When James Carter set out to build his version of a custom diesel truck, it had to have it all. By “having it all,” that means it needed to be fast enough to put down impressive track times, tow his fifth-wheel trailer reliably, be off-road-capable, and of course look good doing it all. Even though this Duramax is ever-changing and improving, it’s amazing in its current form.
The suspension is really what sets his 2002 2500HD apart from the rest. His truck started life with an eight-inch Fabtech lift which has been modified by T&B Racing/Fab and lowered to give it a total of 5.5 inches of lift.
Part of the modification meant the front torsion bars were thrown in the trash, and the truck is now suspended by a set of Fox 2.5-inch coilover shocks with a custom spring rate and valving suited for the weight of the truck. Swapping to the coilover shocks now allows for a full 12 inches of front wheel travel and made a huge improvement when off-road or pounding pavement. Having just over five inches of lift and running 37-inch tires was not fender-friendly, so a new set from Hannemann was installed to clear the tires when fully compressed.
Out back it runs a stock leaf pack, Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks, traction bars, and the bed sides were pulled 2.5 inches to clear the large tires. A full steering kit from Exaxt was installed to ensure the front tires are parallel at all times.
Listening to the truck drive, it sounds like your average angry LB7 Duramax, but once the hood is popped there’s nothing average there. James knew the stock bottom end would not hold the power he wanted it to make, so it was removed and received a set of Crower rods, cut LB7 pistons with 16.5:1 compression, Clevite H main and rod bearings, ARP main studs, A1 H11 head studs, and a balanced rotating assembly. Keeping the internals from melting down depends upon the Mishimoto intercooler, Kodiak fan clutch, and a Derale oil cooler with a Spal fan that is mounted inside the pre-runner style bumper.
To achieve more than double the stock power output, large amounts of air and fuel were necessary. Responsible for proper fuel delivery is an Airdog II 165 lift pump, dual fueler kit from PPE, and LDS 100% over LLY fuel injectors – you read that right, it’s not a typo.
James removed and replaced the cylinder heads, FICM, and ECM with LLY components, which have proven to be much more reliable and less labor-intensive should an injector go south. The turbo setup has been changed from the initial compound kit and now runs a Bullseye S483 atmospheric turbo with a TCT wheel, polished race cover, and billet backing plate built by EPR. Before this configuration, he ran 45% over LB7 injectors, an S483/stock compound turbo which dynoed at 800 hp and 1,562 lb-ft, and moved the long bed down the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds at 113mph. The current tune he runs netted just over 600 hp on the dyno and is his base tune for daily driving and towing. He’s hoping the turbo and fuel upgrades will put in the 1,000 hp range with mid-11-second passes. Tuning was done with EFI Live by friends James and Steve.
The rest of the drivetrain needed to be as strong as the rest of the truck, so the transmission was rebuilt with a host of upgrades from Inglewood Transmission, a one-piece rear driveshaft conversion from DHD, traction bars, and 4.56:1 gears.
Keeping James fully informed of vitals is a full set of AutoMeter gauges on the A-pillar and the overhead console. Loads of entertainment for the driver and passengers include an overhead TV, custom stereo, and all interior lighting. Also, the switches were converted to red LED lighting. Just in case you don’t see or hear the limo coming, James will be happy to alert you with three train horns, which always make for a good laugh.