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Old 10-21-2013, 05:01 PM
Odysseus Odysseus is offline
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1978 F-150 Ranger bagged and bodied future project. Insight wanted.

Hi there. So Im a first time poster, long time lurker. Im a 23 year old from Portland, Oregon and I will be starting a project soon on a 1978 F-150 Ranger standard cab short bed that my father bought new in 78. Him and I had plans to rebuild it ten years ago and we never got around to it and Im at a point in my life where I would really like to do this with him.

Im no stranger to cars or modified cars but this will be my first classic American truck.

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This is my current toy I finished last year after 5 years, a Nissan 240sx full track car. I bought it all stock and now it has a fully built 2.0 liter with a 6 speed transmission from a 350Z. 380WHP @ 16 pounds of boost, roll cage, full adjustable suspension, coilovers, yada yada yada. I feel like Ive outgrown it and want to do this truck because of the sentimental value and its something I will keep for life.

Ive read through both of these threads and gotten some good ideas as to where I want to go with this project.

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/78...s-here-60.html

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/11...sion-swap.html

My plan for the truck is air ride and a body drop. I want to lay the rocker on the ground like this one.


I have a few questions before I get started on this project, just so I make sure Im headed in the best, most efficient way possible to get this done.

My truck is a 4WD but obviously will end up 2WD. Are the 4WD and 2WD frames different or the same? I dont mind changing out frames but I want to use the cab, front end, and motor/trans from my truck. (My bed is destroyed from rust, Ill need a new one)

Is using a Crown Vic front crossmember the best way to get the front low? I will be using air ride in addition to this to get it as low as possible to ensure my body drop will be as little as possible.

I will be doing a severe C-notch in the rear to accomodate the amount of drop I want. What rear axle would be best suited for me along with what suspension setup (4-link, etc)?

Im sure I have more questions but as I type this I am drawing a blank. Any help you can give me would be great. Ive been researching for months now and good info is few and far between on getting these trucks lowlow.

Thank you!
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:10 PM
Odysseus Odysseus is offline
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Does anyone have any information?
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:51 PM
chet_cowan chet_cowan is offline
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I'd say you're on the right track! I haven't looked but I'd imagine the 4wd frames are different. if you are haking it apart though I woulnd't change it.
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
Hi there. So Im a first time poster, long time lurker. Im a 23 year old from Portland, Oregon and I will be starting a project soon on a 1978 F-150 Ranger standard cab short bed that my father bought new in 78. Him and I had plans to rebuild it ten years ago and we never got around to it and Im at a point in my life where I would really like to do this with him.

Im no stranger to cars or modified cars but this will be my first classic American truck.

My plan for the truck is air ride and a body drop. I want to lay the rocker on the ground like this one.

I have a few questions before I get started on this project, just so I make sure Im headed in the best, most efficient way possible to get this done.

Is using a Crown Vic front crossmember the best way to get the front low? I will be using air ride in addition to this to get it as low as possible to ensure my body drop will be as little as possible.

I will be doing a severe C-notch in the rear to accomodate the amount of drop I want. What rear axle would be best suited for me along with what suspension setup (4-link, etc)?
Frames are different btwn 2WD and 4WD. I suggest selling the 4WD and put the money towards a 2WD... I think you'll come out ahead on that transaction.

Bag options with a CV front end are somewhat limited, especially if rocker scraping. I suggest a Mustang II-based system from Heidts, Fatman, or similar.

Rear? A three-link, four-link, or even truck arms. Your call. Notch or back-half the frame and raise the bed and the wheel wells... I think bed cut-outs are lame in terms of detailed customization. A Ford 9-inch is ubiquitous with tons of aftermarket support.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:28 PM
Odysseus Odysseus is offline
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What are the differences between 4WD and 2WD frames? The frame will be heavily modified anyways for the C notch and whatever front suspension I choose so if its something I could take off via drilling spot welds or using a plasma cutter thats no problem.

The CV front suspension seems like a good route since you get newer suspension geometry, steering, braking, etc. There are plenty of CV out there with bags that are laid out. Why do you say the options are limited? What are the pros to using a Mustange II kit over a CV swap?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:16 PM
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What are the differences between 4WD and 2WD frames? The frame will be heavily modified anyways for the C notch and whatever front suspension I choose so if its something I could take off via drilling spot welds or using a plasma cutter thats no problem.

The CV front suspension seems like a good route since you get newer suspension geometry, steering, braking, etc. There are plenty of CV out there with bags that are laid out. Why do you say the options are limited? What are the pros to using a Mustange II kit over a CV swap?
I'm saying frame-wise that a 4WD frame with axles, mounts, T-case, etc. is more desirable to others for a 4x4 conversion than a 2WD frame. Use the proceeds from sale of the 4WD to put towards the 2WD with a net gain. It's called "capitalization".

