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“The Ford vs. Ram, Power Stroke vs. Cummins throw-down is nothing new; this battle has been raging for three decades.”

Ram’s recent announcement that the all-new, high-output 6.7L Cummins—available in 3500 model trucks for 2019—will produce a gargantuan 1,000 lb-ft of torque got us thinking about the 30-year-long torque war that’s been waged between Ram and Ford.

Over the past three decades, diesel engine technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. As a result, consumers have TEXT BY MIKE MCGLOTHLIN PHOTOS BY MIKE MCGLOTHLIN AND COURTESY OF THE MANUFACTURERS been privy to a 150 percent growth in torque output from the powerplants that motivate these Detroit-born behemoths.

So, as a way to categorically outline all the progress that’s been made, we’re taking a step back in time to pinpoint the beginning of the movement, as well as highlight the back-and-forth that’s taken place along the way.

To be fair, GM was technically the first to bring diesel power to the ¾-ton-and-larger pickup segment back in 1982, but it wouldn’t enter the fray competitively until the Duramax was released in 2001. Thanks to its larger, more powerful, International Harvester-built, indirect-injection V-8s, Ford would dominate the diesel sphere for the majority of the decade.

However, all that changed in June 1988, when the addition of the 5.9L Cummins in Dodge ¾- and 1-ton trucks effectively challenged Ford’s dominance in the marketplace. The Cummins was an immediate hit, despite Dodge’s dated platform; and, after a few years of saturation, it was clear Ford needed a new, more powerful workhorse to get back on top of the game.

It is here that the torque “wars” among the Big Three unofficially began. Following the release of the 7.3L Power Stroke, a case of perpetual one-upsmanship ensued between Ford and Dodge, with a never-ending game of numbers being played. Today, the numbers are bigger, the stakes are higher, and GM is also a major player in the diesel pickup hierarchy. From humble beginnings to each OE now relying on diesels for its massive profit margins to the endless quest for class-leading bragging rights, this is the story of how the 30-year torque wars unfolded.

THE GAME-CHANGER When Dodge blasted onto the scene with the 5.9L Cummins as an engine option for its ’89 model year trucks, it changed everything. The mediumduty 6BT turned out 400 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm and achieved its maximum horsepower rating (160 hp) at 2,500 rpm. In torque production, fuel economy and real-world performance, the Cummins was superior to Ford’s naturally aspirated 7.3L Navistar V-8 in virtually every way. The only thing holding back the Cummins was the aging Chrysler AD platform that it was bolted to (used from ’72 to ’93), but Dodge had an answer for that in 1994 with a completely redesigned truck line.
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Diesel World June 2019, OUR BEST ISSUE YET, Triple Turbo : It's the Perfect Truck, Save Yourself $15K, CP4 Failures Explained, Vintage Diesel With Spark Plugs, And More....