Muscle Cars

Muscle Car Talk: Fast Muscle Diesel?

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By Mark Weisseg

Can a Diesel be fast enough to be considered a fast muscle vehicle?
Well, the answer is yes in the current modern world. However, this vehicle whatever it is, shows up regularly at our shows on Friday nights. It has a old Cat powered C12 engine in it and is painted the familiar Cat yellow. It’s an odd looking vehicle of sorts and I can attest it is not fast.
I was in the Diesel engine world for a long time and can say this was a popular engine, but not for speed. Eventually this engine and many other Cat engines fell victim to the new emission laws that started to take an affect way back in 2002. The law was written so all diesel makers could slowly ramp up the engines to meet very tough laws. There was another hurdle in 2004, 2007 and 2010. Cumins engine Company was the first one to meet the new requirements and many other diesel makers struggled to comply on time. International just about went belly up if they had not finally crawled over to Cummins for help. International bashed Cummins, Detroit Diesel and Volvo back in the day but landed up eating there own words later.

This example of a show vehicle is quite interesting. The C12 was a mid level horsepower engine and was never intended to be a powerhouse. That was left up to the C15 and later the C16. This engine back in the day like all the others were made for torque and it had plenty of that. So, the owner is not trying to fool anyone into believing he has a race truck here. It’s not. What it might be is a unique approach to something different.
It’s not my cup of tea but he does gather crowds and you can see most are baffled by what they see. Is it fast? Is it a car with a big engine? Lots of opinions of course spew out of the bystanders.
Clearly the owner invested a lot of time and money to do this project and it’s a niche project. If he gets tired of wheeling this tank around who would want it? Maybe someone would but it would always be associated with the first owner and builder. That is why I caution everyone on niche vehicles. I have seen it too many times. Guy builds cool car that nobody else has seen before. Guy drives it 3-5 years and gets bored. Guy tries to sell it. Guy waits forever to sell it. Guy scratches head why it won’t sell. Guy hears ” I told you so” from everyone. It’s a tough nut to crack in the niche market.

So, diesel engines can produce the torque, they have power, they can run forever, but they are not exactly the V8 staple we are accustomed to. Everything has its specialism and that is why the V8 has ruled so long in the muscle car world, but don’t always ignore the diesels.

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