Utes never caught on in America, but the idea of a car-pickup was not totally
new in 1957, when Ford introduced its Ranchero. Hudson, Studebaker and other
companies had produced such models since the 1930s. However, Ford was first to
bring this concept to America in a volume-production model. Whether or not the
Ranchero was a “first,” it was a first-class, good-looking truck.
1957-1959 Rancheros were based on full-size Fairlanes. They offered a
wide range of engines, including the “Thunderbird Special” 352-cid
V8, that could be ordered. Only two trim lines were offered - Standard
and Custom. Customs included bright metal body side moldings, more
accessories and richer upholstery. Two-tone paint schemes, in contrasting
bright hues, were the rule, rather than an exception.
Ford released its Falcon compact. The Ranchero was transferred to the
smaller Falcon platform to better differentiate it from Ford's full
size F-Series pickups. The little car-truck was a great combination.
It could haul 800 pounds of freight, deliver 30 mpg from its 144-cid
six and provide dual-purpose “town
and country” utility with smooth, low-slung passenger-car styling.
For Americans moving to the suburbs, a Falcon Ranchero was a sensible
the Falcon Ranchero got an optional 260-cid 164-hp V8. Bucket seats,
vinyl trim and a 4-speed gearbox could be ordered. The 1964-‘65
Ranchero used a new, squarer Falcon body. Ford’s 289-cid small-block
V8 was offered in 1965. A rare two-tone paint scheme was available
on Deluxe models. The 1966 Ranchero was a one-year-only hybrid on the
longer 113-inch Fairlane station wagon wheelbase with Falcon body lines.
Coil springs were used in front and leaf springs at the rear. Three
engines were offered: a 200-cid 120-hp six, a two-barrel 289 V8 with
200 hp and a four-barrel 225-hp 289.
the Ranchero changed architectures again to the Fairlane platform,
growing larger in the process. