The Purple People Eater

A ’95 F-250 Packing a Solid Axle,  Built 7.3L, and 600-Plus HP

It was a truck Steven Giordano had seen listed on his local Craigslist for weeks. It had a 7.3L Power Stroke, low miles, the body was in great shape, and the price was right…but it was purple. “A purple truck? No way!” he reasoned. Then finally, he caved. “I told myself: I’m just gonna go look at it and that’s it—but it was love at first sight.” He brought the 150,000-mile, two-tone ’95 F-250 Super Cab home and promptly installed a chip. Over the next six years, Steven performed a Dana 60 swap after grenading the Dana 50 TTB, ditched the ZF-5 in favor of a built E4OD, and progressively ramped up power to 400 hp, then 500 hp, and finally 600 hp.

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After bending a factory forged-steel rod, Steven Giordano was excited to take his ’95 7.3L to the next level by building the engine. Thanks to careful parts selection, the work of a reputable local machine shop, and assembling the engine himself, the 7.3L was built to withstand big boost and a healthy shot of nitrous. The block’s water jackets were half-filled with Hard Blok, and the main caps are tied together with a girdle. For the rotating assembly, Carrillo forged-steel, H-beam rods connect to 0.020-inch over Mahle cast-aluminum pistons. The factory heads utilize Stage 2 beehive valve springs from Swamps Diesel Performance and anchor to the block via ARP studs.

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Irate Diesel Performance built the T4 turbo mount Steven needed to run an S400 frame charger from BorgWarner. Opting for BorgWarner’s S472 SX-E, he has never been disappointed with its drivability on the street or its all-out performance at the track. The turbo features a compressor wheel with a 72mm inducer (96mm exducer), an 87mm turbine wheel inducer (81mm exducer), and a 1.10 A/R exhaust housing. On fuel, the S472 produces 55 psi. On spray, it builds 62 pounds.

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With a set of 350cc, 200-percent nozzle hybrid injectors from Full Force Diesel to support, Steven made sure he would never come up short on high-pressure oil. Thanks to a Terminator Engineering twin high-pressure oil pump system, two 15-degree HPOP’s have no problem maintaining the 3,200 psi worth of injection control pressure being demanded by his tuning.

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Keeping the fuel side of the 350/200 injectors happy is a low-pressure system Steven devised himself. It makes use of a Fuelab Prodigy pump bolted to a fabricated aluminum mounting plate, and fuel filter and water separator assemblies he sourced locally. A dual outlet provision in the fuel filter base allows a 3/8-inch line to feed the back of each cylinder head.

Girdle, Rods and Studs

Somewhere in the 600hp range, Steven noticed a drop in compression by way of a bent factory forged-steel connecting rod. While some folks would be discouraged by this type of failure, Steven was eager to tear into the 20-year-old engine and fix the 7.3L’s weak links. Reusing the factory block, the water jackets were half-filled with Hard Blok and the cylinders were bored to accept 0.020-inch over factory-replacement Mahle pistons. To limit main cap walk, a girdle was added, while H-beam Carrillo rods replaced the stockers. Aside from the addition of beehive valve springs and being clamped to the block via ARP studs, the factory heads were left alone.

Dual HPOP’s and Big Hybrids

Opting for what are arguably the largest HEUI injectors you can run without compromising the 7.3L’s streetability, Steven went with a set of 350/200 hybrids from Full Force Diesel. The hybrids see plenty of high-pressure oil volume thanks to a dual HPOP system from Terminatior Engineering, which employs two factory 15-degree pumps. A homemade fuel system—complete with a Beans Diesel Performance sump, Fuelab Prodigy pump, dual feed to the heads, and an Irate Diesel Performance regulated return—takes care of fuel supply.

T4 Turbo Mount and S472 SX-E

The job of cleaning up the healthy hybrids is left in the hands of a BorgWarner S472 SX-E. Despite its 72mm compressor wheel (which is capable of flowing more than 1,500 cfm), 87mm turbine, and 1.10 A/R exhaust housing, Steven tells us his 7.3L spools the big charger extremely well. A complete T4 turbo mounting system from Irate Diesel Performance makes the S472 appear right at home in the lifter valley. At full song, it sends 55 psi through an intercooler sourced from a 6.0L Power Stroke.

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The low-pressure fuel system gets its start with a Beans Diesel Performance sump installed in the truck’s original front tank. To save weight and get around the restrictive factory selector valve found on the OBS Fords, Steven scrapped the rear tank altogether.

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Because the truck was originally equipped with a ZF-5 manual, Steven decided that a B&M shifter would be a great way to cover up the hole in the floorboard. Thanks to being in possession of a complete ’97 donor at the time of the swap, the manual-to-auto conversion took place with each truck parked side-by-side.

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An E4OD put together by Brian’s Truck Shop offers Steven peace of mind and has handled everything the 7.3L has sent its way. The race-ready automatic is equipped with a TCS 300M input shaft and a 2,500-rpm stall, triple-disc Stallion converter from Precision Industries. Added cooling comes in the form of a 12-row transmission cooler off of a 6.8L V-10.

