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| PUBLISHED Aug 26, 2022 4:29 PM
This Mercedes Diesel-Powered 1995 Ford F-350 Can Still Get the Job Done
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.

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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