Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 20, 2011

Backing the Aluminator is a Ford 4R70W four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. The 4R70W is commonly found behind the SN-95 Mustang’s engine (’96 and up modulars), and was a perfect match for the driving style of the Ranchero. Best of all, the large transmission tunnel made the 4R70W an easy fit with no cutting or sheetmetal surgery to get the transmission in place. Once the drivetrain was figured out, Richard pulled an ACCEL Gen 7 EFI system off the shelf (he’s a dealer and tuner for ACCEL) to run the engine, while a Retro-Tech transmission controller and push-button shifter made nice with the transmission once it was freshened up by A Tex Transmissions in Port Richey, Florida.

Richard made sure the Ranchero looked good by bolting up a set of Boyd Coddington 17-inch billet hoops, and if you look carefully between the spokes, you can catch a glimpse of the four-wheel disc setup from Stainless Steel Brakes. While the majority of the suspension is stock replacement (it is, after all, a cruiser and not a corner carver), Richard did set up the Ranchero with a four-corner RideTech air suspension system to control the stance and look of the Ranchero.

Besides Richard’s fascination with Ford’s modular engine platform, he’s an interior man by trade, and has been building custom interiors for 30-plus years. We’ve seen everything from Fox Mustang fold-down rear seats in vintage Cougars to custom one-off street rod interiors. For the Ranchero, Richard kept it all-Ford by using ’05 Mustang bucket seats and ’05 Thunderbird door panelsall covered in supple leather. Custom dash billet panels hold the gauges, RideTech controls, push-button trans controls, and more, while a custom center console hides some of the electronics and gives Richard a place to rest his right arm while cruising the boulevard.

All in all, the end result worked out better than Richard imagined, and he now has the whole family involved in the day-to-day shop work at Superior Custom Classics. So if you’re looking to build your own high-tech hauler, now you know who to talk to.

The Details

Richard Brandl’s ’71 Ranchero


  • Ford Racing Aluminator 4.6L DOHC
  • 3.552-inch bore
  • 3.543-inch stroke
  • Eagle forged steel H-beam rods
  • Manley forged pistons
  • Forged steel eight-bolt Cobra crankshaft
  • ’03 Cobra Mustang cylinder heads and camshafts
  • ’99 Cobra intake manifold
  • Custom-built oil pan
  • ACCEL Gen 7 engine management


  • Ford 4R70W four-speed automatic overdrive
  • Built by A Tex Transmissions, Port Richey, FL
  • Retro-Tech push-button shifter and electronic controls


  • Ford 8.8-inch axle housing
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • 3.73 gears


  • Stock 4.6L manifolds
  • Mello Tone mufflers
  • 2-inch aluminized dual exhaust


  • Front: Stock with AirRide Shockwave shocks
  • Rear: Stock with AirRide air springs, QA1 adjustable shocks


  • Front: Stainless Steel Brakes disc, 12-inch rotors, four-piston calipers
  • Rear: Stainless Steel Brakes disc, 11-inch rotors, single piston calipers


  • Front: Boyd Coddington Timeless 5, polished, 17x8
  • Rear: Boyd Coddington Timeless 5, polished, 17x9


  • Front: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P235/45R17
  • Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force Sport, P255/45R17


  • Custom interior by Superior Custom Classics in black and gray snakeskin leather, ’05 Mus- tang GT seats, Auto Custom Carpets black Daytona carpeting, Flaming River stainless steel tilt column, Flaming River D-Wheel, Classic Instruments All American gauges, New Relics power windows, ’05 Thunderbird door panels, custom-built console, custom billet dash panels for shifter controls, switches, gauges, AirRide, stereo, and climate controls