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Integrated in the dash just left of the steering wheel you’ll find a Hydra Chip from Power Hungry Performance. It’s been uploaded with custom tuning files from 7.3L horsepower junkie, Dan Kropinak, of SDK Performance. With a race file calling for 3.8 milliseconds of pulse width, Steven’s OBS has cleared a fuel-only 620-rwhp on the chassis dyno.

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A CTS2 monitor from Edge Products keeps Steven apprised of injection control pressure, IPR duty cycle, boost, transmission temp, and even what gear the transmission is in. Additional analog gauges along the A-pillar keep tabs on EGT, fuel pressure, and low-pressure oil.

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Four 16×8-inch Eagle Alloy wheels keep the truck’s appearance inconspicuous, and Bridgestone Dueler A/T’s measuring 265/75R16 only add to its stock-like appearance. At the track however, the smallish (31.5-inch) all terrains don’t always provide the best traction when trying to launch the truck.

Built Trans and Custom Tuning

When the time came to scrap the ZF-5 in favor of an automatic, no punches were pulled. Steven picked up the phone and contacted Brian’s Truck Shop for one of its renowned E4OD transmissions. The fortified four-speed entails all the BTS fixings, including a 300M input shaft and the venerable triple disc Stallion torque converter from Precision Industries. Custom PCM tuning from SDK Performance dials everything in, and tunes are available on the fly thanks to a Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip.

The 10-Second Swap

With more than 600 hp on tap and 700 hp on the table with the use of a single stage ZEX nitrous system, Steven’s F-250 was running hard. However, some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Last fall, with a goal of running mid 10’s and keeping the truck 100-percent streetable, Steven bid farewell to the 7.3L and dropped a common-rail Cummins into place. It was a tough decision, but one that he felt had to be made in order to reach his objective in the most affordable manner possible. Now, with the truck still tipping the scales at a trim 6,800 pounds, it turns out 875-rwhp—and that’s before the nitrous is activated. While Steven’s purple OBS Ford is no longer Power Stroke powered, we guarantee it will continue to turn heads wherever it goes. After all, there’s nothing quite like watching a 23-year-old truck dominate at the track, or out on the street.

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As a diesel mechanic at North Jersey Diesel Repair and Performance, Steven is constantly exposed to strong-running diesels—so perhaps his occupation is to blame for his horsepower addiction… Here, you can see where the byproduct of his 7.3L’s horsepower makes its escape through a 6-inch stack in the bed.

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In a move that shocked everyone that knows him, Steven swapped a Cummins in place of his 7.3L last October. With a goal of running mid 10’s, it was definitely the most feasible option at the time. The ’06 5.9L sports a set of 170-percent over injectors, PPE dual fuelers, a Forced Inductions S476, EFI Live tuning from Starlite Diesel, Diesel Conversion Specialists-modified wiring harnesses, and a US Shift (Baumann Electronics) stand alone transmission controller for the E4OD. Conservatively tuned, the truck turns out just shy of 900-rwhp.

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Even though he’s a drag racer by trade, Steven also tries his hand against the sled on occasion. In fact, truck pulling was the reason for the Dana 60 swap up front. You guessed it, the factory Dana 50 TTB exploded while the truck was on the hook. To date, the ’93 model year solid axle has had zero issues.

Specifications

1995 Ford F-250

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Despite having to leave the line with just 10 psi of boost (to keep the tires from spinning), Steven’s F-250 has been as fast as 89 mph in the eighth-mile and as quick as 12.2 in the quarter. As you can imagine, having a 12-second OBS Ford makes for some interesting conversations at the drag strip—and Steven enjoys every minute of it.

Owner: Steven Giordano

Hometown: East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Odometer: 215,000 miles

Engine: 7.3L Power Stroke with half-filled block, crankcase girdle, ARP main studs, Carrillo forged H-beam rods, Mahle cast-aluminum 0.020 over pistons, Swamps Diesel Performance Stage 2 beehive valve springs, Smith Brothers 4130 chromoly pushrods, ARP head studs

Fuel: Full Force Diesel 350/200 hybrid injectors, homemade low-pressure system with Fuelab Prodigy pump, Irate Diesel Performance regulated return, Aeromotive adjustable regulator, Beans Diesel Performance sump

Oil: Terminator Engineering dual HPOP system with 15-degree high-pressure oil pumps

Air: BorgWarner S472 SX-E, Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting system, factory 6.0L Power Stroke intercooler

iNJECTABLES: Single stage ZEX system with 0.087 jet

Tuning: SDK Performance custom tuning via Power Hungry Performance Hydra Chip

Transmission: Brian’s Truck Shop E4OD with 300M input shaft, Precision Industries triple disc Stallion converter, Elite Diesel Engineering 4340 billet-steel flex plate

Horsepower: 695 hp (dyno, nitrous), 620 hp (dyno, fuel)

Torque: 1,225 lb-ft (dyno, nitrous)

Tires: 265/75R16 Bridgestone Dueler A/T

Wheels: 16×8-inch Eagle Alloy

Axles/Suspension: Front Dana 60 swap, 3.55 gears, custom traction bars with 1.5-inch O.D. tubing and heim joints from Barnes 4wdto its stock-like appearance. At the track however, the smallish (31.5-inch) all terrains don’t always provide the best traction when trying to launch the truck.