This Mercedes Diesel-Powered 1995 Ford F-350 Can Still Get the Job Done

The turbocharged 3.0-liter OM606 is (relatively) small but mighty.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Builds photo
Jord Van Leeuwen

Engine swaps are commonplace in older trucks like this 1995 Ford F-350. It came from the factory with a 351 Windsor gas V8, which never made all that much power before it eventually broke. Most people would swap in a 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel, or maybe a 12-valve Cummins, but not Jord Van Leeuwen. He still took the compression-ignition route but instead of upsizing, he sprung for a 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz OM606 because he knew it'd work.

That's because he had the exact same engine in another truck before. It was a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500, which Van Leeuwen says couldn't even keep up with the oil-burner. Back then, it ran a Holset HY35 turbo that pushed it to nearly 400 horsepower—not bad for a power plant that was naturally aspirated to start with.

Jord Van Leeuwen
Jord Van Leeuwen

After the Ram was in an accident, he swapped the lump into his Ford. It's currently running a smaller Holset HE221 at 18 pounds of boost, though he's aiming for a setup that's similar to before with a reliable 350 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque. That shouldn't be a problem seeing as it already has a 125cc mechanical injection pump to support the extra air.

"I mainly use it as a cruiser and as a tow vehicle when I need to move cars," Van Leeuwen said. "It's an ongoing project as of now, but I'm chipping away at it slowly."

It sounds nothing like larger inline-sixes, as you can tell:

The truck leans on the factory Mercedes transmission, which now uses an OF Gear controller. Van Leeuwen has towed with it a handful of times, using a dolly to pull around his 1993 Mercedes 300D as well as his 1993 Dodge Ram 250 with a Cummins. It's pretty stout, according to him, and he hasn't had any issues with it so far.

"Next in line is building my AC system with a Porsche 944 thermostat, and possibly addressing the body damage on the passenger side," Van Leeuwen added.

In all, it sounds like he's aiming for a complete build with all the period-correct creature comforts. And if he can get to 350 hp without sacrificing reliability, it'll be a win-win. He can definitely take pride in knowing it's the only old body style Ford like it.

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