This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue.
Not all diesel truck builds come about because someone has a lot of time and money to pour into a dream project truck. Often, it’s a working man trying to build a daily driver working man’s truck—something with power to pull, practicality to perform and just enough product features to impress.
For Cody Clifford of Victorville, Calif., building an impressive show truck has always been a pipe dream. His main focus in life is taking care of his small family and providing for them the best he can. Anything else would be second in priority.
But Cody has always had a love for diesel trucks.
“I have been driving diesel trucks since the day I got my permit at 15 and a half years old,” he explained. “My parents had a 2004 F250—a gloss gray.” When he finally managed to save up enough money, Cody said he was able to purchase a used truck, also a 2004 with a 6.0L diesel engine. But it proved to be a lot more work and expense than he had bargained for.
“I should have Bullet Proofed it,” he explained. “I kept blowing up the engine and paying a shop out of Norco, Calif., to keep rebuilding it.” Eventually, his patience and money ran out and he “unloaded” the truck.
It was also during a time in his life when the economy was slow and his carpenter’s union couldn’t secure enough projects to keep him working. He was without an income and without a vehicle. His wife, Brooklyn, was a stay-at-home mom with their three young kids so there was no source of income to support his family. “My wife and I were at the lowest point in our lives,” he said.
That was a little over five years ago. Fortunately, his luck started turning. His grandpa gave him a 1997 Dodge Dakota (which he said was a real “badass little truck”), and thanks to a letter of recommendation from his former boss he was able to get a job as a fabricator with the lineman’s union, IBEW 47. And he has had steady employment ever since.
With a steady income, he was able to catch up on the bills and finance a 2017 Nissan Titan. “It looked nice and had 35's with some Methods on it,” Cody said. But it really wasn’t what he wanted. “I kept looking into the 7.3L Power Strokes. I've always wanted one since I was a kid.”
Cody’s dad was always into big trucks. And that’s what Cody really wanted.
“Then I found one,” he said. “It was a little beat up. It was a white 1995 Ford F350 Power Stroke dually and the flares were torn.” The truck needed some work … but that was something Cody had become well accustomed to.
“So I found some flares from another truck and mounted them on the F350,” he explained. “I got all the imperfections taken out of the body and cleaned it up. My buddy, Alex, is a painter. He told me he had a ‘sick’ flat grey paint that he's wanted to do. So I gave him a few grand and let him do it.”
Then Cody added a few performance parts on it and this project truck began to take shape.
Right now his F350 dually is leveled out with no lift. The seats and headliner have been re-upholstered. Although he has made a few upgrades, the engine hasn’t been rebuilt (yet) but it runs and sounds strong. It has over 290,000 miles on the odometer and keeps going strong. “It a beautiful truck and I most likely will never get rid of it,” says Cody.
The truck has 180cc injectors with new glow plugs. It has a Riffraff turbo wheel, Riffraff boots and a 6.0 intercooler which give his truck a lot more power and boost. “I expect it to be fast on top and have the torque to pull whatever needs to be moved.”
Cody had the transmission rebuilt, including a billet converter and a Derale Performance tranny pan, at A1 Transmissions in Victorville, Calif. The engine has a Hydra Chip with custom tunes from Power Hungry Performance, which Cody admits took awhile (and a YouTube video) for him to figure out during installation. Adding an S&B intake was an easy 20-minute job. The truck also has a 3.5-inch downpipe to a 4-inch straight pipe exhaust.
It has trans, exhaust and boost gauges, which took a little effort to install. “I had my brother-in-law help me,” Cody said. “He used to work in a truck shop, but now he's an electrician. So we were able to get all the wires hooked up.”
For tires, the truck features 265/75/16 Yokohama Geolandars.
One unique custom feature on the F350 is a set of Chevy mirrors. Cody mentioned he noticed online a set of Chevy mirrors on a similar truck. He liked how they looked and fit better that any set he could have ordered.
He has also added projector black with Halo and LED headlights, and Lumen Black/Smoke Fiber Optic LED taillights. He has replaced the air conditioning pump, AC condenser and dryer.
As time and money allow, Cody plans to change the solid rear window for a three-piece unit. He has the tailgate at a body shop getting a few minor dings taken out and painted to match the truck. He also plans to do some touch-up painting on the bed sides.
Down the road he wants to switch out to larger tires and wheels … and perhaps a 3- or 6-inch lift. Eventually he wants to rebuild the engine and perhaps go to an Allison transmission. “At the end of the day there will always be upgrades to do and I will always be upgrading the truck motor-wise,” he admitted.
Not only is the F350 his daily driver, but it also pulls his 21-foot Hawaiian Boat (with a 350 Volvo Penta/GM motor … which is another project he enjoys) to Lake Ellsinore or Lake Mohave in California. He also pulls a 22-foot travel trailer, which he plans to upgrade to a fifth-wheel sports trailer to accommodate his “toys.” Cody has a KX 250, CRF 450 and CRF 50. He likes to take the family to Glamis, Ocotillo Wells, Pismo or sometimes the Dumont Dunes.
For the most part Cody enjoys working on his diesel truck. “I’ll do a lot of the little projects like adding parts,” he said. “But when it comes to engine rebuilding or transmission work, I’ll just pay someone to do it.”
He loves the power of the diesel engine and the return of the investment in diesel parts. “I like the power you can add to a diesel. You can have the strongest truck on the road,” he said. “They sound badass. You just don't have a truck if it's not diesel.”
To date, Cody estimates that he has a little over $20,000 invested into his truck. But he admits that if it weren’t for the support from his wife and children, he wouldn’t likely have moved forward as fast to improve his job situation where he could provide a good life for his family and still have a little extra for his truck.
It has taken a lot of time, money and perseverance. But for now, Cody is living the dream.
Bullet Proof Diesel
Method Race Wheels
Power Hungry Performance
Riffraff Diesel Performance