The Story Behind The Sea Splash Ranger

Back in 1994, the Ford Motor Company had a few different Ford Ranger concept trucks that they displayed which included the Sky Splash and the Sea Splash. These were promotional vehicles that went to shows to promote sales. It’s normal for manufacturers to crush these vehicles along with any other pre-production vehicles, and not sell them to the public.

From time to time, you may hear about a collector that has a concept or prototype vehicle in their collection. Maybe they saved it from the crusher. Maybe they somehow had enough pull to get the manufacturer to sell it to them, but you don’t typically see them being driven around. Sometimes these vehicles don’t even show up until many years later.

In February 2019 the Sea Splash Ranger showed up for sale in our forum by Fred Ashmore posting as ‘fajr22’ with an asking price of $7,500. Shortly thereafter I received this email from Melissa Kirk:

“My dad is Rick Kirk. Or was. We have several ultra-rare trucks, cars and parts. When my dad passed away last year I was tasked with the responsibility of trying to raise enough money to pay off his remaining debts and take care of my mother, whom has dementia. Fred came out to the shop a few times to pick up and haul some cars and parts back to Maine for a man. While he was there he was touring some of our buildings (we have a museum, a shop, some of the 33 $1 cars, several 1 of 1 cars. He came across the sea splash in the back of one of our buildings where we store vehicles we don’t want people to know we have. It did not come with the canoe but I remember when it came in to the shop many, many years ago that it had it so I can’t tell you where the canoe went. I know how my dad obtained the truck (it was supposed to be destroyed) but I also know that I am not allowed to tell that story since not all parties involved are deceased. There wasn’t a lot we could do with the vehicle at the moment since almost everything on the truck was a prototype. What Fred doesn’t know, though, is that I have the tag he’s talking about that’s missing. My dad always removed stuff like that so that people couldn’t replicate things. So that what happened to Gas Ronda in regards to Brent Hajek and Gas’s car didn’t happen to us. I’m not sure why I’m so upset about this, honestly. My dad was my very best friend and this has been the hardest year of my life. Especially since he left me with so many responsibilities and unanswered questions when he died unexpectedly. But Fred, in that forum, pretended to be someone else to build up hype on the truck. He also told me that since the truck was supposed to be destroyed, had no VIN or anything like that, that if Ford found out about the truck they would come and take it. That his plan was to take the truck back to where he lived, restore it, but not let many people know he had it so that it wouldn’t get taken away. I know that was something I shouldn’t have believed, It happened not long after my dad passed and I wasn’t thinking correctly. Fred bought that truck fair and square. But,  considering he lied to me about what the truck entailed and how he’s planning on taking it to shows and stuff when he gets it fixed up, the very least he could do is be truthful about where he got the truck. He did not get the truck in Stillwater. The “fellow Ford enthusiast” is my husband, Brandon #####. He didn’t happen to mention my name, Melissa Kirk, either. The person he talks about that originally owned the truck was Rick Kirk and it was kept at one of the shops owned by us called #######. in #####, OK. If he’s going to show it and talk about it to anyone and everyone, the very least he could do is pay his respects to the man that everyone so loved and cherished, that helped preserve Ford history, and tell people his name rather than trying to make it disappear. My dad’s legacy deserves to stay alive. He worked hard at the things he did and to collect the things he did. He at least deserves to have his name mentioned.”

I have no desire to allow someone to use our forum to sell something that they can’t legally sell or might even be considered stolen. And I don’t want one of our members to buy it and then have Ford come looking for them. So, I contacted Ford, told them that someone is selling a Ford Ranger concept vehicle in our forum, that the person he (fajr22) bought it from (Kirk) contacted me, and that there’s a question as to whether it could legally be sold or even be in anyone’s possession. Since Ashmore told the Kirk’s that the Ranger wasn’t legal to own, I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t trying to unload it on one of our unsuspecting members. I was told that this vehicle should have been crushed, asked how much the person bought the truck for, and was told that they (Ford) would try to reach him and buy it back at that price. That seemed pretty fair considering Fred told Melissa that Ford would come and take it.

With this information in hand, I contacted ‘fajr22’ and told him that he couldn’t sell the truck in our forum since there were legal issues with its ownership.

I contacted Melissa to find out how much they sold the Ranger for and was told:

“I talked to my husband and he thinks we sold it for $3500 but I don’t think it was that much because he made such a huge deal about it not being worth much and how no one can take it anywhere. I didn’t want to sell it but he made it sound like I would go to jail it they found it

I didn’t like that this Ranger had been presented as some great ‘barn find’ only to find out that the seller was ‘persuaded’ to sell it. But if anything, he wasn’t going to be allowed to sell it here knowing there were legal issues.

