Just because you don’t see a lot of high-horsepower 7.3L Power Strokes doesn’t mean they’re not out there. We had the pleasure of supplying Dawson Hendricks the 5-blade S480 he’s running on his 2000 Super Duty—a truck that he plans to make 850-rwhp with on fuel. Following the advice of Brian Gray at Gray’s Diesel Performance, Dawson couldn’t believe the results after ditching his box S476/87/1.0 for our 5-blade S480/96/1.10. “Holy crap, what a difference!” he told us. “Even with the converter locked in the bottom of third gear, the charger comes online faster.” Conventional wisdom told Dawson that switching to a considerably bigger turbo would only create more lag before the big “hit,” but he was wrong—and he’s never been so happy to be wrong in his life.

Dawson’s ability to run our 5-blade S480 comes from his use of an Irate Diesel Performance T4 turbo mounting system, complete with a pedestal, exhaust collector with stainless steel up-pipes, and 3-inch intercooler piping that routes boost through a CSF intercooler. Thanks to the turbo, high volume intercooler piping, and replacement intercooler, Dawson tells us EGT can easily be kept below 1,400 degrees. With the big single operating at full song, 65-psi of boost is on tap—a lot of pressure for a 7.3L.

To get the 444ci V-8 to live at this power level, Dawson pulled the original, 370,000-mile forged-rod engine, tore it down, and invested in ARP main studs, Carrillo rods, and Irate’s coated factory pistons, along with O-ringing and porting the cylinder heads. The higher-flowing heads, which were also fitted with Irate’s competition beehive valve springs, are anchored to the block with ARP studs. Big fuel and oil check-in in the form of 400cc hybrid injectors from Gray’s Diesel Performance (with 400-percent over nozzles), a Gen3 high-pressure oil pump from Swamps, and a 220-gph low-pressure fuel system from FASS. Custom tuning from Jelibuilt Performance and SDK Performance (available via a Hydra Chip) dials in the injection system, while a 2,400-rpm stall, triple-disc DPC converter in a 4R100 prepped locally at Grant’s Garage further aids the responsiveness of the big S480.

With plans to add a crankcase girdle, a cam from Gray’s, and a Nitrous Express kit this winter, Dawson will be hitting the drag strip to find out what his daily-driven dinosaur can really do when fairer weather returns to South Carolina.