Home » Years Ago, You Could Buy A Ford F-Series With A Manual Transmission, One Of The Other Greatest Truck Engines, And Get It In Purple: Holy Grails

Years Ago, You Could Buy A Ford F-Series With A Manual Transmission, One Of The Other Greatest Truck Engines, And Get It In Purple: Holy Grails

Purple Diesel Eater Ts
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Many diesel truck owners are stuck in the past, and there’s a reason for it. New diesel pickups make enough power to pull down mountain ranges with interiors comparable to a luxury car. However, those same trucks also come with complex emissions equipment systems that one day can go wrong. For many diesel truck owners, the so-called pre-emissions era represented the peak of diesel power. Sure, the trucks made less power than today’s trucks, but the trucks of the 1990s and the early 2000s came with bulletproof engines that could seemingly survive anything, and they were coupled to handsome workhorses. One of the legendary engines of the era was the Navistar T444E, also known as the mighty Ford Power Stroke 7.3L. There are debates about the true holy grail of 7.3s, but you can get this engine in a modern truck body with four-wheel-drive, a manual transmission, locking hubs, and oh yeah, purple paint!

In November, I wrote a special edition of Holy Grails where I highlighted one of the greatest truck engines of all time, the 12-valve Cummins. For just a single year, you could pair that legendary engine with the iconic second-generation Dodge Ram body, then add a five-speed manual transmission and four doors for the grail of the grails of Dodge Rams. The Dodge Ram 2500 Quad Cab with a 12-valve Cummins and a manual transmission is so rare you’ll have better luck finding a Porsche Carrera GT for sale. Here are eight Carrera GTs for sale!

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Vidframe Min Bottom

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a glorious time to be an enthusiast. The car modding scene was hot and you could get a slick performance car without breaking the bank. If you were a motorcyclist, brands began phasing out carburetors for reliable fuel injection. The Germans were cranking out stunning vehicles such as the BMW E39 and the Audi TT while the Americans brought the Chevrolet Corvette into the modern day while giving you the ability to go anywhere in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Toyota MR2 entered its final generation while the Honda S2000 revved up the hearts of many.

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Ford

Sports car fans didn’t get to have all of the fun. The second-generation Dodge Ram changed the pickup truck game while General Motors built two dependable truck platforms with the GMT400 and its successor, the GMT800. Ford was also right there, launching the sought-after ninth-generation F-Series and later, the Super Duty line. No matter if you’re into the fabled “Old Body Style” (OBS) or the Super Duty, one engine anchored these trucks into the history books and the hearts of fans today. The Ford Power Stroke 7.3L birthed its own holy grails.

Humble Origins

As I hinted at in the introduction, the Ford Power Stroke 7.3-liter turbodiesel isn’t a Ford engine. Instead, it started life as the Navistar T444E, an engine found under the hoods of snow plows, school buses, box trucks, and other hard-working commercial vehicles. If you’re into big trucks, Navistar is a familiar name. The rest of you may know the company best for its former name: International Harvester.

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International’s history takes us to the 19th century. In 1834, Virginia native Cyrus Hall McCormick patented a horse-drawn reaper for harvesting grain. Reportedly, McCormick advertised the reaper for $50, but nobody bought it. Eventually, he ran out of money by 1837. McCormick would spend the next years recovering from that failure before moving to Chicago.

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McCormick

By 1848, McCormick and his brother opened up shop to build equipment for farmers in the Midwest. The Cyrus H. McCormick & Brothers, later the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co., served demand for farming equipment with the sale of its reapers. In those days, Chicago had a population of under 30,000 people, which would be considered a small city by today’s standards. McCormick’s innovations weren’t limited to reapers, either, as he’s credited with being an early pioneer in the concepts of advertising, dealers, demonstrations, fixed prices, franchising, money-back guarantees, payments, and even warranties.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 would destroy the McCormick factory, but the company would rebuild with an even larger factory. Going into the 1880s, there was fierce competition from other farming equipment innovators including William Deering’s Deering, Milliken and Company. Cyrus McCormick passed in 1884, passing the family business to his son, Cyrus, Jr. Reportedly, Deering and McCormick wanted to merge their competitive firms into one larger company. Merger talks ended up stalling as the parties couldn’t agree on what their companies were worth.

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McCormick

In 1902, George Perkin from J.P. Morgan worked out a deal. McCormick Harvesting merged with Deering Harvester Co., but also Milwaukee Harvester Co., Plano Manufacturing Co., and Warder, Bushnell & Glessner. International Harvester was born.

It was only 1905 when International Harvester created its first tractor. By 1924, the company created what is considered the first commercially successful row-crop tractor, the Farmall.

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From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Ford Motor Company.

Tractors would become much of International Harvester’s business, but the company would become known for so much more. The famed IH brand would be slapped on trucks as early as 1907 and the company would be responsible for the Farmall Cub compact tractor and also the Cub Cadet lawn tractor. Of course, fans of off-road vehicles are aware of the Travelall, the Travelette, and the Scout.

International Harvester was also quick to lower diesel engines into its equipment. The company got into diesels with the engine for its McCormick-Deering TD-40 TracTracTor crawler tractor. This 461 cubic inch four cylinder engine was unique in that it started on gasoline before switching to diesel. Diesels sometimes have a hard time starting in the cold, so this engine got itself running on gas before drinking diesel.

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McCormick-Deering via eBay

Of course, IH didn’t stop there. As Diesel World reports with help from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s McCormick Archives, International Harvester also built what’s arguably the first factory-built diesel-powered light trucks.

As the story goes, in the mid-1950s, the International Harvester Motor Truck Sales Department noticed more buyers opting for diesel power in medium-duty trucks. At the same time, the Construction Equipment Division of International Harvester was also working on a compact, inexpensive diesel engine. In 1959, International Harvester was putting on its final touches for its then-upcoming C-Line. The stars aligned for this new light-duty truck to get diesel power.

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eBay via Binder Planet

The C-Line launched in November 1960 as 1961 trucks. 1963 through 1968 model year C-1100 to C-1300 IH trucks could be had with diesel power, making them what some call America’s first factory-built diesel-powered light-duty trucks. IH’s diesels were based on the company’s Black Diamond OHV gas sixes, which allowed the two variants of engines to use the same tooling. Diesel engines came in various sizes from the D236, D252, D282, and D301 sizes and the D188 and D201 fours. It should be noted that the title of the first factory diesel pickup truck is disputed because the Dodge W300 had a diesel engine in 1962.

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Either way, International Harvester was a pioneer in diesel pickups. Dodge didn’t try playing with diesel again until 1978, the same time GM did.

