A Conversion Story

December 2021 Feature Seth Harper

This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue.

Neil Walton started working on vehicles when he was just 18 years old, so six years ago he figured, “Why not make it official?” Beast Custom Works in Englevale, N.D., was born, and according to their website, if you can dream it, they can build it!

Those dreams started with Neil turning semi trucks into pickups. That was the bulk of the business until he developed, patented and built track prep machines for drag stripes. Beast Custom Works’s newest projects are a little different and have changed the way they do business in a big way.

Durasquare One

Swapping a gas engine into a diesel isn’t simple, and the difficulty depends on the make and model of the vehicle, but it’s doable for anyone who knows what they’re doing. And clearly Neil knows what he’s doing. But what makes a swap project truly unique is when you take a vintage square body Chevy or GMC and add a Duramax diesel engine to it, or in other words, you create a Durasquare.

At age 19, Duffy Froemke bought an ‘85 GMC Sierra from his uncle. Nearly 30 years later the truck owner decided to restore and repaint it, which led to his decision to really give it a makeover.

Duffy had known Neil for a long time, yet hadn’t ever hired him to do anything. After going to him for help with the restoration Neil suggested a diesel swap using Duffy’s first diesel, a four-wheel drive ‘05 Duramax, and he was on board.

Neil’s only concern was that he’d never turned a four-wheel drive into a two-wheel drive. Duffy figured he might as well make it a four-wheel drive and Neil said if they’re going to do that, they might as well frame swap it while they’re at it.

Durasquare One, the name Neil gave the truck, was becoming more and more complicated, but luckily money wasn’t an issue.

“Durasquare One was the first swap where I’ve done everything brand-new, nothing mattered on the price,” Neil said. “I was just told to do it right and use the best-of-the-best for everything. It kind of modified my business. I was doing LS swaps and it seems everyone wants them done as cheap as possible and now I’ve gathered a group of customers and my builds are turning into very expensive projects.”

Neil is currently working with another customer who told him that as long as the build is done for under a quarter of a million dollars, he doesn’t care how much it costs. That takes “money isn’t an issue” to a whole different level.

Durasquare Two

With the six-month Durasquare One build complete, Duffy finally got to see his “new” truck, with an original stock look except for the wheels and tires, and he absolutely loves it.

“Lots of power, no overheating; it just runs nice,” he said. “I wish I would’ve had this growing up hauling my race cars around.”

Duffy’s diesel also has an Allison automatic transmission, Dakota digital gauges and a fifth wheel plate. He loved it so much, that he’s having Neil do the same thing to his ‘89 crew cab dually because he wanted a pickup with a bit more room.

Duffy’s friend Greg Pfaff first became interested in the diesel game when his dad juiced up a 2003 Duramax to pull around their race trailer. After hearing about Duffy doing a diesel swap, he took his ‘87’ 3/4-ton Chevy pickup, which would become known as Durasquare Two, to Neil to have the same thing done. He says it turned out amazing.

“When I saw it completed it was perfect in many ways,” said Greg. “He made it look like the original 1987 version, but I have all the tech of a new truck.”

If you have a dream for your pickup, chances are Neil and his team can help. And if price isn’t an issue, that’s even better.

Sources:

Allison Transmission

317-242-5000

www.allisontransmission.com

 

Beast Custom Works

701-308-0225

www.beastcustomworks.com

 

Dakota Digital

605-332-6513

www.dakotadigital.com

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