Sleeper Status: The 11-Second 7.3L

At first glance, the average person would have no clue the level of rowdiness that’s concealed in Tony Salokas’ ’01 F-350. With the factory 16-inch Alcoa’s, ’05 front clip, and King Ranch badging, it would be easy to assume cosmetic changes are the extent of its upgrades. But stumbling across this truck at a stoplight would leave you scratching your head. It’s one of the nastiest HEUI-fired 7.3L Power Strokes you’ll find. Need proof? How about a 7,300-pound Super Duty that runs mid 11’s on fuel.

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“It’s fun to see what kind of power you can get out of the 7.3L, and it’s cheap to get started (couple hundred bucks for a motor). You can’t do that with a Duramax or Cummins.” —Tony Salokas

Unbeknownst to most living outside the 7.3L beltway, huge breakthroughs in technology and performance have been made over the last 5-7 years—and Tony’s truck is a perfect example of all of the progress that’s been made. Properly matched airflow via the heads, cam, and turbo all working well together, coupled with hybrid injectors and optimal tuning culminates in a 7.3L powered truck churning out nearly 800-rwhp.

This is what you get when you bend a cryo’d forged rod at the 600-rwhp mark: bigger and better. A balanced and blueprinted short block from Carson Stauffer would entail a Dyno Proven girdle, partially filled block, Manley forged I-beam connecting rods, 0.030-inch over fly-cut, de-lipped, and coated cast-aluminum Mahle pistons, a Stage 2 cam from Gearhead Automotive Performance, ATI damper, and a Precision Industries billet flex plate. The block and heads (Stage 2 ported units from Carson Stauffer) were cut for fire-rings and the worked over heads clamp to the block via H11 head studs.

The Beast Within

Built by Carson Stauffer Diesel, the 7.3L engine incorporates a Dyno Proven girdle and ARP main studs, Manley connecting rods, fly-cut cast-aluminum Mahle pistons with de-lipped fuel bowls, and a Stage 2 cam from Gearhead Automotive Performance. The block’s water jackets were also partially filled with HardBlok, along with the block (and heads) being cut to accept fire rings. A set of Carson Stauffer Diesel’s Stage 2 fire-ringed heads feature extensive porting, upgraded valve springs, and fasten to the block via H11 head studs.

Producing just shy of 60 pounds of boost at full-tilt is an S475 from Barder Turbo Service.

Keeping plenty of oil volume available for a set of Swamp’s Diesel Performance 300/200 hybrid injectors is a Gen3 high-pressure oil pump, also from Swamp’s. It works in conjunction with the stock 17-degree pump mounted in the factory location. Low pressure oil supply is improved thanks to a high volume LPOP from DieselSite.

Going big on the injector side yet keeping things streetable is a set of 300cc/200 percent nozzle competition hybrids from Swamp’s Diesel Performance. Keeping up with the oil demand of the hybrids is the commendable Gen3 high-pressure oil pump from Swamp’s.  With a Bean’s Diesel Performance sump in the tank, a fuel system from Marty’s Diesel Performance employing an Aeromotive A1000, and a regulated return kit from Carson Stauffer Diesel, a steady stream of diesel makes it into and out of the injectors. Swamp’s custom PCM tuning ties everything together for maximum power and good drivability.

“It’s one of the nastiest HEUI-fired 7.3L Power Strokes you’ll find”

When it came time to pick out the perfect turbocharger, Tony spec’d one from Barder Turbo Service. The S400 BorgWarner based unit features a 75mm, 6-blade, billet compressor wheel, and an 87mm turbine wheel residing in a 1.10 A/R exhaust housing. A T4 turbo kit from Carson Stauffer Diesel mounts the S475 near the factory location and 3-inch diameter piping routes air into an Alradco intercooler as well as the engine.

Serious injectors call for a serious fuel system, so Tony went with the 1375 Kit from Marty’s Diesel Performance, which includes an Aeromotive A1000. A Bean’s Diesel Performance fuel tank sump connected to 5/8-inch fuel line gets things started, and once through the CAT water separator and fuel filter, ½-inch line carries diesel to the Y-block on the engine. From there, 3/8-inch lines feed fuel into the back of each head.

A regulated fuel return system from Carson Stauffer Diesel makes use of a polished, adjustable Aeromotive regulator. Tony fabricated his own mount for the regulator, and he keeps fuel pressure set at 68 psi.

To harness everything the built 7.3L could throw at it, Tony let the experts at Brian’s Truck Shop bulletproof the 4R100 automatic. Forged 300M input, intermediate, and output shafts sit inside the slushbox, as well as a custom-tuned valvebody and other trade secrets. To make the S475 more drivable on the street, a 2,400-rpm stall triple disc torque converter from Precision Industries is employed.

Keeping the rear leaf springs from twisting and the Sterling 10.5 from rotating, Tony fabricated his own ladder bars. They utilize bolt-on axle mounts intended for CalTracs traction bars, while the frame mounts are welded in place.