Fred Didn’t Keep It A Secret:

Remember Fred telling Melissa that if “Ford found out about the truck they would come and take it. That his plan was to take the truck back to where he lived, restore it, but not let many people know he had it so that it wouldn’t get taken away.” Well, Fred posted it for sale in our forum for $7,500, posted it for sale on his facebook page, and someone even sent me a photo of it for sale at the Ford event at Carlisle. Fred posted this Ranger so much that Ford Authority wrote an article about it and included Fred’s name:

Remember What He Told Her About Ford?

I know from being at a Ford event that Ford has read my forum, and I know that not much gets past them. Heck, Ford even tried to sue me once for selling Ford decals. If you start posting something like this online, they’re going to find you. Fred told Melissa that if Ford found out she had it, they (Ford) would come and take it. Well, guess what happened?

In the past few days someone sent me a video of the Sea Splash Ranger on Instagram with Fred Ashmore complaining that Ford sued him in 2021. The video shows photos of the Ranger and the letter he received from Ford’s attorney. Fred also added the following comment:

“In 2021 Ford Motor Company sued me for selling a Prototype truck that was 30 years old. They demanded to come to my home and destroy it. They then offered me $1500 to give it back. They upped the offer to $3500 and then threatened to sue me. The Maine State Police was sent to my home on their behalf. The Ranger Sea Splash is the first of this style Ranger ever built. In the end, they had no legal grounds. Today the truck resides in personal collection.”

This video and post appear to lash out at Ford. But if you look at the letter from the attorney (I have screenshots of it in the photos below), they contacted him to implore him to not sell the Ranger:

We write to you regarding your intention to sell a concept vehicle known as the 1993 Ford Ranger Sea Splash. This vehicle was never released for public use and is not certified or fit for road use. We implore you to reconsider the sale of uncertified, concept vehicle that was never intended by Ford for public use on public roadways and a vehicle for which you do not have a legal title.”

I have to wonder if those are DOT legal tires I see on the Ranger. I don’t recognize that tread pattern, and I’ve seen tire manufactures make one off tires for show vehicles that aren’t going to be driven.

And then there’s some legalities in the letter followed by:

“We understand that you purchased the vehicle for $3,500 as part of an estate sale. Ford is prepared to purchase the vehicle from you for what you paid for it.”

Fred Ashmore claims that Ford first only offered him $1,500 before offering him $3,500. He also claims that Ford had no legal grounds, and that the vehicle is in a personal collection.

The attorney wrote the letter asking Fred to reconsider selling the vehicle and told him Ford was prepared to pay him the $3,500 he paid for it. Fred apparently agreed to not sell it (or at least not let Ford see him do it), and not put it on the road.

Fred’s Not A Victim:

Up until this point I could care less what happened to this truck, but I took issue with Fred’s video, and I called him out on it. Not because Ford needs me sticking up for them (they clearly don’t), but because of the circumstances around all of it.

First of all, Fred isn’t a victim. He bought a truck that he knew Ford would come after if they knew he had it. It was part of his tactic to get the Kirk’s to sell it. He then turned around and told the world that he had it and was trying to sell it. It was only a matter of time before Ford caught up with him. I don’t know why he’s trying to act like Ford was somehow in the wrong or picking on him for no reason when Ford sent this vehicle to be crushed to keep it out of the publics hands and then offered to buy it back from him to try and keep him from selling it to the public.

Secondly, Rick Kirk’s daughter didn’t want to sell the Ranger. The only reason she did was because Fred Ashmore persuaded her to sell it out of fear. And then he went against his word when he told her that he was going to restore it, keep it, and not let many people know he had it. Instead, he posted it for sale as a ‘barn find’ for $7,500 which is more than twice what he paid her and didn’t even wash the dust off of it. If there’s a victim in this case, it’s the Kirk family.

Fred Blames Me:

After responding to his video, Fred Ashmore has posted on his Facebook Page:

“My post generated the Culprit who contacted Ford Motor Company to have the RANGER SEA SPLASH crushed.


He couldn’t have it so he contacted Ford and that’s where they got the false information contained in the letter.”

This is a bizarre post. Again, it would seem that he believes Ford, the lawyer, and I are the bad people.

Fred publicly calls me a ‘Culprit’. A culprit is defined as “a person who is responsible for a crime or other misdeed.” So, Fred is publicly trying to accuse me of being a criminal. He bought a truck from someone by telling them they weren’t in legal possession of it and calls me a culprit. For what? questioning the legality of something someone is trying to sell on The Ranger Station after I’m told that it’s not legal to own?

It’s inconceivable that he wants to blame me for the letter that he got from Ford when he posted the Ranger online so much that wrote an article about it and listed his name, he took it to a Ford show at Carlisle trying to sell it, and he posted it on his facebook page that listed his location and phone number.

Yet, it’s somehow my fault that two years after I told him that he couldn’t legally list it for sale at, he gets a letter from an attorney imploring him not to sell it and offering to purchase it back for what he paid for it. And in the end, it’s not crushed, and nobody is driving it. Which is all Ford probably cared about anyway.

