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Northern Ranger: 1974 Ford F100

Joe Parker Built His ’74 Ford F100 To Be Driven!

Chris Tobin
Sep 4, 2019
When most people think of classic Ford trucks, images of cowboys, ranchers, and farms in rural U.S. areas pop into their heads, but Ford sold its ubiquitous F-Series trucks north of the border as well. In fact, Joe Parker's two-tone '74 Ford F100 Ranger (yes, Ranger was a trim line on the F-Series, not a different truck in the '70s) has spent nearly all its 45-year life on Canadian soil, with its first trip down to the U.S. in May 2019, when Joe drove it from his shop—Impact Diesel Performance in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada—down to Brownsburg, Indiana, for the 2019 Ultimate Callout Challenge.
Joe grew up around classic Ford trucks and loves them. His first was a '76 F100, and, after seeing this one for sale for a few months, he decided to jump back into classic Ford ownership. The $1,000 price tag wasn't bad since it had only 82,999 miles on the chassis and the body and paint were in pretty good condition. The truck was missing a few parts here and there, including the complete drivetrain, but that was good for Joe (who is the third owner), as it gave him an excuse to drop a diesel engine into the truck and showcase the capabilities of his shop and crew.
Joe and his team went to work transforming the gutted farm truck into a fun-to-drive diesel-powered machine. They focused their attention on the empty engine compartment first. To fill the gaping hole, Joe located a '93 Dodge Ram 2500 two-wheel-drive, automatic-transmission donor chassis and proceeded to transfer the 5.9L Cummins engine into the F100. While the internals of the Cummins engine were left stock, Joe and his team opted to make some external improvements to give the powerplant more oomph, including clamping down the cylinder head with a set of ARP studs. They also installed Dynomite Diesel Products' 75hp injectors that are supplied with fuel from a stock VE-pump that has been turned up to maximize fuel flow. The injection pump receives plenty of clean diesel fuel from the tank thanks to a FASS 95-gph fuel pump and filter system.
Photo 2/34   |   Joe Parker's '74 Ford F100 Ranger sports a compound-turbocharged 5.9L Cummins engine under the original steel hood of this classic pickup.
On the exhaust side, Joe and his team installed a SteedSpeed manifold then fabricated a compound-turbocharger system with a pair of BorgWarner units (an SXE 363 and an S475) that join forces to provide high levels of boost pressure to coax as much power as possible out of the old diesel engine. From the turbos, exhaust is then routed through custom-fabricated 4-inch aluminized-steel tubing that uses a Flo-Pro Performance Exhaust Twister resonator to reduce drone on the highway. The exhaust system is capped off with a polished stainless-steel 5-inch-diameter tip that exits behind the passenger-side rear wheel.
Clean air is drawn into the BorgWarner S475 atmospheric charger through an S&B Filters air-filter element before it is compressed by the turbos to a maximum pressure somewhere north of the 60 psi the boost gauge is capable of reading. Of course, compressing the air creates heat, so Joe wanted to use an intercooler with his compound-turbo setup to maintain driveability in all conditions—not just single passes down a dragstrip. He and his team installed the intercooler from the '93 Dodge Ram donor chassis and fabricated new inlet and outlet piping to smoothly channel the intake charge from the compressor outlet into the intercooler, and then from the intercooler into the stock Cummins intake manifold and into the 12-valve cylinder head.
Photo 3/34   |   Joe Parker built his Cummins-powered '74 Ford F100 to be driven, and he is not afraid to mash the loud pedal and light up the Cooper tires.
The Cummins uses no tuners or chips to enhance performance, and Joe relies on a good ole screwdriver to make tuning adjustments to the injection pump. Running on the stock internals with simple bolt-ons and compound turbos, Joe has dyno-tested his truck and made 460 hp and 867 lb-ft of torque. While the truck was strapped to the dyno, they also ghetto-fogged the engine—with nitrous-oxide sprayed directly from the bottle into the air filter—and put down 562 hp and 998 lb-ft of torque.
To back up the 5.9L 12-valve Cummins engine, Joe went with a 47RH four-speed automatic transmission, which was given a rebuild that includes valvebody modifications, new performance clutches and a billet input shaft by the team at Iconic Driveline in Atecheson, Alberta, Canada, to handle the engine's additional grunt. The gearbox is linked to the engine with a stock flexplate and billet single-disc torque converter. High-torque twist is channeled to a custom driveshaft: a Ford 9-inch rear axle stuffed with 3.50 gears. Joe controls the transmission's Overdrive engagement and torque converter lockup with simple On-Off switches he attached to the steering-column-mounted gear selector for easy and comfortable access when driving. A BD Diesel Performance transmission cooler is used to keep the temperature in check and provide longevity to the rebuilt unit.
