1985 Ford Ranger $2000 Challenge Race Truck

I want to say that I admire what these high school girls (Material Girls Racing) did to win the Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 challenge. The budget cap goes up $1 each year to match the calendar, so the budget cap this year was $2,024. This event is meant to be a fun editorial exercise so Grassroots Motorsports can show its readers what creative people can do with a car, their hands and a little cash. Unlike other budget-oriented racing venues, the $2000 Challenge offers very little in the way of budget exemptions and encourages speed and hard work more than showmanship or flair. Any modification not addressed by these rules is allowed. The competition involved autocross, drag racing and a concours competition.

The girls competed in the $2,023 Challenge in a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor. The car is rated at 365 horsepower, but they maxed out the turbos to bump it to 400 horsepower. The problem they had is that they were only able to get the Taurus’ curb weight of 4,241 lbs down to 4,100 lbs. Obviously, a lighter car would be a faster car.

(Ken Block’s Hoonitruck)

The father of one of the girls considered swapping to a lighter body. After seeing the Ken Block Hoonitruck, the girls liked the idea of a lightweight lowered truck with flares and a wide body look.  They googled the wheelbase of various pickup trucks and compared them to the Taurus. They found that the 1983-1997 Ford Ranger long bed has a 113.9-inch wheelbase which is very close to the Taurus’ 112.9-inch wheelbase.

The girls searched Facebook Marketplace and found a 1985 Ford Ranger regular cab long bed with no motor or transmission listed for $400. With the truck purchased, the girls began disassembling the Taurus and cutting off the body.

With all of the panels removed and the upper body structure cut, the body was removed using a front-end loader on a tractor.

To mate the Ranger cab to the Taurus, the cabs floor and firewall were removed so that it could be welded to the cars structure.

The bulkhead and the floor of the bed were cut off and welded to the Taurus as well. The Ranger also received a roll cage since it’s a race vehicle. The girls salvaged the universal fender flares from the Taurus and attached them to the Ranger in an attempt to cover some of the tire.

The radiator, intercooler, condenser, and transmission cooler stuck out about a foot in the front of the Ranger. They were able to mount the radiator in the bed but found that they needed to add a booster pump to help circulate the engine coolant between the engine and the radiator. They couldn’t relocate the intercooler, so they bought a cheap one off of eBay that took up less space.

With the front of the Taurus being wider that the Ranger, they had to widen the hood to cover the width.

They had what seemed like 2-miles of wiring to sort through to find and eliminate what they didn’t need. The dad helping them with the project told them that the key was to go slow, cut something off, then start it up and make sure it still ran. They managed to not ruin anything and eliminated almost all of the mess.

For windows, they searched Facebook Marketplace and found some plexiglass left over from Covid. They drilled holes on the edges and used hex head bolts, washers, and nuts to old them in place. The cowl was cut from a piece of scrap plywood (hey, they had to build this for under $2,024).

With so much weight removed from the Taurus, they needed to cut off some of the rear springs to lower and level it.

With the truck finally together, they took it to Bradenton Motorsports Park for some testing and ran a 12.1, 12.3, and a 12.4 second 1/4-mile.

Knowing that the truck was ready to race, the girls decided to paint it with sand thickened Valspar latex paint to give it a bedliner look and to try and cover up some of the rust and blemishes.

To help the Ranger stick to the track, they used the Tire Rack gift certificate they received the previous year to purchase new Kumho Ecsta V730 tires.

With everything cut off of the car it weighed 2,700 lbs before they stared adding the Ranger body. With the Taurus/Ranger complete it weighs 3,200 lbs. That’s 900 lbs lighter than they were able to make the Taurus, and 1,041 lbs lighter than the Taurus’ stock curb weight.

At the $2000 Challenge the Ranger ran a 12.1-second quarter mile (enough for sixth overall out of 53 competitors) and completed the autocross with a 44.3-second time (good for ninth overall). It also posted with a solid “concours” score, and their performance across all disciplines was enough to put these high school seniors in 1st place, narrowly edging out a 1990 Nissan 300ZX and 1985 Chevrolet Corvette.

Building a 1st place race truck while being seniors in high school is an impressive accomplishment. Especially when you consider they body swapped a vehicle. Hopefully these girls will continue with this passion, and we’ll see them in future races!

TheRangerStation.com wishes them success on their future endeavors.



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As a Ford Ranger enthusiast who enjoys modifying my Ford Rangers for off-road use, I quickly discovered that there wasn’t any websites dedicated to the subject. So in 1999, I created TheRangerStation.com. What started as my own personal desire to help other Ford Ranger owners, has grown into a wealth of online information from numerous contributors. 20-years later, my commitment to the Ford Ranger, and the Ford Ranger community, is as strong as ever.