News News by Brand Ford News

1979 Ford F-250 With a Turbo 300 I6 Proves You Don’t Need a Diesel

Old gas engines are plenty capable of doing work—especially when they're boosted with upgraded cams, ignition, and EFI.
Lee Forraht

The Ford 300 inline-six has earned its cult following through decades of hard work. Whether it’s in an old dump truck like my own 1966 F600 or in a pickup like this 1979 F-250, the power plant gets the job done. There are a few key distinctions between those two vehicles, though—the main one being the latter’s fat turbocharger that helps the truck pull 10,000 pounds with ease and even spit a few flames with electronically controlled two-step. Plainly put, this truck is bad… but in a good way.

It belongs to Lee Forraht, who posts videos of the truck to his YouTube channel called Wasted Paycheck Garage. I’ve been seeing Forraht pop up in Facebook groups for the past couple of years, and now, I’ve finally gotten a hold of him to write this story. The three-quarter-ton has been through a few iterations and there’s more to come, but as it sits, the truck’s build sheet is mighty impressive.

“My dad bought the truck in the mid-’90s (specifically because it had the 300 in it), drove it for about a year, put some speed parts on it, and then hired someone to paint it,” Forraht tells me. “It got half disassembled and primed before the guy backed out and it sat in the yard at our farm for 19 years until I dragged it out of the weeds in 2014.”

Fast forward to 2020 and that’s when Forraht first slapped on a turbocharger. Now, he isn’t the first one to do that to a Ford 300 inline-six. There are actually quite a few high-performance examples out there, like Keith Lopez’s 1,000-horsepower Fairmont wagon that runs nine-second quarter-miles and Jaron Nelson’s boosted rat rod engine with a crazy LS-sourced head. But what’s different about Forraht’s project in comparison is its workability.

See, he’s still using this truck to tow tractors and skid steers. It’s like any old turbodiesel workhorse you love, except it runs on a different fuel and it’s been heavily modified to run the way it does. While the engine block and rotating assembly are still stock, most everything else has been upgraded. The valvetrain now consists of a Comp Cams 268 camshaft, Chevy 292 I6 rocker arms, and .060-inch valve spring shims. The intake is a Clifford four-barrel, and it utilizes Holley Sniper electronic fuel injection. It has the Chevy-style HEI distributor, along with an MSD 6AL-2 ignition module. As a 300 I6 owner, I can tell you these all make a significant difference on their own, and we haven’t even talked about the turbo yet.

Let’s get to that. It’s a 72-millimeter VS Racing whirler with a Tial wastegate that forces loads of air into the engine. Once it’s been mixed with fuel to make more power, that air is expelled through a homemade six-into-one header system and a three-inch exhaust pipe with a Flowmaster muffler and—get this—an electric exhaust cutout. It dumps out the side and makes some pretty great noises, whether it’s parked or thundering down the road with a load in tow. Hear for yourself:

Mated to a ZF5 manual transmission with a South Bend ceramic clutch inside, this is a stout combo for doing work. The leaf springs are from a ’99-’04 Super Duty, and Forraht also installed four-wheel disc brakes by adapting ’86 Chevy K20 front brakes to fit the rear axle. They’re all smart, intentional upgrades that contribute to the truck being more useful, which is something anyone can get behind.

The truck should only get better as Forraht has more mods planned. Of course, we all do for our own projects but he’s made this much happen already so hey, I believe him. A 7.3-liter Power Stroke intercooler is one item he wants to add, which would surely make a big difference in air density. He also intends on fitting Molnar forged H-beam connector rods, DSS forged pistons, a custom Erson camshaft, and a Promaxx CNC-ported head with oversized valves along with a Melling high-volume oil pump. ARP head studs are a must, too.

All in all, Forraht’s ’79 is exactly the kind of truck I like. It’s modified, but every new part is installed with the idea to make it better at what it does. The cool noises it makes are just icing on the cake.

Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: caleb@thedrive.com