Ford Diesel Power, By International Harvester

Ford was a late entry into the diesel pickup market. While the Blue Oval had sold plenty of large commercial trucks with diesel engines, IH, GM, and Dodge all got a head start on putting diesels into pickup trucks.

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International Harvester

As Diesel World writes, the initial additions of diesel engines to trucks wasn’t for incredible power, but for better fuel economy. America was being clotheslined by multiple fuel crises and many just couldn’t afford to fuel their thirsty trucks. The diesel Dodge D100s and D200s from 1978? They were powered by Mitsubishi 6DR5 diesels, 4.0-liter sixes good for just 105 HP and 163 lb-ft of torque. The 6DR5 actually made less power than a gas six, so the only reason you had to buy one was for the fuel economy. Dodge canceled the engine in 1979 and scrapped the whole diesel thing until 1989 with the fabled Cummins 5.9.

Fast forward to 1981, and of the Big Three, General Motors was the only one cranking diesel pickups with C/K trucks powered by the infamous 5.7-liter Oldsmobile diesel. A year later, GM would switch to 6.2-liter Detroit Diesel V8s. It’s not entirely known why Ford specifically chose International Harvester as its engine provider, but Ford says it was seeking a new level of capability, durability, power, and torque not seen in diesel pickups. In 1981, Ford signed a $500 million agreement with International Harvester for the latter to design and produce diesel engines for five years.

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Troxel’s Auto Literature

International Harvester began development of the perfect engine for the job in 1978, borrowing some engine block architecture from its MV404 and MV446 V8 gas engines. This was done to help cut down costs by utilizing existing tooling. When IH executives approved the project in 1977, the goal was to create a diesel engine that wasn’t just about fuel efficiency but kicked out 165 HP for a moderate price. The resulting V8 diesel was a hunk of metal weighing in at over 900 pounds. Why a V8? Until then, International Harvester was known for its straight-six diesel plants, but the company wanted this engine to deliver torque down low, horsepower up high, and a wider powerband than would be typically provided by a straight-six.

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Of course, Ford’s goals of a do-it-all truck also weighed on development. Ford reportedly wanted an engine that could propel a truck down the highway but also haul heavy loads. Oh, and that engine had to last while also meeting emissions requirements. International Harvester subjected over 160 prototype examples of its 6.9-liter diesel V8 to over 52,000 hours and 813,000 miles of durability testing. In the early days of development, testing revealed that injectors were inadequate at producing the necessary power. IH engineers went with two orifice nozzles from another company project, but those resulted in too much soot and emissions. Ultimately, inward-opening pintle injectors were the winning ticket.

Reportedly, when IH searched for a manufacturer to sell its engine to, it was looking for a company with light-duty trucks. International Harvester already had its own medium-duty trucks, so selling to another medium-duty producer would have caused some interesting competition. Since Ford was the only one of the Big Three without a diesel pickup, it sounded like the perfect marriage.

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Ford

At launch, the International Harvester IDI 6.9-liter diesel V8 was rated for 161 hp and 307 lb-ft, but that was later upgraded to 170 HP and 315 lb-ft. The engine made its debut in 1982 for the 1983 model year Ford F-250HD and you had to pay $2,225 for the privilege. The engine wouldn’t stay there, however, and Ford buyers would have the IH IDI diesel options across the light truck line, Econoline vans, and medium-duty trucks as well.

Part of what made the IDI special was how it was built, and I’ll let Diesel World elaborate:

The 6.9 featured oil-cooled pistons, four bolt mains, a massive forged crank with 2.2-inch rod and 3.1-inch main journals, valve rotators, roller tappets, and a gear-driven cam and injection pump. It was naturally aspirated and used the Ricardo V combustion chamber. Indirect injection came from a Stanadyne (Roosa-Master) DB2 rotary pump and pintle-type injectors that popped at 2,100 psi. Issues with cold starting appeared right away, so for the 1984 model year the compression ratio was increased to 21.5:1. Torque rose to 315 lb-ft as a result, and that’s where output would stay for the remainder of the engine’s run.

For 1988, the pickup engine got a makeover. The bore was increased by 0.18-inch, bumping up displacement to 7.3L (444 cid). The heads, head bolts, head gaskets, rocker gear and combustion chambers got a work over and the glow-plug system was completely revised. The injection system also got some tuning alterations. As a result, output was boosted to 180 hp at 3,300 rpm and torque to 338 lb-ft (though some spec sheets show 345 lb-ft). In mid-1992, power output was increased to 185 and torque went up to 360. The 1992 model year also brought a serpentine belt system.

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Ford via eBay

Direct injection is all of the rage today, but back then, those early IDIs used indirect-injection. In fact, “indirect-injection” is what IDI stands for! In an IDI diesel, fuel goes into a pre-ignition chamber, where it mixes with compression-heated air and auto-ignites. The mixture is then forced into the combustion chamber, where the engine builds its power. Back in the 1980s, indirect injection was the current technology.

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The 6.9 IDI and the 7.3 IDI engines were known for their strong power output and durability, making GM’s Detroit mills old news. However, they weren’t bulletproof. A problem known to impact some IDIs is cavitation damage to cylinder walls in the water jacket. As the cylinder walls expand and contract, vacuum bubbles are left behind, which can eat a hole in the cylinder wall over time. This phenomenon is now known to be common in diesel engines and there are remedies to reduce its impact, but back then it wasn’t.

By 1993, the 7.3-liter IDI was making 190 HP and 385 lb-ft thanks to the addition of a Garrett turbocharger. The IDI turbo would continue production into 1994, the same year the holy grail of Ford diesel engines started production.

The 7.3-liter Power Stroke Engine

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Ford

In the 1994.5 model year, F-Series trucks got the next generation of V8 diesel power, an engine Ford called the largest and most powerful diesel available to light trucks. International Harvester essentially became defunct after a fire sale of its divisions in 1985. The remaining International truck division stayed around and its parent company was renamed Navistar International. However, the corporate shakeups didn’t ruin the company’s engines.

The iconic 7.3-liter Ford Power Stroke engine is also known as the Navistar T44E, and it brought some important upgrades to the table. The biggest improvements were direct injection and computer control. At the time, General Motors saddled its trucks with the 6.5-liter Detroit Diesel while Dodge trucks with the Cummins 5.9. Navistar was ready to deal a blow to both companies.

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Navistar

One key component to the 7.3-liter Power Stroke and the Navistar T444E is the HEUI system, which stands for Hydraulically Activated, Electronically Controlled Unit Injector. It’s a complicated computerized system that uses pressurized oil to fire the engine’s injectors. HEUI technology made its debut in 1993 by Caterpillar and Navistar teamed up with the former to provide the technology to the T444E, Power Stroke, and another famous engine, the Navistar DT466E straight-six turbodiesel.

