Early every November at the Las Vegas Convention Center, gear heads from around the globe gather for the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show, which is better known as SEMA. It’s one of the planet’s largest automotive gatherings, and in 2019, about 170,000 people met to see the latest and greatest automotive parts, accessories, equipment, and of course some over the top show vehicles. Due to COVID-19, SEMA was cancelled in 2020, and thankfully the 2021 show did happen, but attendance numbers were a little lower than expected due to some international travel restrictions. However, there were still tons of new products being unveiled. Every segment of the automotive community is well represented at the show, so you can see products for imports, muscle cars, rat-rods, exotics, powersports, and of course our beloved diesel pickups. Unfortunately, the show is only open to those who work in the automotive industry, so if you didn’t get a chance to attend this year, we’ll fill you in on what you missed and go over some of the newest products and the coolest builds that were on display, and of course, it’s all about diesel.
The one part I was most excited to learn more about was made by BD Diesel, and it’s a revolutionary intake manifold designed for the 2003 to 2007 5.9-liter Cummins. There are dozens of high flow intake elbows that bolt on to the stock cylinder head, but they are all limited by the size of the opening in the grid heater plate and the position of the fuel rail.
Normally, if you wanted a substantial increase in airflow on a common rail Cummins, you would need to remove the head from the truck, cut off the intake shelf and have the cylinder head machined flat and then tapped to accept a bolt on “side draft” style of intake. This gives a huge increase in airflow but does requires disassembling the engine and an experienced machinist to modify your head. Instead, BD Diesel designed their competition intake manifold to eliminate the grid heater plate and intake elbow altogether, and it gets replaced by a manifold that sends air through the entire opening where the grid heater plate used to sit. This allows a huge amount of air to flow to all cylinders, but more importantly it evenly distributes the airflow from the front to the back of the cylinder head.
If you’re familiar with a common rail Cummins layout, you know there are some lines and a fuel rail that occupy the space right on top of the grid heater, so to make room to install the intake, BD also provides the parts to relocate the fuel rail a little higher. Along with the high flow competition intake manifold, you also get a set of new high pressure injection lines, and brackets to relocate the new fuel rail. The kit comes with a charge pipe that connects the intercooler to the manifold, a relocated CCV hose kit, as well as all needed bracketry. The only thing you’ll need to provide to make the kit work, is a fuel rail from a 6.7 Cummins. Because it was intended for high performance applications, the manifold was designed to allow space for Dual CP3 pumps, and it works exceptionally well with larger turbos as well.
In a world of ever tightening emissions regulations, it’s getting harder and harder to find quality performance parts for your late model diesel truck that also won’t get you in trouble with the smog police, but one company has always been at the forefront of clean diesel, and that company bears the name of a man who has been building high-performance engines for decades: Gale Banks. You can be sure that any product Banks Power sells has been properly engineered and extensively tested to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Just like the 5.9 Cummins, the 6.7 also suffers from an extremely restrictive stock intake horn, which squeezes the airflow path down to an opening that flows a maximum of 421 CFM. When trying to make more horsepower through such a restrictive intake system, you’re going to be hitting your head against a brick wall, because no matter how much harder you push the turbocharger, the ultimate limit of the system will be the intake horn and the tiny opening in the grid heater plate. Unlike the 5.9, the 6.7 Cummins does have an EGR system that must be retained to stay street legal, and until now, most performance intake elbows don’t have that ability.
The real solution was unveiled this year at SEMA, and that’s the Banks Gen 2 Monster Ram Intake. It has been designed with flow in mind, and with the optional Banks Grid Heater Plate, the new intake will flow more than double the CFM of the stock system, measuring in at an astonishing 936 CFM. In short, this will allow more airflow into your engine without making the turbo work any harder than before, and this leads to quicker throttle response, better distribution of air to all cylinders, and of course more power and fuel economy. The best part about the Gen 2 Monster Ram, is it fits all 2007.5 and newer 6.7 Ram trucks, it keeps all emissions systems in place, and it has been CARB certified which means its 50-state legal. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
PPE Transmission Pans and Oil Coolers
One proven way to help your transmission run a little cooler is to increase the fluid capacity with a deeper pan that’s also made from a material that disperses heat. An increased fluid capacity means the heat generated inside the transmission has more surface area to be dispersed into, and when you make an oil pan from cast aluminum and include built-in cooling fins, heat is radiated away from the transmission much quicker. PPE is known for making deep pans for many popular diesel based automatic transmissions like the Allison 1000 and Chrysler 48RE, but they have recently updated their offerings to include some newer diesel applications, like the GM 10L1000, and 10L80. The 10L1000 is the 10-speed transmission found in 2020 and newer L5P powered GM trucks, and the 10L80 (also a 10-speed) is attached to the new 3.0 inline six Duramax found in the Silverado 1500, as well as some of their full-size SUVs. Regardless of which new transmission your truck is equipped with, PPE now offers a quality cast aluminum transmission pan that increases the fluid capacity between two to four quarts, and the aluminum construction features cooling ribs that will aid heat rejection as well as increasing the overall strength of the pan. In addition to GM transmission pans, PPE now also offers Aluminum pans to replace the stock throwaway plastic pans found on some Ford products like the 10R80 in 2017 and up F-150s, as well as redesigned engine oil pans for the LB7 through L5P.