Photo 4/34   |   Lifting the hood reveals a powerplant that is totally different from the engine most classic Ford-pickup enthusiasts are used to seeing. There is no V-8 here; just this Cummins I-6, with a pair of BorgWarner turbochargers added.
Photo 5/34   |   The passenger side of the engine is dominated by the aforementioned turbos, compounded to deliver more than 60 psi of boost to the engine. An S&B Filters air filter protects the compressor wheel from sucking in road debris while header wrap and turbine heat shields help reduce heat under the hood.
With the engine and transmission configuration sorted out, the next task for Joe and his team was to fit them into the classic pickup. He integrated the '93 Dodge engine mounts into the Ford F100 chassis to secure the engine, then fabricated a new transmission mount to bolt the tail of the transmission between the framerails. Continuing work on the chassis, they installed a set of front coil springs from a '76 F-150 onto the twin I-beam suspension arms to better support the weight of the Cummins engine, while giving the truck a more modern stance that was lower to the ground than Ford intended back in 1974. In the rear, Joe relies on the stock leaf springs but installed an LMC Truck shackle kit to lower the rear 4 inches. To help improve the pickup's road handling and cornering, he installed LMC's antisway bars front and rear. Maintaining the truck's classic looks, Joe picked up a set of used stamped-steel, eight-spoke wheels and had them painted to match the body, then wrapped them in 265/70R15 Cooper Discoverer AT3 tires on all four corners.
The interior was Joe's next point of focus, and since the truck had relatively low miles, it was in pretty good shape. He was able to retain the dash, gauges, headliner, and original chrome door panel trim. The carpet, seat upholstery, door panels, and seatbelts were not in the greatest condition, so once again Joe turned to LMC Truck for replacement pieces. To keep an eye on engine and transmission performance, he mounted a trio of Auto Meter gauges in individual pods on the steering column, rather than in an A-pillar pod (as they're installed in most modern diesel trucks). He also added a Vintage Sound audio unit that looks like a stock two-shaft radio but has Bluetooth capability as well as an iPhone input to allow Joe to listen to modern tunes while he's cruising down the road.
Photo 6/34   |   With new carpet, upholstery, seatbelts, and door panels from LMC Truck, the interior of Joe's rig looks nearly new. Notice the Auto Meter gauges mounted on the steering column (so they're seen without detracting from the classic lines of the truck).
Photo 7/34   |   The original steering wheel is a little worse for wear, but it looks better in this truck than a flashy billet steering wheel would. Joe wired a pair of switches to the column-mount gear selector to activate overdrive and torque converter lockup.
The truck's paint was in surprisingly good condition, with the original two-tone green-and-white finish really standing out. But rust had taken hold of the cab and bedside corners. To combat the cancer, Joe turned to Apex Rod & Restoration in Saskatoon for repairs. Apex owners Joey Kube and Shannon Unruh worked their magic on the rusty panels then resprayed the white portion of the body, leaving the original green up top, which cleaned up great with a little buffing and polishing. To pierce through the dark Canadian night skies, he installed a set of J.W. Speaker 8700 LED 7-inch-diameter headlights to replace the outdated originals. While working on the front, Joey also replaced the damaged grille inserts with pieces from LMC Truck while retaining the original Ford grille shell. The fascia was also treated to a replacement bumper from a '76 F-150 to protect the truck—and make it look good. Out back, the original '74 F100 bumper was retained.
After about 3 months of work, Joe and his crew were able to get the F100 out on the road. He has enjoyed driving it ever since, racking up about 12,000 miles in the year since the Cummins swap was completed, with a good chunk of those miles coming from the road trip stateside to attend the 2019 Ultimate Callout Challenge. Looking closely, you can see the classic truck is a little rough around some of the edges, but it wasn't built to be a trailer queen that lives the life of seclusion inside an enclosed trailer as it's hauled from event to event. Joe doesn't work that way; he bought the truck to resurrect it and make it an enjoyable pickup once again. Thanks to a Cummins diesel transplant, that's exactly what this Northern Ranger is: a classic pickup that Joe can reliably jump in at any time and enjoy the drive—whether it's a 13.4-second pass down a quarter-mile dragstrip (at 105 mph) or a 3,000-mile road trip to cheer on his friends in a diesel competition.
Photo 8/34   |   Joe Parker's '74 Ford F100 Ranger sports a compound-turbocharged 5.9L Cummins engine under the original steel hood of this classic Ford pickup.
