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This 1997 Ford Ranger is Full of Relentless Determination

Posted in Features on July 29, 2015
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Wheeling your rig hard takes its toll. Welds crack, axles break, and sheetmetal gets dented over the years. Some people sell their well-worn vehicles. Others transfer the parts to a new donor. However, Dave Barry just sees this as an opportunity to take what he has learned and make his Ford Ranger even better.

Dave bought his Ranger new off the lot in 1997 and has been upgrading it ever since. That has included two TTB lift kits (before he swapped in a Dana 44) and a few different link setups with the solid front axle. Plus there have been some rollovers along the way, resulting in the addition of some tube and removal of some sheetmetal. "1-tons and 40s would be great," Dave admits. "But honestly, the fact that the front half of the truck is still full-bodied and I drive it to and from the trails keeps me from going any further with it."

Given where Dave takes his truck now, we can only imagine what it would look like if he took it even "further"!

At A Glance
Vehicle: 1997 Ford Ranger
Owner: Dave Barry
Stomping grounds: La Quinta, California
Built time: 17 years and counting
Engine: 4.0L V-6
Transmission: 5R55E five-speed automatic
Transfer case(s): BW1354
Low range ratio: 2.48:1
Crawl ratio: 29.89:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 44 w/ 4.88 gears, Aussie Locker, Superior chromoly axleshafts, Longfield U-joints, Warn hubs
Rear axle/differential: Ford 8.8 w/ 4.88 gears and Detroit Locker
Front: Fox coilovers and custom three-link suspension
Rear: All-Pro Off Road leaf springs, Bilstein shocks
Steering: Bulletproof Steering tie rod and drag link with rod ends
Tires: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2
Wheels: 17x8.5 Walker Evans Beadlock
Armor: Barnes 4WD front bumper, custom rock sliders, tube bed
Cool stuff: Superwinch Rock95 winch, JBA headers, Gibson exhaust

Power comes from a 4.0L OHV V-6 with a K&N air filter, JBA headers, and Gibson exhaust. From there it goes to the factory 5R55E automatic transmission and BW1354 transfer case.

A full rollcage was added to the interior after Dave flopped his Ranger at Truckhaven OHV Area. He constructed it himself out of 1.75 and 1.5-inch DOM tubing and tied it into the frame to maximize safety. By placing the front downbars through the HVAC vents, Dave maximized foot room but lost the use of his heater vents.

The front axle is a Dana 44 out of an Early Bronco. It has been upgraded with 4.88 gears and an Aussie Locker behind the Blue Torch Fab diff cover. Superior chromoly axleshafts, Longfield U-joints, and Warn hubs route power to the 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2s.

The front suspension uses 2-inch diameter, 14-inch-travel Fox coilovers with 200 over 250 lb-in coil springs. The axle is located by a three-link suspension that uses lower links constructed from 1.5-inch, 0.250-wall DOM sleeved with 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM with rod ends at the frame and urethane bushings at the axle end. Dave doesn’t have to worry about bending those!

The rear suspension uses 3-inch leaf springs from All-Pro Off Road intended for a Tacoma. They are mounted on Kartek shackle hangers and DIY4X shackles. Some 14-inch-travel Bilstein 5100 shocks are mounted to the tubular bed and the top of the axle where they are safe from the rocks.

The rear axle is the factory Ford 8.8 that was widened 2 inches by Currie Enterprises and upgraded with 31-spline axleshafts and big bearing housing ends. The diff has been upgraded with 4.88 gears, a full Detroit Locker, and a Blue Torch Fab diff cover.

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