It was back in 1892 when Rudolf Diesel locked down a patent for his wacky "engine with compression ignition." While at first the bulky mill was only for marine and stationary applications, Rudi stood before the world and with a maniacal laugh professed, "The automotive engine will come, and then I will consider my life's work complete."
As with how those predictions always go, he croaked not long after spouting those words. But look at us now: Diesels are in high demand-again. Their previous peak was in 1981 after the oil crisis, but we all know history likes repeating itself. And this time, it seems our love affair with the torquey beast will be more than a May-September deal; the diesel is here to stay. Take a gander at this exploding niche in the aftermarket industry and the busload of available enhancements.
Diesel Part: A2 Attitude Diesel Controller/Monitor/GPS/Back-Up Camera for '04 1/2-'05 Dodge Cummins, all Duramax, and '99-'05 Ford Power Stroke engines
What It Is: Read the product name again! You can keep an eye on all sorts of things, including actual speed (corrected for non-stock tire diameters), engine rpm, auto-trans slippage, turbo boost level, throttle percentage, and barometric pressure.
Why It's Cool: For some applications it can capture 1/4-mile and 0-60 times.
MSRP: So new, it will be hitting the shelves as you're reading this; therefore, no pricing available at press time
Where to Get It: Edge Products, 888/360-3343 or 801/476-3343, www.edgeproducts.com
Diesel Part: Power Module for the Power Stroke
What It Is: Allows you to pick stock, 60-, or 120hp power increases on the fly.
Why It's Cool: You can run lower power levels for towing the heavy junk, or higher for light loads or empty driving. Thanks to direct plug-in connectors, it's a quick install.
Where to Get It: ACCEL, 216/688-8300, www.mrgasket.com
Diesel Part: Diesel Triple-Clutch Custom Torque Converter for Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke
What It Is: The multiclutch design is said to lower the stall speed from stock 2,000-2,500 rpm to 1,400-1,900, depending on your application. The converter has a billet front cover and laser-cut clutch-plate assembly.
Why It's Cool: Upping the gas mileage, acceleration, and towing capacity is hard to refuse.
MSRP: $895 to $1,295
Where to Get It: Pro-Torque, 631/218-8700, www.protorque.com
Diesel Part: Cold Air Intake System for Cummins and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: Power Stroke gains are 114 lb-ft of torque and 18 hp. Cummins flows 80 percent more than stock, which means faster turbo spool-up and lower exhaust gas temperature (EGT). Includes an extra-large filter and high-flow intake tube.
Why It's Cool: It has a patented Pro-GUARD 7 filter with seven layers of media for collecting a lot of dirt.
MSRP: $596.42 for the Cummins, $657.14 for the Power Stroke
Where to Get It: Advanced Flow Engineering, 951/493-7100, afefilters.com
Diesel Part: High-Performance Fuel Injectors for the Cummins
What It Is: Hi-po means improved fuel delivery, economy, and throttle response.
Why It's Cool: You might end up with 60 to 125 more horsepower.
MSRP: $450 to $550 per set
Where to Get It: Area Diesel Service, 800/637-2658 or 800/237-4692, www.areadiesel.com
Diesel Part: NPG+ Waterless Engine Coolant
What It Is: A lifetime coolant that requires just the initial conversion; no seasonal changes or additives are needed.
Why It's Cool: Improvement of 5 percent in fuel economy can be a side effect, as can an increase in pulling capacity while towing.
MSRP: $27.75 per gallon
Where to Get It: Evans Cooling, 888/990-COOL or 866/227-9963 (diesel tech), www.evanscooling.com
Diesel Part: 13-Inch Multi-Disc Torque Converter Series for Duramax and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: The Duramax is called Vigilante, while the Power Stroke is Stallion. Both have three internal clutch plates.
Why It's Cool: This increases clutch surface, which translates into a more durable unit for towing and off-road riding.
Where to Get It: Precision Industries, 901/466-0267, www.converter.com
Diesel Part: Aurora MST
What It Is: The Multi-Stage-Turbo automatically balances exhaust pressure and intake boost pressure for turbo efficiency and response. The response of the variable valve can be adjusted for your engine configuration.
Why It's Cool: As they say, "big turbo" performance with "small turbo" spool-up.
MSRP: Starting at $3,283 for the complete kit, including the manifold and so on
Where to Get It: ATS Diesel, 800/949-6002, www.atsdiesel.co
Diesel Part: SuperCoolers
What It Is: The line consists of two designs: the stacked-plate SuperCooler and the Hi-Tek fin and plate cooling system. The stacked plate is a compact design, while the Hi-Tek comes in two sizes.
