I’m a typical hot rodder. I build hot car after hot car. And of course, every one of them has been gasoline-powered. What else is there?
Well, how about diesel? After coming to work at Banks, my old ideas about high performance changed. All you have to do is drive one hot rodded turbodiesel pickup truck and you’ll understand. Turbodiesels can really haul $%&! In fact, I’ve been in some daily-driven trucks lately that could beat many so-called muscle cars. And these trucks typically weigh 7,000 lbs.!
If you want a fast hot rod, arguably, the benchmark performance gasoline engine is a turbocharged engine. The problem with turbocharged gas engines is they demand higher and higher-octane gasoline as you turn up the boost. Without lots of octane to prevent preignition and slow the burn rate, a turbocharged gas engine will quickly detonate itself to death. Race gas can cost anywhere from $4.00-17.00 per gallon, depending on how much octane it contains. Ouch.
Turbocharged diesel engines, on the other hand, do three things better than gasoline engines: First, a race-prepared turbocharged diesel engine can use the same fuel that powers every cross-country big rig (#2 diesel fuel). At the moment, #2 diesel costs around $2.60 per gallon. Diesel fuel costs less than racing gas. That’s one.
A diesel can handle tremendous amounts of turbo boost. In fact, a diesel’s only limitation is the amount of boost it can handle is its own physical strength. As Gale says, “…you can boost a diesel until the crank hits the street or the heads hit the hood.” Diesels can handle higher boost levels. That’s two. Diesels inherently get 20-40 percent higher mileage than gasoline engines. Higher mileage. That’s three good arguments for turbodiesels.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still dig 60s gassers and street machines from the 1970s and 80s. Okay, I like anything that goes fast, but I also like diesels now. And one of the best things about a diesel is, it makes its torque down low. And it makes lots of it. Typically, a 300 h.p. V-8 turbodiesel will produce 600 lb.-ft. torque at under 3500 R.P.M. Think of the acceleration in a car.
So, I find myself wishing I had a small 300 h.p./600 lb.-ft. turbodiesel V-8 that I could swap into my ’71 Camaro that would bolt up to a 4L-80E or Turbo 400 automatic. Now, that would be a hot rod. Are you listening, GM?