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DMAX Swap Reimagines a ‘57 Chevy 3100 for the 21st Century
BY Justin Reyes //
April 17, 2024
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Photography: Brandon Cody
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Additional Photography: Mike Maravilla
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  • Anthony Carcelli, with over a decade of experience building and tuning Duramax diesel trucks, transforms a ’57 Chevy 3100 into a modern marvel he names “Kiowa”.
  • Carcelli and friend Adam Pela set up a haven for Duramax enthusiasts named DMAX Swap to assist in builds, including Kiowa.
  • Strategic aftermarket mods like Wilwood brakes pair with several in-house DMAX upgrades to fuse tradition and innovation.

Retrofitting a classic American truck with modern technology is often looked down upon. There is a strong sense of tradition within the vintage domestic community, a delicate dance between preserving heritage or embracing the advancements of contemporary engineering. One step too far in either direction and your build is subject to brutal scrutiny from both camps.

There’s one person who’s managed to master all the required dance moves to make this balancing act possible: Anthony Carcelli. He is the co-owner of DMAX Swap, which specializes in transforming classic trucks into modern marvels. The creation you see here—which is named “Kiowa” after a nomadic, particularly adaptable, Native American tribe—is Carcelli’s latest. It, like the tribe, has adapted and accepted modern demands within its vintage cloaking.

WHEN FATE CALLS

The progression of this build wasn’t a predetermined path; it evolved from an unforeseen encounter with a classic American icon. Carcelli was inspired by the timeless design of the 1950s but wanted something that had modern benefits, like reliability and of course, a lot more power. Fate stepped in when a friend offered to sell him a 1957 Chevy 3100. It needed a lot of work but it was hard for Carcelli to ignore its oozing curb appeal. A few minutes later, Kiowa’s journey began.

THE DURAMAX DILEMMA

With the decision to overhaul the truck’s foundation, the question arose: what powertrain would propel this vintage beauty into the 21st century? The answer was the 6.6-liter turbocharged V8 LBZ Duramax diesel engine, an emblem of reliability and power—the two things Carcelli wanted most. The choice had two benefits: one, it reaped the advantages of its Common-rail direct fuel injection system (which the Duramax is praised for), and two, the engine wasn’t just a mechanical upgrade but also the foundation for something much bigger.

DMAX Swap was that bigger thing. The shop emerged from a passion for Duramax engines in classic trucks and customization, ignited by the friendship of founders Carcelli and Adam Pela. With more than a decade of expertise, they’ve cemented their status as pioneers in space, redefining the standard of truck modifications. Together, they’ve spearheaded notable projects such as Dutch, Mad Max, and this (the fan favorite, Kiowa). Through DMAX Swap, they offer enthusiasts an online hub for both knowledge and essential parts to fuel any Duramax build.

ENHANCING TRADITION

Kiowa is Carcelli’s daily driver. But of course, in the aftermarket industry, there’s no such thing as leaving things alone. The Duramax engine appropriately received enhancements from DMAX Swap, including a TransGo shift kit, ported fuel rail fittings, and a Pusher Intakes Y-bridge, ensuring optimal airflow and fuel delivery.

The consideration for balancing new and old was ever-present; Carcelli opted to retain the factory Duramax turbo and radiator but chose to upgrade to a modern water-to-air intercooler setup to add performance and address reliability concerns. The chassis upgrades prioritized style and substance. Kiowa sports a Porterbuilt front drop member kit and Wilwood brakes, 20” Detroit Steel Wheels, DiamondBack Whitewalls, and Ridetech parallel bars.

Even though the exterior looks true to the original, there’s a lot of new underneath the skin, including a firewall adjustment, roof chop, and curved door lines for enhanced aesthetics and functionality. Removable bedsides and strategically placed storage compartments add a practical element for road trips. Inside, vintage charm again meets modern convenience. A Dakota Digital cluster and Bluetooth sound system are perfect for Carcelli’s daily commute. Additional upgrades from Hutch’s Welding and TiCON Industries upgrade Kiowa’s exterior with exotic, titanium materials, which elevates the truck a few notches.

No journey is without its challenges, however, and Kiowa’s evolution was no exception. Minor hiccups like cutting the windshield for the chop and fitting the cab around the Duramax powertrain proved to be difficult. Carcelli’s experience proved invaluable in overcoming these setbacks, and with the assistance of Pela, each problem was met with a solution.

WORDS OF ADVICE

To fellow enthusiasts embarking on similar projects, Anthony Carcelli offers advice—”cherish passion over pragmatism, embrace function alongside form, and above all, relish the journey as much as the destination. For in the realm of automotive innovation, it’s not just about the vehicles we build, but the stories they tell and the legacies they leave behind”.

Carcelli and Pela share a bold vision: to infuse classic trucks with modern Duramax engines, a choice they recognize might unsettle traditional enthusiasts. Nevertheless, they boldly stand by their decision, aiming to prove that old vehicles can indeed serve as reliable daily drivers. Rescuing aging trucks from the junkyard (or untouchable six-figure auctions) and making them accessible and driveable to many are some of the company’s values. And by extension of that, it’s also preserving parts automotive history for generations to come.


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