Justin Chappelle was at the bar with his buddy BS’ing around with the idea of swapping a turbo-diesel engine into a regular 80s/90s square-bodied truck…

Typical car guy bar talk. Anything ‘Cummins’ was super lame (Justin’s words). And theoretically, while the Ford 7.3 Powerstroke had it’s criticisms, it’d be the turbo diesel swap to use in this case… just because Justin knew the details of the 7.3s pretty well. 

BUT – even though Justin Chapelle is a Ford guy, and even though the old bullnose & bricknose Ford F150s are sweet, the aftermarket for those old Ford trucks are slim… and the chassis & suspension are kind of difficult compared to the Chevys. Hence why the old square-body Chevy trucks are so popular/desirable in the aftermarket these days. And hence why the way to go (*SLAMS empty beer mug on bar top*)is a Ford Powerstroke in a Chevy C10!!! The music stopped, and silence fell over the bar. 

lowered shop truck chevy


A rough bunch at the end of the bar overheard the crossbreed Chevy-Ford Powerstroke idea & got heated…

They approached Justin & his friend slowly… their boots thudding over the old hollow wooden floors (this is a Western now)The prostitutes ran upstairs. 

“Whoa whoa whoa…” one of ’em said. “You can’t just go puttin’ a damn Ford engine in a Chevy like that. One – go to hell. And two – you ain’t got the skills boy!” (*spits & hovers hand over holster)

Justin Chappelle eased off his bar stool & stood up. He stared ‘em all dead in the eyes. The only sound was a fly buzzing on the window. Then Justin broke the silence with a smile & bought ‘em all a round of drinks to ease the tension. “Relax boys, we’re just daydreaming here. Lottery talk – that’s all.” 

The music picked back up, the bar patrons all took a sigh of relief. And the next morning Justin bought this Chevy. 

turbo diesel swap

It’s 2020 and all of a sudden trucks like the 3rd generation C10 and K10 are up & coming collectibles…

Auction values are shooting through the roof and RAD to the BONE builds like this are only bolstering our collective desire to own one of these things. For Gen Xers, these were the work trucks of our youth. Our dads & grandpas got stuff done with these trucks. I can still fondly remember riding around in my best friend’s dad’s C10. When we would go somewhere it was to do real man stuff. Taking scrap to the dump, picking up lumber, etc. In my hometown alone, there had to be several hundred. These trucks were big, square, rugged… and then they were gone. They were never thought of as collectible in the least… so they were scraped for the next newer model. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder

Ford 7.3 powerstroke turbo diesel swap


The truck is a 1985 Chevy C10 running the diesel heart of a 2000 Ford 7.3 turbo diesel…

So many correct choices were made on this Powerstroke C-10. The turbo diesel swap, the flare side bed, the stance, that rear tailgate. When I saw Justin’s truck I legit lost it. It both takes me back, while moving me forward in thoughts of what one of these trucks COULD be today & into the future. 

The giant side-exit exhaust could be simply peaking out of a nappy hole in the fender, cut with a rotary tool. But no – there is an 8-bolt aluminum finishing ring that gives it a throughly thought-out race car appeal & echoes the upgraded 8-bolt C20 axles.

The suspension setup is totally custom and took some real consideration…

Harnessing all that turbo diesel swap torque can’t be left up to some rusty leaf springs and hopes & dreams. The truck has QA1 coilovers up front, and Justin widened the shock mounting points via custom lower mounts. For the rear, he built a custom 4-link in his garage utilizing Viking coilovers.

viking coilover C10

The truck has custom spindles from Chassis Tech machined to fit C10 arms on the inside. A larger C20 beefed up 8-lug bolt pattern keeps the turbo diesel swap torque tied down with less chance of component failure.

Braking is handled by a Wilwood C20-application big brake kit up front + Wilwood disc brake conversion in the rear.  He’s also using a 2000-model Superduty hydroboost & Wilwood proportioning valve (with 1994 Ford pedals).

What about weight distribution?

Justin sat the power plant well back in the frame requiring a custom firewall to clearance the 7.3L beast. And – this tastefully low-slung beast has a fighting weight of just 4,200 pounds.

turbo diesel swap C10

This Powerstroke C10 Chevy makes huge numbers on basic bolt-ons with a tune by Brian Jelich (JeliBuilt), and a beefed up clutch & rear end with limited slip. Think of it as a C10 GTS or early ’80’s version of a Cyclone or a Lightning… only more extreme and with about 78% more testosterone. And the lowered Chevy C10 looks bloody brilliant sitting on 20×9 wheels with 285/35 tires in front and 20x10s in the rear with 315/35s. 

autocross C10 truck

In the ’80s, real heroes drove Chevy trucks. Justin Chappelle refined the recipe, added his own Ford flavor and proved that these days… real heroes still drive old Chevys. 

Text by Wooley & Tim Neely   Photos by Daniel Kiser

powerstoke 7.3 swap