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Canted Valve Ranger

By: JAMES 11/12/2020

This little truck has been a ton of fun since I got it in 2005. It already had a 302 in it when I bought it, but it was one of those that looked and sounded good, but didn't have any power to speak of. It was basically a stock engine from a '74 Econoline. Low compression, pitiful head flow and all. The original owner had used an adapter to hook the 302 up to the original Toyo Kogyo 5 speed that came with the original two liter engine. A useless tranny, when behind even a low power 302. Hats off to that original owner, though, as this little truck was in wonderful shape for it's age. He had made a sort of pre-runner looking Ranger out of it, with a small lift, light bar, rollbar, custom paint details and big BFGs.

My fist step was to give away the horrible little transmission and swap a T5-Z SuperDuty into it. Then, a Traction-Lok differential into the rear end. It was much more enjoyable to drive, but I couldn't hang with the all-sound-and-no-fury engine for long. I hated the Hooker or Hedman (forget which) swap headers that were used, and didn't want to bother with building up the engine at that point, as I had my old '70 351 Cleveland just sitting around. I finally got a set of headers for late '70s early '80s F100-150 pickups equipped with 351M or 400C engines that looked about right. I cut the 2V flanges off and welded on some 4V versions, and was off to the swap race.

A Canton 351C/Foxbody swap oil pan went on the old Cleveland, and a quick test fit ensured that the engine would fit nicely with the home cobbled headers. I did have to make my own steering shaft for clearance and modify the heater blower motor box for valve cover clearance. Although it had been about sixteen years since the very mild rebuild of the 351C, the mini truck became a whole different animal, and probably more fun than the law allows, once running. Eventually, the old Cleveland, with probably more than 400K on the block, started smoking. I yanked the engine out and started weighing the altenatives.

Now, I have my '70 Boss 302 put together, and although such a high-revving old school engine is not ideal for a raised-up, boxy mini-truck, that is going into the Ranger, for the time being. Even at this point, I am still weighing whether to use the T5-Z or the TKO. I have a later, 8.8 rear end for the Ranger, along with a tight Traction-Lok and new 4.10 ring and pinion gears, so it will probably get the TKO. I hope lots more HP and lots less TQ still equals all kinds of fun.

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