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Radical 1998 Ford Ranger

A 5.9L Cummins, 130-mph Top Speed, and a Bed-Mounted Turbo

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In the Beginning
This rockin’ Ford Ranger (a project more than a decade in the making) dismisses the four-cylinder 4BT Cummins conversion trend and instead packs six cylinders of Cummins power. To perform this swap, the front of the ’98 Ford Ranger was stretched 6 inches, and the hood and fenders were lengthened. This made more than enough room for the 5.9L engine and kept the front-to-rear weight distribution favorable.

Cummins, GM, and Ford Drivetrain Parts
With a 1,000-pound engine sitting in the Ranger’s frame, Joe Arnold knew the truck needed more strength everywhere. The stock rearend was ditched for a Ford 9-inch with a 2.80 gear ratio, 35-spline axles, a Detroit Locker, and disc brakes. The front was also similarly updated, with 12-inch brake rotors (10-inchers were stock) and F-150 calipers. Reusing the Ranger’s stock transmission wasn’t an option (it wouldn’t have been strong enough), and fitting a Ford diesel transmission would take up too much space. So a GM 4L80E four-speed with billet shafts was built by ATF in Davie, Florida, and fitted with a Precision Industries triple-disc lockup converter.

Unique Engine
With such an odd chassis and transmission, you didn’t expect the engine to be normal, did you? What’s surprising is the 5.9L Cummins isn’t just a drop-in—it’s been completely rebuilt with super high-performance use in mind. The engine has been balanced and blueprinted, and the pistons have been coated. The crankshaft was chamfered to improve oiling. The injection system was built by Columbus Diesel and features a mammoth, P7100-based, 13mm injection pump and matching injectors. The real highlight of this off-the-wall combination involves a custom exhaust header and a 62mm turbo that’s mounted in the engine bay, which feeds a monster 82mm turbocharger mounted in the bed of the Ranger. Power and torque are an owner-estimated 1,200 hp and 1,800 lb-ft, and it appears Joe has all the correct hardware to back that figure up.

Why Did He Build It?
Is it a drag truck, a street truck, or a show truck? As it turns out, the Ranger is all three for its owner. Joe claims he sees 25 mpg on the highway, and it’s hit 131 mph in the quarter-mile. Once Joe gets the truck’s turbos, tuning, and traction worked out, look for the little-bit-longer Ranger to dip into the 10s (or maybe even 9s) in the quarter-mile. And it’s all accomplished with an air conditioning system that still works like factory, power steering and brakes, and even cruise control. Yes, Joe’s radical Ranger is one rockin’ ride.

The BatMoWheel
We were a little bummed to learn that Joe recently abandoned his wild, remote-mounted compound turbo combination for a more traditional setup, but he reports the engine is working a lot better now. The big charger wouldn’t light until about half-track, resulting in good speed, but slow elapsed times. Still a nonconformist, Joe chose Bullseye Power’s wild BatMoWheel turbocharger and has reported that he plans to run it at more than 70 psi of boost. We look forward to seeing Joe’s mega mini-truck in the near future, and for those who want to keep track of Joe and some of his wild creations (including a jet-powered, street-legal, F-650), check out www.frictionator.com.

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