Cummins 12-valve engine – one of the best truck engines of all time

The Cummins 12-valve engine is more user-friendly than a traditional V8. It also requires less effort for repair and maintenance.

Since the advent of the auto industry, there has always been a kind of competition among car manufacturers that revolves around making the best vehicle, and this has often included performance by producing incredible engines. Remarkably, diesel engines have been in the spotlight for years, and some have even achieved cult status. Take, for example, the Cummins B series.

This American engine manufacturer introduced B-Series diesel engines for a variety of applications in 1984. In the automotive industry, the B series was used in school and public buses, as well as in Dodge Ram pickups. The first one in particular will be remembered for using one of three generations of Cummins B-series engines.

Yes, we’re talking about the first generation, known as the B Engine. Although the entire series included innovations recognized and sought after as effective, the first generation proved to be the most appealing. The 5.9-liter Cummins, known as the 12-valve Cummins, was the first member of that family to find its place in a light-duty pickup . It also received the most accolades and the title of one of the best diesel engines of all time.

The first generation Cummins 5.9L 12-valve engine was exceptionally reliable.

There’s a reason so many people consider the Cummins 12-valve engine one of the best and most reliable diesel engines ever used in pickup trucks. The fact that even today, more than 30 years after its introduction, this Cummins engine is still widely used on the road only speaks to this opinion.

The Cummins 12-valve engine has introduced to the public a number of new features not previously seen in pickup trucks. While we wouldn’t drool over 160 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque today, it was a real achievement at the time. Cummins made high power and torque production easy, and no modifications were needed to increase performance or maintain power output.

Overall, the exceptional reliability of the Cummins 12-valve engine is due to the rugged design. Originally designed for commercial applications, this engine could handle quite a bit of load , which is also evident from how long it has been used for so many trucks. The Cummins 12-valve engine was also more user-friendly than the traditional V8, as it took up less space and required less effort for potential repairs and maintenance.

Impressive performance and innovation were at the heart of the legendary Cummins 12-valve engine

If we take a step back and look at the creation of the Cummins 12-valve engine, it’s clear that this engine has always had an innovative intent. At one time, Dodge lagged behind Ford and GM in terms of diesel trucks, their torque ratings, towing and fuel economy. Its response to this unfavorable situation was to partner with Cummins and develop a powerful 12-valve engine for the D/W 250 and 350 pickups. In this way, Dodge created real competitors to all of Ford and GM’s models – and many more, as it would turn out.

As a commercial diesel engine, the first-generation 12-valve or 6BT Cummins could tow a maximum weight of up to 11,900 pounds. While this was an impressive number for that era, it wasn’t everything for the 6BT. The engine also featured fuel injection and a forced-air system for uninterrupted operation. With direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber, the power gain was significant.

Moreover, the Cummins 12-valve engine was one of the first engines with a turbocharger and intercooler. The turbocharger was able to increase the level of compressed air flowing into the engine, which also resulted in increased power and overall performance. Intercoolers, naturally, helped make the combustion process more efficient.

Paired with a manual transmission on Dodge pickups (automatic was not the best option), the 12-valve Cummins worked wonders on the road for anyone who needed more power, more traction, and unquestionable reliability. The same is true today, so many years after the Cummins 12-valve engine made such a huge impact on the market.

New, more environmentally friendly electric engines have been coming onto the scene lately, and we can’t deny their importance or capabilities. Who would have thought 50 or more years ago that electric cars would become so powerful that they could not only compete with, but overtake some of their internal combustion engine counterparts?

In the same spirit, who knows what else the world of pickup trucks and engines has in store. But we do know one thing: All things considered, the Cummins 12-valve engine will forever be remembered as one of the best diesel engines for pickup trucks ever made.


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