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Ford Diesel History

From International Harvester to IN-House





For was arguably the industry leader when they offered their first diesel in the Ford F250/350 for the 1983 model year. Competing only against GM's 6.2L, the International Harvester 6.9L V-8 that Ford had began offering was an engine with medium duty capabilities, and proved much more reliable than the Detroit. This was only the start of a beautiful relationship between Ford and International, whom continued their relationship, one that would last more than 25 years.


The 170 horsepower 6.9L was in such high demand that Ford had to ask International to increase its production. 315 ft-lbs doesn't seem like much by today's standards, but the 6.9L proved to be a rugged, reliable additional to any workforce. Production of the 6.9L would last until 1987, at which time a larger 7.3L displacement version would replace it. The 7.3L IDI, not to be confused with the 7.3L Power stroke, was a bored out version of the 6.9L, and shared a similar reputation with a respectful bump in performance.


7.3 liters, 444 cubic inches of displacement would later become a magical number for International and Ford. Midway through the 1994 model year, International released the 7.3L "Power Stroke" turbodiesel. The engine, which featured direct injection and HEUI injectors, was not based on the previous 7.3 IDI's architecture. This clean slate engine shared the same bore & stroke, but that's where the similarities ended. The 7.3L Power Stroke is famous for its performance, reliability, and longevity. It lead the diesel marketplace for Ford and International from 1994 until 2003, where stringent emissions regulations forced International to hit the drawing board.


International released the 6.0L Power Stroke alongside the 7.3L for the 2003 model year. While both engines were offered in 2003, only the 6.0L would continue production for the following model year. The 6.0L had big shoes to fill considering the reputation that International's 7.3L Power Stroke had built, but ultimately fell short. The engine's performance was outstanding, but a high rate of 6 liters suffered from reliability concerns. Despite this, it proved a worthy competitor and pushed GM and Dodge to attempt to take Ford's "Best Selling" by releasing upgraded versions of their own engines. The 6.0L Power Stroke was produced through the 2007 model year, where a larger 6.4L Power Stroke would take its place. The 6.0L would ultimately lead to the breakdown of the relationship between International/Navistar and Ford Motor Company, who both filed lawsuits at one another concerning who should foot the bill for all the 6.0L's warranty work.


Introduced for the 2008 model year, the 6.4L Power Stroke proved much more reliable than the 6.0L. The 6.4L was the first Ford diesel to be equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), designed to capture particulate matter in the exhaust stream. The regeneration system required to clean or burn off particulate matter in the DPF ultimately proved to be a fuel mileage killer. Regardless, the engine's outstanding performance, industry first twin turbochargers, and robust design made the 6.4L a clear winner.


The International/Navistar - Ford relationship eventually came to a hault, and for 2010 Ford rolled out their own, in-house designed and produced diesel; the 6.7L Power Stroke. Not only would this V-8 monster be the most powerful Power Stroke to date, it would also be the cleanest while restoring much of the fuel economy lost to emissions equipment. The 6.7L Power Stroke enjoys a great reputation and maintains Ford's dominance in the marketplace. The 6.7L is currently still offered today in the Ford Super Duty.