Keeping Pace, Part 1: 500hp 7.3L Recipe
Make Your 7.3L A Contender Without Sacrificing Durability
A quarter century ago, Ford’s HEUI-injected 7.3L Power Stroke was state-of-the-art. These days however, your ’94.5-’03 Ford is way behind the times. But just because brand-new diesels are packing 400 hp or more and 1,000-plus lb-ft of torque from the factory doesn’t mean your old workhorse can’t be made to compete. On the contrary, a thriving aftermarket continues to provide full support for Ford’s first Power Stroke—and breaking the 500hp barrier isn’t as difficult as you think. Even better yet, you can have your cake and eat it, too. As in, you can enjoy your newfound power without sacrificing reliability, provided you piece together the right combination of parts.
This month, we’re showing you the most effective path to 500-rwhp, and beyond. It’s a blueprint we’ve seen play out countless times on the chassis dyno, at the drag strip, and out in the real world. From picking the right injector to satisfying your high-pressure oil and low-pressure fuel supply needs, to installing a completely different turbo system and choosing the perfect charger, to making necessary valvetrain upgrades to sustain the added boost, drive pressure and rpm, we’re covering all the bases here. By no means is a 500hp 7.3L cheap to achieve, but it sure beats making a truck payment on a late-model diesel saddled with the latest emissions equipment. Go ahead, invest in old reliable. You’ll be glad you did!
Connecting Rod Disclaimer
Because literally all of the mods in our 500hp recipe essentially revolve around stacking horsepower on top of a factory bottom end, it pays to identify which factory connecting rods resides in your 7.3L Power Stroke before diving in. If you’re working with a ’94.5-’97 engine or a ’99-’00 Super Duty engine, you’ve got forged rods and you’re fine. However, if you have an ’01-’02 model year 7.3L you need to find out whether or not you have powdered metal connecting rods or the stronger forged-steel units. With powdered metal rods (left), you’re advised to draw the line at 400 to 450-rwhp. For forged-steel rods (right), you’re good for 600-rwhp (and sometimes even more than that). Below are the production runs of forged vs. powdered metal connecting rods according to engine serial numbers:
- Forged Steel Rods: Beginning of production – serial number 1425746
- Powdered Metal Rods: Serial number 1425747 – 1440712
- Forged Steel Rods: Serial number 1440713 – 1498318
- Powdered Metal Rods: Serial number 1498319 – final production
Full Force Diesel
Irate Diesel Performance
Power Hungry Performance
Riffraff Diesel Performance
Summit Racing (Comp Cams)
Unlimited Diesel Performance