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A lot is going on in the HEUI system, so I’ll try to simplify it. A low-pressure lift pump sends 40 to 70 psi of fuel to the injectors in early Power Strokes. Later 7.3s send 60 to 65 psi of fuel. The powertrain control module commands an injection event and the injector driver module triggers the injector solenoids. When this happens, the solenoid pulls an internal poppet valve off of its seat, allowing high-pressure oil into the injector. That oil comes courtesy of a high-pressure oil circuit charged by the high-pressure oil pump. The HPOP sends high-pressure oil into the injectors, which forces a piston in the injector down, lifting a nozzle. This pressurizes the fuel in the injector. The nozzle then opens and 3,000 psi of fuel pressure multiplies to 21,000 psi of fuel pressure in the cylinder.

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All of this happens with computer and electronic control, allowing for the control of injection events independent of what the crankshaft is doing. HEUI is able to provide peak pressures under a variety of conditions, helping to keep power up, fuel consumption down, and emissions down as well. Some quirks come with HEUI, such as the fact that you technically cannot run it out of oil. The system requires a minimum amount of oil. A 7.3-liter Power Stroke holds some 15 quarts of oil. Once you run it below 7 quarts or so, the HEUI system just won’t have enough oil to permit an engine start.

Back when the HEUI systems were new, there were concerns about longevity, but the 7.3 Power Stroke and the T444E have proven themselves to be amazingly tough engines. Again, this is a simplified explanation of how these engines work. A detailed explanation could fill every word I’ve written thus far.

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HEUI joins forces with six head bolts per cylinder, a Garrett turbocharger, forged connecting rods, and a fluid-to-fluid oil cooler to provide high performance and a lifespan that could outlive you. Later examples of the 7.3 got a wastegate for the turbo and an air-to-air intercooler. There was also a brief moment between 2001 and 2003 when powdered metal con-rods were used.

If you’re going with an OBS unit, the Power Stroke was advertised at 210 HP and 425 lb-ft of torque at launch. By 1996, the rating was pumped up to 225 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque. Power Stroke-equipped 1999 Super Duty trucks got 235 HP and a beefy 500 lb-ft of torque. By 2003, this was bumped up to 250 HP (275 HP manual transmission) and 525 lb-ft of torque.

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Bring a Trailer Seller

For the most part, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke and the T444E engines are workhorses and they’re even receptive to heavy-duty modifications. Look at your local classifieds, it won’t be hard to find these engines with more than enough miles for more than one round trip to the moon and back. Examples of the 7.3 Power Stroke with forged rods have been known to take 40 psi of boost and 600 WHP!

Of course, like every engine, there are a couple of common points of failure. The camshaft position sensor sometimes fails on these engines, leaving you with a no-start condition. Turbo piping can also fail, leading to a loss of boost and increased exhaust gas temperatures. One of my 7.3-loving friends also sometimes deals with leaky fuel bowls and occasionally, iffy glow plugs. You’ll also sometimes run into clogged fuel filters and bad lift pumps. That’s the bulk of what you’ll run into and that’s great. Note that none of those problems are with the engine itself!

So Many Grails

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King of Cars & Trucks Inc.

Alright, so, you know about why the 7.3-liter Power Stroke is such a great engine, but that’s only part of the equation. That engine was also paired with a fantastic truck, or van if you don’t want a bed. When I started researching this piece, I was amused to see the term “Holy Grail” tossed around in Ford Power Stroke communities and on Youtube. But the trucks were often very different.

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It would appear that this is because Ford liked to bundle F-Series sales into one large package, rather than drilling down by specific model, trim level, and package. So, enthusiasts have, at best, guesses about what’s uncommon. For example, the Ford S-Series sold 691,452 examples in 1995 and another 767,141 units in 1996, so it’s hard to pinpoint if any particular truck configuration is actually rare. Ford was and still is willing to sell as many trucks as it can find buyers for.

So, in the 7.3 Power Stroke world, it would appear that the Holy Grail trucks are not just of a particular configuration, but of spectacular condition as well. Power Stroke fans love seeing 7.3-liter V8-equipped trucks with manual transmissions, four-wheel-drive, and low mileage.

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Victory Motors of Colorado

Why? Well, as all of these trucks are now between 21 and 30 years old, the vast majority of them have racked up some impressive mileage. So, the special examples are the ones that haven’t gone so far. When David Tracy wrote about a 1999 Ford F-250 Super Duty in 2020, he noted that the diesel engine and manual transmission were only part of what made the truck a Grail. It was also the fact that the truck was in immaculate condition with just 45,000 miles, something you won’t find often in today’s marketplace.

By that metric, there are potentially many 7.3-liter Power Stroke grails. As I said before, Ford began selling the 7.3-liter Power Stroke in the 1994.5 model year, right in the middle of the beloved ninth-generation of the F-Series. Ford truck fans call these “OBS” for Old Body Style, and these trucks have a classic, squared-off look. They aren’t trying to eat your face, instead, they’re just an honest truck.

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Ford

The ninth-generation F-Series, introduced in 1992, refined the look introduced in the generation before. Now, the hood was a bit lower, the fenders a bit rounder, and the front fascia was a bit more aerodynamic. The interior also got an upgrade to match. Perhaps the biggest news with the ninth-generation F-Series was the introduction of the Power Stroke, but that news was rivaled by the fact that in 1995, the F-Series finally surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle as the world’s best-selling passenger vehicle. Of course, the best-selling vehicle of all time is the Honda Super Cub, but the F-Series is just that popular.

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The ninth-generation F-Series also marked the end of Ford selling a complete line of F-Series trucks in the same generation from the F-150 to the F-800. In 1998, Ford’s heavier duty trucks got their own line called the Super Duty. Now, if you’re not a Ford fanatic, you might be confused because wait, the Super Duty name wasn’t invented in 1998. There’s an explanation for that, from my Super Duty review:

For the past 25 years, the higher-capacity trucks have slotted into what Ford calls Super Duty trucks. Now, on the surface, this is a bit confusing. Ford has definitely sold big trucks for far longer than 25 years and the Super Duty name certainly wasn’t invented in 1998, so what gives? Well, Ford says it goes back to the very first F-Series trucks from 75 years ago. Back then, you could buy the half-ton F-1 and the classes climbed all of the way up to the F-7 and F-8 “Big Job” trucks. So, heavy-duty trucks built for hard work have always been a part of the Ford truck formula.

