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killitkatie
killitkatie New Reader
4/10/24 8:51 p.m.

Sorry it took so long to post our build!  We were trying to keep it on the down low until the challenge.  First, I would like to say thanks to Sam, Teresa and Gia for being the best race teammates of all time!  You girls rock!  Second, I would like to thank my dad and mom for all their help, support and encouragement, we couldn't have done it without them.  In addition I would like to thank GRM for hosting this event, and all of the super friendly competitors at the challenge.  Let's get to it:

In the beginning, there was a Taurus Police Interceptor ecoboost AWD, and it was fast, but heavvvyyy.  4,100 lbs with all the weight savings we could find.

  

On the way home from the $2023 Challenge, we discussed ways to improve the car’s performance. Increasing the horsepower was not really an option as our engine is already very near it’s maximum potential. Our turbo chargers are at maximum boost, and our fuel pump is running wide open. Without the ability to add power, our only other obvious option was a significant weight reduction. My dad had previously mentioned creating a “Cart” buggy look, but as a team we really preferred the look of a more finished vehicle.  My dad suggested a lightweight body swap?  We didn’t even know something like that was possible, until he explained the concept to us, and a plan was created.  After seeing the Hoonitruck, we liked the idea of a lightweight lowered truck with flares and a wide body look.  We googled the wheelbase of various pickup trucks compared to the Taurus, and determined that a long-bed early Ford Ranger would barely fit.  We found a suitable candidate on FB about 2 hours south just a few weeks after the challenge.

      

First step was to remove all the body panels on the Taurus

 

That's before any cutting!

Should've worn foot protection!  The metal shavings were hot!

All cut, time for lift off!

Time to take her for a spin!

Next up, take off the Ranger cab, bed, fenders, hood, grill, etc.  That only took 45 minutes, way easier than the Taurus.

In order to fit the cab over the Taurus, we had to cut out the bottom of it:

 

And remove the firewall:

We also had to cut out the bed of the truck, which was very heavy!

Now we could start fitting things together like a puzzle, we started with the cab:

Followed by the truck bed:

 

Then we set the fenders on and stood back, it looked like it was going to fit!!!

 

Next up we had to start fastening the panels to the Taurus:

 

OK, that's all for this post, I will post some more in a bit!

 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
4/10/24 8:58 p.m.

BERKIN A!

GCrites
GCrites Dork
4/10/24 9:26 p.m.

I don't think I'd ever be able to figure out which unibody vehicles I could safely do this with. Especially a car that might have OK support for horsepower mods but doesn't have much of a community for this kind of rebody unlike say Ford Panther. Or without adding a million bars. Most likely I'd just end up making a pretzel.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/10/24 9:47 p.m.

So much awesome!

loosecannon
loosecannon UltraDork
4/10/24 9:53 p.m.

Love this

rdcyclist
rdcyclist GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/10/24 10:08 p.m.

I absolutely love the jump right in and get it going attitude here. You gals rock! This is incredibly amazing! Way to frickin' go!

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/11/24 9:28 a.m.

I like to think I'm pretty good at building cars by this stage of my life, in my 30's. I was at the edge of my abilities when I body-swapped my Datsun, similar to what you've done here. I was 27 and working as a masters-educated mechanical engineer. You youngsters have what, a 10 year head start on me and almost a high school education? I cannot imagine what awesome stuff you will build in the future as you acquire more skills, knowledge, and experience. Sky's the limit. Please keep building and sharing with us.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
4/11/24 9:55 a.m.

This is fantastic!

johndej
johndej UltraDork
4/11/24 9:58 a.m.

oh wow, just like the biturbo, surprise awesome build threads are the best awesome build threads.

Great work!

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/11/24 10:04 a.m.

MOAR!

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
4/11/24 10:06 a.m.

Hell. Yeah. 

Great work!

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/11/24 10:28 a.m.

You guys are awesome. I hope that you get some media attention beyond GRM that acts as an inspiration to young women all over. On a different note, if any of you want to visit California, I'd like you to meet my son.....

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
4/11/24 1:27 p.m.

When I first heard of your project, I was not sure what to think of it, but the more I see and read about it, this is amazing on so many levels. You all have a bright future and we look forward to watching where you go.

Amazing project, creativity and the guts to make it happen! Congrats on winning the 2024 Challenge!

golfduke
golfduke Dork
4/11/24 1:53 p.m.

I knew this thread was going to DELIVER the second I saw a group of ladies armed with sawzalls and birkenstocks. 

