THERE’S nothing like a hot-selling new model to draw the attention of the aftermarket industry, and why wouldn’t it? Strongselling models are generally popular with enthusiasts, and they’re the ones who will turn to the aftermarket for hop-ups and modifications.
The strong growth in the 4x4 ute and SUV segments has seen companies normally associated with fast cars, racing and styling turn their hands to off-roaders for a slice of the very lucrative pie. Brand names such as Harrop, Herrod, Tickford and even HSV are all looking at souped-up SUVs and tickled trucks – some of them already have products on the market.
One name you certainly wouldn’t expect to find associated with a 4x4 ute is that of nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, yet he’s the man behind the VR46 graphics that adorn this Ford Ranger. The VR46 Ranger was developed in the UK with Ford rally specialists MS-RT, which also does a Transit van in both VR46 and road racer Guy Martin guise, as well as versions not affiliated with these motorcycle legends.
More than just a dress-up pack, the Ranger includes rally-tuned suspension from Australian specialists Pedders, metal underbody protection and BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres. The use of Pedders suspension products
The wild livery outside heads inside to the branded leather seats with quirky stitching.
Twin exhaust outlets protrude through the beefy rear bumper. Taillight trims are also unique.
didn’t come by chance. MS-RT’s Malcolm Wilson also heads up the factory-backed Ford WRC team, with four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier piloting their Ford Fiesta. Pedders has a long affiliation with rally sport both in Australia and globally, and its suspension products are developed to world-class standards.
MS-RT has employed Pedders’ 4x4 Touring package, which uses foam cell shock absorbers, TrakRyder coil springs and variable-load leaf springs to give the VR46 Ranger a 50mm lift in ride height.
It’s a package that optimises both ride and handling over the factory suspension, and its performance is one of the highlights of the VR46 package.
Externally, the VR46 is striking; it turned heads wherever we took it on our day out. If the wild graphics don’t grab you, the body kit sure does. This starts with bespoke front and rear bumpers, bulging wheel-arch flares, rally-style mudflaps, and a unique grille. The rear bumper wraps around specific dual exhaust outlets.
The front bumper features LED daytime running lamps and front parking sensors, and the grille houses LED light bars to complement the roof-mounted light bar from Lazer. MS-RT worked closely with the team at Carlex Design for the bodywork.
Metal underbody protection extends under the front end to protect the engine sump, and there’s another metal plate guarding the fuel tank. The cargo tray includes a full plastic liner, and the
Bespoke 18-inch alloys are shod with BFG KOR all-terrain rubber.
Satin black sidebars integrate contrasting non-slip alloy steps.
Underneath you’ll find metal guards for the sump and fuel tank.
The tailgate wasn’t overlooked, featuring graphics and a spoiler.
Pedders’ 4x4 Touring package lifts the Ranger by 50mm.
tailgate is fitted with a gas ram for easy operation. Those 265/65 BFG tyres are fitted to bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels.
The VR46 Ranger gets a similar makeover inside, with the seats trimmed in full Nappa leather featuring quirky VR46 stitching and logos. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is similarly attired and retains all the factory switchgear for the cruise control, dash display and audio system. Being based on the XLT-spec Ranger, the special edition is wellequipped with all the top-spec features from the factory.
The mechanical package is all standard, so you get the 470Nm 3.2-litre diesel engine, the choice of six-speed auto or manual transmission, part-time four-wheel drive, and a standard rear differential lock.
If you’re not a Valentino Rossi fan – or the VR46 graphics are a bit too much for you – the body kit and suspension upgrades in the basic MS-RT edition Ranger are also sold by Autosource International in Australia.
Autosource International has the rights to the MS-RT vehicles, including the VR46 Ranger here, and assembles them to locally sourced Fords in Melbourne. The cars are all ADR compliant.