Ford Ranger Prerunner – Cheapest Ticket to Desert Racing

ford ranger prerunner black fiberwerx wide body
ford ranger prerunner fenders bulge 4"
ford ranger prerunner black fiberwerx wide body
ford ranger prerunner spare tires carrier
Black 2007 Ford Ranger Prerunner +6
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The Ford Ranger is one of the most popular small trucks on DIY Prerunner scene. In today’s post, we will try to figure out why people love these trucks and what it takes to build a worthy prerunner out of one. Kalil Bushala and David Hart – the owners of some of the most badass Ranger desert trucks – were kind enough to share the spec lists of their builds and tell us about the modifications they made. Read on to get the recipe for an ultimate Ford Ranger prerunner straight from the source!

ford ranger prerunner long travel suspension

So Why a Ranger?

The primary reason we love these trucks so much is that they are very simple and affordable compared to bigger, full-size pickups, making them a popular choice as a prerunner platform for DIY enthusiasts.

Rangers are available in both RWD and 4WD configurations. They were in production from 1983 until 2012, when Ford discontinued the model. The low cost and high reliability made the Ranger a best-seller among small pickup trucks, resulting in a vast array of aftermarket parts and components available for it.

If you are looking for an affordable and easy-to-maintain entry-level prerunner, the Ranger will be your top choice. With a truck like this, you can keep your comfortable daily driver and turn this truck into an ultimate desert rig without spending an exorbitant amount of money.

Ranger Chase Truck with a Double Spare Tire Carrier in the Bed
Ranger Chase Truck with a Double Spare Tire Carrier in the Bed

Aftermarket Support

Pretty much all manufacturers of aftermarket off-road equipment and fab shops have an extensive line of Ranger prerunner products and solutions, so you don’t have to spend much time designing your own components and custom fabrication. These trucks are very capable but still stand one step lower than fullsize trucks that come with stock V8 engines, like a Toyota Tundra or Nissan Titan.

The most crucial part of every prerunner build is choosing the right suspension setup. Companies such as Camburg, Dixon Bros, and HM Racing Design can offer you kits ranging from mild to wild, with suspension travel starting from 15″ up to 24″, which will be more than enough for spirited driving in the desert.

If you are concerned about wheel size, you can choose any setup between 33″-35″ and up to 39″ tires. Bulged fenders and a lightweight hood will help you clear large wheels on a Ranger and allow for decent suspension travel.

Ford Ranger Prerunner With 2nd Generation Ford Raptor Front End Conversion
Fiberwerx Ranger to Raptor Front End Conversion

The team at Fiberwerx has a cool Ranger to Raptor conversion body kit that will help you to ditch the old factory body panels in favor of the late model Ford Full-size truck. It includes a complete set of body panels, fenders, quarter panels, and a one-piece front end with a Raptor grille and headlights. In addition to the first-gen Ford Raptor front and rear end conversion, you can now get a Gen 2 Ford Raptor conversion, which looks awesome. It comes with 2015 and newer F150 headlights and taillights that mount to the new Raptor front shell and fiberglass tailgate.

Rangers were available with 4 and 6-cylinder 2.3L – 4.0L motors, producing up to 207 HP and 238 lb-ft of torque. However, many owners have opted for custom V8 conversions.

Best Pre Runner Builds

Alright, enough of the theory and brochure specs. In the second part of our writeup, we decided to take a closer look at the Ford Ranger prerunners pictured, talk with the owners, and find the recipe for a proper Ford Ranger desert truck.

Ford Ranger Prerunner Bed mount spare tire
2004 Ranger RWD with a Camburg 3-link Suspension kit

2004 Ford Ranger Black Widow

First up is Kalil Bushala from Fullerton, California, and his fully built, daily-driven 2004 Ford Ranger prerunner nicknamed “Black Widow.” The wide stance, large tires, and bulged fenders make the truck look extremely brutal, especially in black. Kalil has owned the truck since 2010 and has been constantly working on its modification. Throughout the years, it has gone through many changes that have touched pretty much all components of the truck, turning it into a real performer and head-turner.

