This featured specimen in the WHAT YOU ROLLIN  SERIES is a stunning 1978 Ford F150 Ranger XLT Lariat 4×4 short bed pickup named POWER RANGER“.  This stunning truck belongs to a pretty young lady from the state of Oklahoma name NINA HASBURGH. The unique story behind the “POWER RANGER” is that Nina, and her husband Jim performed ninety nine point nine percent of all the pain staking labor that went into creating this masterpiece. The only work that wasn’t executed with their hands was the fender panels on the bed. Jim and Nina had been struggling with the bed for quite a while. Jim welded in one of the side fender panels, and even though it wasn’t warped, it just wasn’t up to his standards. The more work that he put into the panel, the more it seemed to get worse. As the days pasted, Jim realized that they were in over their heads, so they bit the bullet, and Jim decided to call in the professionals from a local hot rod shop to do the honors. The shop fixed his metal work and welded in the other panel on the short bed. In a few days, they got the bed back from the hot rod shop, and was able to finish the body work without any more hiccups. Through all the ups and downs that they ran into while performing the frame off restoration of Nina’s dream truck. I can see with my own eyes that all the hard work paid off, because as you can see, they produced one bad ass Ford F150 Ranger resto-mod. The one twist to this story that I have not mentioned yet was that Jim and Nina never restored a truck before, and this project would be their first endeavor. Let’s take a ride down memory line!

Let me take you back to the beginning, where it all started. It was the summer of 2015. Nina always wanted a 70’s Ford F150 4×4 truck. Her wish list of amenities she wanted when commissioning her husband Jim to find that dream truck of hers was to include, an (automatic transmission, and factory air conditioning). That wasn’t an easy task for Jim within the budget that she wanted to spend. Nina was patient, an eventually her patients paid off, because she found this 1978 Ranger XLT, that was hard on the eyes cosmetically, but was in decent mechanical shape, and best of all, it also had fit within the budget that she set out to spend for her dream truck. Upon inspection of  the F150, Jim found that the truck had the stock Ford 351M Cleveland engine rebuilt (professionally) and the previous owner had it modified to become a 400 cubic inch displacement motor that only had 1000 miles on the rebuild when it was purchased. The previous owner also had the C6 automatic transmission, and NP205 transfer-case rebuilt, but then he had ran out of  the almighty dollar before he could finish the project. The undercarriage was another story. The front, and rear suspension was destroyed! All the ball joints, tie rod ends, bushings, seals, bearings, and the like seemed to be original, so that’s where Jim and Nina started first on their quest to freshen up “The Power Ranger. Nina never intended to do a full frame off restoration, but you know the old saying “Once you start changing one thing it becomes a snow ball effect”. “You can’t replace the suspension with all new parts, and not replace the brakes”, so that’s when Jim had an epiphany. He thought instead of freshening up the F150, he wanted to do the project right. So he discussed his plans with his wife. That night when Nina came home from work, he told her that they should perform a full frame off restoration of the 1978 Ford Ranger. After being taken back for a moment she agreed. So the first order of business on the quest to restore the Ranger was for the duo to start pulling off all the body parts (fenders, inner fender wells, front & rear bumpers, hood, short bed, etc), so that the rolling chassis would be exposed. Jim decided to tackle the bodywork on the cab, and the short bed while the bed was off the frame. Jim had a local body shop weld in the side panels on the bed because the panels had too much rust. The rest of the bed, and cab was fabricated, and smoothed out so Jim could primer the Ranger. Jim and Nina became pretty efficient with the sanding process. After completing the body work, Jim decided to set his sights on the air conditioning system. Jim  filled the A/C system with 134 refrigerant, but he discovered that the unit didn’t cool the cab very well, the blend door gaskets leaked, and it let in warm air, so he decided to scrap the original A/C system by pulling the evaporator, heater core, condenser, A/C hoses, and he replaced anything that didn’t look kosher in preparation for the new A/C system. Jim and Nina decided to go with a complete under hood air conditioning kit from Classic Auto Air that, included everything except the evaporator. The kit came with the new rotary compressor, a larger 134 condenser, A/C lines, receiver dryer, expansion valve, and some other goodies to complete the rebuild. It was time for Jim and Nina to take the cab off of the frame so they could finish taking the truck apart to clean up the frame. Once they finished pulling the motor, transmission, transfer case, fuel tank, front and rear suspension, Nina finally had a bare frame that could be media blasted, and metal prepped for the epoxy primer. The rear end & leaf springs, the front core support, and the bed all received the same treatment as the frame. Jim then painted the frame, axle, leaf springs, and front core support with Paint Over Rust 15 or POR15. He applied four coats of paint on the top, and bottom of the frame. Three coats of paint was applied to the axle, and leaf springs. The front core support needed only a little over 2 quarts to finish. Jim did use a 5% POR reducer with the black paint. Jim then turned his attention to the engine, so he replaced the oil pan gasket and the intake gasket. He media blasted the intake manifold back to the original aluminum finish, put the engine back together, and painted it with the colors that Nina desired which was pink, and ice blue. Jim then turned his focus on pulling the rear axle apart, and replace all the bearings and seals. He rebuilt for the very first time a rear end, and it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. Jim purchased a rebuild kit from Bronco Graveyard. The kit had a new ring, pinion, and all the bearings. The worst part about rebuilding a rear end, was trying to get the old bearing and races off. Even with a press it was hard to remove. So with a little research Jim accomplished the task. Jim was on a roll, and he was dead set on putting the suspension parts back on the completed frame so he would have a rolling chassis again. So Jim and Nina prepped and painted all the suspension parts with the same black Paint Over Rust 15 paint. Finally all the tedious prep work was done. Jim now could be laser focused on putting the puzzle back together. Jim started by putting all suspension parts, rear end, brake calipers, brake rotors, rims and tires back on to the frame. He upgraded the braking system using a booster & master cylinder from a newer Ford F250 to replace the 1978 set up (which leaked and didn’t have the best stopping power). Next he installed all new stainless fuel, transmission, and a brake lines, along with new braided stainless hoses from Inline Tube. The custom fuel tank for the new fuel injection system was provided by Boyd Welding LLC. Once all the lines and suspension was installed, Jim bolted the engine back onto the frame. Jim then put the finishing touches on by matting the media blasted C6 transmission, and the NP205 transfer case back to the engine. Jim added a new custom transmission pan that has a drain plug now. He then installed the drive shaft and rear end to round out the work that was needed to complete the rolling chassis part of the build. The exhaust manifolds were bolted back onto the heads, and the exhaust with new mufflers were installed. Next it was time to install all the accessories onto the motor like the new 130 amp 3G alternator, new power steering pump, lines, gear box, water pump, pullies, belts and hoses. Instead of putting the carburetor back on the engine they made a corporate decision to go with a FITech Electronic Fuel Injection System, along with a custom fuel tank, fuel pump, and a Lokar throttle cable with a kick-down cable kit, so there would be no more carb adjustments, or pumping the gas pedal to start the engine when the truck have been sitting over night. Once the chassis was complete Jim concentrated on bolting the cab back onto the frame so he could paint the door jams, interior and fire wall. He used black Raptor Liner on the Rangers A/C blower motor box, and other essential parts. Black Raptor Liner was also used at the bottom of the door sills, underneath the bed, and cab. Jim painted the dash body with two coats of epoxy, two coats of paint, then lots of sanding, and a little glazing putty. After waiting one night he then shot it with two coats of sealer, four coats of base, then three coats of clear. Jim then installed the dash and started the wiring process. Jim used a brand new Centech wiring harness to bring the Power Rangers electrical system to life. Jim wanted to keep Nina’s 78 F150 engine running cool during the hot summer months in Oklahoma, so he replaced the stock leaking radiator with a Champion all aluminum four core radiator, a stainless steel overflow bottle, a two speed Mark VIII electric fan (fan is controlled with a Volvo relay) , and a Flowkooler water-pump. Now Nina’s baby’s temp runs between a cool 180-190 degrees fahrenheit in rush hour traffic. The dynamic duo figured that it was time to start laying the colors on to the cab. The colors Nina decided to go with for the two tone color scheme was a 1978 Ford green hue called Dark Jade Polly for the base color, and the trim he painted the Ranger using a 2013 F250 color called Pale Adobe. Jim purchased the paint from a Matrix Paint Dealer costing the couple a whooping $400 a gallon for the paint alone. So, after he blocked and sanded the body with 320 grit sand paper, Jim sprayed on a sealer which fills in the 320 scratches. Once that flashed off he wiped the body down with a tack cloth, and then sprayed three coats of base. He let that base flash off for 45 – 60 minutes, then wiped with a new tack cloth, and proceeded to spray three coats of clear. Jim felt a since of pride, because it turned out better than he ever imaged. Jim reached another mild-stone (first time ever painting an automobile). After the paint cured, Jim spent a couple days wet sanding the cab. He started the process with a 1500 grit paper, then he color sanded the cab again with a 2000 grit sandpaper. Then he buffed the paint with a wool pad, and then again with a foam pad. Jim finished the prep work on the bed and followed the same procedures as he did when painting the cab. With the paint in place Jim decided it was time to put the new accessories on the trucks freshly painted body (bumpers, grill, trim, front, and rear lights, side markers, side mirrors, drip rails, door locks, gas door, windows, and door handles). Jim and Nina decided to get the Racetrack Chrome Trim for the F150 from Dennis Carpenter, and the rest of the accessories they purchased from LMC, NPD, Summit Racing, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Napa Auto Parts, and Bronco Graveyard. Jim just had to put the finishing touches on the exterior. He knew that Nina wanted some rims that represented the seventies, so Jim went with a set of  15 inch American Racing Out-Law II machined finished wheels, and rapped the rims with four Big O’ All/Terrain 31 x 10.50 R 15 inch Big Foot Tires. She also wanted a tunnel cover for the bed, so Jim looked into it, and came up with a solution. A Retrax bed cover that came off of a 2013 Ford F250 pickup truck. It almost fitted the Ranger perfectly, all Jim had to do was shim the rails, and now it closes and locks as it should. A latch on the tail gate was added, so it would allow Nina to lock the tailgate when it’s closed so the bed is secure! Jim was coming down the home stretch with this build. All he had left to do was create the interior, add the alarm to keep Nina’s investment safe, and get the bugs out by making some mechanical adjustments. Jim started by painting the inside of the cab with Lizard Skin’s Premium Ceramic Insulation Paint (Pale), including the door panels. Once finished Jim was able to add the bench seat that he wrapped in simulated lizard skin (tan, with black inserts, and green piping around the seat), laid the black pile carpet, added an aftermarket stereo with sub woofer, a nice Viper alarm with remote start, and a three spoke aftermarket steering wheel. Jim thought it would be a good idea to get a more accurate reading of the Power Rangers vital signs, so he added a RPM gauge, voltage, oil, and a temp gauge that will give Nina a numerical reference when driving down the highway. Jim concluded the build by adding tint to the windows so the interior can stay shaded during the hot summer months in Oklahoma. 



