For nearly 30 years, the battle for best truck—more specifically best diesel truck— has been a constant struggle between the Big Three American manufacturers: Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford. The never-ending quest for the throne has sparked many debates and created fierce brand loyalty. This week, we aim to educate readers by providing a brief history of each manufacturer’s power plant and build upon that foundation as we go.
Like Chevrolet and Dodge, Ford’s premier heavy-duty diesel engine was the product of a great partnership between manufacturers. Ford jumped into the diesel truck market after seeing the success of General Motors in 1982. The key difference here was that where Chevrolet focused on the fuel-consumption benefit of diesel engine, Ford strove to exploit the power of theirs.
The first iteration of Ford’s diesels were produced by International Harvester (now known as Navistar International). The first generation was an indirect-injected, 6.9 litre displacement that produced 170HP and 340 lb-ft of torque. In 1988, the IDI expanded to the iconic 7.3 litre displacement. But the Power Stroke was still yet to come. Five years later the IDI got a turbocharger which boosted horsepower to 190 and torque to 388 lb-ft.
In 1994, the legendary Power Stroke was born. International kept the displacement at 7.3 displacement but swapped the indirect injection system for a hydraulically actuated, electronically controlled unit injector (HEUI) delivery. The switch was the jumpstart of a revolution in the diesel truck industry. The power numbers shot up to 215-275 horsepower and 425-525 lb-ft torque depending on the truck.
Like most diesel engines, a well-kept Power Stroke can last for 100,000 miles three to four times over. The trucks from the first generation retain their value extremely well and can still command 5 figures.