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Ford

Those early trucks had a Gross Combined Weight Rating (truck plus trailer and payload) up to 41,000 pounds and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (truck plus payload) of up to 22,000 pounds. As the F-Series marched forward, Ford saw demand for an engine better suited for heavy work. Thus, in 1958, the brand launched the Super Duty engine. The Super Duty name made a return in the late 1980s for a Class 4 chassis cab truck.

Alright, so the Super Duty name long predates the brand of heavy-duty trucks, so what’s up with that? As Ford explains, in the late 1990s, the light-duty F-150 and the heavy-duty trucks split into two platforms. The trucks on the heavy-duty platform became the Super Duty brand of F-Series trucks.

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Victory Motors of Colorado

Why did Ford split up its F-Series trucks? The company says it was done in response to changing buyer demographics. The F-150’s development path was making it more daily driver-friendly with smoother driving dynamics and car-like convenience features. However, many buyers still just wanted hard-working, no-frills trucks to get their jobs done. The Super Duty line was created to serve those people. When the Super Duty line launched, the Power Stroke followed those trucks until halfway through 2003.

That means if you want a 7.3-liter Power Stroke, you have 9 years and two generations of trucks to choose from!

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King of Cars & Trucks Inc.

One seemingly uncommon configuration I’ve found is a Ford F-250 Super Duty with a 7.3-liter Power Stroke, a ZF manual transmission, a manual transfer case, and painted in Thistle Pearl, a beautiful shade of purple. I found just two archived listings for trucks in this configuration and zero currently for sale in the whole country. The one in the topshot image had just 121 actual miles! Now that is a grail!

Ford also sold OBS F-250s in purple, and also a two-tone purple and silver. I found just one of those for sale, and it had 290,000 miles and a lot of rust.

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Facebook Seller

If you absolutely must have purple, I did find a 1999 F-250 Super Duty Lariat Power Stroke with 116,000 miles, but it has an automatic transmission.

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Lot 99 LLC

Ok, what if you don’t care about color? Well, it’s still hard to find one of these trucks with a manual transmission and low miles. Here’s a 1995 Ford F-350 dually with a Power Stroke and a manual transmission for $16,500. It has 130,000 miles and some rust, but look at it!

Diesl 2 Tone

Otherwise, I haven’t found a truly low-mileage manual Power Stroke on the usual marketplaces. There’s a 2001 Ford F-350 Super Duty with a Power Stroke, a six-speed manual transmission, and 59,000 miles on Bring a Trailer right now, but it’s a basic XLT rear-wheel-drive truck with accident damage in its history. While Bring a Trailer does sell a lot of Super Duty trucks, they rarely show up with the combination of 7.3 Power Stroke, manual, and four-wheel drive.

With that said, it does seem that if you do find one of these trucks with the above configuration and low miles, you can probably expect to pay at least $20,000 for it. That’s a lot of money for a truck two to three decades old, but you’ll be getting something that could probably outlive most cars on the road. And if you can find one of the purple ones, you’ll be riding in a truck you won’t be seeing at every turn. Like the Cummins 5.9, it’s unlikely we’ll see trucks like these again, so love them and hold them tight.

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Do you know of or own a car, bus, motorcycle, or something else worthy of being called a ‘holy grail’? Send me an email at mercedes@theautopian.com or drop it down in the comments!

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JDE
JDE
30 days ago

in the 90’s, I had a comparison to make to buy a little boat hauler. one was a 91 Chevy stepside with 2wd and a 350. the other was a 93 Purple Ford Stepside 2wd with a 300 and a 5 speed. Since I was still somewhat new to the whole driving thing and the first gear was strangely not a granny or crawl gear, I opted for the older Chevy and rarely looked back, but over the years I heard more and more about the 300 and now kind of wished I had at least experienced the OD in and already known to be economical Ford. I think maybe the torque would have made up for the more sport truck gearing it appeared to be set up for, but I also recall seeing at least one truck with water up to it’s back window because the person driving let the clutch get to far under water after stalling and rolling back, they were perhaps not as capable at slipping the clutch to begin with it seemed.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 month ago

While I’ve never driven a Power Stroke I have a lot of seat time with the 6.9 IDI. I worked for an equipment rental company for several years and our main shop trucks were a pair of F350 duallies with 6.9 diesels. A rack body with a lift gate and automatic and a rollback with a 4 speed and a super low rear axle. The rollback would climb a wall at idle in first gear and redline at 55mph but it hauled a 7500lb Bobcat with a backhoe without breaking. The 6 9 was slow but unkillable and the automatic was a great tow rig. The other branch got a Super Duty with a 7 3 and a 5 speed in 1990 which had a bit more power but was less fun to tow with.
Side note, Ford brought back the Suoer Duty name in 1990 for the “F450” which had a straight axle and higher GVW than the F350 and made them until 98

Is Travis
Is Travis
1 month ago

Dad’s work truck when he was building cellphone towers in Colorado and Utah was a ’96 or ’97 Power Stroke 250 and he considered it one of the best work trucks he ever had. It was also lifted with good tires to get to sites, that thing was a gnarly black and red beast.

D. Sundrup
D. Sundrup
1 month ago

My 7.3l , a 1999, runs great and the harder it works the better than it runs. Ford put a standard low speed ratio in the differential so it highest torque puts it at 55 MPH. Quite stupid IMO. Should have highest torque around 66-68, freeway speed so. International gave it a perfect running score at 85k. Now has 90k on it. Is noisy but goes like a bat outta h— Is a tight simple truck, ah, no def….

Anthony Henderson
Anthony Henderson
1 month ago

449,798 miles on my ’03 E 350. It carries the parts and hauls the race car all over the Southeast.

Ophidia
Ophidia
1 month ago

My late ex-father-in-law had a mid to late 80’s F250 with the NA 7.3L and a manual. I drove it a few times before he traded it in on a new Ram in 1995. It was DOG slow but you couldn’t stop it. Refined it was not, but it outlived him by a lot.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

I had an 01.

Manual ZF6, 4×4, 7.3, regular cab. In short, what everyone here claims to want.

And it was awful.

I spent as much as a good gas truck on maintenance and parts over 2 years of ownership, and still sold it not running right. This was with ~120,000 miles on it. The clutch was heavy enough to cause pain (and I’m used to driving a Viper!) and the manual overall was fun but poor for doing work, as I’ve opined before. The engine was supremely unreliable at the worst possible times, and had very little to recommend it. The 8.1 Chevy gasser I replaced it with had 100 more hp, the same torque, and was infinitely better to drive, better to tow with, and cheaper to run.

