SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - March 2018

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

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Page 71 of 95

The Premium Package Rob Lindsay of RJ Fabrication took an ’89 Ford Ranger and turned it into a luxury pre-runner By Dan Sanchez Photos by ICON Media Pre-runner trucks are supposed to be dirty and full of rock chips, but before Rob Lindsay puts this ’89 Ranger pre-runner onto the dirt, he wanted to first show it off. As the owner of RJ Fabrication in Hesperia, California, Lindsay spent the last 26 years building race and show cars for many of his customers, but he had always wanted to build a “luxury” pre-runner. He found a 1989 Ford Ranger and used the cab as the base for the build. He started by building a complete boxed frame and added a roll-cage to create the main structure of the truck. For the front suspension, he crafted his own set of Chromoly I-Beams and radius arms and connected them with billet beam ends and spindles from Camburg Engineering. For the rear suspension, Lindsay made a custom 3-Link that uses 60-inch long trailing arms. The combination nets the truck 20-inches of wheel travel in the front, and 30-inches at the rear. To control the ride and traction, a set of Fox Race Series External Bypass, and Internal Bypass coil-over shocks with Eibach coils springs, on both the front and rear suspension. Coupled with a set of Walker Evans 17x8.5 racing wheels mounted to 39x13.5x17-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A tires, the Ranger can tackle any type of terrain at high speeds. Stopping it is another matter, however, so Lindsay made sure the front and rear braking systems were up to par, adding a set of Wilwood brake calipers and components, combined with Coleman 14-inch diameter racing discs. Knowing that pre-runners need to go fast on desert terrain, Lindsay wasn’t going to depend on the factory Ford Ranger V6. Instead, he fabricated the engine compartment to house a big 460 cid Chevy big-block that was built for him by Pettis Performance, and Ballinger Custom Engines in Hesperia, CA. The engine’s 681 horsepower and 660 lbs.-ft. of torque come from its 12:1 compression, 4.280-inch Ross pistons that are attached to a 4.0-inch stroke Callies crankshaft via 6.135-inch Callies connecting rods. The engine is fed with an Edelbrock 454R intake with a F.A.S.T. fuel injection system on top of it. To rid the exhaust gasses, Lindsay fabricated a set of 2-1/8-inch diameter tube headers and a 3.5-inch diameter exhaust system that flow into Borla XR1 mufflers. Needless to say, the truck sounds more like a SCORE Trophy Truck, than a pre-runner, and with all that power, it could be just as fast as one too. In order to handle a big engine in a lightweight chassis, Lindsay opted for a solid drivetrain, starting with a GM Turbo Hyrdro 400 automatic transmission that is equipped with a TCI torque converter and operated with a B&M shifter. The power then flows into a pre-runner style rear axle housing that Lindsay built himself and outfitted it with Summers Brothers 45-spline axles and a spool-style differential with 5:14 ring and pinion gears. With a chassis and drivetrain that’s solid and capable, Lindsay turned his attention to the vehicle’s exterior. He wanted the truck to look fabulous just sitting there, and with a highly polished black paint job, it definitely does the job. The front fenders and grille came from McNeil Racing, while the rear fenders were crafted by McQueen Prototype Design in Gardena, CA. 2017 model Ford Raptor headlights were also used, which give the truck an even more menacing appearance. All of these parts, however, had to be re-worked by Lindsay to fit the chassis and match up to the Ranger’s cab. This included modifying the hood so that it would clear the engine’s air cleaner, and crafting additional aluminum panels before everything was painted by Doman Auto Body in Hesperia. Lindsay also added a set of custom-made front and rear bumpers, spare tire carrier and uses a set of KC HiLites across the roof and grille to illuminate what’s in front of them. Inside the cab, Lindsay’s vision of a luxury pre-runner truly comes to life. Instead of the typically brushed aluminum panels seen in most vehicles like this, Lindsay’s Ranger features an aluminum fabricated dash and center console that’s covered in beige vinyl with black stitching. Rudy’s Upholstery in Hesperia did the interior work, also covering the Corbeau Baja XP seats in the same material with black suede accents. The floor of the cab is also carpeted, which adds to the luxurious feel of the truck’s cab. While the interior looks great, there’s still evidence that this pre-runner is all business. A Momo racing steering wheel and Crow seat harnesses are a reminder of what the vehicle is capable of. A full complement of Speed Hut and RacePack gauges provide vital information, while a Rugged Radio’s communication system and Lowrance GPS are used to travel at high speeds across vast stretches of desert. Although the luxury pre-runner definitely looks like it’s capable, Lindsay is waiting until after the 2018 SEMA show to try out the truck in the dirt. Until then, he’s anxiously awaiting to get in, buckle up, and go for the ride of his life. SJ

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