7.1L Twin-Turbo Duramax Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

7.1L Twin-Turbo Duramax Engine

Sterling Diesel Performance is showing off its stunning, fully restored 1972 Chevrolet C10 at the 2022 SEMA Show. Under the hood is a 7.1L Duramax engine with a unique twin-turbo setup. Check it out!

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The 2022 SEMA Show is in full swing, and like every year, there’s a heap of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, restorers, builders, race teams, and more packed into the Las Vegas Convention Center in an effort to unveil some of the latest offerings in the specialty equipment industry. As always, there’s also a ton of decked-out cars and trucks on the show floor for attendees to drool over. And where there’s show vehicles, there’s bound to be some impressive engines.

We found today’s Diesel of the Week last month, but it’s currently sitting at the DUB Publishing booth #84320 on the SEMA Show floor. Dustin Sterling’s 1972 Chevrolet C10 is a showstopper; the fully steel truck is almost entirely factory restored outside of the panels and cut-down ’07 Chevrolet 2500 4WD chassis.

“This really is a dream truck of mine,” says Dustin Sterling. “I’ve been wanting to build something like this for years and now it’s finally come together.”

Dustin is the owner of Sterling Diesel Performance, a Splendora, TX-based shop that does everything from basic repairs and fleet services to performance upgrades and custom one-off builds. The new 7,500 sq.-ft. facility maintains 7-8 trucks at any given time with another 20-40 outside on the lot, all supported by 12 employees who Sterling says are almost all family.

While the team works on Dodge, Chevy and Ford vehicles, Duramax engines have become that platform they specialize in. Likewise, each iteration of Sterling’s personal ’06 Chevrolet race truck has given himself and the team at SDP a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. For the C10, Sterling chose to use the same powerplant and many of the same component additions as his race truck.

“Texas is probably the biggest 4WD scene out there, so there’s a lot of classes that we can fit into with a truck like the C10 versus our race truck, which is very stripped down,” Sterling says. “This is going to be a street/strip truck, so we can do the 5.90 or 6.0 index while still being able to mess around with it on the street.”

The engine is a 6.6L Duramax powerplant, stroked out to 7.1L. It has a full-billet rotating assembly from SoCal Diesel featuring a Callies Ultra billet crankshaft, Carrillo rods, and forged pistons. The 6480 Stage 2 alternate firing order camshaft also comes from SoCal, which helps to distribute stresses more evenly across the entire length of the crankshaft without risking a premature failure that often occurs with factory 6.6L camshafts used in higher-horsepower applications.

The engine also features a billet flex plate, a Super Damper harmonic balancer, a TIG-welded water pump, a Wagler intake system, and the fuel system is all S&S products.

For the forced air, Sterling chose to add a rather unconventional twin-turbo setup, something not often found on diesel engine builds.

“The original plan with this was to put a blower on it, but we couldn’t really get a whole lot of information on it when we started the build,” he says. “Then I thought, I know a lot of guys in the diesel industry who have gone the twin-turbo route on their drag cars, so I thought I’d give it a try. We initially thought the two that we’re using would be too small for what we’re trying to do, but I’m impressive with how responsive they’ve been so far. The other cool part is that they’ve got a completely unique sound to what most guys are used to hearing.”

Two 58mm Garrett GTX turbos are mounted on either site of the engine, and each charger produces around 45 lbs. of boost. At its current setup, the engine makes around 600 horsepower on fuel alone, with Sterling hoping to get closer to 800 by the time the build is finished. Paired with four kits of nitrous, this C10 will be a monster on the track!

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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