Tornado Our 96/92 and who knows what Ranger Build thread | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Tornado Our 96/92 and who knows what Ranger Build thread


Well-Known Member
April 9, 2014
Reaction score
City, State
Backwoods of AZ
Year, Model & Trim Level
94Explorer 96ranger
Ok so about a week and a half ago I picked up my 94 Explorer 4x4 4.0L V6 along with a 92 Ranger 4x4 4.0L. The ranger has no tittle but ran and drove. Supposedly the engine was locked up in my 94 explorer turned out to be the starter but I had swapped engines by then.
So after finding out it is probably just the starter seized I decided to start looking for a ranger same cab and such that was 2wd or really cheap with a tittle. While looking I found I was talking to the buddy I bought my explorer from and he said he had a 96 Ranger 2wd 4 banger extended cab green that was a bit beat up, had no engine and interior was torn out. He told me $250. I checked it out and it was fairly close to what I wanted minus being a 3rd gen and being beat up but $250 I wasn't going to complain.
Now the explorer is going to be my daily driver while I work on my F150 so I decided I would fix this up for my youngest brother whom will be getting his license soon and he can drive it around the ranch and once he gets his license he can drive on the roads under one condition he helps me with my explorer and F150 and other trucks and bikes when needed and he helps with this ranger swap. He agreed for a few reasons he would end up helping anyways, he always wanted a ranger, and he wanted a project to call his own.
After getting it we named it Tornado to follow the storm nicknames I have for our trucks (Bronco 2 is Blue thunder, my 88 F150 is white lightnin', and the explorer is Blizzard. I also thought it matched as it looks like a tornado hit it. LOL

Specs on the truck:
96 Ranger 2wd extended cab 3.73 open rear diff ford 7.5 2.3L 4 banger stick shift truck. Only an XLT but I love XLTs the most. Has manual windows and locks too. rear windows are the non opening style interior is tan and exterior currently is green, pink, red, purple and white.

Specs on chassis:
92 Ranger 4x4 extended cab unknown gears yet Ford 8.8 I believe 4.0L V6 fresh A4lD currently has auto hubs that are bad and push button 4x4 which works.

Problems with the 96:
engine is gone
body has a few pretty decent sized dents
rear glass is gone
drivers door glass is gone
Windshield looks like well a tornado hit it
grille is broken
headlights and turns are broken
tail lights broken
bumper totaled
Fiberglass rocker shield totaled
front seats, headliner, back trim panel, are all gone
carpet is totaled
Dash mostly doesn't work
tailgate is off a mazda but is completely straight and works fine
had a drop in bedliner
4 of the 5 tires were flat and had gashes in them
was used as a ranch truck so was fairly beat
the locks don't work
and probably more I haven't noticed yet.

The good:
it was more or less what I wanted
most of the cab itself was straight
less tearing down then I would have needed if assembled
Left enough leeway in price to buy parts needed.
Had a tittle.

Now Plan:
take the cab, front clip, and bed, and rear bumper off. Rear bumper is fully straight minus couple of dings so get those small ones out, pull the dents I can out of the cab, bed and hood and throw it on the 92 4x4 chassis.
Before putting on chassis find out small problems with my 4.0L engine in it and get a starter and fuel pump and oil pressure sensor which we broke while removing.
Use the 92 interior pretty much everything minus door panels, headliner, back panels, rear seats, and small things of that sort.
The 92 had bucket seats with a good middle console so will install that.
The column will go in from the 92 and probably sell off the 96 column.
The headliner will be none for now till I get a custom one made or my brother does.
after all is assembled I will start sourcing some tail lights for it probably stock for now also a drivers door and window with hopefully same mirror even though both mirrors are good.
Install the 92 back glass which is the same
install a windshield
find a grille, headlights, bumper, and rocker shield cheap and get them on. cheaply paint it
run stock 92 ranger wheels painted black with chrome center caps and sell off the 14s. I have the 92 ranger wheels and the front caps
find some manual hubs
install the open style rear windows if we can
After that just drive it a ton till phase 2 (yes I am doing phases like on my explorer)

