OLD SCHOOL SURPRISE

A 12-SECOND OBS THAT’S ALWAYS ON THE HUNT

The element of surprise is a beautiful thing, and for those of us in the diesel world it can be fairly easy to catch a late-model Mustang or Camaro off guard. Even though many auto enthusiasts have heard about what modern diesel pickups are capable of, the stronger running trucks they’ve seen have likely been newer, common-rail versions. They don’t expect to see the same thing from Brandon Indiviglio’s 21-year-old, squarebody Ford. In fact, most novice diesel enthusiasts are stunned to learn that his 7.3L Power Stroke is capable of running 12s. That’s fine with him. Indiviglio built his truck this way for that very reason. “I like making a truck no one thinks can be fast,” he told us.

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One-Owner Gem

The ’97 F-250 wasn’t always a sleeper, though. When Indiviglio picked up the one-owner, 119,000-mile Super Cab back in 2010 it was far from the 580hp truck it would eventually become, but it was still a pretty cool truck to roll into high school with. Over time, a few different parts combinations would be tried, along with subtle geartrain, suspension, and cosmetic changes.

Refreshed 7.3L

After a set of 160cc/100% nozzle injectors, a Wicked Wheel 2 upgrade, and some nasty tuning proved too much for one of the 7.3L’s head gaskets, Indiviglio decided to perform a fresh rebuild before taking things any further. While the stock forged rods remained, Indiviglio obtained a set of de-lipped Mahle replacement pistons from Riffraff Diesel Performance. Then, in an effort to prep the 7.3L for more boost, drive, and rpm, Comp Cams 910 valve springs and Smith Brothers chromoly pushrods were added, while ARP studs were used to fasten the heads to the block.

69mm S300

For both drivability and all-out performance, a BorgWarner S369 SX-E turbo provides Indiviglio the best of both worlds. The S300 frame charger spools quick on the street, and its FMW compressor wheel and 1.0 A/R exhaust housing combine for strong top-end performance at the track (the S369 SX-E even outflows several S400 variants). A complete turbo mounting system from Irate Diesel Performance makes running the T4-flanged S369 SX-E possible, and a Mishimoto intercooler helps reduce intake and exhaust gas temps. All Irate intercooler piping was ceramic-coated by Hot Shot Performance Coatings.

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After popping the factory passenger-side head gasket, Brandon Indiviglio wanted to do more than add head studs to his 7.3L Power Stroke. At 184,000 miles he decided to pull the engine out of his ’97 F-250 and perform a complete overhaul. And although the rebuild was nothing extravagant, he added several common 7.3L upgrades like de-lipped Mahle pistons from Riffraff Diesel Performance, Comp Cams 910 valve springs, Smith Brothers chromoly pushrods, along with ARP head studs.

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With a set of 300cc, 200% nozzle hybrid injectors from Swamp’s Diesel Performance to support it, a Full Force Diesel dual HPOP kit is employed to keep up with high-pressure oil demand. The system comprises a factory pump mounted in the stock location and a DieselSite Adrenaline up top.

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Thanks to a T4 turbo mounting system from Irate Diesel Performance, Indiviglio is able to feed his rebuilt 7.3L plenty of air via a BorgWarner S369 SX-E. The quick-spooling, forged-milled-wheel charger was spec’d with a 1.0 A/R turbine housing and wears a turbo blanket from Stainless Diesel. A Mishimoto intercooler intended for a ’99-03 Super Duty cools incoming air before it makes its way into a set of billet intake plenums from Beans Diesel Performance.

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To ensure both rear wheels are always digging, Indiviglio installed a Grizzly locker from Yukon Gear & Axle. The 10.25 also makes use of a 3.55 ring and pinion and Royal Purple gear lube.

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Transferring 1,100+ lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels begins with a Legendary E4OD from DieselSite. The four-speed automatic has been fitted with a billet triple-disc converter, custom-tailored valve body, and a Mag-Hytec deep pan for extra fluid capacity. Rather than rely on the tiny factory transmission cooler to keep the built slushbox’s temps in check, Indiviglio installed a universal cooler from B&M Performance.

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At as low as 300 rwhp, axle wrap begins to occur on the OBS Fords—and Indiviglio’s truck is way beyond that power level. A set of 6-foot-long, weld-on traction bars from Greer Fabrication keep the 10.25 Sterling from rotating and the leaf springs from twisting. Note the MBRP 4-inch stainless steel exhaust system, en-route to its 7-inch tip.

Big Firepower

A potent injection system, capable of supporting 700 hp, consists of Swamp’s Diesel Performance 300/200 hybrid injectors and Full Force Diesel’s dual high-pressure oil pump system. A stock displacement HPOP resides in the factory location, while a DieselSite Adrenaline mounts above it. The healthy hybrids receive steady fuel supply thanks to an Irate Diesel Performance electric fuel kit, complete with a Fuelab Prodigy pump and a regulated return system

JeliBuilt Tunes, Legendary Trans

The job of making all modifications work together for a smooth-driving overall package was left in the hands of Brian Jelich at JeliBuilt Performance. Jelich’s custom tuning, available to Indiviglio via a Power Hungry Performance Hydra chip, allows the truck to make a rod-saving 580 hp at the wheels. A DieselSite Legendary E4OD is tasked with harnessing more than 1,100 lb-ft of torque. The built four-speed automatic keeps its cool thanks to a Mag-Hytec deep pan and a universal transmission cooler from B&M Performance.

