by John Gerwatosky | Nov 1, 2017, 12:00PM
The Ford Ranger was America’s compact that packed a powerful punch. While it rolled into production the year after the Chevy S-10, it went on to be the best selling compact pickup from 1987-2004. Compact pickups have mostly gone out of fashion by the big automakers in the US, and the Ranger has a special history in regards to this. On December 16, 2011, when Ford shut down it’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul after 86 years, the final vehicle to roll out was a humble 2012 Ford Ranger. This also ended production of the Ranger until recently. Ford just announced a 2019 Ranger that should debut next year. Unlike the old models with the microscopic back row that could only be accessed after slamming the passenger’s seat forward and ungracefully stuffing the shortest friend back there, it appears that the 2019 will return with four doors and a longer cab than its full-size cousin, the F-150.
While many people look to the F-150 or the Raptor when designing a custom build, sometimes you need something more compact - and cheaper to build, for that matter. While a Raptor is practically ready for the mountains the moment you drive off the lot, the Ranger takes a little more knowledge, skill, and patients to get off-road ready. The first thing you’ll need is better suspension and bigger tires, and having quality Ford Ranger fiberglass fenders and Ranger fiberglass bedsides is necessary. Advanced Fiberglass Concepts has dedicated ourselves to creating top-quality hand-laid fiberglass fenders that are made right here in the USA. Our aftermarket auto body panels and fiberglass fenders for Fords, Toyota, Jeep, and more are specifically designed for the make, model, and year of your car to ensure they fit like a glove.
The original 1983 Ranger had a tiny 2-liter engine with bashful 72 horsepower. Not exactly the ride you’d think would be souped up with prerunner fiberglass fenders, huh? For its first two years, the Ranger didn’t see nearly the same amount of popularity as the F-150, or as its compact truck competitors. However, marketing strategies changed in 1985 when Ford started to boast about the Ranger’s use of aluminum and other materials that helped resist corrosion, and promised that the Ranger really was just a small version of the F-150. Like the F-150, it featured a twin I-beam front suspension, the same frame, and now an extra 17-inches of space in the SuperCab. Sales began to climb and the Ranger soon became the compact truck of choice.
In 1989, the Ranger got a facelift which included headlights that were flush against the grill, a look that the F-Series had recently adopted as well. While the stock model featured a 2.3-liter fuel-injected engine, buyers had the option to upgrade to a 2.9-liter, 140 horsepower V6, giving this truck extra power compared to its lightweight body. The following year, Ford offered a 4-liter engine with 160 horsepower, and continued to pile on more power throughout the production life of the Ranger.
The next major upgrade came in 1993 when Ford introduced the 2nd Generation Rangers. This new Ranger featured flared fenders, and a new sporty Splash model that featured vinyl decals, and a driver’s side airbag. Around this time, the Ranger also was the first compact truck to feature a passenger airbag. The airbag featured a key-operated “cut-off” that would manually disable the airbag if children were riding in the front seat.
By 1998, the Ranger was considered one of the safer compact trucks, receiving an “acceptable” safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Other than the Toyota Tacoma, which also received an “acceptable,” other compact trucks received “poor” or “marginal” safety ratings. This gave the Ranger, as well as the Tacoma, a leg-up for people wanting to use their small trucks for off-roading. By 2010, Ford included head and torso airbags for the driver and passenger sides, earning it a “good” safety rating/
Also in 1998, the truck started to come standard with a 2.5-liter and gave the upgraded 3-liter improved towing power. The twin I-beams were gone, and replaced with a wishbone-style front suspension that was also featured on the Explorer.
By 2010, the truck had received all of the upgrades and facelifts it would get (except for the 2019 model announced recently). This model came with an optional 4-liter engine with 207 horsepower - not bad considering this is a lightweight truck.
With a little love and commitment, this compact truck can hang with the big boys on rugged terrain. Add a roll cage, better suspension, and a turbo kit and you’re ready to go racing. For real, check out thisbuilt Ranger leaving a Tesla Model S in the dust. If you don’t at least add bigger wheels and fiberglass fender flares, you’ll end up likethis guy. Don’t be that guy.
Shop our Ford Ranger bedsides or models 1983-1992 and 1993-2014, and Ford Ranger fiberglass fenders for models 1984-1988, 1989-1992, 1993-1997, and 1998-2014. Also, be sure to check out all of Advanced Fiberglass Concepts’Ford Ranger aftermarket body parts.