TIMELESS

A 550 hp 7.3L OBS Ford

You look back over the last 100 years of pickup trucks and there are a few models that will always stand out. Some just had that look—no matter how old they get, anyone can appreciate them when they’re kept clean and simple. The ’56 Ford F100 or a shortbed ’69 Chevy, they’ll just forever be classics. For a diesel enthusiast, it’s hard to argue that the ’94-97 Ford OBS won’t be a model to fit that “classic” category as the years continue go by. It’s been 20 years since the OBS body style was replaced by the Super Duty and finding a nice, low-mileage example is virtually impossible. Every once in a while you’ll cross paths with one that makes you wish you’d never sold the one you had 15 years ago. Sure the 7.3L Power Stroke is short on power by today’s standards, but it was a solid engine put into a great truck.

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The Old Body Style Ford just has that look about it that any truck lover can appreciate, even now after two decades of it being out of production. The right wheel and tire combo, perfect stance and careful maintenance still sets the mid-’90s Fords apart as some of the best looking trucks on the road.

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Since the Hypermax turbo kit had originally been installed with a turbocharger that now is a bit too small for Gibson’s current power goals, High Tech Turbo built a fully custom BorgWarner-based S300 with the latest 69mm SX-E compressor wheel and cover while keeping the Hypermax T4I style turbine housing for easy installation. This combination makes a very streetable daily driver able to push 45 psi of boost.

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The Hypermax intercooler kit helps keep EGTs under control while the Driven Diesel regulated return fuel system keeps fuel flowing through the cylinder heads to maximize engine performance and fuel pressure.

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Under the hood, this old Power Stroke breathes through a Hypermax turbo install kit and intercooler fed with a custom-built 69mm S300 turbocharger. There is also a BTS dual high-pressure oil pump system, Driven Diesel regulated fuel return kit to maximize the potential of some 250cc Full Force Diesel injectors.

Zac Gibson of Morgan, Utah, just happens to have one of those timeless old body style Fords. After speaking with him for a bit about the truck, we’d almost bet his blood runs Blue Oval blue. Gibson bought this 1997 single cab F-350 from the original owner with 55,000 miles on it clear back in 2001. Shortly after it was sporting a 9-inch suspension lift and 38×15.50 Thornburg mud tires, and while it was not real practical as a daily driver, Gibson fell in love with the truck. He is obviously still nurturing that love affair 16 years later as he continues to put his passion for diesel performance into the old girl. Through the years the truck has been babied, only driven on the sunny days, washed anytime it saw rain or snow and has been through quite the transformation, in both looks and performance.

Around 2005, Gibson got hooked up with then Wide Open Performance of Sandy, Utah, where owner Zane Koch and his crew really started to amp up the performance of that 250-hp 7.3L Power Stroke. The stock engine was upgraded with some Stage II 180cc Hypermax injectors, a Hypermax high-flow intercooler kit and a custom turbocharger from Bell Turbo was mounted on a Hypermax T4I install kit. To ensure there would never be transmission problems from the stock automatic, it was rebuilt and upgraded by Brian’s Truck Shop of Lead Hill, Arkansas. Custom internals, performance valve body and triple-disc torque converter was going to be more than enough for whatever power level the truck ended up at. Wide Open also installed a bigger transmission cooler and lines from a V10 Super Duty truck. The truck made a very respectable 400 hp with that combo, but the massive lift and tires were killing the drivability and Gibson was ready to make some changes.

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Gibson runs a Nitto Terra Grappler A/Ts in a 305/55R20 size mounted on polished chrome, deep-dish 20×12 Fuel Octane wheels. This combo under the reverse shackle front suspension offers a super aggressive looking stance everyone notices coming down the road.

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To update the old girl a bit, Gibson found a take-off 2017 F-250 chrome bumper that he had powdercoated white to match the rest of the truck. With some custom front brackets, this new-body-style bumper looks like it belongs on that old body style truck.

After removing the complete suspension and installing factory height front and rear springs, a Reverse Shackle kit was installed up front to help with the ride quality and give it enough height to clear the new tires. For rubber, those 38-inch mudders were replaced with a set of 305/55R20 Nitto Terra Grappler A/Ts wrapped in polished 20×12 Fuel Octane wheels. ProComp traction bars and Rancho shocks keep the rear end planted and riding smooth.