The CV may be a newer design but that doesn't mean that it is any better. The MII system has around and improved upon The aftermarket is flush with options. Try finding different A-arms or brake systems (Wilwood, Baer, SSBC) for the CV.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:29 PM
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Ziegelsteinfaust Ziegelsteinfaust is offline
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The problem with the CV front end is it width when running low. I am looking at going with front wheel drive rims to allow me to run lower. When my truck is back to roller. The rims I like are off a flex right now.

If I had it to do over I would grab a XJ6 Jaguar set-up. You can get a whole running car for $750 or less when you look, and recover a bit with scrap value alone. It is narrow enough to run really low, has the GM bolt pattern for cheap rims, and can take low offset wheel if needed. The XJ6 is set up something like 63-87 GM trucks, and air ride would be a easier + cheaper. Along with a wide selection of bags to play with.

My guess is from measurements is that you likely could lay frame, and be able to run a 302 with out body surgery.

I wouldn't body drop it if you intend to drive it alot. I have seen a few that have been damaged because of bottoming out, and the frame was not there to help stop it.

Also I would run the jag rear if you go that way. It will almost lay out with out cutting into the bed, or with require a small notch compared to a straight axle. Depending on tire selection of course.

The XJ6 Jag is 4000 pounds or slightly more then a typical 1/2 ton. So it brakes will more then be up to the test of driving, and parts are easy enough to come by.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:24 PM
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I'm saying frame-wise that a 4WD frame with axles, mounts, T-case, etc. is more desirable to others for a 4x4 conversion than a 2WD frame. Use the proceeds from sale of the 4WD to put towards the 2WD with a net gain. It's called "capitalization".

The CV may be a newer design but that doesn't mean that it is any better. The MII system has around and improved upon The aftermarket is flush with options. Try finding different A-arms or brake systems (Wilwood, Baer, SSBC) for the CV.
After the information Ive attained here and with some more research I think that I will likely buy a 2wd SWB since I need a new bed and I will need a 2WD frame aswell. Ill use as much as I can from my dads truck just for sentimental reasons and then sell whatever I wont use.

The more I think about it and look into the MII the more I like it. Atleast with a Fatman kit it is all brand new and I wont be rebuilding control arm bushings etc like I would with a CV swap. With a MII conversion using air ride, are they able to get as low as the CV would with air ride?

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Originally Posted by Ziegelsteinfaust View Post
The problem with the CV front end is it width when running low. I am looking at going with front wheel drive rims to allow me to run lower. When my truck is back to roller. The rims I like are off a flex right now.

If I had it to do over I would grab a XJ6 Jaguar set-up. You can get a whole running car for $750 or less when you look, and recover a bit with scrap value alone. It is narrow enough to run really low, has the GM bolt pattern for cheap rims, and can take low offset wheel if needed. The XJ6 is set up something like 63-87 GM trucks, and air ride would be a easier + cheaper. Along with a wide selection of bags to play with.

My guess is from measurements is that you likely could lay frame, and be able to run a 302 with out body surgery.

I wouldn't body drop it if you intend to drive it alot. I have seen a few that have been damaged because of bottoming out, and the frame was not there to help stop it.

Also I would run the jag rear if you go that way. It will almost lay out with out cutting into the bed, or with require a small notch compared to a straight axle. Depending on tire selection of course.

The XJ6 Jag is 4000 pounds or slightly more then a typical 1/2 ton. So it brakes will more then be up to the test of driving, and parts are easy enough to come by.
So your saying the CV swap runs wider than what is under the truck now?

I think I will be using a solid axle rear end since after figuring out that I need a 2wd frame now I will be using a 460 I think. What would be a good rear end to use to be able to handle the power? I want a solid rear axle with disc brakes because I cant stand drums.

Also, this truck will be only a weekend cruiser, not a daily driver. However, one of the main reason I want air ride is to be able to lay it out and then pick it up to drive it. A low ride height is completely fine, I have owned cars that have less than an inch of ground clearance at ride height. I will only body drop it if I cannot get it low enough with a front suspension swap/bags and a big C notch and bags. Im assuming Ill have to though.
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Old 10-31-2013, 02:08 PM
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Gonna look great on the ground. Look forward to seeing it!
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:10 PM
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I think I will be using a solid axle rear end since after figuring out that I need a 2wd frame now I will be using a 460 I think. What would be a good rear end to use to be able to handle the power? I want a solid rear axle with disc brakes because I cant stand drums.
A Ford 9-inch. Sets up on a bench and changing gear ratios by swapping out the carrier can take as little as 30 minutes.

The other option is an 8.8 since it can already come with discs but gear changes are a total pain because the carrier is integral to the rear axle housing.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:37 PM
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A CV front end when lowered is about 1 inch from each of my fenders with 225/60/16's. I have a 66 F100.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:07 PM
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Sorry I don't have any insight on the body drop or cv swap... but fellow s13 guy checking in! I've had about 16+ S-chassis'. Don't currently have an s13, but I'm rocking a '70 510 and an '88 mx73, so I haven't completely left the scene! My brother has had his '79 F100 since he was in high school (about 17 years) and I've always wanted one, so needless to say I recently ended up with one and have been tinkering with it since. You'll love it, they make excellent parts runners and projects.
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