Owner: Carl Arft Ride: ...
Owner: Carl Arft
Ride: '02 Ford Ranger
Hometown: Imlay City, Michigan
Club Affiliation: Negative Camber
For the last 10 years, Carl Arft has been enjoying every aspect of custom trucks by going to shows and wishing that someday he'd have something cool of his own to showcase. While waiting, Carl stood in the background of the custom-truck world and took notes. Now, there's no mistaking it: Carl is at the forefront of his game. With the help of his father, Paul Arft, and the family business (PMA Motorsports), Carl built a Ford Ranger that's had enthusiasts gawking over every square inch of it for the past two years. During the 2004 show season, the Arfts brought the truck out to defend its Midwestern title as Top Dog with a few more surprises for the general mini-truckin' populous. The duo found that people loved the Ranger more now than they had first time it appeared on the show scene.
It's true that anyone can build a fine ride, if they put their mind to it. Between Carl and Paul, with twice the brainpower pushing this Ranger to become all they'd hoped for, they managed to take the truck from typical to stardom in about six month's time. The following is an account of how two men worked night and day to build what can be easily considered the finest and most well-constructed Ford Ranger we've seen thus far.
It all started when Carl Arft wanted - more than anything - to own a truck that would set the mini-truckin' world on its ear. Since he'd been around custom vehicles for most of his life (thanks to his dad), he knew he'd get a ton of support in his endevour from his parental units. True to form, Paul jumped into the project with both feet and his brain to help Carl create a truck that's every bit a work of art in form and function. First, they built a new chassis from the firewall rearward. Although the remnants of the original Ranger chassis were kept to simplify the mounting of the engine and transmission, they reworked most of it. The front suspension was swapped over to Mustang II components, which took care of the upper and lower control arms, as well as a way to properly 'bag the front suspension and keep the shocks mounted up front for a comfortable ride. All the wiring that resided in the engine bay was rerouted to the inside of the cab, making the underhood appearance that much cleaner.
Moving toward the rear of the truck, a new chassis was constructed of 2-inch-round steel tubing. Everything was preplanned to ensure that the chassis build went off without a hitch. Via the extensive talents of PMA Motorsports and the Arft father-and-son team, the suspension components used to fabricate the Ranger's new rear chassis and suspension were built in-house. After the chassis itself was built, a triangular-tube four-link was constructed, which was damped by the inclusion of cantilever-mounted Rancho RS9000 shocks. All the components needed to run the truck's air-suspension system were mounted cleanly in the rear chassis and with purpose. The finishing touches to the chassis included a custom fuel cell, matching paint, and polished stainless-steel lines that serve to transfer compressed air to the air tanks and 'bags. New brake fluid and fuel delivery lines were also added. All that was needed to finish off the construction was matching paint and reassembling the parts using all-stainless hardware and plenty of patience.
Next, the body received a full makeover. Everything was shaved smooth at the PMA Motorsport facility in Imlay City, Michigan. The bed was reworked until it no longer had a bed floor. It's now a mere shell of its former self and serves to keep the Ranger looking like a truck from the outside. On the inside, the bed acts as a casing for showing off the amazing amounts of work done to make the Ranger's chassis truly shine. When the body of the truck was finally ready for paint, Carl relied on the talents of the crew at Kustom Haus in Imlay City. The guys took the Ranger into the shop and repainted it using DuPont Vermillion Red. They didn't miss a single millimeter when it came to being picky about how the truck would look once it was buffed and reassembled.
Finally, the end of the buildup was in sight for the Arfts. They got the truck back from the paint shop and began the tedious task of nitpicking the reassembly. In the end, they couldn't find or see a thing that could be changed to make the truck any cleaner in its construction. So, what was left? The interior work. The truck was sent, along with a custom center console, to Shelby Auto Trim in Shelby, Michigan, to have the interior reworked. Since the whole truck was so amazingly well-built from the ground up, Carl decided that the interior should remain somewhat low-key. The crew at Shelby Auto Trim kept this in mind as they developed an interior that wouldn't be too much for the otherwise clean concept of the truck. What they came up with is almost factory in appearance, but every bit a showcase of what can be accomplished with a custom truck.