find, which we will reveal in the January 2012 issue. All these vehicles have been great sources of tech stories for real-world diesel upgrades.

After purchasing the truck, its owner outfitted it with a set of 285/75R17 BFG All Terrain T/As mounted on the stock steel wheels. The big Ford also got a leveling kit up front, thanks to Daystar and the folks at 4Wheel Parts, who did the install for added tire clearance.

The latest product truck to enter the fray is a 2006 Ford Super Duty with the 6.0L Power Stroke and an E40D automatic. The refrigerator-white pickup has slightly more than 80,000 miles on it, and the owner picked it up for just under $20,000. The thing is pristine inside and out and came with regular service records.

Since the owner is an avid outdoorsman and bought the truck to pull a 12,000-pound toy-hauler trailer for hunting in the Arizona high country, we knew it would be the perfect candidate for some upgrades to make the owner’s job easier. Because there are thousands of these Super Dutys on the road, and because we get a lot of mail on the 6.0L Power Stroke (both good and bad), it made perfect sense to add one to the project stable.

While the Ford is used as a daily driver, it also pulls this 30-foot toy-hauler up to the Arizona high country for camping and hunting expeditions. Fully loaded, the trailer tips the scales at approximately 12,000 pounds.

So, where did the name come from for our project? The owner also admits to be a redneck of sorts and is open for all cowboy Cadillac trappings, such as a huge brush guard, side steps and, of course, a headache rack and maybe a cowbell or two.

When we got our hands on the truck, it was stone stock. At our insistence, the owner went to Strictly Diesel, in Phoenix, Arizona, for a complete fluid change and also upgraded the E4OD transmission with a deep sump trans pan from Hughes Performance.

The pan kit came complete with a new gasket and filter and added 4 more quarts of fluid capacity. As funding will allow, the rear diff will also get a deep sump cover. The owner also added a set of air bags to the rear, since the tongue weight of his trailer badly squats the rear of the truck.

From there, we did the usually stuff that we normally advocate for diesel performance: intake and exhaust upgrade and a tuner. Flowmaster was the source of the 4-inch cat-back exhaust system, while AIRAID gave us one of its slick rotomolded MXP 6.0L intake setups. And since the truck is used as both a daily driver and tow vehicle, we went tow-safe on the tuner with a Hypertech Max Energy E-Con, which can easily be upgraded to the company’s Max Energy Power Programmer for additional tuning options.

So far, the mods have made a huge difference in the truck’s driveability and empty mileage, pushing 20 mpg on the highway. Towing power and throttle response are also improved, making the big Ford much more fun to drive, especially when you turn up the tuner.

So stay tuned as we transform this Super Duty into a reliable tow rig—while adding a touch of redneck flare, as well.

The stock 6.0L utilizes a high-filtration Donaldson air filter element that leaves a lot on the table in terms of flow, especially when you turn up the boost over stock levels.


One of the benefits of this project is that the owner is a hands-on guy who insists on doing as many of the mods as possible. Upgrading the intake side of the Power Stroke was high on the list after installing the tuner and exhaust.

One of the nicest 6.0L intakes on the market is AIRAID’s MXP series for the 6.0L. It is available with either a SynthaFlow oil filter or the new SythaMax non-oiled filter. The intake features a rotational, molded air box and modular intake tube to maximize airflow. Best of all, the kit comes complete and can be installed in under than an hour with ordinary hand tools, as we demonstrated here.








Hughes Performance




Performance Muffler


Strictly Diesel


4Wheel Parts


This is in the November issue of Diesel World.

Tags: , , , ,


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.