ONE OF A KIND
A Duramax-powered Chevy Apache
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 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels.
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 lengthening every single wire.
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 turbocharger.
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.