After Wide Open closed up shop a few years back, Gibson had to find another place to keep the old truck running perfect and he turned to Dillion Weston and Drake Dearden of Lawless Diesel in Ogden, Utah. In 2016, Gibson was ready to turn up the wick a bit more and really start pushing some power and improving his track times. Lawless Diesel tore in to it and started by upgrading it with hi-rev valve springs, chromoly pushrods and a set of H11 head studs and new head gaskets. The injectors were upgraded to 250cc Hybrids from Full Force Diesel with 200% nozzles. An old school stacked dual high-pressure oil system from BTS was installed along with a full electric fuel system from Driven Diesel that uses a high performance Fuelab pump and regulated fuel return kit. The Bell Turbo wasn’t going to be big enough for the new fuel so High Tech Turbo reworked it and updated it with the latest BorgWarner 69mm SX-E compressor technology, along with some custom machining to the exhaust side so it could be installed on that Hypermax mount kit without trouble. Tuning was revised by Tyrant Diesel and should have this truck making between 550 and 600 horsepower, while maintaining great drivability and fun street manners.

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How many trucks do you still see rolling around with a Cobra CB mounted under the dash? While it may not really be used much these days, it takes you back to your younger years when you spent time spent riding around with your buddies in high school, doesn’t it?

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In the cab, a set of old school AutoMeter Pro-Comp gauges are mounted on a triple-gauge pillar pod, so Gibson can keep an eye on EGTs, boost and transmission temperatures. You don’t see many trucks running around with gauge pods anymore—and honestly, we kind of miss it.

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It’s hard to see it now, but this truck once sat on a 10-inch lift and 38-inch Thornburg tires when Gibson purchased the truck in 2002 from its original owner. While it looked cool back then, it was real practical for a daily driver, and this new stance looks every bit as cool and can get way more power to the ground.

Cosmetically, the truck was just recently updated to all new lights up front with LED bulbs inside. The factory Ford cab lights were replaced with some sleeker Dodge cab lenses as well. You may also notice that front bumper, which came off a brand-new 2017 Super Duty truck. The chrome 2017 bumper was sandblasted and powdercoated in white to match the truck, and some custom brackets were fabbed to mount it. The factory 2017 high-intensity fog lights were wired right into the factory switch in the cab. Inside the cab you’ll find a simple set of triple gauges on the pillar and an old school CB radio under the dash. The HiFi Shop of Roy, Utah, did all the stereo work. A Kenwood head unit, 1600-watt Kenwood amp, dual 10-inch Orion XTR Pro subwoofers and Kenwood door speakers pump out plenty of sound in that little regular cab.

With just 113,000 miles on the odometer, the old truck is still in its prime and turns quite a few heads when it’s out cruising around town. From the paint matched grille and 2017 Ford bumper upgrade to the killer wide wheel stance, this truck just has a look to it we can’t explain. We’re not real sure how you can pull off that clean, classic look of a 20-year-old truck while keeping it fresh with today’s latest style, but Gibson has done it. It’s truly timeless. It runs pretty good too.

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To feed the engine, below the truck you’ll find a complete Driven Diesel electric fuel system that uses a high performance Fuelab fuel pump and fuel filter kit to keep plenty of clean fuel fed to those hungry 250cc Hybrid injectors.

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To help with axle wrap and wheel hop, a set of Pro-Comp traction bars were installed. You can also take note at the relatively good condition of the undercarriage. This 20-year-old truck is still considered extremely low mileage with just 113,000 miles on the clock and Gibson has taken pretty good care of it through the years.

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The original AFE Stage 2 cold-air intake had to be modified a bit to fit the Hypermax turbo mount kit, bit still looks great under the hood and ensures enough air gets to that 69mm turbo to help the engine put down over 550 hp to the wheels.

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The factory grille has been updated with some matching white paint in the centers for a little better look. But that Hypermax intercooler and massive transmission cooler from a Super Duty V10 application are what’s important here.

With just 113,000 miles on the odometer, the old truck is still in its prime and turns quite a few heads when it’s out cruising around town.

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With the newer cowl induction hood, 2017 color-matched bumper, smoked Dodge Ram cab lights and wide 20×12 polished wheels, it’s hard not to be impressed with the looks of this OBS. How can newer parts help make such a timeless model stay so timeless?