Monday, January 11, 2010

CAT 3126 'C7' in a pickup

So it's something that most of us have probably thought about at one time or another: why doesn't Ford or Chevy put a cat diesel in a pickup? Well, this most definitely is a good question because there is no good answer. Sure you might say that CAT doesn't have the production capability or maybe they don't have a properly sized engine, but those are all things that could be worked out, after all Cummins did it right? CAT already supplies engines for the 600+ series Chevy and Ford trucks, why not one for the 350's?

So if the big companies aren't going to put one in for us then the only remaining option we have is to do it the redneck way: install one ourselves. In all my countless hours of research online I can find hardly any information about such a swap. Sure people like to talk about the possibility of a swap but there is little concrete evidence of very many people actually following through. The cummins 5.9 on the other hand has been swapped into about everything except a wheel chair... (I would be surprised if someone had though). So, what is stopping rednecks and engine enthusiasts from dropping CAT's into pickups?

1. Cost

The easiest way to perform a swap is to buy a donor vehicle. With the Cummins there are of course plenty of donor vehicle around, the CAT on the other hand has few.

2. It's a big one

I personally believe that a c7 could be fairly easily shoehorned under the hood of a pickup, but there are those that have their doubts. With a sawzall and a welder one can usually always make a little more room, besides, judging by the way my cummins fits into my Ford, the only real space issues would be with height and length, otherwise an inline 6 generally has plenty of side room to spare. Just compare the look of a powerstroke or a duramax with a cummins... it's a wonder they can fit those V8's in there. And as for weight, the CAT engine only weighs a couple hundred more pounds than a Cummins. However, it is a monster.

3. Is it really any better?

This is really the only factor that would put a damper on my will to carry out a CAT swap... CAT is a bit of an icon among boys who love big toys. Drive by any construction site and you will likely see some huge equipment plastered with the CAT logo. As a result of the general brawniness of the name, dudes want to be associated with the power. Now I have no doubt that CAT makes some of the best construction equipment out there but are the engines really any better than Cummins?.. well, no... I don't think so... at least as far as a pickup size is concerned. If you are talking about semi truck sized motors CAT fans may have a better argument, but as for the smaller motors I think Cummins would probably win. Several reasons:

a. Lack of aftermarket parts... Plenty for the cummins, almost zero for the CAT

b. CAT uses the HUEI injection system (like the Ford 7.3/6.0) which is not as good for making big aftermarket power.

c. Many people argue that the CAT C7 is not as reliable of an engine compared to the Cummins 6bt... especially the newer emissions compliant engines.

Anyways, despite the reality of the situation, I still want a CAT in a regular pickup and I'm determined to do a swap someday. What I plan is to buy an older (2000+) ford 650 and use it as a donor vehicle. I realize there would be a ton of customization to be done but I think it would be worth it. I have seen good CAT 650's in the $5,000-$10,000 range which isn't bad for a diesel donor vehicle. Compare the torque specs. from the 2 engines and it's apparent that the CAT really wouldn't be disappointing with 860 lb-ft at only 1440 rpm... wow...

This is one of the few photos of a C7 squeezed into an F-350... notice that while it takes up all the room lengthwise, there appears to be plenty of side room. There is even room for a clutch fan... something that didn't fit in my cummins... I would definitely have done a remote battery install and moved the BHAF to the front to make sure there was room for twin turbos.

This is under the bonnet of my '65 Ford with a 5.9L Cummins... plenty of room to spare.

As you can see the CAT is definitely bigger but also definitely fits... I can't wait to do this swap...

This link has a bunch of swap photos including the following CAT

Again in this photo the BHAF air filter needs to be moved where the battery is... Things could be rearranged... These guys do not recommend this swap but as far as I can tell they did not have a donor vehicle which would make loads of difference.

Specifications fot the newest CAT C7

Cylinders In-Line 6
Bore/Stroke 4.33 x 5.00 (110mm x 127mm)
Displacement 7.2 L (441 cu in)
Weight 1425 lb (647 kg)
Horsepower 300 @ 2500/2400 rpm
Torque 860 lb-ft @ 1440 rpm

Specifications for the newest Cummins 6.7L

Displacement: 408 cubic inches, 6.7 liters
Configuration: Inline 6 cylinder
Compression Ratio: 17.3:1
Bore: 4.21 inches
Stroke: 4.88 inches
Injection: Direct injection: Electronically controlled Bosch high pressure common rail; 26,000 psi max.
Aspiration: Variable geometry turbocharger
Valvetrain: OHV, 4 valves per cylinder, solid lifter camshaft
Oil Capacity: 12 quarts
Weight: Aprox. 1,150lb.
Horsepower: 350 HP @ 3,013 RPM
Torque:650 lb-ft @ 1,500 RPM

This is the type of donor vehicle that would be needed. The CAT looks so small in the huge engine compartment... I have high hopes.


  1. I think Steve that you and I are the only ones that read, yet.

  2. funny that i came across this posting...i was just thinking about buying a truck without an engine and sticking a c7 in it...wasn't sure if it would fit though...

  3. I thought about this for a while. It seems like a great idea, and off the beaten path, which is an up side in my book. On the other hand other Ford guys may not like so much that it has an engine that doesn't say Ford anywhere, and was also available in GM medium duty trucks. For the sake of having that blue oval on the engine I've been thinking about the posibility of a CAT 3208 injection pump on a Powerstroke to compete with P-pump Dodges, or (my favorite) a 6.6L I6 Ford diesel with a P-pump, which if you don't already know was made by New Holland exclusively for Ford medium duty trucks, and has a Ford logo on the valve cover.

  4. is there a cat diesel that might fit in a Toyota pickup truck? -ben

  5. GM used to put a CAT din the blazer in the 70's or 80's very rare I've only seen like two but I can't find anything on the net about it?

  6. this is a mouth watering idea and the results.... just the bumper sticker... and that torque curve, something only a CAT can achieve, try towing with that!

  7. who thinks i could stuff a c7 into my 06 ranger?

  8. Thanks for this nice blog post! Naturally, you'll have to be certain that you keep your trucks in good condition. A van that has become well treated will fetch a slightly higher price as a traditional or antique car than one which is neglected.

  9. I just bought a c7 engine that I'm gonna rebuild and I have been looking for a truck to put it in. I will try to remember to write stuff as II go and let you know what does and doesn't work. Very excited about this build!

    1. how is your search for a doner truck for your engine install going

  10. I just bought a c7 engine that I'm gonna rebuild and I have been looking for a truck to put it in. I will try to remember to write stuff as II go and let you know what does and doesn't work. Very excited about this build!

  11. Had it been accomplished yet? With the c7 how do you get the electronics to communicate?

  12. Had it been accomplished yet? With the c7 how do you get the electronics to communicate?

  13. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing good information about Cummins Spare Parts.

    you can find more spare parts from :-

  14. I have done these swaps... used the single disk clutch with special flywheel. Used the big 5speed in the outdrive and a divorced transfer case for 4x4. I have an 1800 series international that came with 3208 cat v8 and its a smoking ol beotch. Never gets run hard enough to "clear" its throat. It will go into my 95 kingcab some day

  15. im just getting into this vehicles and stuff and im wanting to build a 1940-1950's truck with a cat and im curious which would be the best for them years and possibly a 60's