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1999 Ford Ranger Supercab - Dirt Devil

Posted in Features on September 1, 2003 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Joel Mollis

It takes more than determination and hard work to put together a quality truck capable of punishing the dirt and surviving off-road assault missions on a regular basis. The sum of the parts and people involved in the buildup are more important than any single contribution, and knowing where to look for the goods is a talent in itself. Jason Nichols has the talent to pick quality people and parts for his projects, and it shines through in his latest rig, a '99 Ford Ranger SuperCab. The green monster has the right ingredients to make trips into the desolate and foreboding California desert rewarding rather than frustrating. Jason's formula for success stemmed from his employment at Offroad Unlimited, a shop known for turning out some pretty incredible trucks inside of its Burbank, California, facility. Using his contacts within the industry and the help of good friends, Jason put together the tight and nimble Ranger in under a year.

For starters, ORU tore apart the stock front suspension, replacing it with H&M Motorsports chromoly A-arms with uniballs; Fabtech coils were installed along with a set of lift spindles to tie everything together. To soak up the bumps, a pair of Bilstein 7100-series reservoir dampers was bolted up to a custom set of upper shock hoops. Mike Duvall from ORU then designed the front and rear bumpers and bed cage, and the truck was driven to Tubeworx in Phoenix, Arizona, for its next phase in construction. Justin Smith went to work, building the bumpers and bed cage from Mike's designs and setting up the rear suspension with a pair of National Springs 6-inch lift prerunner leaf spring packs. Another set of Bilstein 7100s were installed through the Line-X coated bed floor to the bed cage, giving the package a full 14 inches of rear-wheel travel.

To keep up with the new suspension system and make the truck more fun to drive, the drivetrain was given a boost in performance. The 4.0L V-6 engine was outfitted with an a.F.e air intake and mass airflow sensor from Granetelli Motorsports. A 2.5-inch-diameter Magnaflow performance exhaust system was installed to help the engine breathe easier and fatten up the powerband. The stock 8.8-inch rearend was then beefed up with a set of 4.56 gears from Superior and an Auburn posi unit. A polished aluminum differential cover protects the new cogs.

All of that power and suspension travel is cool, but if using it means stuffing the 33-inch Pro Comp Xterrain tires into the fenders, what good is it? Installing fiberglass body parts was the next order of business, and Hannemann Fiberglass of Azusa, California, came to the rescue. The new fiberglass fenders provided plenty of room for the new rolling stock to travel, and it looked good with the new bumpers. L&G Enterprises receives credit for smoothing and color-matching all of the new body parts and giving the truck a finished look.

The list of accessories that fills out the rest of this truck's persona is short but satisfying. A quartet of PIAA Pro 80 racing lights take up residence on the front bumper and blasts the darkness with 150 watts of power. Inside the cab, Jason is treated to the sonic excellence of a Pioneer Super Tuner III CD head unit that was installed by Auto Toys of Burbank. Infinity Products provided the carbon-fiber dress-up kit for the interior, and it blends nicely with the mostly stock interior.

Jason made a little go a long way with his Ranger, and the fact is that as simple and understated as this truck is, it works in the dirt. This is just another fine example of how to build a truck without breaking the bank and have fun doing it.

SpecificationsOwner/hometown:Jason Nichols/Simi Valley, California

Year/make/model:'99 Ford Ranger SuperCab

Engine:4.0L V-6

Gear ratio:Superior 4.56 with Auburn posi unit

Tires/wheels:33x12.50.15 Pro Comp Xterrain tires/15x7-inch Eagle rims

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