Best In Show: Air Design USA’s Ford Ranger SEMA Build Appeals to the Everyday Enthusiast

Some believe SEMA has ventured far left of center. That they’re focusing too much on unbelievably expensive, grand-scale project builds that are impractical and unattainable for the everyday enthusiast. (Fists down, please…) The guys at Auto Definitions in Claremont, OK enjoy eyeing the mega trucks up and down as much as the next person. “But this isn’t my customer and it never will be,” said owner Joel Smith.

“[Though] if you go into the show being ready for crazy, imaginative, and inventive builds, you’ll leave seriously impressed. There’s no other place that can compare to the Las Vegas Convention Center’s massive floors being filled to the brim with automotive creations of all shapes and sizes, showing off accessories and ideas that push creative design to its absolute limits. You’ll see works of art, homages to racing history, and massive trucks that will bring out the kid in people of any age,” said C.J. Tragakis of CJ Pony Parts.

No matter what side of the opinion you’re on, the fact of the matter is that the SEMA show reigns supreme as the ultimate aftermarket playground, with no shortage of wild and crazy build inspirations positioned front and center to spark the imagination.

That said, we thought it fitting to highlight a few with the one-two punch of brains and beauty (aka, attractive and within reach). You know, the kind that got us thinking: “Clean lines and tasteful aftermarket upgrades, with a clear focus on the small details that bring everything together. Now, this build and these products represent something people like me can afford to dream about.”

That said, we thought it fitting to highlight a few with the one-two punch of brains and beauty (aka, attractive and within reach).

As they say, “Build and they will come.” So, here’s the first up in our series of “Best in Show” for the everyday enthusiast, featuring Air Design USA’s 2019 Ford Ranger SEMA build.

Air Design USA’s 2019 Ford Ranger Build

The award for comeback kid of the year goes to the 2019 Ford Ranger. With consumer excitement bubbling, Ford Motor Company arranged for seven modified 2019 Rangers to debut at the 2018 SEMA Show. Among them, an XLT 4×4 SuperCrew with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4 engine and 10-speed electronic automatic transmission with a less-is-more appeal.

“What makes this Ford Ranger really stand out is its muscular body features and a high belt line to its crowned bed that visually emphasizes strength and versatility for conquering any adventure,” commented Billy Longfellow, VP of Design and Engineering at Air Design USA and lead designer on the 2018 Ford Ranger SEMA build.

Longfellow approached this Ranger Raptor project like he does any other. “The truck itself is incredible, and I didn’t want any modifications we did to take away from the aggressive factory styling that Ford worked tirelessly to achieve,” he said. “Our approach was to create something that’s not only appealing to the everyday enthusiast, but also attainable. And based on the response at the show, we nailed it,” continued Longfellow.

Aftermarket Styling

The masculine exterior styling of this Ford Ranger SEMA build was further accentuated with a custom white and black paint by Sherwin-Williams, Borla cat-back exhaust with black chrome tips and differential cover, BDS suspension and upper control arms, Fox 2.5 Factory Series DSC coil-overs and 2.0 rear shocks, Nitto Ridge Grappler 33 x 12.50 inch tires, Fuel Vector 20 x 9 inch rims, Ford Performance off-road tow hooks and red recovery points, REV hard rolling tonneau cover, UnderCover™ Pivot Storage Box, Sundial window tint, and Air Design USA door rocker moldings, front bumper lower center bar with bumper flares, fender vents, hood scoop, rear cab spoiler, tailgate spoiler, and tailgate appliqué. Interior styling was perfected with custom black leather seats featuring white thread and a carpeted Sportliner™ by Bedrug®.

While at SEMA, Longfellow—a longtime, well-respected designer in the automotive industry—was honored with an Outstanding Achievement in Design award from Ford Motor Company. “It’s always nice for people to recognize your hard work, but it’s even more special to have the opportunity to work alongside such talent every day. This build wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of our aftermarket partners. I’m honored and grateful for their participation,” he added.

We’re the ones who should be honored, Billy ol’ pal. For the everyday enthusiast, this build is an absolute standout. The 2019 Ford Ranger is heading to the 2018 LA Auto Show from November 30 – December 9, where it will no doubt wow those in attendance. Like what you see? Make sure to check back at The Engine Block for more build coverage just like this!


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