But I guess the ADMIN of the FORD RANGER STATION wanted it crushed. Funny. My only concern back in 2019 was preventing Fred from unloading a vehicle that he wasn’t in legal possession of on one of our unsuspecting forum users.

Apparently (according to Fred), I contacted Ford because I couldn’t have it. Wow. So, what’s the angle here? I could have bought it when he posted it in our forum if I wanted it. Personally, this Ranger isn’t that special. Sorry Fred. The Ford Ranger Splash went into production for anyone to buy. There’s nothing special about this truck. In 2019 I could have bought a Ford Ranger Splash that I could actually drive on the road for less than the $7,500 he was asking.

Now, the 1989 Ford Ranger SHO Project Truck and the 2002 Ford Ranger Lightning Bolt are special. Those trucks are badass Ford Ranger’s that never made it into production.

And finally, I never gave Ford any false information. Fred did buy the Ranger for $3,500 according to the Kirk’s, but I think the lawyer was kind when he said that Fred bought it at an estate sale. The Kirk’s were not interested in selling it at the time.

Don’t Be A Fred:

If you find a concept vehicle sitting in someone’s garage, know that the vehicle was meant to be crushed, that the owner doesn’t have a title, and there’s a chance that the manufacturer is going to come looking for it if they know you have it, don’t go posting it for sale all over the internet if you don’t want them to find out. While manufacturers may turn a blind eye about a vehicle sitting in someone’s collection, they don’t like the idea of their vehicle being sold to the average consumer that’s going to be driving it around on the road when the vehicle wasn’t intended to be sold and driven.

A Tribute To Rick Kirk:

Motortrend wrote the following article in February 2018:

Ford enthusiasts lost a performance legend on Monday, January 29, 2018, when Rick Kirk passed away at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Born on January 20, 1947 in Ripley, Oklahoma, Rick is survived by his wife Laura and daughters Melissa and Julie. Services will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 2 PM at the Church of Christ located at the corner of Duck and McElroy in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

In his Okie accent, Kirk once gave us directions to his business: “Go north of town and count 17 mail boxes, turn around and backtrack 6 and we’re on the right-hand side.”

He liked to sit in his big chair in his Ford “lair,” high above his shop and past a sign that read, “Ford Country, Population, Excited.” Excited he was to be surrounded by thousands of his Ford treasures, ranging from a 1912 Ford dealership clock to a Ford Performance Corner lighted sign, circa 1969, to a stop watch that Vern Tinsler used to time GT-40s at LeMans in the 1960s, to a 427 SOHC that powered Mickey Thompson’s Autolite Special to a land speed record attempt.

Kirk also collected Ford-powered cars. His favorites were from the 1963-1966 years. For a time he had his own Ford car museum in Ripley. Inside he displayed an A/FX and a B/FX Comet, a 1964 Ford Lightweight Galaxie (which he owned since 1967), a 1962 Thunderbird Sports Roadster, the first 1968 Mustang Cobra Jet “135 series” drag car, and much more, including strange and unusual intake manifold and other parts from the performance years.

What made Rick such a legend was his sense of humor and fondness for people. He was quick to share information and he traveled extensively to events. Bob Perkins said, “He knew everybody and really liked nostalgia drag racing events.”

Most people would be surprised to hear that Kirk also did high profile machine work for the automakers in Detroit.

In the late 1980s, Chevrolet contracted Mercury Marine in Stillwater, Oklahoma to build their DOHC LT5 V8 for their new ZR-1 Corvette. Chevrolet called Kirk to make the engine carts, which Rick painted Ford Corporate Blue. Chevrolet signed off on the carts, not knowing what prank Kirk had pulled off. Kirk also did much of the tooling and prototype work to machine the heads and block.

Check out Donald Farr’s story on Rick and his impressive collection of Ford and Mustang memorabilia here:

He will be sorely missed in not only the Ford community, but the automotive world as well. Rest in peace Rick.

Rick Kirk was a Ford enthusiast legend. It’s no surprise that the Ranger would be saved and end up in his collection. The fact that he kept the truck a secret shows me that he saw it as a piece of art and probably enjoyed having it even though he knew he could never drive or sell it.

Vehicles like this belong with the Rick Kirk’s of the world that can appreciate the rarity of something and enjoy having it in their collection, and not sold to someone that just wants to see how much money they can get for it.

It’s a shame that the Kirk’s were persuaded to sell this Ranger out of fear to someone wanting to double their profit on it. It would have been nice if they could have sold it when they were ready and found a collector that would appreciate and want to keep it. I would speculate that’s what Rick would have wanted. Most people that collect things prefer to sell their collection to someone that will appreciate and care for it.

Thank you, Rick, for caring for the Ford Ranger Sea Splash for all of those years. Hopefully it will end up with someone that appreciated it as much as you did.


Back in 2019 I thought this was a pretty interesting story. But there were some gray areas, and I chose to pass on the story. But at some point, you have to take a stand for what’s right. And if you’re going to deny the truth and call me a liar on social media, you force me to back it up and prove it.


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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 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.