Best 7.3 IDI Turbo Kits

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You found a 7.3 IDI to restore, and you’re thinking about adding more power to it. What are the best 7.3 IDI Turbo kits on the market?

The best turbo kits for the 7.3 indirect injection engine are:

  • Banks Sidewinder Turbo System
  • CDD IDI Turbo Kit (Stage 2 Intercooled)
  • Hypermax Pulse Turbocharger System
  • Complete Performance 6.9/7.3 IDI (Hypermax) Turbo System

When Ford’s joint venture with Navistar continued after the reorganization of International in 1986, many industry experts believed that the new holding company would not survive. The new 6.9 L IDI had been plagued with low performance for years, and Ford needed Navistar to pull a new diesel engine out of their hat. To combat the growing resentment of the 6.9L, Navistar offered a diesel engine with better displacement, improved performance, and more pulling power, the 7.3L IDI. Even though it proved to be one of the best engines to land in a Ford truck, many owners wanted more. When a turbo version was introduced in the last couple of years of its production, many in the truck world applauded but knew it was too little, too late. Silently, they had longed for the turbo-charged diesel for years, but Ford had been too stubborn and stingy to produce it.

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What Are The Best Turbo Kits For 7.3 IDI

While there is much debate about whether a turbo is worth the effort, almost everyone agress that a turbo kit placed on a naturally aspirated engine boost the performance and power, the question is how much. Since many of these classic beauties are still on the road today, it can be an important decision to make before you begin your restoration project.

Primarily, there are two companies responsible to most of the market for IDI factory turbo kits. While you might find a local small shop to build you one, if you order online your choices are probably going to be limited to Banks or Hypermax. Ford use ATS as the factory OEM, (when Ford offered the turbo-charged 7.3 in ‘94), but as of late ATS has stopped making the 088 and 093 kits due to the lack of demand.

Banks Sidewinder Turbo System

Banks Sidewinder Turbo System
Banks Sidewinder Turbo System

The trouble with some turbo systems is the question of adding more power but having to lose fuel economy when you do. The Sidewinder system gives you the best of both worlds with its impressive performance and increased mpg. This waste-gated turbo system provides 82 more horsepower (putting the 7.3L up to 272 Hp, and most restorers saw a moderate increase in fuel economy). Although numbers vary from truck to truck, the estimates should be fairly accurate.

The trick concerning this turbo is the smaller optional wastegate which keeps the compressor from making excessive pressure at the top end and is instrumental in keeping intake air pressure down. The wastegate’s pressure limit is 9.5 psi, more than the 5- 7 on most Ford engines.

This Sidewinder kit has a turbocharger with cast-iron connections, and a crossover pipe, and all brackets and gaskets. The Banks RAM air intake with reusable air filter charger is also included in the kit. An exhaust pyrometer gauge allows the owner to keep track of the temperature of exhaust gases so that owners can tweak and monitor their systems after the installation.

The downside of the Sidewinder is that restorers may have to modify their exhaust system. Banks company make custom exhaust systems designed to fit on the IDI engines, and they are relatively easy to install, but equipping your truck with them also means more money out of your pocket.

Banks Power is based out of San Gabriel, CA., and has a reputation for engine-enhancing products which have earned the company the distinction of holding several world records for speed and power. The company has been in business for over 60 years specializing in car, truck and military marine applications, including powering US Navy Seal covert boats for years. They have good customer service, and offer a 1 to 5-year warranty against defects depending on the part. You should expect to pay around $3500 for the complete Sidewinder kit. Other shops carry like Diesel Power Products carry the Sidewinder system for the 7.3 L IDI

What We Liked:

  • Complete kit - has everything you need
  • Added air filter charger
  • RAM Air Intake
  • Pyrometer gauge
  • 60 years in business
  • Outstanding reviews by installers

What We Disliked

  • It may require a modified exhaust system
  • Expensive

CDD R & D IDI Turbo Kit (Stage 2 Intercooled)

CDD R & D IDI Turbo Kit (Stage 2 Intercooled)
CDD R & D IDI Turbo Kit

The pre-power stroke 7.3 diesel engines were often equipped with an ATS 088, and this is a perfect rebuild kit for any truck with one. This Classic Diesel Design kit is fully restored and upgraded and taken from a core IDIT engine. It includes all the piping, studs, nuts, bolls and washers, and brackets, and we love that they are labeled, making the installation much more manageable. The exterior is finished in a ceramic matte powder coating. The coating prevents rust buildup and does an excellent job insulating heat.

The CDD rebuild kit includes all rings, seals, and gaskets you will need. (If you’re familiar with a turbo rebuild, you know you often can’t reuse old gaskets. The best thing to do is to replace them with new, fresh leak-proof ones). The turbo fuel line and fittings are stainless steel and look great on the engine.

While the CDD unit is one of the most expensive, it should bolt right to the engine without having to make too many adjustments. Classic Diesel Designs makes a stage 1 and a stage 3 if you want those options. They also make a turbo-charger rebuild for the ATS 093 with a Garrett turbine.

Classic Diesel Designs is your one-stop shop for all things IDI related. This company operates out of San Antonio, Texas., and is one of the leading parts manufacturer for these classic rebuilds. While they have excellent customer service, it can take weeks to get the parts, so be prepared to put your project on hold for a bit.