Ambitious Attitude

Although Brandon Indiviglio thoroughly enjoys his 12-second OBS, he’s not exactly content. His future plans for this project entail getting his hands on BorgWarner’s latest marvel, the S372 SX-E, running more aggressive tuning, and pushing the truck into the 700hp range. “If I could do 700 horsepower on a stock bottom end, that would be cool,” he says. Until then, he’ll continue to enjoy catching people off-guard, both at the track and on the street.

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Using the Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip platform, Indiviglio runs custom tuning files created by JeliBuilt Performance. And even though the truck has been conservatively tuned to keep the stock forged connecting rods alive, the AutoMeter Phantom series boost gauge still shows 50 psi at full tilt. Transmission temperature and EGT are also monitored via analog gauges on the A-pillar.

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Even after 21 years of use and 208,000 miles, the blue-on-blue interior is in near-perfect condition. After the leather-wrapped steering wheel began to break down (something OBS Fords are notorious for), Indiviglio installed a Grant Products replacement. The gauge mounted to the steering column allows him to keep an eye on the high-pressure oil supply.

“I LIKE THE CLASSIC BODY LINES, AND I LIKE MAKING A TRUCK NO ONE THINKS CAN BE FAST, FAST.”

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For a 6,250-pound, two-wheel-drive truck turning out 1,100 lb-ft of torque, traction can be hard to come by—and at any speed under 40 mph, the Firestone Transforce HTs aboard this OBS Ford don’t stand a chance. We weren’t exactly complaining when he decided to pulverize the rear all-seasons for our cameras though.

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Instead of routing a crankcase vent hose along the frame and under the driver’s door, Indiviglio pieced together his own crankcase vent, complete with a Moroso catch can. The catch can mounts under the back seat on the passenger-side frame rail.

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Fuel supply for the injectors comes by way of a standard OBS electric fuel system from Irate Diesel Performance, although Indiviglio upgraded the lift pump to a Prodigy unit from Fuelab. Now—and because he started out with Irate’s standard OBS fuel system, which retains the factory fuel selector valve—he’s still able to use both OEM tanks. Fuel supply pressure, which is regulated on the return side via an adjustable Fuelab regulator, is set at 68 psi.

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When you can’t find traction under 40 mph on street tires, you turn to the age-old drag racing solution to get out of the hole: slicks. With these 30×14 M&H Racemaster slicks bolted up out back, Indiviglio can cut 1.9-second 60-foots on soft, 10-12psi boosted launches and blaze the quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds. Indiviglio was quick to point out his favorite part of drag racing his old Ford: “It’s cool to pull up at the dragstrip and everyone thinks, ‘Ah, it’s just a 7.3,’ but then you show them your taillights the whole way down the track.”

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Thanks to a Complete Performance leveling kit, Indiviglio was able to raise the front ride height of his F-250 courtesy of 2-inch coil spring spacers. The truck’s front and rear shocks were replaced with Rancho RS5000s.

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While strapped to the chassis dyno at Beans Diesel Performance, Indiviglio’s F-250 laid down a very respectable 579 hp and 1,108 lb-ft of torque. In a truck that weighs close to what a modern half-ton does, we have no doubts that this daily driven OBS Ford is a lot of fun on the street.

SPECIFICATIONS
1997 FORD F-250

OWNER: Brandon Indiviglio
HOMETOWN: Boca Raton, Florida
ODOMETER: 208,000 miles
ENGINE: 7.3L Power Stroke w/Riffraff Diesel Performance de-lipped factory pistons, Comp Cams 910 valve springs, Smith Brothers chromoly pushrods, ARP head studs, Mishimoto aluminum radiator, DIY crankcase vent w/Moroso catch can
FUEL: Swamp’s Diesel Performance 300/200 hybrid injectors, Irate Diesel Performance electric fuel supply system w/Fuelab Prodigy pump & regulated return
OIL: Full Force Diesel dual HPOP pump kit w/factory HPOP over DieselSite Adrenaline
AIR: BorgWarner S369 SX-E w/Stainless Diesel turbo blanket, Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting system, Beans Diesel Performance billet intake plenums, Mishimoto intercooler
EXHAUST: MBRP 4-inch stainless system w/7-inch tip, 3-inch Irate Diesel Performance downpipe
TUNING: Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip w/JeliBuilt Performance custom tuning
TRANSMISSION: DieselSite Legendary E4OD with billet triple-disc torque converter, Mag-Hytec deep pan, B&M Performance universal transmission cooler
HORSEPOWER: 579 hp (dyno)
TORQUE: 1,108 lb-ft (dyno)
WHEELS: 18×10 Moto Metal MO962
TIRES: 275/65R18 Firestone Transforce HT (street), 30×14 M&H Racemaster slicks (track) AXLES/SUSPENSION: Yukon Grizzly locker, 3.55 gears (rear), Complete Performance 2-inch levelingkit (front), Rancho RS5000 shocks (front & rear), Greer Fabrication weld-on traction bars