The switches are tapped and the frame relaxes comfortably on the soil. The glow from the pearlescent paint radiates off of the smoothed domestic metal. The rumble of the massaged Mustang mill permeates the surrounding air. Jim Licata of Summerville, South Carolina, enjoys this automotive ambience every time he climbs behind the wheel of his 'bagged, shaved, and radically redefined Ford Ranger. Jim started with a bone-stock '97 Ranger standard cab and created the wrinkle-free, frame-crushing custom seen here. Armed with a strong vision and a collection of shops prepared to get down to business, Jim busted out his wallet and began tossing green at his dream.
Laying the frame on the tarmac was accomplished at Kunfuzed Kustomz in Gulfport, Mississippi. The crew at Kunfuzed got the Ranger's 'rails cozy with the South Carolina concrete by using Firestone 2600 airbags up front fed by 1/2-inch AirLift valves and 1/2-inch stainless steel hard line. Planting the rear was done via a Pete & Jake's four-link and Panhard combined with Firestone 2600 airbags and a custom C-notch to provide excess rear-axle clearance. Four Firestone compressors work to fill a custom 6-gallon air tank concealed in the bed. Completing the laid-out look are 18x8-inch front and 20x8-inch rear Center Line Avenger aluminum rollers wrapped in low-profile rubber protection from Toyo Proxes. Street skins up front measure P215/35ZR18, while the rear fenders provide clearance for P245/35ZR20 Toyo meats. With the rail-sparking stance alterations in place, Jim began focusing on sticking a few more ponies under the hood.
Knowing from the get-go that this truck was destined for excess show duty, Jim felt that nothing short of a V-8 would suffice. After turning over a few rocks, a 302ci V-8 was pulled from a '91 Mustang. Ray at APM Racing in North Charleston, South Carolina, got inside the mighty Blue Oval small-block and bored the cylinders 0.030 over and stuffed them with hypereutectic pistons. A Comp Cams bumpstick with 512 duration and 281 lift works in harmony with Comp Cams lifters and roller rockers. The cruising tunes are belted out through '65 Mustang Shelby tri-Y headers and a custom exhaust system. The heads were ported and polished for increased flow, and the compartment was visually spiced up with a host of custom sheetmetal panels and a custom airscoop built by John Pryor at Xtreme Toyz in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Power is delivered to the rear differential through a C4 transmission massaged by TCI. Completing the transplant of the 300hp small-block brought Jim to the paint and body portion of the buildup, where he met with the challenge of creating a well-balanced scene with a classic sense character.