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1994 Ford Ranger Grand National Sport Truck - Pushing Forward Back

Posted in Features on January 1, 2005
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We look for the trick and unique when trolling for prerunner feature trucks at OFF-ROAD. A custom bump-swallowing suspension combined with pin-you-back-in-your-seat power are par for the course. Then there's Steve Reeder's Ford Ranger. This truck is not only unique from a technical and mechanical standpoint, but has an equally impressive travel log to go with it. Reeder's ride is a standout among standouts.

Hearken back a decade, to the glory days of factory-sponsored off-road racing. Mickey Thompson events scorched the stadiums, and the desert was dusted by factory teams dipping into deep factory coffers. Perhaps the most memorable factory team was Ford's Rough Riders. With the slogan "The Best Never Rest," they showed off-road racing fans a previously unbeknownst combination of professionalism and speed.

During this period, Jim Venable funded a stable of Rough Rider trucks and drivers. Two identical stadium trucks were built. One was driven by famous fast guy Rob MacCachren, and the other driven by fellow famous fast guy Jerry Whelchel. Venable Racing originally called on the fabricating talents of Russ Wiernemont to build the stadium Rangers. Later, Nye Frank came into the picture and added his own brand of never-went-near-the-box thinking to the trucks' suspensions and drivetrains. Air shocks? Not new. Water-cooled external bypass air shocks? This truck has 'em. Clean fabrication, front and rear antisway bars, a rear-mounted radiator, a dry sump oiling system, and a full-floating Dana 60 rear axle are all features that keep this decade-old Ranger a force to be reckoned with in 2005.

This truck's travel log is as unique as its construction. Eventually, the factories pulled out of off-road racing, leaving all the Rough Riders scrambling for new rides. The Ranger was sold to new owners in South Africa, where it competed in local events during 1997 and 1998. After 1998, this factory-funded rolling metallic masterpiece gathered dust. Enter consummate off-road enthusiast Steve Reeder.

Reeder grew up in Borrego Springs, California. As a desert dweller, he was constantly exposed to off-road machinery. On two or four wheels, Steve developed a permanent love of off-road racing. Steve cultivated engine-building talents and spent time as a professional engine builder for a Class 5-1600 (VW Baja Bug limited to 1,600 cc's) Baja racing team. He currently works as a sheet-feed printing-press operator at A&L Lithograph Company in San Marcos, California.

Through friends in the racing world, Steve got wind of a chance to buy Jerry Whelchel's former stadium truck and wasted no time sealing the deal. At the time the deal was inked, the dollar had a 3-to-1 advantage over the South African rand. Steve not only got a truck like no other, he made an unheard-of deal.

The truck was shipped disassembled in several crates, allowing the truck to re-enter the United States as cargo rather than as a complete vehicle, and import tariffs were avoided. Steve set about reassembling the truck, and upgraded the engine during the process. A MasterCraft Proseat upgraded the comfort level in the truck's all-business interior.

Today, Steve has the pleasure of owning and driving one of the trickest trucks ever to set knob on dirt. He has entered several Prostadium and Tough Truck events to date, with several wins and strong finishes to his credit. "I always loved watching the trucks at the Mickey Thompson stadium events, so owning this truck is a dream come true." Congrats on the truck, Steve. It looks as though there's a new famous fast guy in town.

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown : Steve Reeder/San Marcos, California
Year/make/model : '94 Ford Ranger Grand National sport truck
Engine : 3.0L Ford four-cylinder, Ford SVO tall-deck block,
    Ford aluminum SVO head with titanium valves,
    Kinsler fuel injection, Ross pistons, Crane camshaft,
    Oliver connecting rods and crankshaft, Dan Olson
    dry-sump pan
Transmission : GM Powerglide two-speed with manual valvebody,
    Winters shifter, TCS 5,800-rpm stall torque
    converter, Winters quick-change gearbox
Suspension : Custom-built by Nye Frank, A-arm front with 16-inch
    travel, four-link with cantilever-actuated shocks,
    yielding 17 inches of travel
Shocks : Custom-made by Nye Frank, air springs, bypass
    tubes, integrated water-cooling system
Wheels/tires : 31x10.50R15 (front) and 33x12.50R15 (rear) Alcoas
    with Champion bead locks; mounted by Dann Perry
    of Ed Perry Tire Co. in Borrego Springs, California
Additional features : Trailer Products fiberglass body panels painted by
    George Reiss using PPG {{{Viper}}} Blue, {{{Corvette}}} Red,
    and Arctic White

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