For 20 years, the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza (SDX) has been the diesel lover’s dream out there in the Midwestern United States. Hosted in Terre Haute, Indiana, the event attracts thousands of builders, vendors, and the good-natured enthusiasts of all things diesel.
We had the pleasure of attending this landmark show again this year, and suffice it to say, we were blown away by what we saw. It was here where we got to see firsthand what it means to be a diesel fan: equal parts creativity and passion, with a healthy dose of craziness for that extra flair.
With a virtual ocean of trucks, cars, vans, and other vehicles to gawk at, it wasn’t easy narrowing down what would make it to our top five; but somehow, we managed it. Let’s kick this bad boy off with a black beauty of a Bowtie.
#5 Nick Bunch’s 2008 Chevy 3500
If you go to a diesel event and come across a dually worth a closer look, then you must be at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza. Fortunately, Nick Bunch and his 2008 Chevrolet were there to give us our fix for a big and brash pickup.
“It’s got compound turbochargers on it, 75 millimeters over stock,” said Nick. “We rebuilt the transmission and also did a 10mm stroker pump on it.”
Nick's truck had plenty of personal touches, including a stenciled American flag grille, powdercoated turbocharger, and eye-catching 20-inch wheels.
With the engine breathing good and healthy, we had to address just how high the truck was sitting off of the ground. “We put on a Zone Offroad lift kit, which raised it by six inches,” explained Nick. “Then we slapped on some 20-inch wheels and 35-inch tires.”
As far as daullys go, Nick’s example was a sweet unit that was a pleasure to see at SDX. But it’s not the only event Nick goes to: “We go to all the big ones, like this show, and we do TS Performance out in Kentucky and Beans Diesel Performance in Tennessee. We’re always looking for a good time!”
#4 Jeremy Schultz’s 1953 Chevy Pickup
Jeremy Schultz went the retro route with his alluring green build. These postwar trucks are indeed some of the most beautiful ever made, and we could instantly tell that Jeremy had put some love and respect into reshaping his pickup into a modern-day head turner.
Jeremy hails from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, and made the trek out to this year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza because it was once again time to reconnect with his fellow diesel enthusiasts, and showcase his wonderful work too. “It’s a 1953 Chevy 3100,” he said. “It was my grandfather’s truck and I ended up getting it.”
Jeremy received the truck from his grandfather and wanted to do it justice. He set about doing a frame-off restoration, and the end result is amazing.
The man wanted to do the truck justice, and that usually means leaving nothing overlooked. To do that, the truck had to come apart completely (known as “frame-off” in automotive circles) so Jeremy could examine every last nut, bolt, and rivet and see which pieces were salvageable and which had to go in the trash.
“A buddy of mine at Youngs Farm Service and Repair in Brogue, Pennsylvania, helped me fix it up the way I wanted it,” explained Jeremy. “He helped me do the whole diesel conversion.”
The heart of this vintage truck is a 6.6-liter Duramax LB7, the first generation of GM’s proprietary diesel motor line making 300 horsepower and 520 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an Allison transmission and makes for a clean-running vehicle that Jeremy is happy with, at least for the time being.
A friend of Jeremy’s works at a sawmill, and made the custom wooden planks used in the bed of the Chevy.
#3 Paul Sczcypta’s 2012 Ram 2500
The sun shone fairly on this very customized 2012 Ram 2500, and we were all the better for it. Caught in its rays, we were stunned by the cleanliness of its build and had to talk to its owner, Paul Sczcypta, to find out more.
An interesting point was the fact that the truck was a manual transmission. “It is a stock gearbox,” Paul stated.
Just like Nick Bunch, Paul Szczypta had plenty of personal touches on his pickup that were worth noting.
Modifications to the Ram included 200-percent injectors, a single 750 cfm stroke pump, and Stainless Diesel twin turbochargers (one is an S366 and the other is an S480) generating about 90 pounds of boost. “It dynoed at 839 horsepower to the tires,” said Paul. “Having all of that boost at my disposal is easily my most favorite part about this truck.”
Other mods include Flight Fabrications traction bars and a rebuilt top end with ARP 625 head studs. Paul had to jet before we could get details on the exterior changes to the truck, but we could tell that it took some time and money to get right.
Paul gave his Ram 200-percent injectors to match with the increased air flow from his twin Stainless Diesel turbochargers. He claimed to make 839 horsepower to the rear wheels!
#2 Justin Riggins’ Rat Rod Twofer
Everything comes better in twos, whether it’s a set of mammaries or barrels on a shotgun. Justin Riggins was out at the Extravaganza to drive the point home with his pair of rat rods.
Now you can hate on us all you want, saying, “But dude, this is a Top Five and you’re counting two cars as one.” To that we say, “Yeah. So what are you going to do about it?” For real though, these oldies were inseparable and we couldn’t pick one over the other.
We broke the rules counting both of these rat rods as one entry, but honestly... could you split up these two? We think not.
After we reconciled this and made our peace with the universe, we approached owner Justin Riggins and got the inside scoop on both builds. “I own a shop in Darlington, Indiana called JTR Repairs,” he said.
Gesturing at his pretty duo of repurposed old-schoolers, Justin identified the yellowish one as a 1954 Mack truck that had been chopped and channelled, with a 5.9-liter Cummins straight-six thrown on for added irreverence. The brownish one was a 1931 Ford Model A, also chopped and channelled and given a special Mercedes-Benz OM617 straight-five engine.
“These projects were just something we wanted to attack and see what we could come up with,” offered Justin. Needless to say, the vehicles survived the attack and came out looking fantastic.
#1 Mallory Mollet’s 1970 Dodge Sweptline
If you think you’ve seen it all at a show like SDX, then you’re in for a surprise. Ours came in the shape of a faded green 1970 Dodge Sweptline truck, owned by Mallory Mollet.
The truck took shape over a whimsical yet intriguing comment by Mallory’s father one night. “He had the hood open on a first-gen Cummins and joked, ‘You could fit two of these in here.'”
Dual 5.9-liter Cummins 12-valve motors would eventually power this awesome beast of a 1970 Sweptline.
Mallory, her two brothers, and their father all did the measurements out of curiosity, but found that the truck didn’t have sufficient space. Dad went out and looked at the 1962 D500 grain truck, and to everyone’s amazement, it had the potential to work.
“The cab of the D500 was the same as a Sweptline,” said Mallory. “We worked for months and months, building a frame to support the weight and trying to find a rust-free Sweptline. We finally achieved both.”
The truck was teased on the Plowboy Diesel Facebook group during all of this time, and when the reveal came, it spread like wildfire. Even at SDX, it was attracting the attention of hundreds; but there was more than met the eye.
Highlights of the truck included a triangulated four-link suspension system, a radius rod front suspension system, four airbags with Viair compressors, a footlong Dana 70 rearend, 20-gallon fuel cell, a BD Diesel-sponsored 47RH TrackMaster gearbox, and 57mm/66mm compound turbochargers on either motor. “The motors are mostly stock,” said Mallory. “They have been overhauled and given 60-pound valve springs and o-ringed, studded heads, however.”
The method for getting both Cummins motors to merge into one driveshaft is still up in the air (left), but once it's done, the "Custom" badge will be well and truly deserved (right).
Cooling for the truck (which is still in the works) will consist of two radiators placed underneath the bed, with coolant running through one frame rail and out the other, toward the engines.
All in all, this was definitely the showstopper of the trucks we got to see at this year’s Scheid Diesel Extravaganza. We look forward to heading out there again in 2017, but let’s reflect on it some more – below, you’ll find our gallery of all the pictures we took of the Top 5. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for more great content!