1992 Ranger Crewcab Custom

I've been looking for a reasonably priced small pickup truck that seats 5 comfortably and gets good gas mileage. I don't need a big box because I use it to occasionally haul things around. I need a pickup because the things that I do haul around tend to be quite greasy and oily (engine blocks, transmissions, etc..) Unfortunately, the big 3: Chrysler, GM and Ford just don't get the picture! They seem to focus on monster sized gas guzzling trucks that cost $200 to fill up at the pump each week! There are a few 4 door mid sized pickups that are available - they started their life as mini pickups or small pickups but have grown in size. These are the Dodge Dakotas, S10/Sonomas, Canyons/Colorados and Ford Sport-trac. They all weigh in at over 4000 lbs and get horrible gas mileage and cost a fortune. There are also Toyota and Nissan pickups which perform the same and are even more costly!

I currently have a 92 Ford Ranger standard cab, 4 cylinder, 5 speed, short box. It weighs in at just over 2800 lb and I've gotten a best of 27 mpg in city driving after many months of tweaking the drivetrain (see my Ford 2.3L Performance page)

Now Ford does offer a 4 door Ranger with a turbo 3.0 4 cylinder diesel in the UK, Australia, Brazil and Argentina but for some damn reason, it is not offered in North America. The Free Trade Act doesn't apply to vehicles and we can't import one - go figure!

Turbo 3.0l 4 cylinder Brazilian Ranger not offered in North America

Here's my requirements for the Ultimate Pickup:

  1. Must seat 5 adults comfortably
  2. Must weigh around 3200 lb
  3. Must be 2 wheel drive with a limited slip rear axle - I don't need a 4wd, a limited slip would do and you lose gas mileage with a 4wd.
  4. Must get decent gas mileage - above 20 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway
  5. Must have about 150 hp

Unfortunately, this vehicle doesn't exist in North America so I will have to build it if I want it bad enough. Here's how I would do it:

  1. Take an early to mid 90s extended cab Ford Ranger and chop off everything off the cab from the rear window back. Add the back of another extended cab to it from the front of the rear window. This would add about 10" to the jump seat area - enough that now you could put a bench seat in. You would have room for 5 adults: two in the front bucket seats and 3 in the back bench seats. You would have to shorten the box by a corresponding 10" to compensate for the longer cab. The new rear glass is easily made at any auto glass store.

    Here's 3 photoshopped Rangers:

    1992 Ranger stretched with a bobbed box

    1994 Ranger stretched with a bobbed box

    1992 Ranger stretched

    The reason for the early Rangers is that they are smaller, plentiful, cheap and weigh less than the later bloated models.

  2. Extending an extended cab would keep the weight pretty much the same as the extended cab models because the weight that you add to the cab is removed from the box. It should weigh in about 3300 lb close to the ideal weight

  3. Extended cabs already come in 2 or 4 wheel drive and with limited slips (which can be easily added later). No mechanical modification required.

  4. To get 20 mpg or better, you could use the 2.3l 4 cylinder engine (19 mpg) or the 3.0l (17 mpg) and 4.0l (16 mpg) V6's are close I imagine with tweaking they all could get over 20 mpg

  5. To reach 150 hp, you could use a Turbo 2.3l 4 cylinder from a mid to late 80s Mustang, Merkur or Thunderbird coupe (lots of modifications but what a neat idea!) or the 3.0l V6 (145hp) or the 4.0l V6 (160 hp). I think that the 3.0L would be the best choice because with a little bit of tweaking, you can up the hp and increase the gas mileage at the same time.

There you have it, the Ultimate Ranger Pickup that the Big 3 can't provide. It would take only a couple of thousand dollars to put one of these together - just time, elbow grease and bodywork. Now to find the time.

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Copyright April 2011 Eugene Blanchard