Why It's Cool: The stacked-plate cooler offers 7,500 to 29,2000 Btu (that's British Thermal Units, how most cooling systems are rated). The Hi-Tek has an integral puller fan and thermostatic fan control unit. Plus, it knows it needs to produce more airflow once the fluid reaches 175 degrees F.
MSRP: $61.70 to $284.76, depending on the model
Where to Get It: B&M Racing & Performance Products, 818/882-6422, www.bmracing.com
Diesel Part: Exhaust system for Cummins, Duramax and Power Stroke
What It Is: 4-inch-diameter mandrel-bent aluminized steel tubing, and a chambered muffler.
Why It's Cool: The patent-pending chambered design has no filler material to deteriorate.
Where to Get It: Edelbrock, 800/FUN-TEAM, www.edelbrock.com
Diesel Part: Outlook Monitor for the Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: In-cab controller that lets you decide power levels; works with Rapid Power and Dyno Dominator performance modules, but also is compatible with all available diesel chips and performance modules/downloaders.
Why It's Cool: It lets you set emergency defueling points based on EGT; when the temperatures reach those levels, Outlook will automatically engage and defuel.
Where to Get It: Bully Dog Technologies, 208/397-3200, www.bullydog.com
Diesel Part: Intake System for the '05 Power Stroke
What It Is: Got an Excursion or Super Duty? This replaces the factory inline air filter with a high-flow, high-filtration SynthaFlow filter.
Why It's Cool: Look for better throttle response and a 21.2 rear-wheel horsepower bump.
MSRP: Sells for around $300
Where to Get It: Airaid Filter Company, 800/498-6951, www.airaid.com
Diesel Part: Big Hoss Bundles for Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: The Bundle includes a Six-Gun Diesel Tuner, Speed-Loader option, Techni-Cooler intercooler with 3-inch boost tubes, Monster exhaust, Ram-Air air filter, and DynaFact gauges.
Why It's Cool: Power. Power. Power. The Bundles can produce up to 155 more ponies and 385 lb-ft more torque, with six adjust-on-the-fly power levels.
MSRP: Varies per application, but starts at $3,131.10 for the Duramax LLY.
Where to Get It: Gale Banks Engineering, 877/227-5648, www.bankspower.com
Diesel Part: Big Daddy packages for Cummins, Power Stroke, and Duramax diesel-powered trucks
What It Is: Power-engineered turbochargers, high-torque transmission kits, engine retarders, electronic and mechanical performance kits, and digital instrumentation kits
Why It's Cool: Performance products are matched to your enhanced power and load requirements for fuel-efficient power output and the heavy-duty components that stand up to that power.
MSRP: As low as $1,395 depending on application and power level you choose
Where to Get It: BD Diesel Performance, 800/887-5030, www.dieselperformance.com
Diesel Part: Big G Power Module with In-Cab Monitor for '03-'04 Power Stroke and '04 1/2-and-up Duramax engines
What It Is: It's designed to monitor rpm, timing, turbo boost pressures, transmission function, and fueling parameters in order to determine how to optimize the fuel and timing curves.
Why It's Cool: The module features five levels of tune, with the highest being 120 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque.
Where to Get It: Granatelli Motorsports, 805/486-6644, www.granatellimotorsports.com
Diesel Part: Fullsize Truck Fan
What It Is: A fan for non-towing or light towing (6,000 pounds or less) diesel applications. It's a dual 15-inch fan that pulls up to 5,500 cubic feet per minute, eliminating the stock beltdriven fan and shroud.
Why It's Cool: Improving horsepower and gas mileage not enough for you? Fan noise is said to also reduce, while A/C output increases.
MSRP: $430 and up
Where to Get It: Flex-a-lite, 800/851-1510, www.flex-a-lite.com
Diesel Part: High-output fuel injectors for the '98 1/2-'02 Cummins engine
What It Is: Jammers, which are machined to feature eight orifices in the tips versus the stock seven, resulting in better atomization, faster fuel flow, and more precise spray angle. Five configurations are available, including the hard-core Stage 5, which can result in a 100hp increase.
Why It's Cool: The injectors are said to also be able to improve fuel economy by up to 1.5 mpg, depending on how heavy your right foot is.
MSRP: $800 to $1,100, based on application and level of performance
Where to Get It: Diesel Dynamics, 800/628-8111, www.dieseldynamics.com
Diesel Part: TruckMaster Torque Converter for Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: It's a tuned converter that lowers the stall speed to take further advantage of all the torque the engine produces. Has Torrington bearings, and furnace-brazed internals (versus spot-welds found in most factory converters).
Why It's Cool: It'll reduce transmission temperatures and increase low-end power and overall performance.
