A Twin-turbo Power Stroke Country Squire Wagon
Twin-turbo Power Stroke Family Wagon
In the world of automotive enthusiasts, there are movers and shakers. While some folks might be content putting a laundry list of aftermarket goodies on their “custom” trucks, there are folks that look beyond the norm and want to build something completely out of the ordinary. No cookie-cutter customs for them.
One such person is Chaz Lightner, of Phoenix, Arizona. An electrical engineer by trade, he is a hardcore (and we mean hardcore) automotive enthusiast with a garage full of Ford hot rods, including a GT40, a couple of Mustangs and a Cummins 4Bt-powered vintage Bronco.
Across his ranch, an unassuming shop dubbed “Chazniland” houses the race shop for his Cummins drag truck and a whole other host of in-progress projects. It also serves as this “mad scientist’s” laboratory for coming up with some wild stuff.
The latest creation to come out of Chazniland is this ultra-clean 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 station wagon. The mainstay family truckster in the ’60s, the station wagon is gaining in popularity for hot rod enthusiasts—so much so that you’ll see some very cool versions showing up at national rod and custom events such as Goodguys.
How do you meld a passion for fast cars and diesels into one potent package? Why, drop in a diesel, of course! However, that’s easier said than done.
Actually, the theoretical concept looked promising. Many of these vintage, full-size wagons came with big block engines, such as the 427 cid, which had similar dimensions and weight as a modern-day diesel. In addition, Lightner had a 6.0L Power Stroke up at the shop, so the next order of business was to figure out how to stuff it in the Galaxie—and make it work.
A project of this magnitude requires a lot of help, so Lightner enlisted the aid of diesel specialists Dennis Schroeder and Nate Brekken, owners of Strictly Diesel, in Phoenix, along with good friend Matt Bong. And the fact that Lightner is a master fabricator made the two-year project go smoother.
Once the original 390 cid engine and trans were lifted out, Lightner went to work on giving the wagon the proper stance with Ride Tech air suspension at each corner. Up front are 8-inch air springs to hold the massive weight of the diesel, while 6-inch springs and a four-link are used out back.
To accommodate the diesel engine, the steering system was custom made and moved behind the centerline, while steering input was transferred via an IDIDIT steering column. To stop the beast, the stock brakes were tossed in favor of Baer Brakes’ 13-inch rotors and six-piston calipers at each corner, fed with stainless steel hard lines and actuated by an F-350 hydro boost setup and Mustang Cobra master cylinder.
Arizona Differential Specialists cut and modified a 10.25-inch Super Duty Sterling rear end from an F-350 by adding 3:73 gearing and capped it with a Strictly Diesel diff cover for more fluid capacity. To accommodate the five-spoke Vintage Model 46 wheels, which are wrapped with Nitto 555 tires, a set of Strange 35-spline axles with Ford 9-inch outers was fitted.
The heart of the black beauty is a 2006 6.0L Power Stroke that got the full monty,
in terms of modifications, well before the engine was dropped into the wagon. Lightner got the welder out and fabbed up a custom oil pan, along with some custom 1 ½-inch headers, to fit the low stance of the car. The 6.0L also was fitted with a Bullet Proof Diesel remote oil cooler and filter setup; the cooler was located behind the front bumper license plate bucket.
Turbo Auto Diesel went through the cylinder heads and added O-rings and ARP head studs. Turbo Auto Diesel was also the source of the custom twin 52mm turbo setup (with custom plumbing by Lightner). The headers and turbo plumbing were both Jet Hot coated and then wrapped with heat wrap to prevent blistering the hood paint. Even the turbos have their own heat blankets to keep the heat contained. Exhaust is then routed out through traditional hot rod mufflers (Flowmaster 40s) and then out each side via Dr. Gas NASCAR-STYLE tips.
And speaking of custom plumbing, the showpiece of the transplant is a pro-stockstyle, custom-made, polished sheet metal intake manifold that feeds each cylinder. On the fuel side, diesel travels from a custom aluminum 37-gallon fuel tank via an Air Dog fuel pump, filters forward to a Strictly Diesel regulated fuel return system, and flows on to Strictly Diesel 90-horse injectors.
With no mass air meter, custom tuning from SCT/DP Tuner was utilized. Keeping the whole shebang cool is a custom radiator and thermal fan setup from a 5.4L gas engine. Obviously, it took a custom wiring harness and plumbing by Lightner to get the transplant to work.
Backing up the 400-plus-horsepower, 600 lb-ft diesel is a John Wood-built 5R110 automatic with a 700rpm stall speed converter. Mesa Driveline fabricated the custom driveshaft to make it all work.
Since the Galaxie Country Squire wagon was semi-straight to begin with, bodywork
consisted of removing all the chrome trim, welding up the holes and customizing the front bumper to accommodate the Bullet Proof Diesel remote oil cooler. The car was then wheeled to Troy Westerman, of Bornie Customs in Tempe, AZ, for the flawless PPG black paint job. Finishing touches included a re-chromed stock grille and some cool Mustang Project LED taillights for the rear.
Lightner opted to keep the interior as stock as possible, reusing door trim, handles, and so on. Todd, at Phoenix’s Interior Shop, added the Mercedes-benz black carpeting and seats from an ’06 Cadillac CTS-V, along with the custom headliner. Lightner takes credit for the custom dashboard, which is fitted with a Race Pak display. A Vintage air system keeps the car cool.
Chaz Lightner debuted the Galaxie at the NHRDA Desert Diesel Nationals in Phoenix. He says he’s still working out the bugs but can still drive it. Besides smoking off the rear tires at will, the car gets more than 28 miles per gallon and even sounds like a vintage hot rod, courtesy of the Flowmasters and NASCAR-STYLE pipes.
As for the cool factor, we’ll let you decide; in our book, it tops the list. UDBG