Reimagining The 1970 Ford Ranger With Modern Engineering
I have a thing for classic trucks. The styling from as far back as the origin of the F-Series (1948) all the way through the 1980s seems to resonate with me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the styling on today’s F-150.
So it’s fun to write about them. And there’s many custom truck manufacturers who specialize in retro fits and customizing old trucks with modern amenities. That seems like the best of both worlds to me.
Enter ICON 4x4, a California-based custom vehicle designer who has made several retro pickup trucks as part of their Reformer series. They have now created a new custom, retro pickup truck as part of that series and it’s based on the 1970 Ford F-100 Ranger. The 1970 Ranger is a favorite amongst truck enthusiasts, so it only makes sense for ICON 4x4 to celebrate it with this special truck.
“At ICON 4x4, our Reformer series is a distinctly unique approach to classic restoration, and this new 1970 Ford Ranger is a perfect example of how we work with clients to completely reimagine trucks like these on every level,” comments Jonathan Ward, Lead Designer and Founder of ICON 4x4. “What we’re doing is rewriting history to a certain extent by creating a bespoke truck that can serve as a daily driver with timeless style, modern engineering, and none of the sacrifices commonly associated with conventional restorations.”
A Coyote Engine in a 1970s Era Ford Truck
The new ICON Reformer is powered by a 426-hp Ford 5.0L Coyote V8 engine paired to a Ford AOD automatic transmission. A twin-stick Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case sends power to the axles, while PSC power steering vastly improve the new truck’s handling and on-road capabilities. The new truck utilizes a four-link rear suspension system, while the front uses radius arms. Eibach coil springs combine with Fox shocks to improve drive handling and comfort. To optimize drivability, ICON integrated Dynatrac ProRock axles. The front of the Reformer features a fortified Dana 44 with hardened shafts, while the rear includes an even stouter Dana 60 design.
ICON 4x4 engineered a Hydroboosted Sport Brake system with Brembo for the bespoke build, which includes large rotors and calipers for enhanced stopping power while wearing BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. The new Reformer also features custom designed special 18-inch forged aluminum wheels that were inspired by the original factory steel rims, complete with vintage hubcaps.
Blending Retro with Modern for the Interior
One of the drawbacks to older trucks is that they have basic interiors and lack many of the modern amenities and luxuries of today’s trucks. For me, that’s always going to be a deal breaker.
I want a great infotainment system, heated seats, and luxurious touchpoints. What ICON 4x4 seems to have done with this Ranger is offer a little bit of modern with a retro vibe.
The custom truck builder adds a brand-new Vintage Air Gen IV HVAC system and bespoke chrome aluminum knobs and bezels for a real retro vibe. Dakota digital gauges add another civilized touch to further modernize the vehicle’s upgraded interior. The 1970 Ford Ranger Reformer is also outfitted with unique and subtle ICON badging throughout.
In this specific truck, the client they were building for requested no power windows. To each their own, but that would be a deal breaker for me. ICON 4X4 can add power windows to any build.
Rather than vinyl, like the original F-100 Ranger had, ICON 4x4 adds specially-made leather from Relicate to try to match the look, but give a more luxurious, modern feel to the interior.
Retro trucks are chic right now. I understand why. The two-toned exterior just look nice. And trucks from the past seem to have more personality than today’s trucks. I remember talking to my friend Gale Halderman, who was the designer of the original Ford Mustang, but also worked 40 years at Ford as a designer, including overseeing truck design. Gale said designing trucks was very difficult because they always had to have the same shape and it was really just “four corners.”
Unfortunately Gale passed away last week, but I’ll always remember his words about designs and the four corners mindset.
Perhaps that’s why some consumers want something different than the four corners of today’s truck. Certainly this retro Ranger from ICON 4X4 offers up something different but with all that modern engineering that today’s trucks have.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.