A Duramax-pow­ered Chevy Apache

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text/pho­tog­ra­phy: Ja­son Sands

When we first spot­ted Bill Cielo's '58 Chevy pickup at a lo­cal dyno event, we lit­er­ally ran over to see if it was diesel pow­ered. As luck would have it, the truck was in­deed a diesel, as the clean­est LBZ Duramax en­gine we've ever seen was crammed un­der the stock hood. To make things even more in­ter­est­ing, Cielo told us the Chevy was a mix of parts from the orig­i­nal '58 (in­clud­ing the rear frame), and a later '06 Chevro­let donor truck. Like al­most all cool builds, this one started out with an idea, and a story.


A fab­ri­ca­tor by trade, Cielo al­ways had wanted to own a diesel swap, and when he came across a wrecked '06 with only 30,000 miles on the clock, he knew he had to have it. Af­ter he bought the truck, he still had no idea what the driv­e­train would go into, but he wanted it to be a clas­sic. A short while later, Cielo ran across a '58 Chevy Apache pickup truck that had been sit­ting in a farm shed since the mid '80s. The wheels started turn­ing, and the idea to build an as­tound­ingly cool parts-chas­ing shop truck so­lid­i­fied in Cielo's mind, and he got to work.


Vir­tu­ally ev­ery part of the ' 58's front end would need to be mod­i­fied to fit and sup­port the diesel, so Cielo made the de­ci­sion early on to use the com­plete front half of the '06 Chevy's chas­sis. Af­ter eye­balling ev­ery­thing in a mockup stage, he sent the Duramax's wiring har­ness off to Pa­cific Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing (PPE) to be stripped of ev­ery­thing that wasn't es­sen­tial to keep the en­gine and trans­mis­sion run­ning. Cielo also never liked the look of the Duramax en­gine's mul­ti­ple com­put­ers, so he spent "the bet­ter part of a week" painstak­ingly ex­tend­ing ev­ery wire to re­lo­cate ev­ery­thing down by the driver's side fender well of the truck. It cleaned up the en­gine bay im­mensely, and at the time, Cielo didn't even know if it would work. He says: "A lot of peo­ple said length­en­ing all the wir-

ing would mess up the com­puter sys­tem, but I knew the only way to find out was to just try it."

Since the rear part of the frame and bed was in such good shape, Cielo de­cided to re­tain the fac­tory '58 rear chas­sis in­clud­ing the bed. Since he builds race­car chas­sis on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, he was able to graft the back half of the '58 on to the front half of the '06 with no prob­lems. In fact, with tri­an­gu­lar brac­ing, box­ing, and an added cross mem­ber, it's prob­a­bly the strong­est part of the en­tire frame. With a com­plete chas­sis, the rear-end of the '58 had to be ad­dressed, as there was no way it would be able to take the torque of the diesel en­gine. Cielo again turned to his '06 for a res­cue, and built a rear sus­pen­sion setup around the 3.73-geared AAM 1150 rear-end with the fac­tory '58 leaf springs, some Ran­cho 5000 shocks, and airbags he picked up from Craigslist.

It's been more than a year since Bill Cielo mor­phed two Chevys into one badass ride, and he's had no is­sues with en­joy­ing it since the day it was fin­ished. "With a 25 gal­lon tank I can run al­most for­ever, and even with the PPE tuner on level three, I have no is­sues keep­ing up with new Mus­tangs and Ca­maros," he re­ports. Best of all, the 4,600-pound truck is still used for its in­tended pur­pose, a cool and unique partschaser that turns heads (and tires) wher­ever it goes. UDBG

Un­der­neath the hood of the sur­vivor '58 body is per­haps the clean­est Duramax en­gine bay we have ever seen. Cielo took great pains in mak­ing the 6.6L en­gine look as smooth and sim­ple as pos­si­ble. With a PPE Hot+2 tuner, it also puts out an es­ti­mated 450...

It took us a sec­ond to re­al­ize why Cielo's en­gine looked so much dif­fer­ent than a nor­mal Duramax. A big part of clean­ing up the en­gine bay was re­lo­cat­ing all the com­put­ers to the driver's side floor­board, which was ac­com­plished by painstak­ingly...

The en­gine is ac­tu­ally in­ter­cooled, and in­cor­po­rates a piece that Cielo bought off of Craigslist for $25. So far it's worked flaw­lessly and has been able to fit be­hind the grille of the '58 with only mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions per­formed.

An alu­minum ra­di­a­tor de­signed for a Big Block Chevy per­forms the cool­ing du­ties, along with twin elec­tric fans. Cielo re­ports that the en­gine doesn't get hot, any­where, ever, which he notes was a per­fect fea­ture for a parts-haul­ing truck.

The hy­dro­boost brak­ing sys­tem was adapted to the '58 Chevy's body when Cielo did the swap so that he could ac­tu­ally stop. A driver's side ex­haust man­i­fold from Pa­cific Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing was also fit­ted at the same time to im­prove air­flow to the...

The stock Gar­rett tur­bocharger has been up­graded with bright red sil­i­cone boots and a heat-wrapped in­take, but oth­er­wise is stock, and puts out 25 to 30psi of boost.

A univer­sal air fil­ter "of some sort" was another used item, which gets the job done as far as air­flow into the turbo goes.

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