This is something you don’t always see in the bed of an 11-second diesel: a gooseneck ball. Tony told us the truck drives so well that he wouldn’t be afraid to tow with it if he had to.

From the driver seat, Isspro gauges along the A-pillar allow Tony to keep an eye on EGT, boost, and transmission temp. The rest of the interior confirms the truck’s low mileage, as it’s clean as a whistle.

With a set of Swamp’s Diesel Performance 300/200 injectors and a Gen3 high-pressure oil pump feeding the engine, having the guys at Swamp’s dial in the truck’s tuning was a no-brainer for Tony. He navigates between custom tunes via a Hydra Chip from Power Hungry Performance.

Keeping tabs on ICP (injection control pressure) is an Isspro high-pressure oil gauge. At wide-open throttle, the needle nearly makes a full sweep, with 3,850 psi worth of ICP (high pressure oil pressure) being maintained.

While the factory 3.73 gears still reside in the front and rear differentials, the rear 10.5 was fitted with a Detroit Truetrac. Other than the BTS transmission, Tony says this is his favorite aftermarket component he’s added to the truck. “You can have a big, bad ass truck, but if you have an open rear you ain’t goin’ nowhere,” he told us.

BTS Transmission

Bulletproofing the 4R100 automatic was left in the hands of Brian’s Truck Shop. While under the BTS roof, the transmission would be graced with 300M input, intermediate, and output shafts, as well as a custom-tailored valve body and other select internals. A 2,400-rpm stall, triple disc torque converter built by Precision Industries was also included to make the S475 as drivable as possible on the street.

The Future is Now

Back in the day, an S475, 400/400 injectors, and good tuning would barely knock on the door of 700-rwhp—but now things are different. 7.3L die-hards like Tony are making well north of that on 300/200’s thanks to better head flow, turbo technology, and tuning. So far, Tony’s Super Duty has cleared 714-rwhp on the dyno, but according to the track is sending 780 ponies to the pavement. His current goals for the truck are to run an 11.5-second quarter-mile on fuel and put together an 11.0-second pass on nitrous. We don’t see that being a problem. It’s what comes after that that has our interest piqued. You could very well be looking at the next 7.3L to run 10’s. So much for being called dinosaurs… DW

When it’s time to load up and hit the dragstrip, Tony bolts on a set of 30×14 cheater slicks at each corner to rule out any tire spin. To date, his truck has been 7.43 at 93 mph on fuel through the eighth-mile—a mid-11 at roughly 116 mph in the quarter. With that much mph, it’s safe to say 780hp is making it to the wheels.

If the opportunity presents itself, Tony is always game for a little dirt drag action. Take it from us, this truck can build up a lot of steam in just 300 feet worth of track.

Specs

Year/Make/Model: 2001 Ford F-350

Owner: Tony (T.J.) Salokas

Hometown: Wantage, New Jersey

Odometer: 132,000 miles

Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke built by Carson Stauffer Diesel

Short Block: HardBlok half-filled block, Dyno Proven girdle, ARP main studs, Manley rods, de-lipped and fly-cut 15:1 pistons, cut for fire-rings, Gearhead Automotive Performance Stage 2 cam, ATI damper, Precision Industries billet flex plate

Heads: Carson Stauffer Stage 2 cylinder heads cut for fire-rings with Diesel Innovations 4130 chromoly push rods, A1 Technologies H11 head studs, Lewis Built Performance & Fabrication valve covers, Diesel Innovations stainless steel headers

Fuel: Swamp’s Diesel Performance 300/200 hybrid injectors, Marty’s Diesel Performance 1375 fuel system with A1000, Carson Stauffer regulated return with Aeromotive regulator, Bean’s Diesel Performance fuel tank sump

Oil: Swamp’s Diesel Performance Gen3 high-pressure oil pump with stock 17-degree pump, DieselSite high volume low-pressure oil pump

Air: Carson Stauffer T4 turbo mount, Barder Turbo Service Billet S475 with 87mm turbine wheel and 1.10 A/R exhaust housing, Alradco intercooler, Bean’s Diesel Performance billet intake plenums, Alradco aluminum intercooler, Flex-a-Lite cooling fans

Tuning: Swamp’s Diesel Performance via Hydra Chip

Transmission: BTS 4R100 automatic with 300M input, intermediate, and output shafts, 2,400-rpm stall Precision Industries torque converter

Horsepower: 714 hp (dyno), 780 hp (track)

Torque: 1,320 lb-ft (dyno)

Tires: 265/75R16 Firestone Transforce AT’s (street), 30×14 M&H Cheater Slicks (track)

Wheels: 16-inch factory Alcoa (street), 16×10 chrome ION Alloy (track)

Axles: Rear Detroit Truetrac

Suspension/Steering: Homemade traction bars, Rancho RS5000 shocks