Phase 2:
correctly paint it something better then green.
do the rest of the body work
billet grille
smoked or clear everything (even 3rd brake light)
truck box or roll bar
cowl hood
brush guard
custom hidden winch
enough lift to fit 33s with no rubbing
tint all the windows
cold air intake
better and louder exhaust
sweet radio system
and probably more.

my 02 f250 pulling her home:

Blue thunder (84 Bronco 2), White Lightnin' (my 88 F150), Cross Bones (other brother's 91 F250), and Toranado (96 Ranger):


I already installed the tailgate and removed the trash from the bed and the drop in bedliner. Luckly no rust below it:



Poor trashed interior:



adios 4 banger (buddy bought it running drove it down the road and spun a bearing and messed up the engine:



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Quick update on this. Got the tittle situation figured out and got it in our name. Looks like I will be going through with this project. I hope to clean it out after I finish with the explorers small maintenance needs.

Got it cleaned out today! looks pretty good wish I could keep this carpet but being stick shift it has a hole in it.

Put 3 more wheels with tires that hold air on it and pulled it by the 92 chassis to begin soon.
Unfortunetly one wheel is a negative offset so it hits the caliper but I don't care as I won't be using these wheels I have 5 matching wheels that I will be using.

Also picked up a tail light got to get one more but the junkyard didn't have one.

Well last night got about an hours worth of work in before it got to cold and dark outside (man if only I had a garage). Also found out that the 92 chassis has 3.73LS gears in it. Ya 2 trucks with it now (explorer and this). Unfortunately the 96 ranger is only like 3.08s or something like that open diff.

First I started by removing the rear bumper and installing it on the 92 chassis. Went very well and no problems at all.
Then I removed the tail light that was still on the bed so it wouldn't get broken more.
After that removed the spare tire I still have to transfer the spare tire carrier over to the 92 frame.
Then I got my youngest brother (the one the ranger is going to) to start removing the bolts to the bed, and got my other younger brother to start scrapping the Mazda off the tailgate I mean it is a ford for peats sake. LOL
While they did that me and my dad started body work on the bed.
Got quite a few of the dents out but still got some more to do. Should be easier now with the bed off.
Got the bed off and sat aside.

Before I install the bed I have to:
install spare tire rack
paint the frame (just going to rattle can it black it will do since I don't get rust over here)
install the rattle bump stops
check the 96 fuel pump if it is good drop it into the 92 fuel tank
inspect filler hoses to see which one is better
then clean the bed up fairly decent
the install it.

hope to get most of that done after school today but not sure if I will have the time or not.

Here are pics:
Dad's 89 F250 pulling the ranger since the Bronco 2 wouldn't start and I didn't want to mess up the Explorer:

in the back while cleaning it up:

Bumper removed and body work began:

bumper installed on the 92 frame (ignore the front part of the cab that is for the Bronco 2)

younger Brother removing the Mazda sticker, youngest brother PB blasting the bed bolts, and dad trying to decide what is the next body work move:

Mazda going away (not sure how much he got off)

Brother getting out from under the truck:

Bed removed (never knew Ford used Hay as an Anti-rattle) LOL


Ok didn't get any pics but last night I pulled the spare tire carrier and transferred it to the 92 frame. That's all I really got done had to run to town.

On the way back stopped off and checked out a ranger for parts. he has a nice drivers door. I don't know if I am going to just get the door or just the window still deciding.

Got the cab off the ranger last night. Took both my tripod and cherry picker to get it off.

Got to finish swapping the wiring needed then drop it on. I am really disliking these small trucks more and more their is little room to work on them especially when you usually work on full size trucks.

