Ford Explorers don't get a lot of love from custom-truck builders, so when Truckin' Senior Tech Editor Bob Ryder found out about the CGS Motorsports SEMA project, he was all over it. We showed readers the build process in several past tech articles, so you should know all about the suspension and custom bodywork (you did read those articles, right?). But, for you slackers, we'll rehash the big stuff and let the photos tell the rest of the story.
A Precision billet grille fills the new fiberglass fascia.
Casey Scranton, the owner of CGS, took on the buildup on behalf of his company and Ford Motor Co. Casey and his dad, Ron, came up with a long list of things to do to the truck, the Explorer's first stop was Elahn Industries in Corona, California, where a custom front fascia was built from fiberglass after a mold was made using the factory fascia. The new piece is taller and seamless, which quickly made the truck look cleaner and lower, especially after the addition of the new custom rocker moldings and rear roll pan. The crew at Elahn also recreated smooth versions of the factory bedrails in fiberglass. The truck was getting closer to Casey's vision, but it lacked the full-on custom look he desired.
Clean and simple, the right amount of painted trim transformed the otherwise-stock dash.
Moving on to the bodywork, Casey took on the duties of shaving the antenna, door handles, tailgate handle, roof rack, and the most glaring and unnecessary addition to the Ford's body: its bedside cleats. From there, Andy Meech took over as the truck was rolled into his spray booth for several coats of BASF Radiant Copper, followed by clearcoat, while the hood received Gunmetal Gray with matte clear. Several interior trim pieces also received the Radiant Copper treatments, including the door handles, arm rests, gauge bezel, center stack, and steering wheel inserts. The interior was reassembled with its freshly-painted trim, along with copper-stitched, black and white upholstery from Roadwire, and a suede headliner by Keystone Brothers. Advantage Audio in Brea, California, added a navigation head unit from Clarion and the interior was complete.
The final stop was at Devious Customs in Riverside, California, where the truck's unique four-wheel independent suspension proved to be no match for Jeff Davy and his crew. Since the Sport Trac doesn't have the legions of faithful customizers like F-150s do, an off-the-shelf airbag kit wasn't an option. Instead, Air Lift's extensive product line was tapped to get the right stance for the truck. Out went the truck's four coilovers and in their place went Air Lift's AirOver 'bag and shock combination. In place of the factory wheels, CGS went with 22-inch Devious wheels and Pirelli Scorpion rubber, 265/45R22 in the front and 305/40R22 in the rear. With a 5-gallon tank and compressor stashed under the bed and a programmable ride height control in the cab, the Sport Trac was ready to lay its frame.
Since the truck was built by CGS, it wouldn't be complete without an exhaust system. Now the 4.6L V-8 breathes through a 3-inch exhaust system. You have to love a midsize truck with plenty of V-8 rumble.
We've gained a new respect for Explorer Sport Tracs after laying eyes on this truck at SEMA. It fit perfectly with the trend of simple, well-built vehicles that we've been leaning towards lately. Let this be a lesson to everyone to see the potential in vehicles that lie just outside of the norm.