I bought into the hype, got burned, and now consider it my duty to warn people about overrating the “grails” of their past. No more diesels for me, ever.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Automatics are superior for doing truck work. Hard agree. Manual is not a holy grail, rare for reason, inferior for this vehicle.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

I’ve never driven an auto that has made sensible decisions when the vehicle was close to max gvm or max gcm… but I’ve also never driven anything with an auto with a gvm of over 4500kg… just my $0.493 (adjusted for inflation)

Last edited 1 month ago by David Escargot
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

Well 4500kg or less is the size of vehicle we’re discussing here, so your experience applies. These Super Duty pickups were about 8000-10,000 GVWR.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yeah ok… I’ve never thought of it like that… but a 2300kg vehicle (dry) with significantly less hp/tq and a massive gvm upgrade does skew the data a little… its more like a Super Duty at max capacity rather than max rated capacity… the manual is unbelievably good for slowing down in this case… and not running away down hills, upshifting early, missing an upshift etc… to try put it succinctly the auto loses because it’s reactive and not proactive

Last edited 1 month ago by David Escargot
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I have heard your tale of woe before, although I didn’t know it was a zf6. You’re right, I totally do want a single cab 7.3 4×4 ZF6 super duty.

Of course your experience was not representative of most ownership(the dt444/7.3 is very famous for being rated at 500,000 miles mean time between overhauls), although I do know somebody who has also had long running issues with his. It’s also 700hp, so that could have something to do with it.

And there are certainly some advantages of a gas big block over a diesel. People say the 7.3 Powerstroke is a simple old engine, and it is simple compared to a new one, but it’s still a turbo big block with electronic hydraulic fuel system and two oil pumps. They’re a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive to repair than a gas engine. That’s a lot of why I want an N/A IDI, which is totally less complex than a gas engine, and much less complex than a Powerstroke.

On a different subject, I have never experienced a clutch heavy enough to cause me issue, at all. I have driven everything from a Civic to a semi truck. Am I just lucky enough to have never driven a ZF6 Ford, or do I have a very above average left leg?

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I am not 100% certain if the clutch in my truck was stock. If not, I retract my criticism of Ford over it.

But if it was, it was by far the heaviest I’ve experienced in any vehicle.

Austin Mercer
Austin Mercer
30 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Try a peterbilt 389 clutch. Then any other clutch is light.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago

I wonder why they never came with the dt466

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

Because the dt466 weighs 1500-1900lb, when a dt444/7.3 weighs 1000lb and makes more power. And is smoother cuz 8 vs 6 cylinders.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

But dt466 is an all time great…. I’m not looking for practical here… going off aftermarket builds I reckon they could have made the power easily but they do weigh a ton…

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

The weight alone is enough to stop anybody from putting a dt466 in a Class 2 truck. When you have an 8,000lb GVWR, spending 2,000 of that just on engine and accessories is rather limiting to payload. For reference, a big block gas engines no more than 800lb with accessories. Having 1200lb more payload and more horsepower is just a no brainer.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I absolutely understand it would be useless… I’m just being that fella that asked why a Crown Vic never came stock with a Rolls Royce Meteor and GM TH400 transmission… i just love big straight sixes… the dt466 being almost at the top of the list

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 month ago
Reply to  David Escargot

You’ll find a lot of truck mechanics and drivers who’ll pick a DT466 over a T444 any day. Two very different engines; the DT466 is far and away a heavier-duty engine. The DT466 is, however, a lot worse on the NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) scale — It would probably shake a pickup cab apart over time. That’s not even much of an exaggeration.

David Escargot
David Escargot
1 month ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Having spent time in dt466 powered tractors, i believe you

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
30 days ago

Yesssss! I worked for an armored car company in the 90s. The DT466-powered trucks were definitely better for driving. Maybe not so much for parking and idling, though. It was hard to hear the engine over everything else rattling…

I also have a soft spot for anything Cummins-powered for similar reasons.

That said, there’s also the siren song of any 2-stroke Detroit… 😀

Lightning
Lightning
1 month ago

I used to use a red 1996 F-350 crew cab 4×4 diesel for my bigger field work jobs at work as an environmental scientist. It’s nice to learn the story about the engine. It had an automatic, but even as a manual fan, I think that’s the better choice for a truck like that. I’m not sure how low the low range first in the manual, but an automatic is less to worry about (clutch wear) when trying to get unstuck from mud/get up a steep climb, etc. The truck was a high mileage one that my (former) consultant employer got as payment for a job at some point. Since they are so durable, high mileage was appropriate/fitting for a real work truck, and more usable than a low mileage grail.

I had a lot of adventures driving that truck on trails getting to remote field locations in Alaska, once getting it stuck in the mud for weeks (a Bobcat trying to get it unstuck also got stuck for a long time), another time just saving it from totally sinking into half frozen mud, sub-zero F blizzard trips, etc. I’d often have my (first) dog with me on the front bench seat.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lightning
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Lightning

So a ’96 has the ZF5, but ’99+ has the ZF6 with a granny gear, and you still have the low range transfer case. They have a very good crawl ratio.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago

An elderly farmer I used to help during harvest had a purple F-350 dually with the 7.3, though it was auto. Absolutely loved that truck. He had a couple 6.0s as well but they were always broken, so the 7.3 did the bulk of the work. The last season I worked there (2020) it had cleared 350k miles with no sign of stopping. Hated the color but it was a tough ol truck.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago

I said it last time you did a holy grail fullsize truck with a diesel, but the manual transmission isn’t the holy grail. It’s rare but not great at doing what these large trucks exist for, hauling heavy ass loads and towing things. The manual is ultra rare because it’s not desirable for these kinds of vehicles. For sports cars/sedans/exotics it’s a different story, because it adds driving excitement and satisfaction, but towing a heavy load up a hill at low speeds while feathering a clutch, or offroading with a clutch, is just worse.

That out of the way, really appreciate the deep dive into the 7.3! When I was looking for my econoline-based shortie skoolie, the powerstroke was a must. Sometimes I just geek out about engines so bad, it justifies entire vehicles for me (jaguar XK project). Anyway, I found my 7.3 skoolie across the country sort of stranded in new mexico. It would start but wouldn’t stay running very long. The plan was to drive all the way there, and pick it up to drive to my off grid property to serve as a temporary cabin, and since I couldn’t assess what was wrong with it, I had to have it repaired. The business was aware of the transaction and that I would be paying for the repairs, and then picking up the vehicle, and man I was not prepared for the cost of components on this engine. The fuel injectors were over $1500 alone, I also did ignition and glow plug systems since those were showing signs of failure. So yes, the engine is epic, but the parts cost is 4-5x the price of gasoline equivalents, which I was not prepared for.