Things We Liked

  • Great Turbo Kit
  • Lots of selections
  • Effective technical support
  • Comes with new hardware.

Things We Disliked

  • It can take weeks to get parts
  • Expensive

Hypermax Pulse Turbocharger System

Hypermax Pulse Turbocharger System
Hypermax Pulse Turbocharger System

This kit will fit the ‘92 - 94 Ford trucks 7.3L IDI with the E40D automatic transmission. The turbocharged system is tuned to produce a 50% increase in power. The Hypermax Pulse kit comes with the turbo, gaskets, hoses, and hardware. The installation bolts right on and is pretty easy to fasten to the engine, but it doesn’t come with some items other competitors have in their kits. This Hypermax Turbo does not come with a pyrometer gauge, or a pulse intercooler, so you will need to purchase those items separately.

Hypermax is the leading OEM producer of diesel engine turbo kits and accessories. They have over 30 years of experience producing these kinds of aftermarket parts, which means that there is lots of inventory available. You won’t have trouble finding what you need to complete your rebuild.

The company's company's history is embedded in the sport of tractor-pulling and diesel dragsters. Their founder, Jerry Lagod, actually worked for IH for several years before branching out on his own. The company is based out of Gilberts, Illinois, and sells about 2 million dollars in revenue annually.

Things We Liked

  • Good history in diesel work
  • Good budget turbo kit
  • Maker of OEM parts

Things We Disliked

  • No pyrometer gauge included
  • 10-Day Return Policy (only unopened packages)

Complete Performance 6.9/7.3 IDI (Hypermax) Turbo System

Complete Performance 6.9/7.3 IDI (Hypermax) Turbo System
Complete Performance 6.9/7.3 IDI (Hypermax) Turbo System

Hypermax makes this dynamometer-developed turbocharger system, but it is sold by Complete Performance. The CP Turbo Rebuild kit is very straightforward, with a Garrett turbo and all the pipes, gaskets, hoses, and hardware. The kit is reasonably priced, install quickly, and the folks at CP will work with you to ensure everything fits the way it should. The pressure tested kit works best on trucks with factory Indirect injection engines and stock transmissions.

Complete Performance is a small shop in Jasper, Texas, that has dedicated itself to saving OBS (Old Body Style) Fords. These folks have lots of knowledge about turbo-charger kits and can help you with any extra information you need during installation. While IDI performance numbers will vary depending on how you drive your truck, the turbo system will provide more power for the already impressive performance of non-turbo Ford diesels.

Things We Liked

  • USA Company
  • Have good knowledge of turbo kits
  • Lots of support

Things We Disliked

  • Limited inventory
  • 5-day return policy

What is the Difference Between a 7.3 IDI and 7.3L Powerstroke?

It is easy to get the 7.3 L IDI and the 7.3 L Powerstroke diesel engines confused, but in reality they are two completely different engines.

The IDI Engine 1988 - 1994

The IDI engine (indirect injection) was manufactured by Ford from 1988 through 1994, being used in various trucks, vans and SUV models. The motor was naturally aspirated, (the air intake is based on atmospheric pressure without being forced into the system with a turbocharger). The IDI used a mechanical fuel pump to ensure that delivered fuel to each of the truck’s cylinders. The fuel jets squirted fuel into a pre-chamber above the combustion chamber, where it mixed with the incoming air before traveling into the cylinder to fire.

The IDI produced a underwhelming 190 HP and 385 lb/ft of torque, and even though it was not the most powerful engine on the planet, it has managed to hold its own over the years. As a general rule the IDI is easier to work on, since none of its functions are computer controlled.

The IDI is a simpler, more basic engine which is less susceptible to breaking down, and most restorers are wiling to trade the low performance for the sake of being able to do most repairs themselves.

The PowerStroke Diesel

As the first 7.3 L Powerstroke Diesel was offered by Ford from 1994 through 2003. The Navistar T444E engine was built to replace the older 7.3 L IDI V8 and was offered as a precursor to the modern Powerstroke engines that Ford would produce in the decades ahead. The powerplant was more efficient that the previous IDI and it quickly became the “go-to” engine of Ford truck owners everywhere.

Though is shared the same displacement as the 7.3L IDI, the engine was a completely new redesign by Ford. The Powerstroke had computer controlled direct injection that produced a significantly improved HP of up to 250 HP and 505 lb/ft of torque. The towing capacity jumped with the use of the Powerstroke engine, and this made many a rancher very happy when having to pull loaded down livestock trailers.

The ‘94.5 - ‘97 Powerstroke engines used a single turbocharger, non-wategated, but shortly later for the ‘99 model, an intercooler was added. The intercooler added more density to the incoming air, raising the amount of horsepower and torque, but keeping the exhaust gases from overheating, producing less smoke than normal diesel engines were prone to do. These early models did not have to abide by emission standards (the nation hadn’t gotten around to regulating diesel emissions yet). Ford added catalytic converters on the later models knowing that it would just be a matter of time before the government stepped in.

As for which engine is better, the 7.3L is the more powerful engine, but it is also more complicated and harder to work on. The IDI has the benefit of being lower powered unit, but with less moving parts, there is less chance for a mechanical breakdown.