For this year's special Under Construction issue we wanted to do something a little different and dive into the owner's perspective to hear why they do what they do and have them tell us all about their journey first hand.
Many of us go through good times and bad when building a long-term project, but we don't always get to hear all of the behind the scenes stories that go along with these crazy builds.
We searched far and wide to bring you some of the baddest minis in progress for this issue, and these two Rangers are certainly at the top of their class. These two Rangers share a few similarities that are noticeable; they're both extended- cab body-dropped Rangers sporting 20/22 wheel combos, and both are extremely clean, simple, and smooth! And with help from The Little Shop of Horrors, both Rangers are exactly what we look for in near-completed projects for this issue. Some of the obvious differences are; the open engine bay vs. closed engine bay, the new-school motor vs. old-school motor and the sheetmetal bed vs. the wood bed floor. It just goes to show that even owners that share similar taste, styles, and shops, can be original and create their own works of art! So sit back and read what each owner has to say about their long trip on the road to this Under Construction Special.
Pascal Barone lV
2000 Ford Ranger
Hell Or High Water
Back to the start of this whole deal. This truck has been less about the particulars and more about the experience and friends from the very beginning. In 2003 I picked up this truck as a replacement to one that was rearranged by a drunk driver.
Hoping the truck would be a suitable stand-in, I quickly realized it just wasn't going to fill the void unless it had my fingerprints all over its filthy curves. And so the journey began!
My buddies Jason and Shawn Adams were, at the time, the only friends I had that were into building trucks. After a few fun talks and a lot of coaxing, I convinced them it was a good idea to help me make this sucker right and also let me use their buddy Val's garage. Sometime later, the truck went from a body-dropped, Toyota clipped stepside on 18s to a standard bedside piece of sweet machinery laying on a 20/22 Bonspeed combo. With a revamped and newly back-halved frame, Can Do Specialties custom control arms, and Moser axles for the narrowed rearend. I began to get a vision for the truck and knew for the first time where I felt the truck build needed to be headed.
My mom once told me that I had an old "sole" (ya mom, you spelled it wrong). Yet, she was not referring to my shoes, but rather my fascination with antique cars and such. I knew I wanted to aim for a classier, vintage feel. The start of the transformation began in the back with the Bruce Horkey's wood bed kit. From there I felt the need to rob an '80s style Ranger tailgate of its beautiful embossed FORD logo and mate it with mine. Sticking with the older theme, a 1950 Ford Shoebox was also robbed of its dashboard and for the moment, roughed into the interior and matched with an Ididit steering column topped by a '40s style 15-inch Ford replica steering wheel. About the same time the interior was torn apart, in comes a screaming yellow '88 mustang GT to become the donor for the Ranger's new heartbeat, a V8 302. This however is right where the story stops for awhile and gets a little unsettling.
Two Years Later: After fighting a hurricane's hell and high water and being moved from rental to rental, the truck still sat untouched with so many dreams left to be accomplished and no motivation in sight. About this time of uncertainty, I decided to get in touch with Eric Saliba at The Little Shop of Horrors. I e-mailed him a long sappy story and kindly asked for his services. In June of 2008, knee-deep being the only way to be, the lady and I packed our bags and headed north to Lawrenceburg Tennessee. Greeted with open arms, I knew these were the hands that would soon carefully craft the remainder of the canvas you see on these pages. So I left some money and parts behind and let them get to work. It started with finishing the complicated parts of the dash and building a set of metal upper door panels to complete what I started years prior. Knowing I wanted to try and push the envelope a little, Eric and I discussed the need for a full sheetmetal engine bay. I left him with a side trim piece off of an old Ford truck hood and told him to use it somehow in the engine compartment. Weeks later, the crew at the Little Shop more than outdid themselves with a functioning work of art. Next, a Harley-Davidson gas cap was flushed into the driver-side bedrail. Seeing the bed finally come together, Eric shaved the tailgate handle in an untraditional way. By making a smooth access panel for the inside of the tailgate, he then machined a knurled knob that would function as the handle, but spin instead of lift. Next on the list of metalwork was the wiper cowl where more holes were actually added in place to rid the truck of the stock components and create a subtle yet different look. Lastly, before the truck got put into a Volvo green basecoat, a front bumper was crafted to help complete the front fascia. By taking a 2002 upper half and a1997 lower half off two separate Rangers, Little Shop was able to mate the two and give the appearance of a near, but far from stock look.
So, where does it go from here? Well, first I have to put in a few extra hours at work so I can pay my bill at the Little Shop! Hopefully from here it will be going to many more shows, creating many more awesome times, while meeting tons more righteous dudes and dudettes. I'll be setting my goals extra high and settle for not much less than selling the house to bring this Ranger to the world as a finished project - come Hell or High Water.
Wheels (Front/Rear): 20x8.5 and 22x10 Bonspeed Clutch
Tires (Front/Rear): Dunlop SP9000 245/35ZR20 and 285/30ZR22
Toyota front clip and wishbone setup in the backside
Slam Specialties RE7s (Rear): Firestone 2,600-pound
Can Do Toyota arms lengthened with raised, upper ball joint mounts
Toyota drop spindles
Two Viair 450s
1/2-inch Stainless hard-line
Toyota front clip and a firewall back frame
Narrowed rearend eight inches
Owner with much help from Shawn and Jason Adams at Val Harmon's Garage
Handles, emblems, third taillight, bed stake pockets, gas door, cowl (added more holes)
Gas cap in driver bedrail
2001 Ranger clip, custom bumper-top half from a 2002 ranger and bottom half from a 1997 Ranger all massaged together and shoved back a bit
Machined twist tailgate knob located on the inside of the tailgate, embossed FORD logo from an '80s model Ranger tailgate, smooth inner bed with a Bruce Horkey's wood floor
Owner and The Little Shop of Horrors
Brand and colors: Mean green base
Dash: 1950 Ford Shoebox
Door Panels: Metal uppers
Misc.: Ididit steering column and a 1940s Ford steering wheel
Model/Year: 1988 Mustang GT
Number of Cylinders: Eight
Header/exhaust: Short boys
Battery: Optima RedTop
Engine Bay: One-off, the devil is in the details
Misc.: 1952 Ford hood trim as the center accent piece
Performed By: The Little Shop of Horrors
Special Thanks From Owner:
"My parents (why would you let me do this to a perfectly fine truck?), Jason, Josh, Jeremy, and Shawn Adams, Val Harmon, my brother-I bet you I finish mine first! All the ex girlfriends, all the neighbors I've ever had who lent a hand, Drew Laizer, Eric Peltier, everybody at The Little Shop of Horrors (mostly Bradley cause he doesn't give me a hard time). Anyone and everyone who has ever made a comment about the truck-both negative or positive. I'd also like to personally thank the truck for making me the friends that it has, you're the best! The zero thanks awards go to the band I was in (nope still haven't sold the truck), the drunk 17-year-old that fell asleep and hit me, and Hurricane Katrina for being punk sissies!"