Thing has been trouble free ever since though! Thanks for the article, super cool to learn about the history and development behind this engine! Everytime I start it up it makes me giggle like a kid because it just sounds so ridiculously industrial 😀

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

It’s an old 7.3, which is why it was only $1500 for 8 injectors. With a newer diesel you’re lucky to get injectors for as low as $1500 each.

The manual is most definitely better for “hauling heavy ass loads”. 5 speeds instead of 4 keeps you at a better rpm, no gear hunting problems on the highway, and automatics have heat issues when towing heavy. Remember that the heaviest hauling vehicles on the road(semi trucks) were until very recently exclusively manual, and most drivers still prefer manual.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

You sound like the kind of guy who pretends an automatic is better in a sports car because it shifts .0005 seconds faster 😛

I still stand by my original statement. Manual is inferior. It doesn’t suite the character of the vehicle. Torque converters are just great when you’re backing up and not having to feather the clutch while contorted, they’re better in lower traction situations, they’re better on inclines like boat ramps and whatnot. Certain vehicles should have automatics; giant trucks and 60s/70s/80s land yachts.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

“Giant trucks” includes a 7000lb GVWR f250 but not a literal semi truck?

You kind of sound like you’ve never towed a trailer with a manual trans, and I can be quite certain you’ve never driven an auto and manual side by side in a heavy truck. Spoiler: an automatic semi is total hell.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

When you say an automatic semi is total hell, you must be referring to automated manuals. We had a few of those in buses and they were universally hated by drivers. They were dead reliable and very low maintenance, but you would have to apply the throttle about 3 to 4 seconds before you intended the vehicle to move. Not a good look when maneuvering through crowds of pedestrians.
Reversing them was a nightmare because they would lurch and then drop back to neutral. I was pretty much praying for a clutch pedal and a stick.
All of our other units for the last few decades use an Allison b500, which is pretty much like driving a Corolla.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

I’ve heard automated manuals often suck, but no. I drove a couple 70s Ford heavy duty trucks with 4 speed torque converter autos behind naturally aspirated Cat 3208s. They were twice as slow as the 10spd trucks, which were very slow. They would also point blank refuse to downshift from 2nd, and sometimes 3rd, unless you came to a stop. That’s right, as soon as it grabs 2nd, you are driving in 2nd. I once came to a STOP, FLOORED in 2nd because it was so gutless and so unwilling to downshift.

The 5spd torque converter autos they put in 900 series 5 ton army trucks are pretty nice, in a large part because of the healthy horsepower of the big cam Cummins it was attached to. It can afford to lose a few ponies in the converter. Still would have been faster if it was a 10spd or 13spd though.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

These current electronic autos are far superior for sure. Acceleration is pretty fantastic considering the power level and size of vehicle.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

My tow vehicle was a stickshift for 7 years. It fucking sucked at boat launches, it sucked in the snow when towing snowmobile trailers, it pretty much sucked anytime I was towing.

I got a tow vehicle with an automatic and it’s better in every measurable way.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
30 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Every measurable way except trans temps, and acceleration? Also, have you ever towed with an automatic that had very little horsepower? The worse your power to weight is, the more you appreciate that extra gear and that higher efficiency. I’m still not sure why you think the factors that apply to semi trucks hauling heavy don’t apply to pickups hauling heavy.

I will readily admit that manual transmissions suck on boat ramps. Like really bad. But the Holy Grail pickup in the article has a granny gear in the trans and has low range in the transfer case, which should make boat ramps suck only a medium amount.

In my opinion manual transmissions are grossly superior in the snow, for any car. I can never tell the difference between converter slip and tire slip in an auto.

It’s funny because my manual trans pickup drives and shifts best when it has a heavy trailer behind it.

Last edited 30 days ago by Rust Buckets
Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

I think it depends on what you’re doing-though if you’re not doing “truck stuff” then why buy a super duty? Stick shift trucks are fun in their way imo-I’ve owned a couple and there was a point where I was offroading and preferred them for their superior ability to crawl down hills-but for real work 100% agree with you that whatever tiny gearing advantage you get with a 5 speed is more than offset by having to mess with the clutch when trying to do things like back a trailer into a tight spot.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Tiny gearing advantage? We’re talking about a 4spd auto from the 80s vs a 6spd manual/5spd with granny.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago

This is a really good truck.

I worked on a lot of these 7.3’s and 6.0’s (early builds), not a lot of manuals but I did have to replace the dual mass flywheel and clutch on one (driver error).

What was funny to me at the time was that automatics generally weighed more than manual transmissions in all other Fords. This was a case where that ZF 6 speed manual is so fucking heavy duty, I swear it weighed as much or more than the E4OD/4R100 Automatics. Not sure of the exact specs, just memory.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Looked it up, Google says about 250lb for a zf6, or a little less than a zf5. That is extremely heavy for an aluminum case manual trans, all my cars are like 100-120lb transmissions.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
30 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I appreciate you looking that up! The one that I did the work on was actually a 6.0L with that transmission. The 6.0’s actually weighed more than the 7.3s… quite a heavy powertrain combo. Not as heavy as the Cummins motors, but still.

MikuhlBrian
MikuhlBrian
1 month ago

If you really wanted to know how rare/unique that combination of F250, Powerstroke, Manual, purple is… you can grab a Marti Report. https://www.martiauto.com/martireports.cfm. The deluxe reports will breakdown this information for you.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago

Huh. While I like the purple, I didn’t expect to also like the purple and tan. Very nice!

I have a friend with two F350s with the diesel / manual combo – one with a 6.9L IDI and one with a 7.3L IDI. Both are farm trucks, neither is fast, but one went over 400,000 miles of hauling hay bales and livestock feed while the other went over 500,000 miles of the same before needing any major repairs (aside from two clutch replacements in each). After 500,000 miles, the 6.9L ended up needing a full fuel system rebuild, but went right back to hauling. The 7.3L ended up with the cylinder wall issue ruining the block after 400,000 miles, at which point my friend swapped in a turbocharged 7.3L IDI from a junk yard truck.

The IDI motors don’t have the legendary status of the 12V Cummins, but I’ve known a lot of people besides my friend above who have had a lot of long-term reliability out of them.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago

What an excellent article!

