How The 5.9L Cummins Changed The Diesel Pickup Segment Forever
It’s the mid 1980s and you’re on the hunt for a new -ton or larger truck… The only manufacturers offering diesels are Ford and GM—and while they’re torquey, the indirect injection, non-turbo power plants don’t quite keep pace with the larger gas engine offerings of the day. Although the idea of getting double the mileage of a big-block appeals to you, the thought of being passed by anything and everything with a trailer behind you is a deal-breaker. The proven, big-cube gasoline V-8 wins out in the end. Just a decade later, justifying the purchase of a gas-powered -ton pickup is significantly harder to do. This is a direct result of Dodge getting into the diesel game back in 1989, which revolutionized the truck segment.
Up until Dodge entered the fray, Ford and GM were practically on cruise control, enjoying the added sales that came from those interested in the compression ignition side of life. When the Cummins option graced Dodge trucks, it was more than a contender. It dominated the class and made diesel a much more attractive choice for consumers. In a series of firsts, the Cummins brought direct injection, turbocharging, and 400 lb-ft of torque to the diesel pickup segment. This time, we’re cracking open the history book for a look back at the engine that ignited the torque wars between OEM’s, initiated the never-ending battles for class-leading payload and towing capacity, and even introduced us to diesel performance as we know it today: the 5.9L 6BT Cummins.