When you think of the state of California, you’re expecting sports cars and prerunners. However, there’s more than just those types of vehicles out there. We finally got in touch with a build out of Mountain View, California that you’re not going to want to miss. We have been following Adam Aquino and his build for quite some time and it has definitely gone through the paces from daily to, well, race-ready sleeper. And it’s one that will surely surprise you.
Aquino has had a busy schedule over the last few years. He is a 10-year military veteran of the U.S Air Force and has served in the U.S Air Force Reserves working as an aviation technician. As a civilian, Aquino runs a Subaru Performance Specialists shop, AA Motorworks, in his home town of Mountain View. Being that he constantly wrenches on airplanes and foreign cars, Aquino has developed a love for something much heavier than what he’s used to.
“During Memorial Day weekend in 2006, I went out on a camping trip with some friends. There were others at our campsite that had pumped up second-gen trucks and I was in awe at how badass they were,” said Aquino. “At that time, I was transitioning my Subaru STI into a full-fledged racecar and needed something reliable to tow it with. In the summer of 2007, Betty Blue was born.”
Brand new, off the lot of Vacaville Dodge, while on active-duty orders at Travis Air Force Base, Aquino acquired his 2007 Patriot Blue Ram 2500. It would eventually descend the slippery slope of diesel performance. If you’re here, I think we can agree that once that bug bites you, there is no turning back. After getting the truck home, it wasn’t long until Aquino’s desire to modify this truck was growing.
“The aftermarket side of things for the 6.7-liter trucks at the time wasn’t booming, mainly because they were new. Fortunately for me, there were companies out there looking for beta testers, so I went for it,” said Aquino. “Most of the parts I tested were miles-per-gallon and performance parts, but I was eager to try whatever I could.”
It’s a rare occurrence when you see a truck that is capable of a fast pass on the drag strip, while also being as custom and clean as Betty Blue. Betty can (and does) compete in shows, as well as hits the strip occasionally. With north of 1,300 horsepower, she even stands out in a crowd of restored muscle cars.
With an original cost of $40,000, Aquino tells us that to reenact this build, you’re going to be in it another $60,000, if not more. With this much done to a truck, it must be nearly complete, right? Aquino tells us that Betty isn’t complete and is far from it. “I’ve always wanted a fast vehicle that was clean, too,” said Aquino. “I’m used to the car side, and with cars, they’re predictable. With a truck, it can be fast and nobody will know it.”
Behind The Build
To build something this badass, it takes time, money, and Aquino’s case, skill. This build has not only awed us and others in the social media world, but it has helped him further his build quality control as well as fabrication skills. For example, Betty Blue features a full titanium stack in the bed that Aquino has rolled and fabricated himself.
Over the years, Betty has gone through some changes. In that time, Aquino tells us there are some things he would change if he could’ve. “I wish from the beginning I would’ve installed an 8.50-certified cage,” he commented.
The fascination with making a heavy truck fast was overpowering. It all started with a few bolt-ons, which led to a built transmission, and inevitably that turned into bigger injectors and a turbo. Aquino was headed straight down that slippery slope to a full race vehicle.
In an attempt to lighten up this girl as much as possible while still obtaining a stock look, Aquino went to Old Skool Fab for all his carbon fiber parts. These include the hood, roll pan, and the bumper insert. Betty features HID retrofitted headlights and taillights that he has done himself in-house, matching perfectly with the coat of Patriot Blue paint.
The engine that powers this truck to unbelievable times is a 6.7-liter Cummins with a ton of extra goodies. Housed inside this sleeved, stock-bore 6.7-liter are Wagler connecting rods, QSB pistons, Freedom Racing Engines 9/16-inch main studs, a Hamilton Cams 194/220 camshaft, and a fire-ringed cylinder head and block.
The cylinder head encountered a little extra love in this whole process. The intake plenum was milled off to fit a Banks Big Hoss intake manifold for additional airflow. Under the Old Skool Fab valve cover, Aquino used Freedom Racing Engines big valves and seats, bronze valve guides, Manton Roller Rockers, half-inch pushrods, heavier valve springs, bridges, and trunnions. To top it all off, he went with a five-angle valve job and a good port and polish.
Mounted on the side of this now-custom cylinder head is Steed Speed T6 exhaust manifold that is home to a Garrett GT5533R 85mm turbocharger. This monster turbo forces air into the Banks intercooler, where it then mixes with two stages of nitrous oxide to get the spooling going. Fueling the fire and mixing perfectly with the given air is a set of Dynomite Diesel Super Mental fuel injectors, two Fleece Performance CP3 injection pumps, an Aeromotive lift pump, and a modified Dynomite Diesel fuel rail. This truck is 100-percent controlled and tuned by Ryan Milliken at Hardway Performance.
Other engine compartment add-ons include a Fleece Performance coolant bypass, Fluidampr balancer, CVR electric water pump, Ron Davis radiator, Flex-A-Lite electric fans, Vibrant Performance clamps, Turbosmart Blow Off Valve, and a Calibrated Addiction 10-BAR map sensor.
On the backside of this engine is a hybrid, in-house built, Suncoast Performance 47/48RE transmission. It features a Suncoast 27-spline input shaft, flex plate, billet direct drum, 2200 stall torque converter, TCS billet forward drum, servos, accumulator, billet intermediate shaft and a 29-spline output shaft. This is a Muldoon’s Diesel Performance full manual valve-body controlled transmission is handled with a Precision Performance Products air shifter.
“I want to shout out my wife, Ashlee, for believing in my dream for Betty and supporting it the whole way,” said Aquino. “Anyone who had a part or helped in the evolution deserves credit for Betty.” We can’t thank Adam enough for finally hooking us up with the full build list for Betty, and we’re aching to see what he has in store for her in the future. Stay tuned to Diesel Army for the latest coverage for anything and everything diesel performance.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it to the latest Diesel Thunder event at Emerald Coast Dragway, but Adam was. Thank you to Derek Veech of SunCoast Performance for covering all of the photography for Betty Blue, as this wouldn’t have been possible without him.