Photo 9/34   |   Joe and his team at Impact Diesel Performance were able to reuse the original Ford grille shell but had to replace the inserts with reproduction units from LMC Truck. The front bumper is from a '76 F-150 and gives the truck a bolder look.
Photo 10/34   |   To cool the compressed intake charge, Joe installed an air-to-air intercooler (from a '93 Dodge Ram) between the grille shell and radiator core support.
Photo 11/34   |   Joe and his team fabricated the piping for the compound turbos as well as the stainless-steel tubing used to channel the intake charge from the intercooler into the engine.
Photo 12/34   |   Since the I-6 engine is much longer than the original Ford V-8, there wasn't enough room to run the Cummins' beltdriven fan. To remedy this, Joe installed a pair of electric fans on the radiator to keep the engine temperature in check. You can also see the VE Series injection pump and throttle linkage in this photo.
Photo 13/34   |   To bring the truck's lighting up to modern standards, Joe installed a set of J.W. Speaker LED headlights in the stock locations.
Photo 14/34   |   A peek under the front bumper reveals the stock Ford suspension, which is enhanced with F-150 coil springs as well as an LMC Truck antisway bar, which required Joe and his team to notch the front of the oil pan to clear the center of the bar.
Photo 15/34   |   Joe purchased a set of stock-style, eight-spoke steel wheels and had them painted green and white to match the truck rather than using a set of large-diameter aluminum wheels that wouldn't look the part on this classic F100.
Photo 16/34   |   The classic two-tone Ford has a great stance thanks to additional weight up front and an LMC Truck lowering kit in the rear. It's hard to believe the green paint is 45 years old and still shines and looks great.
Photo 17/34   |   The FASS fuel pump and filter system are mounted along the framerail as well as a BD Diesel Performance transmission cooler.
Photo 18/34   |   Further forward on the undercarriage is the transmission crossmember Joe and his crew fabricated to locate and secure the rear of the 47RH four-speed automatic transmission in the F100 chassis.
Photo 19/34   |   Peering into the bed, it becomes clear that while the old Ford was well taken care of, it wasn't coddled. It was still used as a truck should be, and it has the scratches, scrapes, and rust to prove it.
Photo 20/34   |   The original Ford 9-inch rear axle assembly is joined by this 4-inch exhaust system, 5-inch polished stainless-steel exhaust tip and LMC Truck lowering shackles. The fuel tank is located in the stock location between the framerails.
Photo 21/34   |   The Canadian cleaning crew made quick work of Joe's F100 to get it ready for our photo shoot. Joe is the guy working on the driver side of the bed.
Photo 22/34   |   Even Shawn Ellerton, the self-proclaimed "Canadian Redneck," got in on the cleaning action, making sure the trim above the exhaust outlet was spotless.
Photo 23/34   |   After we finished our photo shoot, Joe was proud to show off his fun little Ford with a healthy dose of throttle, which quickly induced traction issues in the rear of the truck
Photo 24/34   |   Like any good Ranger, Joe rides off into the sunset at the end of the day.
Photo 25/34   |   Like any good artist, Joe scribbled out his signature when he was done.
Fast Facts:
Year/Make/Model: '74 Ford F100 Ranger
Owner: Joe Parker
Hometown: Warman, Saskatchewan, Canada
Odometer: 95,000 miles
Engine: 5.9L Cummins I-6
Air: BorgWarner 363 SXE and S475 compound turbochargers, Dodge air-to-air intercooler
Exhaust: SteedSpeed manifold, custom compound plumbing
Transmission: 47RH four-speed automatic; billet input shaft; performance rebuild by Iconic Driveline in Atecheson, Alberta, Canada; single-disc torque converter; BD Diesel Performance transmission cooler
Horsepower: 460 hp
Torque: 867 lb-ft
Tires: 265/70R15 Cooper Discoverer AT3
Wheels: Steel
Suspension:'76 F-150 coil springs (front), antisway bars (front and rear)
Axles: Ford 9-inch rearend, 3.50 gears
Body: Steel body panels, original green paint, J.W. Speaker LED headlights
Interior: Original interior, LMC Truck velour seat cover, Auto Meter gauges, stock gauges, Vintage Sound radio, iPhone and Bluetooth connectivity
Fun Fact: While Joe was attempting to get the truck cleaned up for our photo shoot after the 2019 Ultimate Callout Challenge, his iPhone navigation failed him as he was trying to find a local car wash. Determined to get the truck ready for the shoot, Joe's group of Canadian friends (including the infamous "Canadian Redneck" Shawn Ellerton) gave the truck a bath with bottles of water and microfiber towels!

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