Dustin Scheele * Crump, Tennessee
'97 Ford Ranger

There are a lot of people out there who claim they do everything themselves. They go out, buy themselves a nice truck that someone spent a lot of time building into something cool, and then take all of the credit. This is not that truck and this is not that owner. Dustin Scheele of Crump, Tennessee, has been working on cars since he was a little kid, turning wrenches with his Dad, who built street rods. Since then, he's had a few builds under his belt, including a '72 Ranchero and a '73 Maverick Grabber, but when it came time to build his first mini-truck, Dustin decided to go big--real big.

The truck was stripped down to the bare frame so that Dustin could get a fresh start on the chassis. The '97 Ranger that he had chosen as his project truck had the standard I-beam front suspension, which is a design that helped make Ford trucks famous. Of course, the beams aren't cool when laying a truck on the ground because of the mammoth amount of negative camber that the design exhibits during suspension travel. To fix that problem Dustin picked up a frame clip from an '86 Ford Mustang and decided to use that as a base for the project. From the new clip back, 2x3-inch steel tubing was configured to fabricate the new frame. With some fancy welding skills and a lot of knowhow, Dustin turned that frame into the air tank for the airbag suspension, which he designed for the truck as well. The rear of the chassis was set up with a '90 Mustang axle hung from a custom two-link rear suspension. Firestone 224c air bags were installed front and rear, as well as a set of 20-inch American Racing Casinos on each corner. Dustin had a rolling chassis and it was time for some power.

Part of the motivation for this build was power, specifically more of it. Dustin wanted a V-8, so he built a 306ci Ford engine with a Trick Flow intake, ported and polished heads, a Ford Motorsports cam, and BBK ceramic-coated headers. Once the new motor was dropped between the framerails, it was time to move on to the body.

The cab and bed were next on the to-do list, and Dustin wanted to make everything clean and smooth. The door handles, stake pockets, tailgate handle, and third brake light were welded smooth, and a rollpan was molded into the bed. Dustin also mounted a Cervini's hood with a 3-inch cowl to give the V-8 some breathing room. Since he wanted a hammered stance, he body-dropped the bed to match the cab, which was hung on the new frame low enough to get the rockers on the concrete. Once everything was reassembled, the truck was sprayed in a custom Cadillac diamond white and violet pearl two-tone paintjob, separated by a chrome accent stripe.

For the inside of his truck, Dustin decided to continue with the Mustang theme and modified a stock Mustang dash to fit inside the mini's cab. Accomplishing this involved a lot of cutting and fiberglass work, but the finished product really makes the interior pop. The door panels were also modified to match the dash, and everything was painted to coordinate with the exterior.

It took a lot of time, and even more money, but Dustin handled his entire build by himself. The truck now rocks shows across the country and is taking home trophies left and right. The Ford Ranger isn't the most popular mini to build, but if more people start building them like Dustin, that might change.

The 411
Engine/Drivetrain:
306ci Ford V-8 / Trick Flow intake manifold / ported and polished intake and exhaust ports / three-angle valve job / heads are decked .030 / Ford Motorsports F303 camshaft / MSD ignition / BBK ceramic-coated headers / 2.5-inch polished stainless steel exhaust / automatic transmission with overdrive / 3,000-stall converter
By: Owner

Rims:
Front: 20x7.5 American Racing Casinos
Rear: 20x8.5 American Racing Casinos

Tires:
Front: 225/35R20 Nankang
Rear: 225/45RR20 Nankang

Suspension:
Front: '86 Ford Mustang front frame clip / Lincoln disc brakes / stock spindles / 224c Firestone airbags
Rear: '90 Ford Mustang axle / adjustable two-link / 224c Firestone airbags
Accessories: York engine-driven compressor / Viair 380 electric compressor for backup / -inch SMC valves / -inch hydraulic air line
Chassis: Custom 2x3-inch frame built as air tank to hold 4.5 gallons of air / valves mounted on the frame to minimize the number of air lines / 20-gallon aluminum fuel cell
By: Owner

Body Mods:
Shaved door handles, stake pockets, tailgate handle, and third brake light / rollpan / 2001 Ford Explorer Sport bumper / Cervini's 3-inch cowl hood / Diamond-clear headlights and taillights / sheet metal bed floor and tubbed inner fenders / Rhino Liner spray-on bedliner
By: Owner

Custom Paint:
Matrix Diamond-White with Violet pearl custom two-tone / airbrushed chrome trim dividing the two colors
BY: Owner

Interior:
'99 Pontiac Trans Am seats covered in gray leather with white suede inserts / '97 Ford Mustang dashboard modified to fit Ranger cab / stock Ranger door panels with dash cutouts for the Mustang dash / gray carpet / Equus performance backlit gauges
By: Owner / Gary Sellers

Audio/Video:
Kenwood KDC MP732 head unit / Infinity 6x9-inch Kappa coaxial / Infinity 6.25-inch component speakers in front-mounted kick panels / two Pioneer Pro Series TSW304 12-inch subwoofers in a bed-mounted enclosure with a port to the cab / Hifonics Brutus 2,400-watt amplifier
By: Owner

Club:
Relaxed Atmosphere

Special Thanks:
Scheele Fabrications, Gary Sellers, Brad Scott, Barry Mabry at Sure Match Paint, Danny and Steven at Dan's Polishing