Gabriel Lara's Slick, Sick Blue Oval Flyer is No Laughing Matter
Funny Cars are aptly named machines as these quarter-milers are so far removed from, say a Camaro or Mustang, there is only the slightest resemblance to the original vehicle. Trophy Trucks and Class 1 race trucks are somewhat closer to the trucks that inspired their basic appearance; then again, not really. Try and find one body panel, one engine, or one chassis layout that's near OE in form on a TT, and we'll eat our collective editorial hats. Funny trucks - that's what we should call 'em.
Now, that's not to complain that the appearance of an F-150 TT is far gone; we're just observing the fact that many performance trucks share little in common with their OE design. Case in point: Gabriel Lara's '93 Ford Ranger prerunner. Seemingly, the following was Gabe's plan for the initial design and fabrication phases of his Ranger - Step One: Throw out the entire stock front suspension; Step Two: Scrap the entire OE rear suspension; Step Three: Toss out the original bent-six engine; Step Four: Follow suit with any stock Ranger parts and components deemed unworthy, unreliable, untrick, or unfashionable.
When the bloodletting ended, there wasn't much left of Gabe's Ranger; just a straight frame and a clean cab. Starting with the underpinnings, Gabe sought advice and skilled fabrication from Nestor Berardi and his talented fabrication crew at Newline Racing. Newline took the challenge, scratch-building a front suspension based on equal-length I-beams, custom radius arms, and a beautiful crossover steering system that exhibits minimal bumpsteer and precise control. Of special note are the hubs attached to the ends of the way-long I-beams; fullsize F-150 hubs supplant the OE Ranger hubs, thus delivering maximum strength and the benefit of using the larger F-150 wheel bearings, axle stubs, and brakes. Not missed were the bumpstops, which are Fox units with Newline-fabbed mounts. With the basics nicely laid out, the icing on the cake was applied. Brent King's 3-inch-diameter coilovers were set in place (one per side) using damping values and spring rates agreed upon between Nestor and King, and specific to Gabe's Ranger. Between the wide I-beams and the long-stroke shocks, the Ranger cycles through an impressive 22 inches of wheel travel.
The Ranger's rear suspension is more of the same; more radically impressive fabrication from Newline, including a four-link suspension, Fox bumps, and a function-above-all bed cage. Straying from the single coilover used on each wheel of the front suspension (but not straying from King's product), Newline equipped the Ranger's rear with primo damping: a pair of 2.5-inch-diameter King coilover shocks augmented with a pair of 2.5-inch-diameter King double-bypass dampers. The compression travel of the suspension (and of the fully trussed Ford 9-inch rear axlehousing) is maximized by the Ranger's heavily reworked main framerails, which allow for an impressive amount of suspension travel - 27 inches to be exact.
Under the Hannemann Fiberglass hood is more non-stock stuff. A fuel-injected 5.0L small-block was stuffed into the Ranger's engine bay; it's equipped with a Saleen mass air flow sensor, a gaggle of custom header tubes from Scott Performance Fabrication, a Ron Davis aluminum radiator, and all of the neat pieces that tie the eight-banger together. Power is sent to an E4OD four-speed overdrive transmission, which was performance-built and prepped by North Hollywood Transmissions, and on through a Drivelines Unlimited driveshaft before spinning the Ford Motorsports gearset and limited-slip differential inside the axlehousing.
Housed inside the huge Hannemann Fiberglass front fenders and rear bedsides are a set of American Racing wheels wrapped with what is perhaps the ultimate race/prerun tire: BFG's legendary Baja T/A. Tear yourself away from these sparkling words for a second and feast your eyes on how Jachmann's photos drive home the manner in which the wheels, the tires, the 'glass, and the Ranger's suspension combine for a truly rakish, high-performance stance. Not easy to achieve, but obviously doable - at least for Newline.
As we close this tale, it's interesting to point out that Gabe's passion for his FoMoCo prerunner isn't a part-time affair. Indeed, as one of the main players at race-dezert.com, Gabe, along with fellow Race-Dezert moderators Klaus Rasch and John Biting, truly lives the lifestyle of a performance off-road truck owner. "I eat, breathe, and live to drive prerunners," isn't Gabe Lara's motto, but it certainly could be.
|Owner/hometown||Gabriel Lara/Redondo Beach, California|
|Year/make/model||'93 Ford Ranger SuperCab|
|Front suspension||Newline Racing custom I-beams and radius|
|arms; Newline crossover steering; King coilover|
|shocks; Fox air bumpstops; F-150 hubs;|
|22 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension||Newline four-link custom design; King coilover|
|shocks; King dual-bypass dampers; 27 inches|
|Engine||Ford 5.0L EFI V-8 with Scott Performance|
|Fabrication headers and Saleen mass|
|Transmission||Ford E4OD four-speed overdrive prepped by|
|North Hollywood Transmissions|
|Rear axle||Ford 9-inch with Ford Motorsports limited-slip|
|differential, custom trusses, and 4.89 ratio gears|
|Fenders and Bedsides||Hannemann Fiberglass|
|Fuel cell||Fuel Safe 51-gallon aluminum|
|Additional fabrication||Pflueger Racing; Hoffman Motorsports|