Only question is: What’s an “inward-opening pintle injector”? Most of the pintles around here are happily in their gudgeons mostly in hinges except an odd military style trailer hitch.
I’m familiar with the mechanical Bosch injectors used by Mercedes and Porsche on diesel and gas engines in the 60s and early 70s and the similar devices on Caterpillars from the 1940s and some Fergusons and John Deere’s from the 70s that looked about the same.
Never heard the term pintle injectors. I sort of understand the glow plug in a separate chamber vs direct injection and hell to start distinction — I think the caterpillar had that distinction — only turn it off to change the oil it was so hard to start.

LongCoolLincoln
LongCoolLincoln
1 month ago

Jesus Farming Christ, that Farmall looks like it’s going to crawl into my nightmares and pick apart my bones for a snack.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago

They are actually a pretty sweet tractor.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
1 month ago

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that purple color in good condition. Its gorgeous.
I might have to find something to paint that color.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
1 month ago

I have a relative who just sold his very nice condition squarebody F350 7.3 powerstroke crewcab long bed 4×4. $65,000. For a 30 year old truck!

I have the Chevy equivalent of that truck and it’s worth about $4k.

OptionXIII
OptionXIII
1 month ago

My uncle has what I call his “redneck limousine” – 1999 F-350, crew cab long bed, manual and 4wd.

I’m sure even in it’s high mileage state, parked for some reason unknown to me, it would be worth quite a bit to the right buyer.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

“Examples of the 7.3 Power Stroke with forged rods have been known to take 40 psi of boost and 600 WHP!”

Well yeah anything will take as much boost as you want if you spend the dough on bottom end. Not that 600hp is anywhere near the limit, people have built 1000+HP 7.3s.

What’s more impressive is my buddy’s 7.3 taking 40psi on stock and original bottom end with 250k miles.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I mean, they all will take 40psi until they don’t 😀

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’ve watched those dyno pull competitions. Haven’t done so in a while, so a heartfelt RIP to all the supportive diesel bros who stood in those clouds of solid black smoke for hours. I’m sure it seemed like a great idea at the time.
It seemed like half of those tuned diesels would just spill their guts all over the dyno. Impressive numbers, but it looked like a good way to build a $50,000 bomb.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

I’ve always thought dyno contests were dumb, it’s literally just a contest of who spent the most money at the machine shop.

Sled pulls, however….. Those are really fun to watch in person. Although honestly I think the gasser pull trucks were more fun to watch than the diesels.

My understanding is that most diesel tuning guys don’t break engines anywhere near as much as automatic transmissions. That’s certainly the case for my friend’s, he has had 0 engine issues in the last 4 years, even tuned like it is, but he’s on his 4th or 5th transmission in that time. Just another reason to prefer manuals.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Manuals forever.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago

Not related to the actual truck, but I used to take the train uptown, and just like in the vintage pics, the tracks pass right through the side of the McCormick Factory (now McCormick Place) and there’s even a stop. It is amazingly large.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

Finding out that even 7.3’s aren’t invincible from prior comment sections here is interesting…and then, on top of that, learning about the faults of subsequent (Ford) diesel engines, and vague (but unspecific because I don’t understand it or haven’t seen simple explainers) DEF concerns mean I wonder how diesels are sold anywhere under the semi/industrial level these days. The maintenance seems so expensive.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Because people really like the diesel noises and the semi truck levels of horsepower. They also deliver significantly better fuel economy, and if you drive enough that more than makes up for the expensive maintenance.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I do understand the appeal of the sound.
I guess I just feel (not scientifically valid, I know) like the crossover point for what the fuel efficiency saves in the long run for diesel vs. gas goes higher every year.

A sibling’s lawn maintenance contractor recently opted for a new gas Silverado 3500 over a diesel one. Apparently said the extra ~$10,000 up front and other stuff wasn’t worth it.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

It’s not just that. If you’re towing, a diesel will act like a honey badger, it won’t care what’s behind you, it won’t care if you hit an incline or go up a mountain pass, it will just go and not care at all.

Meanwhile gas engines will be gear hunting and not sounding happy, because they’re not.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

I guess you haven’t heard of a big block gasser. Of course a small block gasser works harder than a big block diesel pulling a trailer.

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yeah, the Ford 460 notices the weight some, but it’ll do 8MPG unladen or with a camper and a trailer.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Still doesn’t have the lower RPM torque of a diesel

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
30 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

It nearly does, Chevy 8.1s are famous for outpulling Duramaxes, and I’m pretty sure a Ford 460 makes more torque at every rpm than an idi.

There is no reason whatsoever why diesel engines necessarily produce more torque lower than a gas engine. Which is apparent because my Ford 300ci six cylinder makes peak torque at about 2500rpm but pulls strong from about 1500rpm. Those numbers are very similar to a Powerstroke.

The reason diesels are so famous for low end torque is because they’re designed to, because that makes sense for the intended use.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

In a Fleet it’s a no brainer. You will save money over time.
As a personal use vehicle on the other hand, you’re not going to save money. The extra purchase cost, the maintenance, and the ever rising price of diesel will see to that.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Depends on exactly what personal use, se.personal use is not very different from commercial. Some people drive 40k a year towing a camper or horse trailer or whatever, and the difference between 9mpg towing and 15mpg towing is very significant. Of course even that much difference is pretty much even stevens with the price of diesel right now.

The way I use my pickup, it would never make sense to buy a new diesel vs a new gasser.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yeah if you’re towing loads like that everyday diesel becomes a better option.

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

I’m so bored with seeing white, silver, black, and red trucks that the purple is actually sorta appealing. The biggest complaint I’ve heard from peers with newer diesel models is the ever rising price of the blue-def exhaust fluid. One learned the hard way that if you let the tank go dry, your truck will brick itself.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Greensoul

Wait, it permanently deactivated the entire truck?

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago
Reply to  VanGuy

oops, used an EV term. No, it just wouldn’t start up again until he filled the blue-def back up. It did warn him it was about to shut down, though. He’s one of those kind of guys that doesn’t believe in preventive maintenance or paying attention to warning lights.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  Greensoul

I’m a gasoline guy, so I’ve been enjoying learning about diesels here.

One of the things that first threw me for a loop was years ago seeing DEF and related parts at the autoparts store. I could kinda figure out what it was for, but I didn’t understand how the whole system worked. WOW it’s something else.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

As much as I like diesel engines I’d much rather have the Ford 4.9L (300CI) I6 with a manual.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Lol you can drive mine. I daily a 1995 f150 300ci 5spd 2wd, very similar to The Marshall.l but 5spd.

It’s not better than a 7.3, at all. It has an extremely low power band(about the same as a 7.3 but lower than an idi), and not much power. It also has the narrowest power band of anything I’ve ever driven short of a semi truck: it does not appreciate sustaining engine speeds lower than 1500rpm or higher than 2000rpm. It is also not very efficient for the horsepower it makes, a 7.3 or idi delivers better mpg all else being equal.

