The Ford Ranger’s Suspension Setup Was Quite Unique
It turns out the compact Ford Ranger was hiding one-off suspension designs under its lovable sheet metal.
Most folks outside of us here at Ford Truck Enthusiasts tend to hate on the original, compact Ford Ranger. They call it boring, forgettable, underpowered, and even uncomfortable. But one thing they can’t deny is that the little pickup featured some pretty unique suspension designs over its 29 year production run. It’s a fact that David Tracy of Truck YEAH! geeked out on in this excellent write-up.
When it debuted in 1983, two-wheel drive Rangers sported a familiar front suspension design — Ford’s Twin I-beam. The cool thing about this setup, other than its enduring success, is that it resembles something you’d find on a pre-runner race truck. It’s a pretty simple deal, consisting of two crossed axle arms that control lateral force. It’s so good that Ford still uses it on heavy-duty trucks today.
The four-wheel drive version of the Twin I-beam is a twin traction beam design. It shares a lot in common with its two-wheel drive counterpart, except that it uses two articulating axle housings to locate the wheels instead of solid metal I-beams. Also, unlike the Twin I-beam, it was axed in favor of both independent and solid axle designs.
Such setups stuck around in the Ford Ranger until 1998, when Ford switched to a fairly conventional coil-sprung front suspension with standard style wishbones. But, it also used a torsion bar in lieu of a front coil spring. Of course, this led to many folks adjusting the bar to give their trucks a quick, free lift.
Even though a lot of doubters might not share our affinity for the Ford Ranger, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t full of interesting tech. In addition, it makes us wonder exactly what sort of suspension design Ford will use on future Rangers? Whether it’s a solid axle or not, we can only hope that it’s as interesting as these old designs.