Sometimes Height Is Everything
Off-road enthusiasts have always had alternative ideas of how to improve performance and build their vehicles as tough as possible. Even though most 4x4s come off the assembly line built with some of the most advanced engineering and technology, it's never enough, especially in the height department. It may have something to do with a person's natural and instinctual quest to alter any type of machinery from its original state, no matter how well it works. It's the opposite of the old saying "If it works, don't fix it." 4x4 owners tend to use "If it works, wrench on it some more." In these advanced days of automotive technology, this holds especially true because of the availability of quality parts and advanced technical know how. Eric Burchett of Olive Hill, Kentucky, couldn't resist his natural instinct to recreate this '96 ford Ranger.
To be successful at any build up, a vision and a master plan have to be properly created. Eric knew that in order to have this 4x4 meet his demanding standards, his plan of attack would have to be creative and innovative. The vehicle needed to be unique as well as functional - and stand apart from the crowd. In order to clear his intended obstacles of mud bogs and rocks, height was Eric's first objective. The kind of altitude Eric had in mind would require some major suspension work. First on the list was the conversion of the front suspension to a straight axle design. A '71 Ford Bronco donated the front and rear axles. The Bronco's Dana 44 axle was inserted up front, and the Ford 9-inch rear axle, fitted with Moser custom alloy axles and disc brakes, was installed in the rear. The two axles underwent a complete overhaul that included regearing to 5:13. For maximum traction, an EZ locker was installed in front and a Detroit locker in the rear.
Swapping the axles gave Eric the perfect building foundation for major height. An additional 15 inches of clearance was added to this Ranger's undercarriage. Twelve-inch lifted springs from National Spring were chosen for the rear, and a set of Valley Spring's 12-inch coil springs were mounted to the front.A 3-inch body lift was added, and Eric found the clearance he needed to get him up and over anything coming his way. Dual Skyjacker dampers were added at each corner to help ease the pain of any sudden road hazards. Dual Skyjacker steering dampers were also added. Reaching these new heights, the Ranger was able to be fitted with Mickey Thompson Baja Belted 39x18x15 tires and Weld Scorpio 15x14-inch wheels. With the help of Lowe Bros. Body Shop of Olive Hill, Kentucky, the painstakingly detailed trick suspension work was completed.
Because Eric wanted his vehicle to be the standout in the crowd, a cool finish was essential. Lowe Bros. Body shop also completed the entire body make over. The major obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that the machine had previously been rolled over in salt water. The Ranger was completely stripped and refinished in DuPont Bright Chrome Yellow.