Build Specs

Engine:
  • Performance tune
  • Juanco tuned ECU
  • K&N air intake
  • Stock 4.0 V6 SOHC engine
  • C4 Culhane built transmission
  • Jaz 32-gallon fuel cell
  • CBR transmission cooler
  • Planned supercharger upgrade

Suspension:
  • Camburg Race Kit with 2.25 hubs
  • Camburg 3-link kit
  • Currie stamped 9″ rearend with modular case
  • Fox shocks all around

Wheels:
  • 15″ Method rims with beadlocks
  • 35″ BFG mud-terrain tires

Body:
  • Widebody fenders by Glassworks Fiberglass
  • Black paint

Safety:
  • Full cage from front to rear using DOM tubing
  • Roof cut off to weld a full 360-degree cage
  • Front & rear performance brakes by Wilwood
  • Crow 5-point harnesses

Other:
  • Momo steering wheel with quick release
  • PRP racing seats

A performance tune, Juanco tuned ECU, and K&N air intake have allowed Kalil to get more power from the stock 4.0 V6 SOHC engine, which is paired with a C4 Culhane built transmission to make the truck even more agile in the dunes and on desert trails. It is also equipped with a Jaz 32-gallon fuel cell and a CBR transmission cooler. As we all know, there is always room for improvement, so Kalil is planning to upgrade his Ranger with a supercharger to get even more power and torque in the future.

Suspension and drivetrain mods include a Camburg Race Kit with 2.25 hubs, Camburg 3-link kit, Currie stamped 9″ rearend with modular case, Fox shocks all around, and front & rear performance brakes by Wilwood.

Ford Ranger Prerunner Rock Crawling
Currie stamped 9″ rearend with modular case

The interior features a Momo steering wheel with quick release, PRP racing seats, and Crow 5-point harnesses. Significant attention was dedicated to safety, so the Ranger is equipped with a full cage from front to rear using only DOM tubing. In order to make it race-legal, the roof was cut off to weld a full 360-degree cage.

What makes the truck look even more awesome are the widebody fenders by Glassworks Fiberglass that provide just enough clearance for huge 15″ Method rims with beadlocks wrapped in 35″ BFG mud-terrain tires.

All these modifications have turned a regular Ranger into a fully capable prerunner truck, which has become a great example of properly selected parts for safe and enjoyable usage.

1995 Ford Ranger Prerunner Gumby from Southern California
One of the best examples of Ford Ranger luxury prerunners with LS swap, SI Motorsports long Travel Suspension and other extensive mods by David Hart

1995 Ford Ranger “Gumby”

This deep sea blue chase truck with its wide stance and large sand tires looks a far cry from the stock Rangers we’re used to seeing on the streets and at truck meets. The wide fenders and beefy wheels give it the appearance of a muscular athlete, ready to tackle any trail when needed.

One of the best examples of Ford Ranger luxury prerunners with LS swap and other extensive mods by David Hart
The truck features a fully custom rear suspension with SI Motorsports 4-link setup (28″ of travel)

Build Specs

Engine:
  • GM 5.3L V8 motor (replaced original Ford V6)
  • GM TH400 automatic transmission
  • Transmission coolers
Suspension:
  • SI Motorsports equal length I-beams (6″ wider than stock per side, 21″ wheel travel on front)
  • SI Motorsports 4-link setup (rear, 28″ of travel)
  • King bypass shocks
  • Hydraulic bump stops
Wheels:
  • 17″ KMC Machete Beadlock off-road wheels
Body:
  • Fiberglass hood
  • Fiberglass wide fenders
Safety:
  • Wilwood 4-piston brakes (front and back)
  • Crow 5-point seat harnesses
Other:
  • Currie fabricated rear-end housing full floater
  • Fuel Safe 50-gallon fuel cell
  • Baja Designs front light/dust light
  • Corbeau racing buckets
  • PCI intercom radio unit
  • RacePak digital dash
  • Lowrance GPS navigation unit

The truck is owned by David Hart from Southern California, and it began life as a regular 1995 Ford Ranger. After selling his previous prerunner and taking the co-pilot route for several years, he decided to get back into the scene by starting a full build from the frame up, utilizing all the experience he gained in desert racing. During the three years of ownership and countless man-hours invested, almost nothing remains from the stock truck.