 

Can't wait to see the rest of the thread!  Would also love to hear all of your experiences regarding driving this sled. 

 

 

 

rustomatic
rustomatic HalfDork
4/11/24 3:36 p.m.

Awesome.  All approvals are given.

wae
wae UltimaDork
4/11/24 3:40 p.m.

So I've always been fascinated by cars wearing other cars as hats....  Can you go into a little more detail on how the Ranger body got stuck to the Taurus and how much of each was left in the end? 

killitkatie
killitkatie New Reader
4/11/24 3:43 p.m.

In reply to Kreb (Forum Supporter) :

Thank you so much, that means a lot!! And I mean if you pay for the tickets... 😂😂

hobiercr
hobiercr GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/11/24 5:13 p.m.
golfduke said:

I knew this thread was going to DELIVER the second I saw a group of ladies armed with sawzalls and crockenstocks

FTFY

RandolphCarter
RandolphCarter Reader
4/11/24 5:48 p.m.
johndej said:

oh wow, just like the biturbo, surprise awesome build threads are the best awesome build threads.

Great work!

^^THIS^^

Great so far!

 

killitkatie
killitkatie New Reader
4/11/24 7:21 p.m.

In reply to wae :

Wow, good questions.  So last year, the Taurus weighed in at 4,100 lbs.  After we removed and cut everything off this year, we got it down to 2,700.  The Ranger cab, bed, fenders, hood, and door panels weighed in at 400 lbs.  That was minus every stitch of glass, interior, wiring, etc.  All together, our car weighed in at 3,200 lbs.  I think we figured out that the stock Ranger weighed in at about 2,600 lbs and the stock Taurus was 4,500 when we got it.  So to answer your question, we were left with about 85% Taurus and 15% Ranger by weight.  By looks, it is 100% Ranger. 

As far as attaching the truck cab to the Taurus, we inserted 1" steel tubing inside of the truck's A pillars, screwed directly through the pillar with self tapping screws into the tubing with three screws each side.  The bottom of the tubing was flattened out and attached to the door frame of the Taurus with another 3 self tapping screws.  The rear of the cab was welded (by my dad) to the roll bar with some scrap metal tabs.  The bed of the truck was screwed to the back of the cab and also welded to the shock towers as well as 4 pieces of metal angle to keep it attached at the very rear of the bed.  The fenders were screwed on to the Taurus just like normal fenders, but not in the right places, and with about 10 self tapping screws each side.  The hood was held on with hood pins, and the doors we used gate hinges with self tapping screws into the door jambs of the Taurus and welded onto the doors of the Ranger.  I will say that the doors were the most floppy things you will ever see!  

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/11/24 7:30 p.m.

This also has me scanning Copart for police interceptors.... 

killitkatie
killitkatie New Reader
4/12/24 8:58 a.m.

Part 2:

So now that the body panels were mostly fastened, we had one very significant problem, her nose stuck out way to far.


 

She needed a serious nose job, involving the radiator, intercooler, condenser, and transmission cooler.  We ended up cutting about a foot off the front.

 

We knew the radiator would work at the rear, like the Hoonitruck.

 

The stock intercooler was another story, it would not work in the back, and it looked ugly and didn't fit well with the front.  We decided to get a cheap ebay intercooler to solve the problem.

 

Next as you can see was the hood and front grille. My dad cut out the middle of the hood and welded in some scrap metal to make it wider. We fastened the front grille with piece of aluminum, a couple pieces of wood, and some zip ties!

 

Ugly, but got the job done. We knew we were going to cover it with our special “bedliner” paint.

 

Next up was the rollbar (all dad). I tried some welding, but it is most certainly not something I picked up right away. Dad is not a welder (his words not mine), and he didn’t want to teach us any of his bad habits, so we let him do the heavy lifting. He swore a lot. I guess welding thick plates onto thin sheet metal is a pain in the butt.

 

The cage was the last major hurdle for the truck. After that it was all downhill. Or so we thought!

 

We had about 2 miles of wiring to sort through to find and eliminate what we didn’t. My dad told us the key was to go slow, cut something off, then start it up and make sure it still ran. We managed to not ruin anything and eliminated almost all of the mess.

 

For windows, we found left over covid spit shields on FB that were nearly perfect!  A little thicker than we wanted, but we drilled holes on the perimeter and used ebay sourced hex head bolts, washers, and nuts to old them in place. The cowl was cut from a piece of scrap plywood my dad had in the garage. We used the old truck cowl as a template and extended the lines.

