"Art of the Flip" Inspired - 2002 Ford Ranger XLT

I've been flipping cars since I was 16 (only 3 years), but it was only recently when I began reading Tavarish's Art of the Flip articles did I ever think about writing about it...so here goes.

Now I'm no writing major, so I'll come right out and say I'm following the format of those articles very closely in an attempt to write something readable.

Part 1: Too nice to be a beater?

So I'd been in the market for a winter beater for a few weeks after scaring myself into selling my NA Miata. I had just found out what a short nose crank was and was convinced my beautiful example of an NA was going to burst into flames within the next ten miles. I still see those innocent round eyes every time I close my own...man, I miss that car. So I sold that to a man in Georgia who bought it sight-unseen (off Craigslist!) for a profit of $100. Now I'm surfing the local CL when I came across this:

Now that is a much nicer picture than the ad's, and also the most most flattering angle for the truck (more on that to come). What I saw was a few pictures with filters on them that didn't show much, but it was located within a few miles of me and had an asking that was well within my budget...so I gave him a call. A kid my age picks up, and after some talking I determine that this is no beater, at least by my standards. The truck was getting up there in the miles, but was a one owner, rust free, clean titled little pickup with a fat envelope of documentation. When was the last time you saw that for south of three grand?!

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After setting up a time and meeting him the following day, the Ranger turned out to be what had been promised over the phone...almost. What was described over the phone as a minor touch-up on the bed was significantly more significant; basically the guy's mom had backed into a fence pole, leaving two feet of deep scratches that he sanded down and sprayed with color matched paint. I wasn't upset, the guy did his honest best to make the truck presentable, and I liked that he didn't use any body filler. We settled on a price and I was $2100 lighter and one Ranger heavier.

Part 2: She's seaworthy, captain!

The initial inspection told me I needed new tires, so I opted to go one size bigger in width and height. The stock size for 2wd Rangers just look like car tires, so it needed a truckier look.

It was fair to say those were in need of replacement. While I had the wheels off, I thought it would be prudent to replace the front brake pads and with a quick trip to Autozone and persuading some stubborn pads into their new hardware, the Ranger had some new brakes.

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Oh wait, not before I accidentally poked a hole in one of the caliper's piston boots while struggling to retract it and made a mess of brake fluid everywhere. So two trips to Autozone...a new caliper...now it has new brakes. It wouldn't be working on cars unless something went wrong, right?

Now that I had something roadworthy (keep in mind this is my only vehicle) I could now turn my attention to the paint.

Part 3: Get me from my good side

The very amateur bodywork was a top priority, so top that I forgot to take a "before" picture and got right to work. Here was my process, keep in mind I'm learning as I go:

I wet-sanded off the rattle can paint to get a good idea of what I was working with, which wasn't too bad. Some shallow dents and decent scratches, I got this.

I used some good ol' Bondo to fill the dents and blend the lines where metal transitioned to paint, going from a course grit and working to a milder one, I then primed using some primer I had laying around.

So after doing this process probably 5 times, getting more detailed each time and finding more and more tiny dents to fix, the treated area had spread to this:

What exposed green paint that's left has been wet-sanded and the truck's now ready for paint. Now my brother had worked for a custom car shop, and he had the equipment to spray the bed myself...but after a few Youtube videos I decided it was over my head. I went to a local collision shop and told them my situation, that I had prepped the panel and just need a color match and clear coat. The guy was all for it (turns out I already knew him) and was excited to help a kid trying to learn bodywork. He even gave me a discount for paying in cash.

Here's the result:

Not bad, right?!? No longer did the Ranger look nice from only one side.

After bolting the bumper and screwing the tail light and mudflap back in place, we're looking at a respectable automobile, here!

Part 4: What Would Larry Do? Not this...

The Ranger goes, it stops, the paint even looks nice! I finally turned my attention to the interior, which was showing its age, to say the least...

Now I'm a HUGE fan of Larry Kosilla and the /DRIVE CLEAN series, but this interior was made out of a very thick and tough canvas material and was thoroughly soiled and I used some aggressive soaps and brushes that Larry would not have been proud of. But, I mean, it's a truck. Now it was a clean truck, but once I own a car deserving of AMMO products and methods, I'll be excited to to use them!

Part 5: Much Too Practical For Me

This truck was perfect for my situation. A reliable and respectable truck that would get decent gas mileage (turns out it was FlexFuel, or whatever Ford's version of that is) and would be safe through Metro Detroit's harsh Winter. So naturally, I sold it within 2 and a half weeks of owning it.

Rust free trucks are hard to come by up here in Michigan, so the truck sold within 24 hours of posting for a cool profit that was a little shy of $950. I enjoyed it while it lasted, though; the Rangers have excellent visibility and the practicality of the bed would have come in handy, I'm sure. Heck, I probably could have towed my dune buggy behind it, but I'm 19 and there were too many Ford Rangers in my university's parking lot, so I was ready to move on.

My camera skills could use some work, but here's what I posted:

Here's a breakdown of my costs:


  • 2002 Ford Ranger XLT ........................................... -$2100
  • Registration/Taxes ................................................................. -$55
  • Mechanic's Inspection ............................................................ -$40
  • Goodyear Wrangler Radials .................................................... -$352
  • Wiper Blades ......................................................................,..... -$14
  • Brake Pads/Hardware .............................................................. -$31
  • Brake Caliper ............................................................................. -$45
  • Brake Cleaner/Lube/Fluid ....................................................... -$5
  • Floor Mats ................................................................................. -$25
  • Paint Shop .................................................................................. -$250

Total Spent: $2917

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Sold For: $3850

Profit/Loss: $933


Not bad for a couple weeks of sanding after school!!

*Special thanks to my dad for letting me use his heated garage, tools, and pretty much everything. Couldn't do this without his help!*

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