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2001 Ford Ranger - The Accidental Off-Roader

Posted in Features on December 30, 2014
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There was Jimmy Phipps, driving down the road and minding his own business, when someone plowed into the rear of his car. The import was totaled, and didn’t do Jimmy too much good either. He survived more or less intact, but now had to find something else to drive.

His cousin had this ’01 Ford Ranger Edge that he agreed to let go at a good price, so Jimmy had a vehicle that was more in line with what someone in the Morongo Valley should be driving. But Jimmy saw all that open desert around his Yucca Valley, California, home and decided that he wanted to explore more of it. The Ranger was close to fitting the bill, but he wanted it to be more at home in the dirt.

To do so, Jimmy took it to Tapped Motorsports of Yucca Valley, where he knew the crew had a lot of experience turning out dirt-worthy trucks. Tapped is one of the best shops in the area when it comes to competition off-road racing, and they build some nice prerunners too. Jimmy took his stock Ranger and a handful of cash over, and the rest is history.

In just three short weeks, they transformed this Ranger into a desert-worthy Ranger. They did so by adding a Camburg Full Race front suspension system to the stock ford Ranger frame, witch had been gusseted and had shock towers added. A set of Fox 2.5 triple bypass and Fox 2.5 coilovers were used on each side up front, complete with Eibach dual-rate springs. The shocks were valved and sprung especially for the Camburg suspension system.

For the rear suspension, Mom’s Fabrication bolt-in bed ’cage was put in the rear to add shock-mounting locations and strength to the rear frame. Tapped then added a Deaver D35 spring pack ADS piggyback shocks.

For true desert fun, which is what Jimmy wanted, a set of 15-inch Mickey Thomson beadlock wheels that were equipped with 35-inch General Grabber tires have been placed on the corners. To make sure that there was ample space for the wheels to make use of all that suspension travel, a set of Glass Works fiberglass fenders have taken the place of the stock units.

It gets dark in the desert, so Jimmy added Robby Gordon lightbars to both the roof and the front skidplate bars using custom Tapped Motorsports mounts. No worries now about the dark of a moonless night for him.

Robbie Gordon LED lightbars now turn the desert night into day.

Tapped also custom-fabbed the mounts/sliders for the McNeil Racing seats that are now found inside the Ford. Other tricks include a custom fiberglass center console, a Pioneer Bluetooth stereo system with a huge woofer powered by a Hifonics booster.

Power for the Ford comes from a relatively stock 4.0 engine, though it has been upgraded with a K&N cold air intake system, a Power Aid intake spacer, and a MagnaFlow muffler system.

Phipps and the Tapped Motorsports crew have taken what was a vehicle that was in very good shape, but totally stock, and made it into the prerunner that is very close to being all that Jimmy is hoping it can be. He does plan on putting in a rollcage and harnesses to get to a point that it is a fun and reliable prerunner that will stay street legal.

After all, even when you live in the desert, you have to drive on some pavement to get to the good trails.

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