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1998 Ford Ranger 4x4 - Fire Ranger

Posted in Features on January 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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1998 Ford Ranger 4x4 - Fire Ranger
Photographers: Skip Baker

This '98 Ford Ranger instantly grabs your attention and definitely takes your off-roading emotions for a ride. To build a tough and trustworthy off-road machine to conquer dusty, axle-grinding trails and riverbeds, you need more than just bolt-on parts; you need imagination and determination. When David Knighten began his journey down the proverbial truck building road, he knew he was in for a ride. Putting a dependable off-road vehicle together to fit demanding needs is no easy task. Not to worry, David's motivation for putting his vehicle together stems from his love of the off-roading sport and his desire to drive a cool and functional ride.

Now David has every intention of using this creation on and off road. In order to clear undercarriage damaging obstacles, a Superlift 4-inch suspension lift and 3-inch Superlift body lift were installed. Superlift shocks were also added. These 10-stage velocity-sensitive valving shocks work great at keeping the ride controllable as well as comfortable. Two Superlift steering stabilizers were installed to smooth the feel of the steering. Keeping this truck on track and climbing through the ruts, a limited-slip differential was added to the rear. The gearing was changed to 4:56, front and rear. The suspension work was installed by ProTrucks in Chesapeake,Virginia. For protection, a Superlift front skidplate was added, and a Go Rhino! axle truss was added to the rear axle. The lift gave more than enough clearance to add serious, ground-biting rubber: 39x15.50x15-inch Baja Belted Mickey Thompson tires were mounted on 15x12-inch Eagle Alloy wheels.

David has left the 4.0L V-6 engine within Ford's original OE specifications, with the exception of a custom stainless steel exhaust system for better aspiration. The transmission and transfer case were also left within OE specs. David felt Ford put a great package together; he is very confident that the factory engine and drivetrain combo won't leave him stranded somewhere at the end of a long, muddy trail.

One of the first things you notice when looking at this truck is the unbelievable graphics. The graphics and paint are the work of House of Kolor in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The painter, Mike Boyce, did an incredible job, adding modern flames and gothic striping. Thirteen different colors make up the graphics and flames, and these colors help add originality and depth to the skin of this 4x4. Cool finishing touches to the exterior were the Bushwacker Street fender flares and a billet aluminum grille. Not forgetting the frame, David stripped and sprayed it with marbleized paint, adding a finishing touch to the chassis.

When you crack the doors on this custom ride, the first thing you notice are the bold colors and the detailed patterns throughout the custom upholstery. The bright-blue and yellow designs are upholstered with vinyl and tweed. The interior design and pattern was meant to complement the gothic striping of the exterior. Graphics were also added to the custom headliner and the back panel. The bed of the truck was capped with a Leer shell and received the same matching designs as the interior of the cab. The custom upholstery was stitched by Jim Edwards of Chesapeake.

This truck may be considered David's audiovisual haven. The stereo system features a Pioneer head unit with a flip-out screen, and it is assisted by two giant Power Acoustic amps pumping out 600 major watts to four MB Quartz speakers and two 10-inch JVL Pro Audio 10W6 subs. You will find the two 10-inch subwoofers mounted in a sano custom-made speaker box behind the front seats. In the bed of the vehicle, covered neatly under the shell, you will find more electronic components, such as an Alpine stereo system, a Clarion VCR, and a flip-down TV screen.

Traveling down the vehicle-building road is a long and tiring journey. Throw in a little pain and suffering, a ton of money, and you may end up with the off-road vehicle you had planned. However, just a plan and a blueprint for your off-roader won't take you down that dusty trail or swimming through the mud - determination to finish the project vehicle will. David's enthusiasm and love of off-roading have given him the drive to build a cool, go-anywhere trail machine, and the Ranger's license plate says it all: 4x4LIFE.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown David Knighten/Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Make/model '98 {{{Ford Ranger}}} 4x4
Suspension 4-inch Superlift suspension, 3-inch Superlift
body lift
Tires/wheels 39x15.50x15 Mickey Thompson {{{Baja}}}
  Belted/15x12-inch {{{Eagle}}} Alloy
Additional features Superlift shocks; Leer shell; custom interior
and upholstery; custom graphics; stainless
steel exhaust system; Go Rhino! axle truss;
{{{Optima}}} batteries

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