Well yesterday I finished taking everything off the 96 frame and scrapped the frame. Got to figure out the wiring as we noticed a difference that we need to work out but we will figure it out.

Anybody know of some mods I can do while the truck is in this stage. I would like to get some more power from the 4.0L and possibly look into doing a cheap lift.
Can I stick F150 coils in the 92 chassis?
Can I build a leaf spring out of the 92 leafs and 96 leafs?

Yesterday we started pulling a few dents out of the cab. On the drivers side below the door was a huge gash. I was able to get that out fairly straight but ran into needing to figure out how to make it smooth again. Hoping to not use bondo but probably will have to.
The driver's door was caved in. I got the dent out fairly decent but it probably won't ever be perfect. I am probably going to run that door till I can source a 93+ door.
The back of the cab I can't get as it is double walled and I don't have the tools to cut the thing out and weld it in right now. I may do it later though.

It is pretty close to straight now I just need to source the clip parts I need.
I talked to the junkyard a while ago they told me this after looking at all the parts and finding them:
Front bumper
both headlights (one was brand newish)
grille support
rocker shield
turn signals
all for $250 but they would go down to $200. No way am I going to pay that and all my buddies agree. Not sure what I am going to do right now for that part.
I also got the auto trans plate cover on the truck.

Got a few hang ups in the wiring that I need to figure out but once that is good should be able to paint it.

Well small updates:
got the passenger side outer part of the frame and all the cross members completely wire brushed and painted gloss black. Got part of the driver's side outer part of the frame but came to a stop. Still got both side inners to do, some of the engine, the trans, front end, rear end, spare tire rack, drive shafts, some of the driver's side, both coil springs, and the transfer case.
Did wire brush the exhaust from the manifolds on back and found out that from the cat back they installed stainless steel pipes into an aftermarket (no clue what brand but looks like the one on my 88 F150) muffler and put the stock tail pipe on which was rotted out and fell off. Actually the tail pipe wasn't welded in or clamped it was just sitting their. So plan is to cut the tail pipe off the 96 exhaust system and weld it in and get a exhaust tip later.

Unfortunetly for a few days I have to put the ranger project on hold till I can get another project out of the way.

Finished wire brushing everything and got it painted then put the bed on. Got to play around a bit with the engine before I put the cab on.

Well small update. If y'all know my explorer you would know that once before I ran jeep wheels on it. After a blow out I changed backed to the black spokes on it. Well I got a tire on that wheel that had a blow out and I gave my brother those wheels to put on the ranger. So he put all 4 jeep wheels with 235 75 R15s on the ranger.

Well while doing so we found out somebody bent a lug stud (I know how it happened to). Well I figured I had the lug stud so I pulled the drum off (after fighting the brakes that were all messed up) and pulled the stud. Unfortunetly I don't have a lug stud yet as it is on another vehicle but once I change the rear in that vehicle I will put it in this truck.

I also found out all the brakes are shot. Adjusting hardware doesn't work properly and more. So I need all new brakes (I should be able to turn the drums and rotors). So that is on the list. Hopefully ranger brake parts cost less then what it did on my dad's F250.

I literally don't know how that 92 ever was able to stop.
It ticks me off a bit because my explorer, 88 F150, and 02 F250 all have brand brakes on them when I bought them but one of the biggest projects needs brakes.

Put a new drivers door window in, turn signals, headlights, and grille support. All we got used for $65.
Still need a grille.

got a parts truck with a running 4.0L. Needs a rear main seal then will be sticking the new engine in.

Turned out the 4.0L didn't need a rear main seal. Put a new oil pan gasket on it, torques all the mains and rod bearings, cleaned the engine up, installed the old flywheel and torque convertor, and installed the engine.

I then proceed to stripping the rest of the 96 interior stuff out and got some wiring put in but not much. Cut parts of the firewall out so that I could put in the new one and did that. Installed the new ac box from the 92. Also got the cab on. Plus we painted the grill black.
Pics of the progress: