This article originally featured in the April 2022 issue.
Coeur d’Alene hosts thousands of tourists a year, who come to see the pristine lakes and golf courses around the quaint town in northern Idaho. It’s also home to Alligator Performance, an automotive performance shop and parts distributor who got its start in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2005.
Alligator Performance, like everyone else in the diesel market, watched as the industry changed in the last few years in an effort to protect the environment. It’s important to understand the reasons for these industry changes.
A 2020 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report concluded that an estimated 550,000 diesel pickup trucks have had their required emissions controls removed. As a result, over the lifetime of these trucks, 5,000 tons of particulate matter and 570,000 tons of excess oxides of nitrogen will emit into the air. The report further states that although these 550,000 trucks make up just 15 percent of the diesel pickups in the United States, they equate to over 9 million emission-compliant diesel trucks.
Due to numbers like these, the EPA cracked down on the diesel industry, setting stricter standards and handing out big fines to violators. According to Jason Kuenkler, general manager of Alligator Performance, consumers are frustrated.
“They don’t want to have to buy a vehicle for $60,000 and three years later have a problem with it,” Kuenkler said. “But they can’t get it fixed because the dealership won’t fix it or it costs 10 grand to repair. That’s the reason why there was such popularity for getting things off of vehicles and now you can’t. They’re frustrated because they’re going out of the country and having problems.”
This has quickly become an adapt-or-be-left-behind situation for the diesel industry, where companies are forced to get out of business or to start selling products for different types of vehicles, such as side-by-sides. Alligator Performance chose to change drastically and lost a large portion of their business throughout the process, but they’re promoting what’s legal in all 50 states and feel it’s important to do so.
“We have been around for 16 years and there’s a huge need for people to be able to purchase products that are replacement, or small things that can be done that are carbon-approved, that can make improvements to your vehicle,” Kuenkler said. “We want to be able to provide those things. People need to know that they can still purchase them properly.”
It’s still possible to create cool, performance-enhancing builds that fall within the parameters the EPA laid out. That’s something Alligator Performance set out to prove.
“The industry has changed in the diesel performance market; everybody knows that,” explained Kuenkler. “So we decided to take our race truck and convert it back into an emissions-compliant truck. It will give you an example of what you can still do and be completely legal and not have to worry about getting in trouble with anybody.”
Alligator Performance took their 1500hp Chevy race truck and turned it into a 600+hp daily-driving shop truck. They use it to pull trailers and attend events while staying completely emissions compliant.
“This is a turnkey, full-build, daily-driver tow truck that you can go anywhere with and not have any issues and it’s set up for all 50 states,” Kuenkler continued. “We basically set this up to be able to use it like you should be using a truck.”
How’d They Do It?
To complete the task of compressing airflow into the engine’s cylinder, they used the brand-new Duramax Tuner Stealth 64. The added power comes from a billet compressor wheel which is specially designed and matches to a higher-flowing turbine assembly. It’s easy to install and is a big improvement over stock.
Controlling the amount of fuel sent to the combustion chamber is a vital task to the performance of a diesel and Industrial Injections injectors are both up to the challenge and excel at it in the Alligator build. It helps that Industrial Injection offers a variety of Clean Diesel Technology (CDT) injectors to choose from.
The truck’s S&B cold air intake maximizes air flow throughout the system and includes a rubber lid seal that keeps out engine heat. Each intake is tested to a high standard and is, of course, emission compliant.
The build also uses MagnaFlow’s fuel exhaust system, including their 49-state legal front pipe with Catalytic Converter and 4-inch Catalytic Converter back exhaust.
Rounding Out The Build
Other modifications include a CARB-approved MBRP Downpipe, CARB-approved Banks Intercooler, Industrial Injection pump, Sinister EGR cooler, PPE CARB-approved up-pipes, Fingers oval bowl pistons, Wagler AS-Forged rods, Deviant Race Parts transmission and a CARB-approved FASS 165.
A 60-gallon fuel tank from S&B keeps Kuenkler on the road longer during their road trips to shows and Kuenkler said the build has been a huge positive in the industry.
“That truck has been in the top 30 Duramax trucks in the United States for years and years and years. To see us show people that you can make the change to things that are fully legal, you don’t have to worry about being in trouble for, and are still fun to drive has been really positive.”
This diesel still has a few small alterations coming its way, but the build paints a picture of what’s possible in the future of the industry.
Deviant Race Parts
FASS Fuel Systems
Pacific Performance Engineering
Wagler Competition Products