Jim, and Nina for the most part finished the frame off project in the winter of 2016, about a year after the truck was purchased. Nina entered one of the local car shows with her 1978 Ford F150 Ranger, and she took first place. She was so happy. All Nina could do on that stage was to reflect back when she first purchased the truck, all those memories flooded her mind (how the truck looked, how many sleepless nights that they spent working on the truck, seeing little progress, and wondering if the truck would ever be completed), but it was a bitter sweet moment for her standing at the awards ceremony, and collecting her first place trophy for best truck at the car show. As for Jim, he is already thinking about the next chapter in his life. His aspirations is to build his dream truck next that he have already purchased. Well I would like to thank the dynamic duo Jim and Nina for building this iconic pickup truck, and I can’t wait to see Jim’s truck in all it’s glory, but for now let’s celebrate Nina’s 1978 Ford F150 Ranger XLT Lariat 4×4 short bed pickup. So without any further hesitations, The Reel Truck Connection would like to introduce you to THE POWER RANGER “.





  • YEAR: 1978

  • MAKE: Ford

  • MODEL: F150 Ranger XLT Lariat 4×4 short bed pickup


  • EXTERIOR COLOR SCHEME:  1978 Ford Dark Jade Polly, and 2013 Ford F250 Pale Adobe

  • INTERIOR COLOR SCHEME: Dark Jade Polly, Pale Adobe, Tan, Black

  • ENGINE: Ford 351M Cleveland bored out to a 400 CID

  • TRANSMISSION: Ford Automatic C6 transmission with NP205 transfer case

  • EXHAUST: 2 1/2 inch Aluminized 16 gauge steel straight pipe out the back of the truck

  • ACCESSORIES: Power Steering, Power brakes, Aftermarket stereo, Viper alarm system with remote start, Tilt steering, Air conditioning, 4×4, Tow package 

  • RIMS: 15 inch American Racing Out-Law II machined finished

  • TIRES: Big O’ All/Terrain 31 x 10.50 R 15 inch Big foot tires




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