 

We screwed on the universal flares from the Taurus, and my dad welded a couple of brackets on the roll cage supports for the radiator. However, we would end up not using those and instead set the radiator lower.

 

To get the water from the engine to the radiator, we used pieces of piping from a tree damaged trampoline along with flexible radiator hoses from ebay. You can also see the jumper cables from Amazon we used for our battery cables. We used steel zip ties to secure the pipes because my dad thought the regular ones might melt. Nothing came apart after about 20 autocross and 20 drag runs, so I guess they do hold up well.

 

Unfortunately, when we tried to refill the radiator system, we could not get it to work. It was not strong enough to push the water from the front all the way to the back and then get back to the front. We kept overheating in about 10 minutes. My dad said we needed to add a booster pump, so we purchased one off ebay and it solved our problem immediately! So, if you ever want to relocate a radiator in the back of a car, consider about adding a booster.

 

Rules mandated that we add a shut off to the rear most part of the car since we moved our battery. We used the same T-handle we had from the Taurus, but added an old fiberglass fishing rod to extend it to the rear! My dad welded on a tube to keep the rod from bending. It worked great!

 

We took a whole lot of weight off of the rear of the Taurus, so we had to cut a little off of the springs to get the rear lower. Note to others, cut a little bit at a time, we ended up a little lower than we thought!

 

At this point, we had a running, complete truck! Now we needed to do some testing to make sure she would be up to the challenge!

Next stop, Bradenton Motorsports Park! Turns out we needed another hood pin in the center of our floppy hood, and some kind of latch at the top of our floppy doors!!

 

It was super busy at the drag strip, we managed 3 runs, 12.1, 12.3, and a 12.4. The truck was getting slower each time and my dad thought the transmission felt like it was going out! We were super bummed on the way home, when we suddenly realized we never checked the transmission fluid after relocating the radiator and transmission cooler!!!!!!! Turns out we were 1 qt low, disaster averted :) Now we knew we had a solid performer, that should do well at the challenge. Just to be safe, we took it the next week to Orlando Speed World Dragway, and she ran a 12.2 and 12.3. We were a little disappointed in the times, but we thought it might be due to the tailgate causing some drag. That’s when we decided to run without the tailgate at the $200 Challenge drag.

 

Now that we had our truck 90% it was time for a paint job! We thought seriously about leaving it as it was, my dad and his friends thought it was a cool “rat rod truck”. However, that would not work for our theme at all. At first we tried to appease my dad by doing “rat rod pastels”

It did not turn out so well.  She was U-G-L-Y and we did not have an alibi. But we had more paint!

 

Plan B was to use a “Shutz” gun for truck bedliner and spray our sand thickened latex house paint to create a bedliner look that would cover all her rust and blemishes.

 

Oh my is that soooo much nicer. Note the caulking on the tailgate. We used regular house caulking to fill all the holes and stuff.

 

Now for the stripes!! As my dad says, racing stripes make it go faster!

 

And so do stickers! We had a really hard time getting them to stick to our “bedliner” paint, so we used caulk to put them on. Right here we were waiting on our tires to be swapped to new ones. We chose the same Kumho Ecsta V730 as they did really well for us previously. We used our Tire Rack gift certificate from last year towards the new tires. The truck looks so light in this picture, it’s hard to believe she still weighs 3,200 LBS. That’s more than my Mazda 3!

We finally finished. We estimate that there are about 400 hours in the build. Body swaps are def not as easy as they look, at least this one wasn’t. When we started, it sounded so simple!

Off to the races!

 

rich911s
rich911s Reader
4/12/24 9:03 a.m.

In reply to Kreb (Forum Supporter) :

Here's a pro tip: Look for VINs with the 8th digit being a "T" which means it is an ecoboost turbo.  Without that you're going to get the regular 3.5 which has about 100 less hp.  EB's can make about 430 hp on e-30 with a tune!   

loosecannon
loosecannon UltraDork
4/12/24 9:27 a.m.

I just love seeing girls enthusiastic about cars and racing and building their own super cool project. I hope this encourages others to get involved too. My wife is a two time National Autocross Champion and she gets her hands dirty on our cars, too and I can't express enough how happy it makes me. Our race car was also all pink until recently. If you bring this car to SCCA Solo Nationals, drinks are on me! Here's my wife in our car 

 

Congratulations on a great team effort.  It all came together in a nice finished product.  Something you girls will remember for a long time.  

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