SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - November 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 71 of 97

Ranger Resurrection Tyler Leidenfrost’s 1991 Ford Ranger Was Converted To A Luxury Pre-Runner By Dan Sanchez Photos by ICON Media What started out as a turn-key Ford Ranger pre-runner that just needed some prep-work, turned into a full-on custom luxury pre-runner that has caught the attention of Baja fans. Tyler Leidenfrost is no newcomer to Baja, he’s been going there for years running the desert terrain on motorcycles, UTVs and wanted a truck to handle the terrain. “The truck was originally built as a pre-runner but it sat in Arizona for about seven years, before I picked it up in January of 2017,” says Leidenfrost. “I’ve always modified my own trucks and I had a Ford Ranger in high-school. This truck, however, is at an entirely new level. I’ve never built something to this degree.” For that, he reached out to his friends at SANO Industries, who took on the project and it snowballed from there. The original truck was a cab with a tube frame, but after bringing the truck to SANO, and looking at the upgrades Leidenfrost wanted, meant starting almost from scratch. The entire front of the truck was cut-off and a new custom front chassis was installed with new I-beams, ProAM spindles, Eibach springs, and King Shocks. The suspension system was much more than what goes into an ordinary off-road truck, as it allowed the Ranger to gain a total of 18-inches of wheel travel in the front. The rear suspension is just as impressive. It consists of a race-style four-link suspension that now has 29-inches of wheel travel, using King shocks, Cone 2.5 snouts, and hubs, as well as a Camburg rear differential housing that uses Currie Enterprises 300M, 40-spline axles, and 5.30 gears. Both the front and rear suspension are outfitted with Wilwood brakes that help to control the Raceline beadlock racing wheels mounted on TriAce 37x12.50x17-inch tires. The truck is definitely set up as a high-performance pre-runner that can take on some of the most difficult terrain in Baja or just about anywhere else. But all that suspension capability is made to work at higher speeds, so it was obvious that the factory Ranger 4.0-Liter engine was not sufficient to power the truck moving forward. While one might expect Leidenfrost would keep a Ford powerplant under the hood, he opted for an LS engine swap, using a TurnKey LS1 that cranks out 400 horsepower and 400 lbs-ft of torque. This allowed Leidenfrost to be able t use a wider option of performance parts if he wanted to add power to the engine later. For now, the rumble of the LS engine is impressive, as it emanates from a set of TurnKey ceramic coated headers that exit to a set of three-inch Magnaflow mufflers. The power runs through a Moghi Turbo 400 automatic transmission that’s operated from a Winters shifter. With updated body panels, fenders, and hood, the Ranger looks like a Ford Raptor, mostly because of the larger front McNeil fiberglass fenders, which Leidenfrost says was originally meant for a Raptor conversion. To fit on the Ranger body, the fiberglass had to be cut and reworked by Sano, to match the body lines and rain gutters on the original cab. SANO also got to work making new front and rear bumpers for the truck, as well as the rest of the custom bodywork that was ultimately painted, Lead-Foot Grey. Inside the cab, the first thing you notice is that there is carpet and a headliner. While that’s not too common on a serious pre-runner, the trend now is to make the interiors as plush and functional as possible. SANO began the interior’s transformation by first installing sound deadening material throughout the floor and roof of the cab. The metalwork on the dash and center console is superb with curves and component features that are all smooth and without any welded seams or rivets all over the place. Autometer gauges are on the driver’s side while a Lowrance GPS sits on the passenger dash. AC vents are also integrated nicely and the entire dash and center console are painted with a matte black textured paint. Leidenfrost wanted to use high-quality seats, so he opted for a set of black/carbon and blue PRP seats with Simpson race harnesses. SANO matched the door panels and covered the roll cage with the same materials and finished off the interior with black carpet and a black suede headliner. Although the truck is a very capable off-road beast, Leidenfrost also wanted to make it practical, adding a trunk-like toolbox in the bed that can hold lots of gear, as well as a gear rack to easily attach a cooler or camping gear when he and his family are out in the desert. There’s even spare components such as a water and fuel pump on board as well as a JL Audio sound system What stands out most about this truck, is the attention to detail and its Baja race truck influences added by SANO and built to what Leidenfrost imagined along the build process. While the Ranger is definitely set-up to handle difficult terrain, it’s definitely not a trailer queen. Leidenfrost is more than anxious to take the truck out and test its limits in Baja, or anywhere else he wants to drive it. SJ

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