My girlfriend and I decided that we will go to the Gambler 500 OG this year. It’s a potential once in a lifetime opportunity and even though Gamblertown is not going to be a thing this year, it’ll still be unforgettable. I’ve never had any girlfriend actively wanting to be involved with Gambler stuff (my ex was just going to be along for the ride) so this is awesome! After the OG we may even see about her getting her own beater so we can be a Gambling couple.
That brought us to a weird conundrum. To do the Gambler OG is a 5000 mile round trip, far more than any Gambler I’ve done to date. The vehicle we take should be something comfortable at highway speed and something we’ll feel confident going cross country in. Despite how much we love the Benz, we don’t have much confidence it’ll do 5000 miles in one trip without a major failure. It is a high mileage 38 year old car, after all. Tennessee? Sure. But all the way to Oregon, then back? Eh..
The smart? It’s far too small for bags + tools + spare tire + a second person.
Thankfully, a diesel Mercedes has a lot of fans and when I put the Benz up for trade I had no shortage of cool offers.
First offer was a lifted Cobalt already Gambler proven and mechanically mint. Even had a Jeep bumper with a winch already. This particular car has been one of my favourite builds from day 1 and I kept sweet talking it until the guy decided to keep it. Oops.
We ended up going for a 97 Ranger with little rust, 5spd manual, 4cyl, and 2wd. It’s a “downgrade” from the 4x4 4.0 automatic Ranger I had last year, but I’m enjoying it far more. Better fuel economy and it’ll give me more of a challenge on the kinds of trails you find on a Gambler. And best, very little rust. While my old Ranger had rust holes and several of the body/bed mounts were completely obliterated, this just has surface rust. Good trade, we think.
Problems? The left radius arm is bent, leading to hard pulls to the left. Upon discovery of this I jokingly said “it pulls so hard left it’s a Communist”, the name stuck. That’ll be fixed as soon as the part comes in. It also needs new brake rotors. Easy stuff compared to the Benz basically needing a new rear end. I can even teach my girlfriend some basic auto repair in the process! It was also missing a gear knob but I learned the one I borrowed from a recently deceased Geo Tracker fits fine.
I’ll then slap some mudders on it and give it a theme using Plasti-Dip.
In the hundred mile drive home, the truck felt more solid and tight than the Benz did, and that’s with the pull to the left. Maybe that’s just the difference between a car originally engineered in the 70s vs a 90s truck. But we feel confident it’ll do the job.