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2001 Ford Ranger - One Razor-Sharp Edge

Posted in Features on April 1, 2007
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Ford versus Chevy. Hatfields versus McCoys. Montagues versus Capulets. I-beams versus A-arms. While that last item hasn't been fraught with as much bloodshed and anguish as the first three, many Ford fans cried foul when the powers that be abandoned the Ranger's tried-and-true I-beam front end in favor of modern A-arm technology for the '98 model year. We don't blame the Blue Oval diehards for worrying; after all, the I-beam front end was (and still is) durable, simple, and easy to get big-inch desert-smoothing travel out of. Ford's move to A-arms still had merit: A-arms simply deliver better handling.

Huntington Beach, California's Camburg Engineering decided to flow with the rising A-arm tide instead of fighting it. The Ranger A-arm chassis comes in two flavors. The first is the 4x4/Edge chassis. The 2WD Edge has the same frame as the 4x4, minus the front drive parts. The second is the standard 2WD chassis. From a development standpoint, the best news was that Ford built both versions of its new-school chassis using an even stronger frame than the previous-generation Rangers had. Something still lacked. The midsize truck needed more oomph.

Answering the call in '99, Ford introduced its 4.0 SOHC V6 to the Ranger - a powerful engine whose output is akin to some V8s. Camburg cofounder Jason Campbell explains: "At one point, we built a Ranger and swapped a V8 into it. We took it to Barstow for testing, and ran through one particularly nasty uphill section. We hit about 74 mph. We've taken our V6-powered Edge through that same section at 72. The SOHC V6 was so close to the V8 it seemed pointless to do an engine swap."

Most trucks are built in stages, and this '01 Ranger Edge is no exception. The first stage was relatively mild, consisting of a Camburg 6.0 performance off-road system in front, and a midtravel three-link in the rear. Campbell comments, "The truck was a lot of fun to drive after the first buildup. It wasn't anything hardcore, so we didn't expect much. We were amazed at how well it ended up working in the desert for such a basic truck."

After a lot of midtravel fun, Campbell, Jerry Zaiden, and the rest of Camburg Racing, removed the first stage componentry and unlocked the potential they knew was lurking inside the Edge. The 6.0 performance off-road system was shelved in favor of a wide-track, long-travel Camburg front suspension kit capable of 19 inches of clean-handling A-arm travel. The midtravel three-link was modified into the long-travel version currently in place. The original three-link mounted the shocks directly to the axle, and it used simple lower links: single tubes with pivots at either end. The long-travel three-link mounts the shocks into new lower links. Mounting the shocks to the lower links has two effects. One, it increases suspension travel at the wheels. Two, it requires the new lower links to be ultrastrong. The new lower links have to be capable of carrying the loads between the link-mounted coilover and bypass shocks and the wheels. The Camburg long-travel three-link nets the Edge two full feet of rear wheel travel.

We first saw this truck in action at the 2005 MORE Beard Seats 1450 Shoot-Out. Since then, we've also spotted the Edge waiting its turn to start the 2005 SCORE Baja 1000 in the Sportsman Truck class. While the Baja 1000 is never easy, running in the Sportsman Truck class is a low-key, low-pressure way to experience the adventure of racing in Baja. That wasn't enough for Camburg - it threw caution to the wind at the 2006 SCORE Baja 500 and lined up with the Trophy Trucks. "We were doing really well for a while, even running in the top 20 at times," Jerry says. "For the coming season, we're looking closely at the new Best In The Desert 7 Unlimited Class. This truck has a wider track width than traditional Class 7 rules allow, so the new 7 Unlimited Class is the perfect place for us. No matter where we end up, we're excited about the upcoming racing season."

We're expecting to see Camburg's Edge at or near the top of the results sheets in '07. That assertion comes after having looked at this truck up close. The same care and skill that created the front A-arms and rear links was also responsible for an ultraclean rollcage and neat, orderly mounting of accessories and safety gear. We were also treated to a ride. Camburg's Edge is as fast and smooth as it looks. It's razor-sharp. If you line up against this truck, be prepared for a close shave.

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