PPE recently has expanded their transmission cooler lineup to include the 2020+ GM HD trucks as well. Keeping heat out of an automatic is an important factor that goes into making your transmission last a long time, and the 10L1000 equipped 2020 and newer Silverado and Sierra are no different. PPE’s new transmission cooler bolts into the factory mounting locations and even uses the stock transmission cooler lines, but the cooler has a much larger surface area and will draw 200% more heat out of the transmission fluid. In testing, PPE observed up to a 40 degree Fahrenheit drop in fluid temperature, which is very significant, so the combination of more fluid from the pan and their larger cooler will make your new 10-speed happier.
One more new product PPE offers for late model L5P Duramax trucks is their improved engine oil filter. The stock AC Delco PF26 only removes particles larger than about 25 microns and has a total filtration area of 259 square inches. PPE now offers a direct replacement high-efficiency oil filter that fits in the stock location and removes much smaller particles (down to 5 microns) and also has an increased surface area of 330 square inches. If you want even more engine protection, PPE also offers an oversized filter with 522 square inches of oil filtration, but to install it on a 2020+ L5P, you will also need to purchase their Fuel Coolant Pump relocation kit to make a little extra room for the filter. Once its installed, your engine will run much cleaner, and its life expectancy will go up.
Banks R866SC Crate Engine
The crew at Banks Power must’ve had a busy year, since in addition to their new engine parts, they also unveiled a custom-built pickup truck that stunned the crowds with its brand-new powerplant that is meant to kick off a crate engine program for the diesel market. The truck is called Lokjaw, and it’s built from a 1966 Chevy C-20. At first glance it looks like a modified farm truck with its beautiful patina finish and slammed stance, but the 8-lug billet wheels and supercharger poking through the hood let you know something unusual is going on. A closer look under the hood reveals a supercharged engine that looks nothing like the traditional LS or LT GM small block you’d expect in a truck like this. Turns out, it’s the first of a new crate engine program that will go live in early 2022, and customers will be able to buy a custom diesel powerplant just like this one. Its an L5P Duramax based engine with a 3.8-liter Whipple supercharger providing the boost instead of a turbocharger, but Banks has re-engineered several of the internal components to handle higher RPM and horsepower. We can only imagine what the four-valve diesel V8 will sound like without a turbocharger in the way of the exhaust note. While a stock VGT turbo does offer quick throttle response, because the twin screw blower is directly connected to the crankshaft via a 12-rib serpentine belt, throttle response of this oil burner will be nearly instantaneous.
Banks rates this version of the engine between 600 and 650 horsepower, and although no official torque figures are published, we can speculate the number will be well into the four-digit zone. It makes its power with a custom spec’d camshaft and valve spring package, and it’s all controlled by a MoTec standalone ECU. The R866SC can be optioned to include an Allison 1000 transmission or even a modified 6l80e automatic depending on the application, and there are tons of extras that can be added to round out the powertrain package, like paddle shifters, custom exhaust manifolds, a MoTec digital dashboard, and a whole lot more.
Banks Lokjaw ’66 C-20
As impressive as the new crate engine is, the rest of the truck still stands out from the crowd, but it’s the details that make Lokjaw an impressive machine. Instead of the usual short bed C-10 the show-truck crowd usually goes for, the builders at Banks started with a heavy-duty C-20 long box. To get the truck sitting as low as possible and provide slot car like handling, it sits on a custom Roadster Shop chassis which by itself is a pretty trick setup, but Banks didn’t settle for an off the shelf frame. They customized the suspension to accept a late model GM 8×180 hub which means they can use massive HD truck-based brakes, and the rear axle is a hybrid Ford 9” from Strange Engineering that uses AAM 11.5” outer hubs and brakes while housing a 3.91 gear ratio for neck snapping acceleration. The rear suspension uses a traditional 4-link design, but instead of a panhard bar, it uses a Watts link to keep the axle centered, and the whole chassis rides on custom spec’d coil over shocks. The top half of the bed can pivot up to expose the underpinnings, the wheels have been designed to help pull air through the brakes for extra cooling, and every inch of this ’66 C-20 just oozes custom.
1948 Ford 8N Tractor by JAMO
When it comes to vehicles that make a statement at SEMA, it can be hard to pick a favorite since there are so many to choose from, and even if you narrowed it down to only diesel-powered rigs, there are still hundreds of choices. Sure, the whole “SEMA Truck” vibe isn’t universally appreciated, especially among folks who actually use their trucks on the job, but there was one work vehicle that stood above the rest, and it was powered by a 7.3-liter Powerstroke V8. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a Ford pickup or a truck of any kind, but rather a 1948 Ford 8N tractor. That’s right, my favorite vehicle of the show was likely SEMA’s first farm tractor.
Much like a SEMA build should, it has shiny paint, a killer stance, and big billet wheels with massive tires, but surprisingly, the proportions are pretty close to stock. According to Brian the owner, a Ford 8N tractor of this era would normally have 28” steel rear wheels with an agricultural tire, so the 28×16 billet wheels out back kinda make sense. Up front, a matching design can be found in a more modest 20×10 size with a slick tire for a racy look. For the back tires, Brian chose 48” tall Super Swampers which actually resemble the agricultural tread design this 8N would’ve originally had, and to me, the gloss black paint treatment just works. Sure, it’ll probably never pull a plow or a load of hay again, but so what? It’s hard to find something as original as this build, and did we mention it had a twin turbo 7.3 Powerstroke under the hood?
The Greatest Show on Earth
Simply put, every car enthusiast needs to find a way to attend SEMA at least once in their life. The sheer scope and size of the show is impossible to describe with a few words, it just has to be experienced in person. Every aisle has something new and cooler than the last, and every type of aftermarket product can be found from any segment of the industry. If you want to know about the newest performance parts that will be hitting the streets next year, you can be sure to find it in early November, at SEMA.