The Mazda M5ODr2 transmission is known for being kinda weak, and mine shifts like ass, and the gear spacing is weird. Of course you could get an older one like the Marshall with a t18 four speed. That is an unkillable transmission, but have fun driving 45mph in an 80mph zone(it has 3.55 gears, no overdrive, and doesnt like cruising above 2000rpm). If it’s an f250 with a zf5 then that’s an actually good transmission.

Mr LM002, I don’t think you would actually rather have a 4.9/300.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rust Buckets
MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I have heard the same thing about the 5 speed, I’d much prefer the 4 speed as well.

I think I’d quite like the 4.9/300, I’m a putt putt guy myself, I like slow and steady tractor like vehicles. I got a bit of speed demon in me as well but I don’t feed it anymore.

A good example of my preference is I’d rather have a Rokon Trailbreaker than any other motorcycle.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  MrLM002

I like slow and steady tractor like vehicles with gutless(ish) inline sixes too. It’s just that in my experience the AMC/Jeep straight six has better torque below 1500rpm, is willing to rev much much higher, and delivers similar or better mpg. Plus it’s significantly lighter. Horsepower and actual acceleration is similar, but the Jeep engine feels much faster just because it has a more usable powerband.

My 5spd’s overdrive is not tall enough and it can only cruise 60-65mph. I’m looking to put 2.73 gears in it so I can cruise 75-80. A 4spd without overdrive would literally go 50mph, and that’s just terrifying on freeways, and seriously limits how you can use it in 2024.

The 300ci is an extremely durable and unkillable engine. Mine has been through a lot and it will survive a lot more, and probably exceed 300k miles too. But when the Jeep straight six is equally unkillable and just drives much better, I can’t call the Ford six a truly great engine.

The IDI and 7.3 Powerstroke engines also have a better powerband, feel faster, and are equally unkillable. I want an IDI really bad, especially because 6.9l/420ci hehe.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

As the previous owner of a 1984 F150 with a 4 speed and 300, you have given some poor info on its highway worthiness. Mine had the “fuel saver” 2.47 axle ratio, one of the tallest I’ve encountered.

It wouldn’t get up to speed quickly, but once it got there, it was perfectly happy doing 75. Got better fuel economy than my ’08 Ram 6 speed as well.

I never had a problem with the power band in mine, but I also can’t recall ever thinking about going above 2K rpm in any gear but 4th. It’s an engine that likes to lug it out. Pulled just fine from idle on up.

Last edited 1 month ago by Frankencamry
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Yeah because you had 2.47 fuel crisis gears. Like I said, most of them had 3.55, 3.73, or even 4.10 gears. My 1974 Jeep j10 only cruises 45-50mph because it’s non overdrive and has probably like 3.73 gears.

I do wonder if the fuel injection system produces less low end (>1500rpm) torque than a carb would, especially because the two torqueiest feeling gassers I’ve ever driven were carbureted.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Wait a second, you had 2.47 gears in a 1984, meaning after the 1983 changeover from the 9″ to the 8.8 axle?

I have been looking for 2.73 gears to swap into my 8.8. I’ve read that the tallest gears they ever made for an 8.8 were 2.73, and that they haven’t made any taller than 3.08 since the mid 80s. I can’t order new gears taller than 3.08 anywhere.

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yep, 8.8″. It was a rare enough bird that I couldn’t get a replacement speedometer cable gear because neither local Ford dealer agreed it existed despite me standing there holding the worn-out one. It was pastel blue. Ended up with a red one, since that was the lowest tooth count (17 vs 14, maybe?) they had and just did mental math.

Wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve gotten even rarer since then. Most people want to swap to short gears.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Frankencamry

Yeah I want to swap from 3.55 to 2.73. I can order all the way down to like a 5.27 but not anything tall. Annoying.

Well I guess that still means I’m searching junkyards for old 80s gearsets.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Honestly I could go without driving over 45 MPH (speed limit wise).

I like the Ford 4.9 over the Jeep I6 more due to the Ford’s timing gears instead of a timing chain but that’s just me. I do agree the engine is very heavy for what it is though.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  MrLM002

I can understand the timing gear thing, although Jeep engines are not by any means known for having timing chain issues. You also get gear drive timing in IDIs, Powerstrokes, Cumminses, and maybe the 6.2/6.5 Detroit but not sure on that one.

Speed is something that is highly dependent on where you live. Where I live in Idaho, almost the only way to get to the next town over is the 80mph interstate, so being limited even to 65mph is a problem. My 50mph Jeep j10 will never see a freeway, and that means I can’t take it everywhere I can take my other cars.

MrLM002
MrLM002
30 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I have heard they do have a single issue with the timing chain but I cannot remember what it is for the life of me.

Cummins certainly have them, there was a timing gear kit for the 6.2/6.5 Detroit Diesels put I’m almost certain it was aftermarket.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
1 month ago

I have a 92 F250 with the 300 and a 4 speed, single cab, 8 ft bed, 2WD. I specifically sought out that engine and tranny combo figuring it would last forever and it probably will. Got it for next to nothing because nobody wants a 2WD truck like that here in snowy New England. For the highway I wish I had the 5 speed but the 4 speed is fine around town and you can drop it into 4th at 25 mph and just lug along.

A friend has a bunch of late 90s 7.3s he bought from Govt auctions. Somewhat beaten municipals trucks with lights and utility bodies. Keeps trying to sell me one for what he paid, usually $5-7k and I’m always tempted. I want that diesel but it’s way more engine than I need and then I’m reminded of things like15 qt oil changes. I keep telling him maybe when my truck finally craps out but that may never happen…

Last edited 1 month ago by Frank Wrench
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

1992 with a 4spd? They should all have the ZF5 after like 1988.

I once tried idling my pickup in 5th. It did it, at about 17mph and like 400rpm, and sounded terrible, but didn’t quite stall. Not as fun as my Jeep that idles happily in 4th at about 20mph and doesn’t bog down even a little.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
1 month ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yes, a 4 speed, really a 3 speed with granny non-synchro 1st. The one other truck I looked at was a 5 speed. It might be a Frankentruck for all I know. There was also an odometer discrepancy but I wasn’t really worried about that with the 300.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 month ago

I would say finding just a purple F-150 alone is a grail, I have never seen one or even knew they existed. Then again, I don’t live in Ford country thankfully.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 month ago

Except this article is specifically talking exclusively about f250s and f350s

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
30 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

F-150, F-250, F-350… FIFY

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