We're sure that no matter where you live, there's a late-model Ranger for sale for next to nothing. Although they've gone through several cosmetic changes, the truck hasn't changed much since the current generation debuted for the 1998 model year. As a perennial favorite for fleets and businesses, regular cab, five-speed, no-frills models like the '05 model we started with can be picked up for around $4,000. We decided to show you what you could do with one of these Rangers and about $3,000 in aftermarket parts. Armed with a computer and a telephone, we tracked down Suspension Max to do the suspension, and Summit Racing had everything else we needed for the budget we had to work with.
Despite the fact that Ford has made hundreds of thousands of four-cylinder Rangers, it is surprisingly difficult to find performance parts to fit them. The solution to our intake and exhaust was to make our own. After looking under the hood, we determined what parts we'd need from Spectre and ordered them from Summitracing.com, along with a Thrush Turbo II muffler that we added to the factory exhaust to reduce backpressure and improve the sound of our 2.3L four-cylinder. We got a suspension drop for about $300, an improved exhaust for around $30, and a fully-custom intake for under $200, and a Carriage Works black billet grille for $160. That's like four of our Basic Budget Bolt-Ons in one! The only area where we really splurged was in the wheels and tires. Since they're the most important part of any suspension, we decided that we'd go big with a 20-inch set of Boss Motorsports wheels and one of Continental's best summer performance tires. Check out the installs and see how we took a plain old Ranger and took it a long way towards being a great-look, great-handling mini-truck in just a day.