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Class 7s Desert Race Truck Revival

Travisfab

GoFastExplorers
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This was an unexpected project. A co worker actually found it & knew about my weird obsession with Explorers. The truck was 2 hours away, and I decided to roll the dice and see if it was decent. The Craigslist ad hinted at the owners knowledge; key points were "Won prerunner class in Baja", "Totally caged", & "Very fast". I figured the lack of knowledge would either work greatly in my favor, or greatly against it. As we drove through the port of Long Beach to pick up the truck in San Pedro, the rain intensified to a solid down pour, awesome! I hate to pre judge, but pulling up to an apartment complex, and having an eccentric 65+ year old man come out to greet me did not exactly give me the most confident feeling.


The truck was tucked in the back of an underground parking structure, and had accumulated a fair amount of cob webs and dust. Initial inspection was pleasantly surprising. Decently tucked 2" cage, decent welds, and brand new BFG 33x10.50's. Chassis inspection revealed a leaky diff, blown shocks, but there was not a drop of oil on the ground below it. About this time the owner's 30ish year old son came by to give me the run down. All fluids were excellent, and the truck fired off with ease, idled smooth, and had zero abnormal noise coming from the engine. A quick test drive sealed the deal for me.


The next stage of this journey was getting this beast back to San Diego 100 miles down the 405/5 (yes I should have brought a trailer!). Keep in mind, the atmospheric river was at full pour at this point. Episodes of Roadkill played in my head as I squinted through a terribly blurry window, being smeared by decade old wiper blades. The driver rear window was not working and left me with a nice 8" gap of constant air flow. 4 blown shocks made the ride nice and springy, and the typical Ford power steering allowed 3" of steering wheel play in either direction. All minor inconveniences for a hardened off roader, and the beast was running like a champ down the freeway at 70+.



The rain has been relentless, and I am still revealing details about this truck, but here is what I have found.


- 4.0, runs excellent, mileage unkown, broken speedo/odometer, I can see that the intake manifold has been replaced, havent dug any further

- 5 speed with about 12" of play in the shifter, shifts good otherwise, good clutch

- Cab cage is 2" laced in with 1.5. An X crossmember was put through the rear passenger area. I am thinking this was a parking lot fix to pass tech at some point. This will be one of the first things I cut out and re do.

- Engine cage is all 1.5" tube, kind of funky/fugly, but lands on the frame enough times to be decently strong. This will be an area that I will revisit when suspension upgrades start to happen

- Front suspension is built to the classic 7s specs. Bent beams, lift coils and the stock radius arms, all controlled by 2.5x12 Sway Aways

- Rear suspension looks like a bastard pack, it could be from the National Spring days. It's a nice thick pack with about 10 leafs. It surprisingly uses the stock shackles. Rear shocks are also 2.5x12 Sway Aways


Misc Details

- Howe Power steering pump and reservoir

- Brand new 33x10.50R15 BFG tires on Outlaw 2 style wheels

- Stock location fuel cell (I think they may have just covered the stock gas tank with sheet metal, lol!)

- Functional heat, AC, gauges, power door/locks (luxury prerunner)

- A faint remnant of a BITD tech tag

- An even more faint name on the passenger door. Anyone know Joe Haight? The previous owner also mentioned Dennis Confrontino. Any of these names ring a bell?



My plan is to make this truck functional, clean, comfortable, and modernized. The immediate goals other than the standard clean up/zip tie treatment are to rebuild the shocks, cut the rear X out, add a bench, and add longer radius arms (I happen to have a pair). There is also a cracked tube going from the engine cage through the firewall, I'll unfortunately have to pull the dash for that. I also need to address the rear axle, and cross my finger that it's only the diff cover leaking.


Here are the photos from the ad

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I'm holding off on any bigger goals/plans with the truck until I get it out in the dirt, hopefully it works good!
 


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Rick

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Nice find and excellent story:chug:
 




Mbrooks420

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Looks like a great find!
 




gmanpaint

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That's different! Looks like they just went straight to business, and only did what they had to for inspection.

I tried to guess what year it is, but heck, I can't ever tell going by body alone on 1st gens.

Nice score, keep on posting updates please!
 




RangerX

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So how good of a price did you get it for?! Did they say how many years it had been sitting? Or, since you drove it home, was it still current reg?
 








Travisfab

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So how good of a price did you get it for?! Did they say how many years it had been sitting? Or, since you drove it home, was it still current reg?

It had been occasionally driven. I was given a receipt for new brakes and tires that was about 18 months old.

The not so awesome 90's bumpers fell victim to the saw zaw the day after I got it. I'm ditching the stock bumpers & building new tube bumpers for the front and rear.

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Travisfab

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Did the front bumper go into the engine cage?

Yes it did. Behind the grille are flanges that it bolted to. The plan is to utilize these on the next bumper.
 




Travisfab

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Next up was addressing the shocks. They have suffered for many years in ignorant hands! Zero nitrogen in all 4, multiple shaft caps loose, oil caked on thick, good times! Brought them over to my buddy john at Keen Shock Works. I'm assuming at one point some time was spent getting these valved to proper specs, so just a clean up/rebuild this time around, I am also going to hit the bodies with Steel-It when I get them back.

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davidk

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Very nice X. I'm looking forward to seeing the eventual "airborne" photos. :D
 




Travisfab

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The seats and harnesses were dated, so out with the old, in with the new. I also cut the rear X out to accommodate a bench seat.

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93XploderMS

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I really need seats like that in my X. At my age I do not want to climb over that roll bar to get int to front seat lol

Nice find, glad to see it being brought back to life.
 




Travisfab

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At my age I do not want to climb over that roll bar to get int to front seat lol.
A friend of mine (late 50's) just got T boned while off road and lost his life. These door bars will never be a hassle to climb over!

The wiring in this truck is pretty much all stock other than a few things that were done at one point to make it race legal. The ignition, fuel pump, & stereo are on switches, as well as the push to start. The trailer wiring harness was a highlight, along with way too many exposed live leads!! This mess will all disappear and end up in the dash, & the battery will be relocated to the rear cargo area & replaced with an AGM unit.
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*note the "support" tube under the rear seat bar, lol!

There was also a tube from the engine cage to the dash bar that was completely cracked through and rattling around. Dash had to go, to get to this, and everything is all cleaned up and ready for repair.
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Happy to say that it has sat on concrete for over a week now and is only leaking from the rear diff.
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93XploderMS

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A friend of mine (late 50's) just got T boned while off road and lost his life. These door bars will never be a hassle to climb over!

Sorry for your loss. I lived in SoCal for 11 years, off roading is fast and loud.

Here in Oregon we have our issues but most of these guys rigs can’t handle speeds over 30 with bumps. They are trailered because they are not safe above 45 on pavement
 




Travisfab

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I lived up in the Medford/Grans Pass area for a little while. Definitely stuck out with my fiberglass fenders!
 










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