THE DUAL-CAB RANGER THAT FORD SHOULD HAVE BUILT!

  • 4.5in ifs lift and 35s
  • Barwork built in the states
  • Insane tube replacement tailgate and wheel carrier!

There’s a lot to be said for the big American ‘Pre-runner’ style of 4WDs. The term comes from pickup trucks that have been specifically modified to pre-run full-blown off-road race tracks before the main events. Rather than un-necessarily hammer their race-trucks, teams will build a pickup capable of handling the same course at speed to get a feel for how the track flows. Modifications to pre-runners usually include big horsepower and long-travel suspension setups capable of soaking up massive jumps and seriously rutted and corrugated tracks.

Newcastle local Ty Fenwick is a bloke who loves life at wide open throttle. Having grown up racing motocross and supercross all his life, Ty has spent the last couple of years of his life putting his skills honed as a machine operator in various mines to good use building MX, SX and FMX courses and tracks all around the world. In particular he’s spent bucketloads of time Stateside, which is where the love of the pre-runner trucks was borne. When it came time to step out of his five-inch lifted, 35inch tyred D40 Navara, it was the distinctively Yank-style Ranger that caught his eye.

“I chose the Ranger based on Ford moving towards the American style of trucks,” Ty says. “The new Ranger was a lot bigger in comparison to its competitors. With the end vision I had for the truck, the Ranger was the only way to go. All the modifications I made to the truck, and building it the way it looks, was to stand out and be a little bit different.”

Mission accomplished we reckon. Right now Ty is putting his skills as a world-class track builder to use on an incredible personal project. The Island Action Sports Complex is a phenomenal motocross, supercross and freestyle MX complex that Ty and his dad are building about an hour north of Newcastle. Almost five years in the making and by far the biggest of its kind in Australia, the complex should be open by the time you read this – search for it on Facebook and get on it.

For now though, let’s take a look at what’s gone into building one of the toughest Rangers we’ve ever come across.

ALL BARRED UP
  • Full steel barwork imported from the States
  • Unique replacement tube tailgate with tyre carrier
  • Vinyl wrap

Apart from helping sort out the Ranger’s suspension, Sam from CTB was also behind the barwork that the big Ford now runs. This ain’t your usual off-roader, and as such the barwork isn’t exactly what you’d call typical, either. “CTB Performance shipped their own Ranger over to the States to have Addictive Desert Designs in Arizona build some barwork for it,” explains Ty. “They do a lot of barwork for the pre-runner/trophy truck scene. I liked the look of it, so I had Sam order a full set of barwork for my truck too. The barwork’s construction, finish and powdercoating is extremely tough, and I can’t fault it.”

You can only imagine what the service adviser at Ty’s local Ford dealer must think when this thing rocks up for a scheduled service. The front bar actually includes a tough-as-guts belly/steering skid pan to protect the IFS steering links, along with mounting provision for a 13,000lb military-spec electric winch and a slick 32inch CREE slimline LED lightbar. We dig it – it ain’t exactly gonna stop Skippy from headbutting the headlights, but this truck ain’t designed to cross the Simmo, it’s built to drive hard on the local tracks and beaches.

Addictive also handled the sliders, rear bar and the headboard rack with the twin lightbar mounts, one rearward and one forward. But what has to be the coolest mod of all on the big Ford is the replacement tube tailgate with swing away tyre carrier built by the blokes at Bent Offroad Fabrications. “The whole thing’s actually reversible,” says Ty. “As it is, you pull a pin on the left and it pivots around to the driver’s side to get into the tub. But you can undo a couple of bolts and run the spare tyre inboard of the carrier. I’ve found it’s actually really good at changing the preload of the rear suspension, if you want to go fast over the really rough stuff.” And here we were thinking our spare ratchet-strapped to the roofrack wasn’t half-bad.

Oh, and the LUCKY9 numberplate? Ty says nine is a number that’s stuck with him the whole way through his life – born on the 09/09/1990 and so on. Fair enough, but somehow we reckon this Ranger makes its own luck off-road.

