When Christopher Panucci decided to leave his Honda-building days behind him and build another truck, he went for a Ford Ranger that needed some TLC. He'd previously built an S-10 and had tried his hand at making a certain '92 Civic more custom, but this would be his first venture into customizing anything with a Blue Oval badge. While the journey of getting to where he's at today with his Ranger has been a learning process, he never strayed from his custom roots and turned this late-model Ranger into something showgoers can't help but stare at.

Christopher began making the Ranger custom by first modifying the suspension. We don't know all the various setups Christopher's truck must have had throughout the past three years, but these days, he rolls with hydraulics and uses accumulators to further smooth out the Ranger's ride. The truck was also body-dropped 4-1/4 inches to make it lay further than it could have with only an adjustable suspension. Since Jason Dewey's hands were also involved with the body drop, the added drop from the body slam was accomplished in no time, with excellent results.

Next, the body of the Ranger was massaged and changed to Christopher's exacting specifications. Once he had the basic idea of what he wanted in the custom-body-mod department, the first round of bodywork was completed by Volkerz Autobody. By the time his truck was to the point of being ready for graphics, though, he'd had another brainstorm or two and decided that a few more body mods had to be accomplished. Christopher then had even more done by Val's Paint Werkz. The truck was soon smoothed and custom enough to be rolled into the paint booth for a fresh coat of House of Kolor's bright Tangelo Pearl, the truck's basecoat color. After all the bodywork and paint duties were complete, the Ranger was smoother, brighter, and more appealing than ever. It even sported some simple yet effective graphics sprayed by Nick & Aaron in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, which give the truck more personality than a plain bright-orange base color.

The interior of the Ranger was addressed next by swapping out the original seats in favor of a pair of racing buckets by R1. These new seats were custom-upholstered, along with the door panels. The floor received new carpeting, making it all as fresh and new as possible. A new Clarion head unit, Clarion speakers, and a Sony PlayStation 2, which can be played using a 7-inch monitor, were installed. This setup is perfect for watching DVDs while awaiting judging at shows. Once the interior was complete, the whole truck received a massive detailing before Christopher began showing his truck at major events along the East Coast. Happily, Christopher has won at most of the major shows he's attended since getting his truck into shape and recently joined his new club, SubCulture, with the Ranger.

With his Ranger done (for now), we wonder what Christopher will change next. We know one thing is certain - true custom trucks are never finished. There's always something we'd like to do to take it to the next level. If the truck changes over the next few years, we'll step in and shoot it again. Then our readers will know who to look for when the Ranger next to them is kicking their chances for a trophy down the drain.

The Lowdown

Wheels/Tires 18x8-inch Boyd Coddington Spyder wheels / 225/40R18 Michelin Pilot radial tires

Suspension DJM Dream Beams / Top-Notch triangular four-link rear suspension setup / front and rear hydraulic suspension actuation / suspension work performed by Christopher Panucci and Jason Dewey

Body Modifications Shaved door handles / shaved door locks / shaved taillights / molded steel roll pan / shaved tailgate handle / shaved third brake light / shaved cowl panel / shaved emblems / shaved antenna hole / shaved fuel door / relocated fuel filler neck to bed interior / smoothed firewall / 4-1/4-inch body drop by Jason Dewey / Ford Ranger Splash front bumper and grille / Cervini's fiberglass hood / Lo-Pro fiberglass tonneau cover

Engine/Performance '99 2.5L Ford Ranger four-cylinder / cool-air intake / relocated Optima Yellow Top battery / Flowmaster muffler

Paint/Graphics House of Kolor's Tangelo Pearl base color / House of Kolor and PPG Burnt Orange, Olive, and Yellow graphic details / bodywork by Valkerz Autobody in Murrysville, Pennsylvania / graphics by Nick and Aaron in Murrysville, Pennsylvania

Interior/Stereo '99 Ranger dash / R1 racing bucket seats / reupholstered interior using Sherpa Gray and Black vinyl throughout / Clarion 715DUX head unit / Clarion 5-1/4-inch four-way speakers / Sony PlayStation 2 / Clarion 7-inch video screen

Miscellaneous Show wins include Slam Jam, Indy Import & Truck Bash, Carlisle All Truck Nationals / Best Paint and Best Truck trophies

Special Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Panucci for their love, support, and understanding / "Spiger Dulley" / Jason Dewey / Aaron from Picasso / Nick / Val's Paint Werkz / Volkerz Autobody / Jackie