Everyone remembers his or her first love; it’s one of the milestones of human experience. For guys, there’s always a second “first” love, their first vehicle. Whether it’s a car, truck or barely-running beater, we all fondly remember our first ride because it signified freedom and the fact we now had our own wheels. Very few of us have kept that first ride, but many of us wish we had as we get older and want to recapture the automotive magic of our youth.
One enthusiast who’s managed to hold onto his first ride, a ’93 Chevy S-10 pickup, is Travis Meyer of Floyds Knob, Indiana. The 30-year-old steel millwright for Steel Dynamics in Jeffersonville, Indiana, got the truck when he was 16, and like most teenagers, began the modification process on the truck to fit his needs and tastes.
It wasn’t long after he purchased the S-10 that he was bitten by the drag racing bug and he and his dad replaced the tired 2.8L V-6 with a 355-cid small-block Chevy. With the V-8 mill under the hood, it was time to make the truck a pro streeter with a full back-half 4-link, coil-over setup, complete with custom wheel well tubs in the bed to clear huge pro-street rubber. The original 355 was eventually replaced by a more potent Dart Machine 434-ci rat motor.
Throughout the years, Travis got tired of owning a drag truck and wanted to convert the S-10 into a simple, yet powerful daily driver. Since he had owned several diesel pickups by that time, it was natural that he thought about swapping a diesel into the S-10. Rather than go the easy route with a 4BT Cummins or a Jetta turbo diesel power plant, he latched onto an oil pan from a 12-valve Cummins and took it home to see how it would fit in the empty engine bay of the truck.
Stuffing a long six-cylinder diesel engine that weighs as much as a big-block Chevy into the tiny engine bay of an S-10 was no easy task. Obviously, the firewall had to be moved back a total of 9.5 inches, and the trans tunnel was opened up an additional 16 inches to fit the engine and trans combo. Travis credits “the best machinist around,” his dad, Louis Meyer, for much of the metalwork, including fabbing up a new trans tunnel, core support and inner fender wells. The front cross member was notched and the frame rails boxed for added strength. The ’89 12-valve sits in between the frame rails via custom billet steel mounts.
The duo had the 12-valve freshened at Shively Speed & Machine in Louisville, Kentucky. The engine uses a stock crank and pistons and camshaft, but was fitted with 60-pound valve springs. For clearance, an industrial 15-quart Cummins oil pan is used. Louis Meyer fabbed up the billet aluminum alternator bracket to accommodate the GM alternator, and also came up with a trick billet power steering adaptor to use the GM pump. An ATI Super Damper keeps vibrations to a minimum.
For power, the stock turbo setup was scrapped in favor of a huge 62-65-12 turbo over an HT3B, which is mounted on a BD Performance exhaust manifold. Exhaust is routed out via 4-inch aluminized and heat-wrapped tubing and culminates in a polished 5-inch stack in the bed. A custom stainless intake feeds the turbos, while a Snow Performance water-meth kit adds a bit more go and a lot less EGTs since there was no room for an intercooler. Fueling is courtesy of a Fass fuel system, which is close to the bed-mounted fuel cell that pumps #2 up to 150-hp Dynomite Diesel injectors.
Travis estimates the package makes in the neighborhood of 600 hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque. Behind the 12-valve is an NV 4500 five-speed manual with a McLeod twin-disc RXT clutch setup. Republic Diesel of Louisville came up with the stout, shortened driveshaft. Shifting is courtesy of a custom-machined Mustang Cobra shifter and boot.
Believe it or not, the S-10 still rides on the original pro street suspension setup. Up front are Bell Tech drop spindles and Spohn tubular control arms along with QA1 coil-over shocks. SSBC Big Bite rotors and calipers, fed by a Wilwood master cylinder via stainless steel brake lines, provide stopping power. At the rear is a narrowed 9-inch Ford rearend fitted with 31-spline Moser axles and Strange disc brakes. More QA1 shocks suspend the truck on a 4-link setup, while 2.91 gears keep the rpms down and mpg up. Rolling stock consists of skinny 15×3.5-inch Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels with 26-inch tires, and at the business end are huge 15×15 Billet Specialties wheels fitted with 31-inch Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/Rs.
The S-10 is show quality with all polished and painted components under the hood. A 2-inch fiberglass cowl hood is fitted up front, and a roll pan replaces the bumper out back. The bed, which is finished in a spray-in bed liner, houses the fuel filler cap, 5-inch polished stack and huge pro-street wheel tubs. Mike Lowhorn of Palmyra, Indiana, is credited with all of the body mods, which included shaving the windshield wipers and radio antenna, and filling all body holes. Mike then shot the rig with Red Fire PPG pearl.
On the inside, with the firewall shoved back 9.5 inches and the trans tunnel enlarged, Mike Lowhorn also installed a custom carpet. The truck retains the original bench seating and the interior is peppered with plenty of Auto Meter gauges, including a speedo and a fuel and amp gauge in the stock gauge cluster location. Wiring is courtesy of Painless Wiring, and a Grant steering wheel provides just a tad more leg room for the tall driver.
Travis has yet to bolt on the slicks and make a pass, but during our photo shoot, he laid down at least 100 feet of rubber for the burnout shot. Since then, he’s also added an NOS kit for more fun. While traction is an issue, since he says he can blow the tires off in fourth gear at 70 mph, the mileage, and attention he gets with the truck make it all worthwhile, which means he’s still enamored with his first love. St