MSRP: Starts at $243, depending on application
Where to Get It: TCI Automotive, 662/224-8972, www.tciauto.com
Diesel Part: Exhaust for the '01-'05 Duramax
What It Is: A 4-inch-diameter stainless steel exhaust system that's considered after-cat, despite '01-'04 1/2 trucks not coming equipped with a catalytic converter other than in California. The '04 1/2 and '05 models do have a cat and the system will bolt right onto it.
Why It's Cool: It's got Reflective Sound Cancellation, which is about as self-explanatory as it could be ... but we'll explain anyway: It enhances the exhaust note but removes the cabin resonance.
Where to Get It: CORSA Performance, 800/486-0999, www.corsaperformance.com
Diesel Part: HOT Xcelerator for the Duramax engine
What It Is: Provides speedometer corrections, governor removals, and four levels of performance. In addition to increasing horsepower and torque, it's said to be able to read and clear trouble codes.
Why It's Cool: It will raise the rev limiter and remove the speed limiter, but it can be returned to stock settings. Better mpg is another perk.
MSRP: $979.79 for LB7, $879.79 for LLY
Where to Get It: Pacific Performance Engineering, 714/985-4825, www.pacificp.com
Diesel Part: Powerflow Exhaust System
What It Is: It's precision-bent on mandrel benders, and the brackets are zinc-plated. The system features a polished stainless steel tip.
Why It's Cool: Turbo-back, stack kits, and side pipes (the latter coming soon).
MSRP: $465 for the 4-inch diameter, $545 for the 5-inch
Where to Get It: Grand Rock, 800/321-3674 or 440/639-2000, www.grpipes.com
Diesel Part: Boost Cooler water/methanol injection system
What It Is: It adds 50-100 hp and cooler EGTs by injecting vaporized water/methanol into the combustion chamber.
Why It's Cool: Uses inexpensive off-the-shelf windshield washer fluid to gain horsepower and torque.
Where to Get It: Snow Performance 719/271-5644, www.snowperformance.com
Diesel Part: NOS Diesel Nitrous System for the Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke engines
What It Is: The kit has a "dry"-style nitrous-injection nozzle, which sends nitrous oxide through the intake system, and more fuel is added through the injectors.
Why It's Cool: They say without upgrades to the fuel system, expect an extra 50 hp. With upgrades to the system or with a chip, it's possible to make 60 to 150 more horses.
Where to Get It: NOS Nitrous Oxide Systems, 800/HOLLEY-1 or 270/781-9741, www.nosnitrous.com
Diesel Part: 5-Inch Exhaust for '04 1/2-'05 Cummins engine
What It Is: Stainless steel mandrel-bent tubing from the downpipe clear to the 6-inch polished tip. Features a 7-inch-round by 24-inch straight-through muffler and OEM-style pre-welded stainless steel hangers.
Why It's Cool: The idea behind "straight-through" is for unrestricted flow to eliminate backpressure, up the fuel economy, and lower the EGT.
MSRP: Performance Exhaust, polished with tip, $990.57; XL Exhaust, unpolished and without tip, $790.63
Where to Get It: MagnaFlow, 949/858-5900, www.magnaflow.com
Diesel Part: 63-Series AirCharger Intake System for '04-'05 Duramax engine
What It Is: It's a free-flowing, custom-engineered intake tube for smooth airflow from the filter, and includes a high-flow air filter that's washable.
Why It's Cool: All but eliminates intake tract restriction to the engine, which means a bonus 12.5 hp, they note.
Where to Get It: K&N Engineering, 800/858-3333 or 951/826-4001 (tech), www.knfilters.com
Diesel Part: Intake System Combined with Ram Air Hood for the Duramax
What It Is: An intake and a fiberglass hood with a functional scoop, but the real magic happens when the hood is closed; it makes contact with the intake lid, seals itself to the hood scoop, and allows cold air to enter the filter box to improve performance.
Why It's Cool: A colder intake charge can make more power-and you get a hoodscoop too.
MSRP: For intake system with box, the LLY is $465, LB7 is $444; the scoop runs $187.50
Where to Get It: Volant Cold Air Intakes, 909/476-7225, www.volantperformance.com
Diesel Part: Digital Propane Injection System for Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke
What It Is: A closed-loop ECM constantly monitors engine parameters, such as propane vapor temperature, over-boost, and rpm. If the parameters are not met, no propane is added to the engine. The DPI system is programmed for each application, so there are no jets to drill or external adjustments to deal with.
Why It's Cool: When propane is injected into the turbocharged diesel engine, there's an increase in power and torque.
Where to Get It: MSD Ignition, 915/857-5200 or 915/855-7123 (tech), www.msdignition.com
Diesel Part: Activator Module for Duramax engines
What It Is: Reprograms the MAP and fuel sensor to add injection timing and fuel enrichments without raising the fuel-rail pressure past the factory limit of 28,000 psi.
