AUSSIES love things big: deserts, beaches, bananas and utes, and it’s the reason WA native Ant first got behind the wheel of a first-gen Ford PX1 Ranger. The only problem is, the 3.2 Duratorq isn’t exactly renowned for its reliability.
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"We started playing with the performance side of things,” Ant said. “Larger turbos, larger injector nozzles, tuning, etc., but being a PX1 they were quite dulled down on engine safety systems. I went through three motors, two turbos and a transmission.”
Despite Ant currently swinging the tiller on a Ranger, he’s actually built a cult following for his Duramax kits and conversions at Ozmax. Duramax engines are the holy grail of diesel V8s, with 6.6 litres of capacity, iron blocks, alloy heads, four valves a cylinder, and a whopping turbo nestled in the V. In their lowest standard tune they push out 250hp/624Nm, right up to 397hp/1037Nm in later years.
Despite all that, Ant reckons it’s almost perfect for converting into the comparatively pint-sized Ford. To kick things off, the old 3.2 came out, as did the six-speed and transfer; in their place went a six-speed auto Allison transmission and a New Process NP263 transfer case. Due to the IFS arrangement, Ant was able to use the existing sump to simplify the process.
“The communications system on the PX1 Ranger isn’t that smart,” he told us. “We wired the Duramax ECM in as a stand-alone unit then sent a few signals into the stock setup so the speedo and tacho still work. As far as the stock electronics are concerned, there’s still a 3.2 under the bonnet.”
While the standard diffs are up to the task, Ant had a positive side effect swapping out to the new transfer case and control unit. “It now functions a little like full-time 4WD. If it senses slip between front and rear, it’ll kick itself into 4x4.”
At twice the capacity of the stock 3.2L, Ant was able to run up to 468rwhp and 1320Nm on a recent dyno tune. The big concern of any engine conversion like this, however, is weight distribution. “It actually only dropped 10mm on the standard springs,” Ant said. “The 3.2-litre and six-speed is a heavy combination, and the NP263 transfer case is magnesium which keeps weight down with the conversion.”
With goals of a pre-runner-inspired build, Ant figured the Ranger could do with a tickle underneath. It’s running heavy-duty XGS two-inch-lifted springs up front, wrapped around Ironman Foam Cell Pro shock absorbers.
The rear has a matching combination; although there’s a 50mm body lift, bringing the overall ride height up and allowing Ant to slot the big Allison automatic in the transmission tunnel without any body modifications. A set of Total Chaos upper control arms get the alignment back into spec. An Aeroklas canopy covers the rear end, while a brake controller teams up with sat-nav inside.
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