Mike Martin’s passion for mechanics and tinkering with engines started at an early age. He recalls taking apart lawnmowers and fixing them for neighbors as a child. According to his parents, he even completed his first valve job at the age of only 9. He honed his skills by attending vocational school for auto mechanics and had a shop teacher who owned a Sprint Car, which allowed Mike to tinker with his own streetcar and turn it into a hot rod.
After a six-year stint in the Navy, where Mike’s initial plan to build a blown alcohol T-bucket for the streets was deemed impractical, Martin’s fascination with truck pulling led him to the world of modified tractors. He couldn’t afford the tractors he admired at the time, so he settled for a blown two-wheeler, which marked the beginning of his journey into the diesel world.
Martin’s passion for experimentation and diesel performance then led him to acquire an old Dodge truck that had rolled down a mountain in North Carolina. Initially, he had no concrete plans for the truck, but one thing led to another. He combined parts from different trucks and began modifying it, resulting in the birth of “Franken Truck.” The name stuck, in memory of a dear friend who coined it.
Martin’s diesel masterpiece features a triple-turbo setup, a configuration that caught our attention. Inspired by the high-performance diesel trucks he witnessed at events like the Ultimate Callout Challenge, he decided to differentiate his build. Instead of opting for a traditional turbo combination, he chose the ATT 351s, aiming to achieve similar performance while breaking the mold.
“I know a number of trucks were running triples, and it seems like everybody on the compound side – at least the street stuff – was always a 362/475 or some combination similar to that,” Martin says. “I just didn’t want to do the same thing.”
The triple HE351cw two-stage compound setup consists of a low-pressure atmosphere charger paired with wastegates blocked shut and a high-pressure charger on the manifold with a 67/76 10-blade turbine and enlarged wastegate port size. Each of the three chargers is a 60mm compressor, with a 60mm turbine and 9cm housing.
As for fueling, the Cummins engine features a Farrell 180hp P-pump, Dynomite Diesel Stage 4 injectors, and an AirDog 4G 165 lift pump set to 50 psi fuel pressure.
The long block is still in its stock form, but Martin has added a few performance components to the engine. The 12-valve Cummins has ARP 625 heads studs, street conical valve springs, 7/16th Manton pushrods, a Fluidampr harmonic balancer with full power kit, an adjustable timing gear, a billet tapper cover and timing cover, and a three-piece T3 exhaust manifold.
As for the future, Martin is not content with resting on his laurels. He has seven other Cummins engines in his garage, waiting to be configured and fine-tuned. He is contemplating different setups, including a 6.1L or a 6.7L with a P pump. His relentless pursuit of pushing the boundaries of diesel performance is a testament to his passion and dedication to the craft.
Martin’s Franken Truck currently makes over 600 horsepower, which he recorded this year at the Smoky Mountain Truck Fest.