1994 Ford Ranger - Speed Dragger
A V-8 Motivated Mini
It rolls up with a vengeance, smoking the rear hides and showering sparks as the rocker panels hammer the asphalt below. Once the smoke settles and the sound of metal grinding on the concrete comes to a halt, the mysterious two-tone green and pearl-white object emerges from the smoke and the driver's door swings open, allowing 22-year-old Jonathan Graham of Pace, Florida, to climb out and receive thumbs-up and nods of approval for the body-dragging and tire-frying show which just occurred.
Laying flat out over 19-inch wheels and stuffed with 400 horses of small-block Ford power, Jonathan's '94 Ford Ranger is no ordinary 'bagged, shaved, and custom-painted mini. This truck means business on the show field, and from stoplight to stoplight, you can bet that when the occasion arises to show other mini-truck owner's what time it is, Jonathan never hesitates to bury the go pedal in the floorboard and punish the asphalt below. This is not the first time Jonathan's mini has graced the pages of Truckin', as it was featured back in the Oct. '01 issue entitled "Slamrock." Back then, the mini was still equipped with the original four-cylinder powerplant, rolled on 17-inch wheels, and featured a simple one-color paintjob. A lot has changed since then, and Jonathan has been busy for the last few years making his Blue Oval mini lower and more detailed. The results are so impressive, that the opportunity to feature it again couldn't be passed up.
Starting with the rocker-wrecking and frame-punishing stance, the Ranger's vertical status was reduced 11 inches from stock by way of a complete airbag suspension system and body drop. Jonathan and friends Stephen Obrien and Mike Dunlap pulled the Ranger into Jonathan's home shop and started the slamming process by mounting up Firestone 2500 airbags under the nose. The rear was blessed with a Pete & Jakes four-link setup and Firestone 2600 airbags, all creatively installed around an 8.8-inch Ford Explorer rearend. The 'bags are supplied air by steel-braided 3/8-inch air lines and SMC 3/8-inch air valves. Reserve air storage is handled by one 5-gallon air tank, while a Viair 450 compressor continually fills the tank when Jonathan taps a little too much on the switches.
For strength and rigidity, the framerails in front of the cab and behind the cab around the fuel tank were boxed before the entire frame was smoothed and painted for show detail. To get the stance at a level where the rockers would create an impressive spark show when all the air was robbed out of the 'bags, Jonathan and Stephen dropped the bed, cab, and front clip down 3 inches over the frame, until the truck's lower region was level with the Florida tarmac. Stuffing large rims under the fenders was also a requirement when this project got started, so Jonathan picked up a set of 19x8-inch Detata Siren wheels and tossed on Pirelli P215/35R19 tires to protect the chrome rollers from road hazards. With the wheels buried deep in the fenders, the truck was starting to take on the intimidating stance of an all-out show mini, but Jonathan had even more plans that were going to make people's jaws drop.
Most mini-truck owners who strive to build killer show rides focus most of their attention on getting the truck low, tossing on some big wheels, giving the exterior an elaborate paint scheme, and throwing some updated tunes and threads in the cabin. However, when it comes to getting crazy under the hood, most are satisfied with chroming out the OEM four- or six-cylinder and leaving well enough alone. Jonathan is definitely the exception to the rule, as a peek under the hood of his Blue Oval miniature reveals a built Ford 302ci V-8 engine fit with a 10:1 compression, a Competition Cam, an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, a Holley 650 carburetor, a Mallory ignition, and L&L headers linked to a Flowmaster exhaust system. Friend Matt Bush had the '82 model Ford motor sandwiched between the 'rails of his Mustang drag car and struck a deal with Jonathan to toss it in the Ranger. The engine is linked to a C4 automatic transmission tricked out with a B&M Shift Improver Kit, a manual valve body, and a 3,500-stall converter. The engine bay is dressed to impress with a smoothed and painted firewall, and plenty of chrome and aluminum engine accessories to make the 400hp mill shine.
With all the mechanics addressed, the truck sitting flat on the ground, and V-8 power between the 'rails, it was time to give its exterior some metalwork and paint attention. The truck was delivered to Kenny's Paint & Body in Pensacola, Florida, where the door handles, tailgate handle, gas door, third brake light, emblems, and stake pockets were all deleted from the exterior view to achieve a cleaner look. A steel roll pan with a frenched license plate box was welded in out back, and the factory side mirrors were deleted and replaced with street-rod-styled billet units. The metal artwork was even carried to the inside of the bed, with the floor and sides smoothed and molded in with the wheeltubs. Once the welders and grinders had cooled, and the sheetmetal was worthy of color, a unique two-tone paint scheme using R&M Alpine Green and Diamond White was cooked up with the Alpine Green occupying the top half of the truck and the Diamond White adding class from the beltline down to the rocker panels. The detail on this classy two-tone paintjob is astounding, as the paint flows into the doorjambs, between the cab and bed, and even carries into the inside of the bed. After the paint was laid down, the exterior was capped of with a billet grille insert up front and clear Euro taillights out back to finish the outward appearance off perfectly.
Moving to the inside of Speed Dragger, Jonathan spared no expense in making sure the quality of craftsmanship on the interior matched that present on the exterior and under the hood. First off, the truck was delivered to friend Mike Price of Milton, Florida, who built a custom center console to fit between the seats and house a 10-inch Audiobahn subwoofer. While he was at it, Mike placed a JVC head unit in the dash and installed two Audiobahn amplifiers to power the subwoofer and a pair of Kenwood 6-inch separates. Eye appeal inside the standard cab's tight confines was created by Mazda MX-3 bucket seats upholstered by Johnson's Upholstery in Pensacola using white vinyl with green piping. Green carpet was used to spice up the floorboards, while friend Keith Harelson wrapped the custom center console to match the seats. The headliner was treated to white vinyl to help it flow with the rest of the inside ensemble. Creating the perfect look on the inside, Jonathan smoothed the dash and door panels, and matched the two-tone paint scheme present on the exterior. Billet air conditioning vent covers, a B&M shifter, and a Naiser Racing Components billet steering wheel, along with chrome bezel gauges in a custom instrument panel, finish off the interior.
Creating a truck that drops jaws and spins heads every time it is fired up, dropped into gear, and cruised is a difficult accomplishment to achieve. Jonathan's truck is truly detailed and quality crafted all the way through, and the attention to detail shows. Without the help and dedication of Detata Wheels, Amber Anderson, Mike Dunlap, Donnie Salter, Stephen Obrien, Mike Price, Robert Weeks, and Matt Bush, this truck would not have come out half as nice as it did. This Blue Oval mini is sure to impress many showgoers for years to come with its small-block Ford rumble, rocker-crushing stance, and classy paint scheme.