A little back story, I bought my '99 back in 2002 and joined a Ranger forum shortly there after. That forum shut down and I joined this one on the first day it started. I then proceeded to work as a moderator for a few years before taking a break (mostly work related). Anyway... anyone who's been a member of one of these forums long enough has likely developed a longing for one of the 'holy-grail' Rangers. For me this was a factory turbo-diesel truck. And in 2013 I finally made this reality happen.
I ended up taking a road trip from Denver to Los Angeles with my boss after a work event, which allowed for 17 hours of Craigslist searching. That's when I found it. A good running '85 4x4 with the factory 2.3L turbo engine. Located in Eastern Kansas. I called the owner and asked him to hold it for me, which he graciously did. While I worked out travel plans he also got the injection pump rebuilt and installed new timing belts.
I conned my dad into the trip, bought us plane tickets, shipped out tools, and headed to Kansas. I picked the truck up, sigh unseen, and drove it back 1,700 miles to California.
I wrote a couple stories about the adventure in Diesel Power Magazine, which are worth the read if you want to know more about the trip.
I learned through a bit of research that the truck was first sold in Texas before it moved to Kansas to work in the oil fields. It began its life as a White two-wheel-drive with a five-speed transmission. Somewhere along the line it was converted to a four-wheel-drive with a four-speed transmission. Odd, I know. And the best part, as far as I can tell it has a true 86,000 miles on it.
This is the best photo I had from the owner before I bought it.
I made it exactly 25 miles before the truck ended up on a wrecker. A front brake caliper seized and the truck didn't have the power to overcome it. Had it towed to a family friends house where I got everything swapped the next morning.
We got out of town the next day, dodged some tornadoes, and made it to Albuquerque before the next issue. A belt tensioner seized and shredded a belt. No problem though! We had tools and didn't really need the belt anyway, it only drove the AC (didn't work) and power steering pump. This is also when it began overheating.
The trip ended very anticlimactically, which was perfectly acceptable to everyone involved, including the two of us driving and all the family, friends, and colleagues who were supporting the rescue adventure. We arrived home at 2:30 p.m., sunburned and tired, but filled with a sense of accomplishment that made it all worth it. Overall, we covered 1,733 miles and six states, burned 70.79 gallons of diesel, and averaged 24.48 mpg.
Year/Make/Model: 1985 Ford Ranger
Odometer: 81,986 miles
Engine: 2.3L Mitsubishi I-4
Air: Mitsubishi TD-04 wastegated turbocharger
Fuel: Bosch VE injection pump
Horsepower: 86 hp at 4,200 rpm (stock)
Torque: 134 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm (stock)
Transmission: Toyo Kogyo four-speed manual
Transfer Case: BorgWarner 1350
Once I got the thing back home it promptly puked the radiator so I set to work fixing some stuff up. I swapped in a pair of Optima batteries, a Summit aluminum radiator, electric fan, gauges, Mickey Thompson wheels, 31x10.5 BFG AT tires, and a new tool box.
I haven't driven the truck in about a year, but I have a whole wad of parts from LMC to install still, so more to come soon!
Those glow plugs nearly left me stranded in Albuquerque lol. The night after the belt/pulley broke the engine wouldn't fire. I walked down the street to a truck stop, picked up a can of starting fluid, and that's how it got home. Thankfully it has two batteries, there was a lot of cranking going on! lol
Since changing them the truck fires right up all the time. It's amazing really. And amazing that the glow plug controller still works, they are notorious for going bad, so I hear.