Whether it’s that one bracket that fits perfectly in place or a wild idea that turns out to be the right one, small victories can make working on a project vehicle much more enjoyable. Likely one of the most rewarding moments on any project vehicle is the first drive. This month we focused on getting our ’97 Ford Ranger project vehicle moving under its own power. This meant finishing up the solid-axle conversion we started on last month and getting our new drivelines bolted in place.
If you’ve followed our Ranger Rehash then you’ve likely noticed that we’re using a collection of parts from multiple manufacturers. This was no accident, but rather a well devised plan that we laid out with the build shop, Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Using a medley of aftermarket companies and parts may seem like sensory overload, but when you’re working with a custom project such as our Ford Ranger, it’s simply part of the process. From the beginning one of our goals for the project was to create something that was easily replicable.
While building a custom suspension and steering setup is easy for our host shop, Low Range 4x4, it takes away from the simplicity of being able to pick up the phone and purchase readily available aftermarket parts. That being said, we do have some custom fabrication in the works for the next issue. This will involve body protection (truck and driver) along with a custom winch mount and a few other trick upgrades. For those looking for more Ranger photos and sneak peeks at what’s coming up next, head over to 4wheeloffroad.com.
The AEV Way
Wheels are a big part of any project. Each of the Ranger’s 37x12.50 Mickey Thompson MTZs is bolted onto a 17-inch American Expedition Vehicles beadlock. What’s unique about the AEV wheels is that they are equipped with 3.6-inch backspacing and a Ranger-correct 5-on-41⁄2 wheel bolt pattern. The 3.6-inch backspacing sets the rims out enough to provide the truck with better footing and prevents steering and suspension interference. Another bonus is the total tire and wheel combo is relatively light, which is good news for our 3.0L V-6 engine.