Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll have noticed this year that Pat has not one but two epic builds under his belt. And as every off-roader knows, a stock vehicle does not necessarily make for a 4WD tourer. That requires some additional accessories and a whole lot of Aussie ingenuity.
In the very first episode of this latest season, Pat met with the designers, workers, engineers, CEOs and more to learn the story behind the companies that helped turn his Ford Ranger into the epic outback tourer that it is today. So let’s take a look at what went into the Ford Ranger Outback Tourer build.
It all started with a factory-fresh Next-Gen Ford Ranger Sport
Although car manufacturing left Australia some time ago, it seems the designers and engineers must have decided to hang around. The latest Ford Ranger was not designed in Tokyo or Detroit, but right here on home soil. Melbourne, to be precise. The result is a testament to the talent and ingenuity we have right here in the land down under because what Ford delivered was the most powerful and usable Ranger to date.
Pat caught up with the CEO of Ford Australia, Andrew Birkic, in Melbourne to get the goss on the how, why and what went into the Next-Gen Ranger.
“What it takes – and it doesn’t come overnight – is very talented people,” said Birkic. “If you look at what Ford has, it’s a very strong and talented group of designers that for years has enabled us to deliver an outstanding product.”
“What you also need is excellent facilities,” he added. “So we’ve invested in our design centre. We also have a world-class proving ground down at the You Yangs. So it’s really a combination of people, process, facilities but also a passion.”
The results spoke for themselves, and Australia was so excited that 17,000 of us threw down a deposit for the new vehicle before it had even arrived on the market.
ARB collaborated with Ford on the Ranger from day dot
John Clarke, Engineering Manager of Design and Production at ARB explained that their collaboration with Ford on the new Ranger actually started back in 2019. “We were able to work with them before the design was even signed off and then work our way through and get a product that was really integrated with the vehicle,” Clarke said.
“The Ranger is really capable,” said Clarke, adding that by the time you get the ARB products onto it, it really levels it up into that next category for customers to be able to get to the places they want to go.
For the Ford Ranger Outback Tourer build, accessories from ARB include:
- Summit MkII bull bar
- Summit side rails & step
- Ascent canopy
- Summit MKII rear step tow bar
- Twin air compressor
- ARB recovery points
- Under vehicle protection (UVP)
Outback Armour brought shocks to the game
Richard Catelan, owner and CEO of Aussie owned company, Outback Armour recommended their digressive shocks (DSV) for the Ford Ranger Outback Tourer build. “The valving takes care of everything internally, so you don’t have to tune or adjust them,” Catelan explained. “They use high-performance racing oil so you don’t get shock fade over time.”
Outback Armour’s main warehouse is in Brisbane but they now also have warehouses in the UAE and Texas, USA, mainly for their military and armoured vehicle products.
Accessories from Outback Armour on the Next Gen Ford Ranger Outback Tourer include:
- 50mm lift digressive shocks
- Upgraded springs
It took an ex-truckie to find a towing mirror solution
Ex-truckie and CEO of Clearview Accessories, Mike Cowan had a yarn with Pat about how the company started. As a truckie, he was used to mirrors that actually worked. So when he towed the family caravan for the first time and could only see the sides of the RV and not what was actually going on, he knew he had to create a solution.
Ordering a set of Silverado mirrors from the states, he modified them and whacked them on his old Landcruiser. So when he rolled into a caravan park for the first time with his new creation, “it was like Elvis had arrived”. Before the holiday was over, he already had requests to make more and it grew from there.
Clearview accessories on the Outback Tourer build include the Next-Gen Towing Mirrors and their all-new Power Slide.
Redarc proves that manufacturing is not dead in Australia
Pat head to Adelaide to chat with Dylan Pinkard, product manager for Redarc electronics where we quickly learned that manufacturing is not entirely dead in Australia. In fact, 99 of Redarc’s 350 employees in Adelaide are fully qualified engineers.
Pinkard recommended two x 200AH lithium batteries for the Outback Tourer build, explaining that “you’re going to want a fair bit of power.” These will enable 200 amps of continuous discharge and will comfortably run the 2000W Redarc inverter.
Redarc products on the Ranger Outback Tourer build include:
- 2x 200Ah lithium deep cycle batteries (400Ah total)
- Redvision Manager 30 with the all new TVMS Rogue
- 2000W inverter
- Smart Start SBI 12V
- 120W solar panel
- Tow Pro
Bushwakka provide the shade
Heading to the Gold Coast, Pat sat down with Annelize and Johnny Loots, owners of Bushwakka Adventure Gear to talk about how they got started. Johnny explained they actually began in a different direction, they used to buy, renovate and sell caravans. This eventually led to them importing Bushwakka camper trailers from Africa and then moving on to designing the Bushwakka awnings that we know and love today.
Bushwakka has a true-blue Aussie-made range and an overseas-made range, so it doesn’t matter what your budget is, you can still use a Bushwakka. Their biggest challenge at the moment is to eliminate waiting time as their awnings are usually sold out before they arrive.
Pat has the Extreme Darkness LHS Awning installed on the Ford Ranger Outback Tourer build.
Black Duck provided seat protection
Black Duck is a prime example of a premium Aussie product. Established in 1984, their products are not only made in Australia, Perth to be precise, but the materials used are sourced from Australia as well. With around 100 staff and growing, they don’t try to compete with the cost of overseas manufacturing and instead, focus on providing a consistent and high-quality product.
Pat has the 4-elements seat covers on the Outback Tourer build. These seat covers provide a soft premium finish that is also fully waterproof and machine washable.
What else went into the Next Gen Ford Ranger Outback Tourer build?
ORS: Offroad Systems
Originally a cabinet maker by trade, boss Graham Jones made his own set of vehicle drawers and being in a 4WD club, the orders started coming in. The rest they say, is history.
For this build, ORS installed a smart and useful system that included housing for the fridge, dual runner drawers and Pat’s favourite feature, a 70L water tank with a 12V electric pump.
Diesel Care: Home of Steinbauer in Australia
Herbert Steinbauer, CEO of Steinbauer Performance travelled from Austria personally for this build. Most diesel 4WDs can expect a power increase of 18% – 20% when fitting a Steinbauer Performance Module. Make sure to check out Episode 1 of Season 15 to see what they were able to achieve!
Of course there’s a lot more to this build than we can fit in one readable sized article including awesome products from Rhino-Rack, Bushranger, Cooper Tyres, Engel, Exitrax, Ryco, Out of Town and more. Make sure to watch the latest season to get the lowdown on everything that went into the build.
The question on everyone’s lips
How much did the build cost? Well, Pat says he’s bolted on around $70,000 worth of modifications, essentially doubling the price of it. And it’s for this reason he’s insured with Club4x4, one of the few insurers that cover modifications and labour.