Dodge fans will love Jeremy Dierks' 1998.5 24-valve Cummins, and Ford and Chevy guys will take notice, too. Dierks' truck is the epitome of what a second-generation Dodge 4x4 should be. Big, loud, powerful and always followed by black smoke.
Originally from Missouri, Dierks relocated to the Indianapolis, Ind., area where he is currently stationed at Camp Atterbury as a mechanic in the US Army. He has served in the military for over ten years now, including five tours overseas.
After his last tour ended in 2008, Dierks purchased a Dodge Ram 2500 and this was something he'd been looking forward to for a long time.
"My dad is retired from Chrysler in the truck plant and since 1990 he has owned Dodge diesels," says Dierks. "I just fell in love with them and I wanted a truck to be my daily driver."
Working with Meyer Performance and creating a modified performance beast wasn't part of his original plans, but after one problem escalated into others he began to see his truck's true potential.
"I figured if I was going to upgrade that I needed to do it right," says Dierks. "I heard from a friend of mine that Tyler had a shop and I knew he would take good care of me."
Dierks hooked up with Tyler Meyer of Meyer Performance and Fabrication at the end of 2009 and started researching Cummins performance options for the early 24-valves.
His truck already had the Rancho 4-inch suspension and 2-inch body lift combination and an Edge comp setup and he was running 33-inch tires on 16.5-inch Weld wheels at the time.
"All the performance work, I honestly don't know much about," admits Dierks. "But Tyler guided me in the right direction and it really paid off."
"When he came to me he was mostly interested in getting more power and he wasn't aware of all the support that is available for diesel performance," adds Meyer. "He thought, exhaust, intake and that's it."
Meyer and Dierks started out by installing a 4-inch MBRP turbo-back exhaust with a 6-inch Aussie stack coming up through the front of the bed. A 24-valve needs a reliable lift pump to feed the VP pump, so they also added an AirDog 150 fuel preparator that not only pushed fuel to the VP pump, but cleans up the fuel and pulls any air out of it.
"Adding the turbo made him the most happy," says Meyer. "It was a huge gain in performance, the way it handled on the road, plus the way it sounded."
Along with the AirDog 150, Meyer installed a set of 150hp injectors from Dynomite Diesel Performance, bumping up the engine's power output considerably. A set of Ultra Lite gauges from AutoMeter help monitor the heat and boost levels.
"Jeremy was very excited about what I could offer him and his truck," says Meyer. "He was used to gas performance so he didn't believe all that could be done-like add a tuner, add a 100 horsepower-so he was really receptive to my ideas and suggestions."
BD Diesel Performance is unique among its peers in that it designs, manufactures and distributes a wide range of products specifically engineered for performance diesel applications. On this Dodge, Dierks went with the BD Super B Special turbo kit and the BD three-piece exhaust manifold. For the intake he went with the K&N High Performance Air Intake Kit that is guaranteed to add horsepower.
Other key upgrades include the South Bend Con FE clutch and HX40 down pipe, plus the truck now rides on 35xR.50R20 Super Swampers on Pro Comp 1059 20 by 10 wheels.
Age wasn't a challenge overall for Meyers, but it did cause some maintenance issues.
"The biggest issues arose because of effect," says Meyers. "We'd do one thing and then we'd decide to do other upgrades while we were doing it."
Back in January the Industrial Injection Hot Rod VP44 was installed after the injection pump died, which led to more upgrades.
"We added the .03 injector lines to increase the injector size because the pump needs large lines to maximize the pump," explains Meyer.
The truck is still a work in progress, but Dierks is extremely happy with the results so far and continues to dream despite having the kind of truck that most would love to have as-is today.
"In the near future I'd like to upgrade to head studs, fuel lines, open up the wategate, possibly add twin turbos and a double stack with another programmer," says Dierks. "I wish I would have gone with a twin turbo instead of a single turbo originally, but that's in the future plans."
Since the photo shoot, super heavy-duty traction bars, custom with Cummins plate has been added. As planned, the truck continues to be a daily driver for Dierks, it just now has more power as well as "the look" that gets noticed on the highway. Every other weekend he heads from Indianapolis to St. Louis, Mo., which is over 300 miles one way, and he boasts that he's getting around 21 miles per gallon on the highway.
On each of the five tours overseas he served as mechanic and recovery of heavy vehicles, 10 ton and above, so it's easy to see where his drive for power comes from.
"Being a heavy mechanic, I love diesels," says Dierks. "I love the raw power and what they can pull. Just the way they run and operate is amazing."
Like most projects this Dodge will continue to get bigger and better and never be considered officially complete at any time. Plans are set to dyno the truck this summer, but the best estimates have this truck coming in around 550 to 600hp. It kind of makes you wonder what Meyer Performance and Dierks have in mind for the near future, doesn't it?