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Diesel of the Week

1,000-HP 5.9L Cummins Engine

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There aren’t many things more special than fixing up a classic car or truck. And there’s nothing more badass than souping up that vehicle with new technology and more horsepower – as long as it doesn’t take away too much from the authenticity of a classic.

We’ve seen a lot of rebuilt classic cars over the years with roaring new engines and a whole lot of attitude. Some have shiny new paint jobs and others show the wear and tear brought with decades of age.

When we came across GetSome Motorsports on Instagram, our eyes were immediately drawn to owner Gary Stepke’s special 1952 Studebaker pickup truck fitted with a 5.9L Cummins diesel engine. Stepke inherited the truck from a friend’s father after he passed away, giving the truck a special meaning to him.

“I’m assuming it hadn’t run in probably 15 years when I got it in 2010,” Stepke says. “The body is pretty much the exact same as when I got it. I didn’t want to change anything because that’s how I remember it. The chassis was pretty unsafe, so there’s actually a ‘98 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel chassis underneath that thing too.”

Stepke opened GetSome Motorsports in his small hometown of Kearny, AZ after years of experience in similar industries. At the age of only 16, Stepke began working at Affordable Equipment Sales in Grants Pass, OR where he got his first hands-on experience working on heavy equipment excavators, dozers, backhoes, and automobiles.

After a short stint at Wyoming Technical Institute and a move back to Kearny in 2011, Stepke was slowly encouraged by others to leave his job in the mining industry as a shovel and drill mechanic to pursue his talents and work for himself.

“Everybody said that I was wasting my energy, time and talent working for someone else,” Stepke says. “I kind of took that to heart and started reaching out to people with just basic automotive repairs and stuff like that. The ultimate goal was to be doing fabrication, chassis modifications, engine building, transmission building, and all that stuff – the more technical stuff.”

Fast forward a few years to 2015, Stepke opened his shop, GetSome Motorsports. Now with three full-time employees and two buildings on the property, GetSome Motorsports has seen an expanded customer base.

Stepke’s employees primarily run the repair side of things in the front 3,000 sq.-ft. building, while he focuses on welding and custom fabrication in the back 1,000 sq.-ft. building. 

“I’m a huge Cummins guy,” he says. “I’ve done a bunch of short-bed conversions on a lot of the Dodge diesels and I do a lot of engine and body swaps.”

Stepke’s obsession with Cummins swaps began with his Studebaker project. The Studebaker had a 327 V8 with a two-speed Powerglide transmission in it when he received it, but he wanted to add a little horsepower. The decision was made to swap it to a 5.9L Cummins engine from a 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 in an effort to hit 1,000 horsepower.

The team started with the stock pistons, which received a ceramic coating and had fly reliefs cut. The Cummins also got a custom ground camshaft installed from Industrial Injection. Stepke then chose Garrett for the turbocharger system. He started with a S476 and smaller injectors and moved up to a S480 with larger injectors.

The last time the Studebaker hit the dyno, it produced 890 horsepower and 2,170 ft.-lbs. of torque.

“We want it to be powerful of course, but nothing crazy,” he says. “Most of the time I’m just driving it around my community or using it to go to the store. I rarely trailer it anywhere, I’d rather just cruise around in it.”

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Stepke says the Studebaker does see a lot of track time as well, making quarter-mile and eighth-mile passes, which requires frequent oil changes since it can get contaminated so easily.

Although Stepke’s Studebaker is an ongoing process, he does have other diesel swap projects in the works and on deck. Right now, he’s working on a ‘79 Ford that he’s putting on a 2002 four-wheel-drive diesel chassis, and a 1938 four-door Chevy Master Deluxe that he’s putting a 6.0L LS in.

We look forward to seeing what interesting builds Stepke and GetSome Motorsports will be working on in the future!

Diesel of the Week is sponsored by AMSOIL. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected]

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