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A 1997 Ford Ranger For Riding Fences

This Ford Is At Home On The Range … Er, Ranches

Matt EmeryPhotographer, Writer

When Andy Waters goes to work, he does it as his own ranch. Located deep in the hills of Moorpark, California, Waters Ranches goes back to the early 20th century and in that time they have done many good things with the land. Andy also has a highly built ’97 Ford Ranger. Combine it with a lot of land to drive on, and it’s what we call heaven.

This Ranger has a good pedigree as Weitzel Motorsports of Santee, California, built its tube frame. It then spent time at Stewart Raceworks of El Cajon and was next sent to Unique Metal of Oceanside, California.

Finished by Roper Design of Ventura, California, it utilizes Roper Design equal length Dana 44 TB that uses Coyne Industries spindles and finishes off with Wilwood Powerlite calipers and rotors. Howe Performance steering components make sure that the Ranger is running straight and true.

A pair per side of Fox shocks gives it the proper dampening characteristics. One is a Fox 3.0 quadruple bypass while the other is a Fox 2.5 coilover. On every corner one will find 8x15-inch forged Alcoa wheels that have 35-inch BFGoodrich KR2 tires.

Power is supplied with a Ford engine, but not the 4 that came stock. It has been replaced with a stroked 5.0L that now measures out to 347ci’s. A set of Roper Design tuned equal length stainless steel headers route the spent fuel to stainless steel Magna Flow mufflers. Other upgrades include a complete MSD ignition system and a K&N air cleaner. A pair of Fluidyne coolers do the job of keeping the Ranger running cool.

A Moggi built C6 and an Altas two-speed transfer case sends the horses to the Cone Industries 9-inch rear end that utilizes 4:11 gears. The Dana up front also has 4:11’s.

The no nonsense interior is designed to be fully off-road functional, but also has a few touches of comfort. First the serious stuff: a set of Deist Safety harness-equipped Mastercraft bucket seats anchor the interior (and occupants) while the MOMO steering wheel, Winters floor shifter and CNC pedals give the driver total control.

It was while at Stewarts that the guys from UMP built the dash and console. It houses a compliment of Auto Meter Pro-Comp Ultra-Lite gauges and all of the electrical switches, as well as the PCI intercom system. It also has a Pioneer stereo system as well as a Vintage Air Air-conditioning system. If you’re gonna rough it, you may as well be comfortable and entertained. Pro Wire of Santee CA. did all of the intricate wiring chores.

Stylish and subtle describe the exterior, as Tip Top Auto Body of Ventura covered the steel cab and fiberglass fenders with a nice silver paint job. UMP had also built out the bed by adding various bed articles, as well as a toolbox. A quartet of 7-inch HELLA lights have been mounted to an articulated mount atop the bed cage that also mounts two more BFG KR’s and the aforementioned Fluidyne coolers.

Even with all the land that Waters’ has at his beck and call to race around on, he still takes it on various runs. We caught up with him at the King of Hammers, and he says that he takes it out as often as his busy schedule allows. We know that if we had the Ranger, we’d be out having fun in it too.

Sitting atop his own Moorpark CA. hill, Andy Waters and his Ranger feel right at home.

Sitting inside (and atop) the Weitzel Motorsports cage are twin BFGoodrich KR2 tires mounted on Alcoa wheels, twin electric fan-equipped Fluidyne coolers and four Hella lights.

The punched out 5.0L Ford engine now measures 347 cubic inches, and is enhanced with an MSD ignition, K&N air filter and Roper headers.

Always be prepared. We think that painting the belt flow diagram on the radiator shroud is genius.

Each side of the Weitzel Motorsports enhanced frame houses a Fox quad-bypass and 2.5 coilover shock and bumpstop. They dampen a Roper Design equal length Dana 44 TB that uses Coyne Industries spindles, Wilwood Powerlite calipers and rotors and Howe Performance steering components.

A combination of Fox coilover and bypass shocks, along with the long trailing arms, gives the Cone Industries 9-inch rearend plenty of room to move.

The Mastercraft low-back seats are held securely to the Weitzel interior cage while the Deist Safety harnesses hold the occupants securely to them.

UMP produced the beautiful aluminum dash and center console. The dash houses many Auto Meter gauges as well as the PCI Race Radios comm system. Notice the A/C vents.

A Winters shifter dominates the UMP center console, but there’s still enough room for the Pioneer stereo and Vintage Air air-conditioning system.

How’s that for a throttle pedal? There’s no missing that thing! A CNC brake pedal is used and a foot brace has been installed as well.

The pretty MOMO steering wheel gives the driver a good grip, and the many electrical switches control lighting, pumps and fans.

Baja ready BFGoodrich KR2 tires (35x12.50xR15) are mounted to forged Alcoa wheels.

A quartet of 7-inch Hella lights are mounted on top of the bed cage, but in a articulating mount. That way they can be up when needed, and back and out of danger when not.

A pair of electric fan equipped Fluidyne coolers keeps the Moggi built C6 trans cool.