See Also
Old School Chevy K5 Blazer PreRunner with Long Travel Suspension

The original Ford V6 engine was replaced with a GM 5.3L V8 motor, mated to a GM TH400 automatic transmission with transmission coolers to maximize the truck’s performance. Wilwood 4-piston brakes are installed on both the front and back of the truck to provide proper stopping power.

Ford Ranger Chase truck
17″ KMC Machete Beadlock off-road wheels wrapped in beefy 35″ tires

The suspension is one of the most critical components of every desert truck, and this is where we can see even more extensive changes. The truck is equipped with SI Motorsports equal length I-beams that are 6″ wider than stock per side and allow for 21″ of wheel travel on the front. The rear suspension features an SI Motorsports 4-link setup with an impressive 28″ of travel, guaranteeing excellent handling ability even on the most extreme terrain. King bypass shocks and hydraulic bump stops provide proper damping at high speeds.

The truck has a Currie fabricated rear-end housing full floater, Fuel Safe 50-gallon fuel cell, Baja Designs front light/dust light, and 17″ KMC Machete Beadlock off-road wheels. The hood and wide fenders are made of fiberglass.

Interior modifications include Corbeau racing buckets, Crow 5-point seat harnesses, a PCI intercom radio unit, a RacePak digital dash, and a Lowrance GPS navigation unit.

We can agree that the end result is simply astonishing and definitely deserves the highest praise. “Completing this truck wouldn’t have been possible or entertaining if it wasn’t for my buddies and shop partners Kevin Terry and Bronson Lee,” says David.

2007 Ranger Prerunner (daily driven)

Here’s another example: a clean 2007 Ranger prerunner build from Orange County. Despite its wide stance, fully functional long-travel suspension, and massive tires, this truck served as its owner’s daily driver for a couple of years. It’s a pretty awesome-looking truck to be driving around in on a daily basis, don’t you think?

Ford Ranger Prerunner 2nd gen
2012 Ford Ranger XLT Prerunner / Daily Driver

Build Specs

Engine:
  • 4.0-liter engine
  • 5-speed manual transmission
Suspension:
  • Speedway Engineering 2.25″ hubs 5×5.5″
  • Sway-a-way 2.5″ x 10″ remote reservoir coilovers (front)
  • 2″ Fox bump stops (front)
  • Sway-a-way 3″ x 10″ triple bypass shocks (rear)
  • Deaver G50 pack leaf springs (rear)
  • Explorer 8.8 with disc brakes, built by Currie, Detroit Locker (rear)
  • Hub adapter 5×4.5 to 5×5.5 (rear)
Wheels:
  • BFG AT KO, 35×12.5×15 tires (less than 1000 miles)
  • Alcoa forged aluminum wheels, 5×5.5 with 5/8ths wheel studs
  • Spare: Yokohama Geolander MT on matching Alcoa rim
Body:
  • Glassworks painted fiberglass front fenders
  • Fiberglass bedsides (rear)

Safety:

  • Wilwood Superlite calipers (brakes)
  • Fully Caged Interior
Other:
  • Beard Superseats
  • Icom F5021 race radio package, programmed by PCI with mag mount antenna
  • PCI intercom with driver ISO and 2 push-to-talk buttons
  • Custom center console by Desolate Motorsports
  • Pioneer head unit with remote control
  • Momo shifter boot cover
  • All electronics wired to fuse block mounted on the center console
Black 2007 Ford Ranger Prerunner
The truck features Deaver G50 pack leaf springs on the back

We’ve shown you three remarkable Ranger pre runner projects and hope that they will inspire you to start building your dream truck today. Feel free to ask questions and leave your comments below; we will gladly help you with the answers!

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