Face Lift: Sinister Diesel’s ’07 Grille Swap and Air Intake System

If you’re here, you’ve probably been following along with our buildup of this 1999 Ford F-250. It’s been grandpa’d around for two or three years and a friend of mine managed to snag it up for a good price. In the last few months, we’ve been appending items here and there to build a reliable workhorse out of this truck. With the help of Sinister Diesel, we’re doing just that.

To bring those of you up to date who haven’t been following along, we just finished up an installation on a set of EGR window visors and a hood guard as well as a Sinister Diesel leveling kit. In this edition of the buildup, we’re not only touching base on cosmetics but we are also starting to dip into the performance side of things. What parts are included?

Contents Inside

First, we want to provide this legendary 7.3-liter Power Stroke engine with sufficient air. The previous owner of this truck performed some sort of wizardry with PVC pipe, duct tape, and a Freightliner air cleaner. I mean this person meant well but it was a scary scene, to say the least. What this truck needs is an air intake system that will allow it’s engine to receive cool, fresh air.

With the precision CNC mandrel-bent construction of the Sinister Diesel air intake system, this F-250 is on the road to better breathing. We’re really giving this truck the performance edge by using this kit because it offers so many benefits. This air intake system will improve throttle response, increase spool up time, and it is perfect for towing, racing, or just everyday driving.

Each cold air intake features a flush and durable tubing that creates a smooth pathway for air to enter the engine. Also included is a reusable cotton filter–that saves you from purchasing the throw-away ones from the parts store – heavy-duty silicone couplers that can handle the heat of the diesel engine. This kit comes with all of the mounting hardware needed to complete the install.

Features and Benefits:

  • Precision CNC Mandrel-Bent Aluminum Tubing for a Perfect Fit
  • Oversized Long-Lasting Reusable Cotton Filter Media
  • Significantly Improved Throttle Response and Turbo Spool-Up
  • Great for Daily Driving, Towing or Race Day
  • Perfect When Paired With a Sinister Diesel Exhaust or Tuner
  • Polished and Powder Coated in Signature Sinister Blue
  • Easy, Drop-In Installation with Basic Hand Tools and Minimum Experience

Let Me See Your Grille

Looks aren’t everything but they are at least half, am I right? No matter the year, make or model, most of us here can’t be happy with stock. In my opinion, the 1999-2004 Super Duty trucks lacked something. These trucks came equipped with the black or grey grille on the nose and even though the rest of the truck looked great, the grille left us wanting more.

Over the last seven or eight years of being into diesel trucks, I can remember a time where people would rob grilles off newer trucks and modify them to fit these older ones. It takes some finagling but it can be done. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just have that 2005-2007 grille on the older trucks with no modification? Well, now you can.

Sinister Diesel now offers a modified version of the MKM Customs 2007 grille for the 1999-2004 Super Duty / Excursion trucks. Sinister is the original designers of the modified grille and every one of these is precision-machined to tolerances of 0.02-inches or less using their custom-designed tooling. This achieves a perfect fit and completely eliminates any chance of the chrome chipping or peeling. Modified in-house, these grilles promise the highest of quality.

Product Highlights:

  • 2005-2007 grille fits 1999-2004
  • CNC-machined, not hand cut
  • Direct replacement, no other parts required
  • Installs in only 5 minutes with factory clips
  • New part with original packaging (not a take-off)

Excited to get these parts on, we tore into the boxes exposing all of our new goodies. As per usual, the air intake tube, rubber coupler, and hardware for the intake system was structured perfectly with incredible quality. I expected nothing less from Sinister as every part we’ve used has been pristine with a perfect powder coating.

As for the grille, the opinion doesn’t change. I’ve seen grilles that have been modified by hand to work and there is no comparison. These are definitely the way to go if you’re wanting the cleanest possible look and easy installation. Inspecting the shiny chrome construction, you can easily see the mounting points on the top where you can throw the new grille on.

It’s like having a newer truck without the extra cost.

How It Works

The installation of these grilles is simple. With your hood raised, you can remove the five screws that are securing the existing grille to the core support. Once it is loose from the top, you can then use a screwdriver to help undo the clips at the bottom as shown. Once the clips at the bottom are loose, you’re done with the old grille.

Then you will do the opposite of install. You will input the new grille into the bottom two holes where it will snap into place. Once it’s snapped into place, it’s only a matter of moving the top of the grille into the core support where you will then replace the five existing screws to resecure the new grille. Just like that, in a matter of two or three minutes, your truck now has a completely different look.

Have a look at the before and after. For a super-competitive price, you can change the look of your F-250 to match a newer one. To me, this is a no brainer when you see the two side-by-side.

With our new grille on, we then moved on to removing whatever it is the previous owner had installed in the engine bay. Once the Big Rig air cleaner and PVC was removed, we then had room for this signature Sinister Blue intake system. If you’re installing one of these kits to your 7.3L, the procedure may be just a hair different as this truck didn’t have the factory air box.

In a stock vehicle, you would remove the factory air cleaner and lid and use the bottom of the airbox to secure this air intake piping tight. Since these parts were no more, we are having to make a bracket that would secure the plumbing. But for now, we can go ahead and make our changes.

With the existing parts removed, we took our supplied heavy-duty coupler and slipped it onto the truck’s turbo inlet pipe. Then, we carefully slipped our new intake pipe and filter combination into the rubber coupler and made our hose clamp connections tight. With the connections made, all that remained was securing the mass airflow sensor into the supplied bracket using zip ties.

Driving Impressions

The owner of the truck was blown away after seeing the truck with the grille change. He couldn’t believe that something like that would change the appearance so drastically. After gathering photos of his own and sharing with his friends via social media, we got in and hit the road. Hoping to notice a difference, just the rumbling idle of this 7.3L caught our ears.

Something was off. A faint, whistle noise was coming from under the hood. After popping the hood and checking our connections, the noises we’re hearing were merely the Sinister Diesel air intake–demonstrating how well it allows this engine to breathe. A crack of the accelerator offers some serious grumble and a hint of whistle from the turbocharger.

We hit the road and we noticed that the truck sounds completely different in and out of the accelerator pedal. Not only is this visually attractive, but it’s also trumpeting sound is something that will, in our opinions, never get old. Hearing how freely the engine is taking in this fresh air, you can physically tell the throttle response has improved and spools much faster. We’re betting that we will see a bit of a performance and economy increase after a few tanks of fuel have been used.

We can’t thank Brian at Sinister Diesel enough for coming on board and helping out with this project. The Sinister Diesel support is what made this possible and we can’t wait to see what we get into in the future. For more information about Sinister Diesel and to find out what parts of theirs fit your truck, head over to their website right here. For more parts installs, truck features, and event coverage, stay tuned right here at Diesel Army.


Article Sources

About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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