GO FURTHER, GO HARDER
  • Diesel performance chip
  • 3inch mild-steel exhaust
  • 700km fuel range

While most manufacturers are content with reducing the size of their diesel engine offerings, going high-tech to cut emissions and fuel consumption, Ford went the other way with the Ranger. Pop the bonnet and you’ll find a fairly odd inline five-cylinder 3.2L turbo-diesel that produced 147kW and a stump-pulling 470Nm of torque at just 1,500rpm. Stock-standard there’s no issues with power, but fit up a set of 35s to the mix along with all the barwork and suddenly you’re missing a bit of that poke. To sort it out Ty’s fitted a diesel performance chip along with a three-inch custom-built mild-steel exhaust. It’s woken the big five-cylinder oiler right up, and while Ty hasn’t had it on the dyno, it’s now got some serious poke.

“Fuel economy is okay, but not great with the big tyres,” he says. “I’ll get about 700km out of the tank with it setup the way it is.” A couple of Hunsaker competition dump cans that are specially-designed to be quick-filling extend the Ranger’s stretches between fuel stops that little bit further. Of course, suspension and barwork are only part of the off-road equation. The Rangers have big guards front and rear and the extra four and a half inches of lift meant there was even more room to fill out.

That job has been handled with the addition of a set of 35×12.5R18 Atturo Trail Blade M/Ts, mounted up to those seriously sexy 18x9in Method Race wheels. There’s no secret this truck is built to go fast, and the combination of the 35inch rolling diameter on the larger 18inch wheels means there’s less sidewall flex at any given tyre pressure, making for better handling and quicker changes of direction. Throw in a couple of 32inch LED light bars, a pair of Optima batteries to power them and you’ve got one unique, slickly kitted-out ute!

LOCKED AND LOADED
  • Fox 2.0 Series Shocks
  • Total 4.5inch lift
  • Twin Air Lockers

From the get-go Ty wanted the Ranger to stand out from the crowd, and the easiest way to do that is get some serious lift happening. The Ranger now sits a full 4.5inches higher than when it left the factory, and achieving that on an IFS vehicle is no easy feat. The task went to Ty’s mate Sam Bakalich, a Kiwi from across the ditch who runs CTB Performance, a Ford performance specialist. Sam played an instrumental part in the majority of the Ranger’s build, and in particular the suspension.

“I chose the Fox coilovers and shocks because they were a gift from my mate Sam,” explains Ty. “The Fox Ranger shocks had only just been developed when I received them from CTB Performance to test on the Ranger. I was very impressed with how much they smooth out the ride off-road – I don’t think you could expect anything less from a suspension developer like Fox. When you hold a set of these shocks, you can feel the quality.

As well, having the convenience of coil-over adjustment and damping is extremely handy.” Partnering with the Fox shocks are a set of ARB 300kg leaf springs in the rear, along with greaseable spring hangers and two-inch lift blocks. The coil-overs take care of all the lift up the front, and the result is a truck that sits very flat without the typical IFS ‘nose-down’ stance.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”4.5 inches of IFS lift is no easy feat”[/blockquote]

It hasn’t been all bells and whistles though – Ty’s chewed through a couple of CV shafts now, something that’s pretty much unavoidable when you’re lifting an IFS rig and running 35s. Call it the price of admission to the off-road arena. The Ranger was never built to be a flex monster, but substantially helping it out in the really rough stuff is a set of ARB Air Lockers. Combine them with the big lift and rubber and you’ve got one seriously capable rig when the transfer’s in low-range.

RUNDOWN

VEHICLE: 2013 Ford PX Ranger.
ENGINE: 3.2L five-cylinder turbo-diesel.
GEARBOX: Six-speed manual.
4WD ACTIVATION: Part time, auto locking hubs.
SUSPENSION: 4.5inch lift, Fox coilover shocks front and 4.5inch lift Fox shocks and ARB leaf springs and lift blocks rear.
WHEELS AND TYRES: 35×12.5R18 Atturo Trail Blade MTs on 18x9in Method Race wheels.
OTHER TOUGH GEAR: Addictive Desert Designs barwork – BENT Offroad Fabrications tailgate spare wheel carrier – twin Air Lockers – Exedy heavy-duty clutch – performance chip and 4inch exhaust.

THANKS

“I’d like to thank Sam Bakalich from CTB Performance New Zealand for supplying me with the majority of the products and accessories for the Ranger,” Ty says. Where’d you be without mates eh?