Why It's Cool: It plugs into the wiring harness using OE-style connectors and can be adjusted from inside the cab.
Where to Get It: TS Performance, 270/746-9999, www.tsperformance.com
Diesel Part: Diesel Fuel Supplement
What It Is: It cleans up the fuel injectors for proper fuel flow by eliminating gum and resin buildup, and removes water from the fuel and other junk that can screw up the spray patterns.
Why It's Cool: As they say, cleaner burning power and efficiency equal a happy engine.
Where to Get It: Justice Brothers, 626/359-9174, www.justicebrothers.com
Diesel Part: PowerMaxCR for the Cummins engine
What It Is: Allows you to adjust horsepower and torque on the fly. Gains in horsepower at the rear wheels can be up to 190 and 580 lb-ft, respectively.
Why It's Cool: It's available with an adjustable remote with digital gauges with settings for maximum power and torque output, EGT, turbo boost pressure, and shut-down idle time.
MSRP: $725 to $849, depending on the application
Where to Get It: TST Products, 812/342-6741, www.tstproducts.com
Diesel Part: South Bend Clutch for Cummins, Power Stroke, and Duramax pickups
What It Is: A hard-core clutch designed to handle serious torque.
Why It's Cool: Preferred by professional sled pullers
Where to Get It: www.southbendclutch.com
Power Programmer for the Duramax: Plugs into your OBD II port and reprograms the computer for 50, 75, 95, or 150 more horsepower. MSRP is $399. Info: ACCEL, 216/688-8300, www.mrgasket.com.
Cool Air Dam intake system for the Duramax: The main focus of the system is a 1,600-cfm SynthaFlow filter that breathes through a specially designed intake tube constructed from cross-linked polyethylene for heat resistance and improved airflow. You'll probably find it for around $300. Info: Airaid Filter Company, 800/498-6951, www.airaid.com.
Dual and single exhaust: Available in T304 stainless steel (or value-priced T409) and comes ready to install. Runs $489-$1,493. Info: ANSA Automotive, 800/777-ANSA, www.ansaautomotive.com.
Arc-flow Ram intake manifold: The shrouded backside has an embossed area into which gauges and other inputs can be tapped. Starting at $325. Info: ATS Diesel, 800/949-6002, www.atsdiesel.com.
Banks Brake: Computer-controlled exhaust brake that offers engine braking for diesels; it closes a valve on the exhaust stream, which makes exhaust back up in the engine, slowing it. Prices vary per make and model, but it starts at $912.45. Info: Gale Banks Engineering, 877/227-5648, www.bankspower.com.
Single turbo kit for the Cummins: Includes all exhaust, intake, and oil adapters, and reduces smoke emissions and exhaust temps at peak load levels. Starts at $1,245. Info: BD Diesel Performance, 800/887-5030, www.dieselperformance.com.
Power Pup Downloader for the Power Stroke: For more power, especially for towing, it includes 10 settings, removes the speed limiter, and stores and erases trouble codes. Can be adjusted on the fly when combined with the Outlook Monitor. $549, and for the combo, it's $849. Info: Bully Dog Technologies, 208/397-3200, www.bullydog.com.
Jammer BB Turbocharger for Cummins: Uses ceramic ball bearings said to make for fast spool-up. Increases the airflow to keep the EGT down during towing. Pricing is $1,650 for '94-'02, $2,000 for '03-'05 with downpipe-included system. Info: Edge Products, 888/360-3343 or 801/476-3343, www.edgeproducts.com.
Turbo-Back Exhaust for Cummins: System includes a 7-inch-round muffler with a free-flow perforated core for an aggressive sound. Single and dual outlets feature 4- to 5-inch slash-cut tips. Cost is $530-$799. Info: Flowtech, 800/HOLLEY-1 or 270/781-9741, www.flowtechheaders.com.
Diesel Fuel Antigel: Cold-weather fuel-delivery problems? This is said to disperse water in the fuel, prevent filter icing, and lower the cold filter-plug point by as much as 35 degrees F, as well as clean the fuel injectors and lube the rotary pumps. $12.50. Info: Justice Brothers, 626/359-9174, www.justicebrothers.com.
MP-8 Power Control Module for Cummins, Duramax, Power Stroke, and Internationals; Liberty CRD is coming soon: This program3mer offers a selection of performance levels from a dash-mounted knob, and it's compatible with any performance programmer or downloader already installed in your truck's computer. MSRP is $495. Info: TS Performance, 270/746-9999, www.tsperformance.com.
Exhaust system: The 4-inch mandrel-bent, polished stainless steel tubing system has a high-flow muffler and 5-inch-diameter tip. It bolts up using factor hangers and flanges. It's under $900. Info: Volant Cold Air Intakes, 909/476-7225, www.volantperformance.com.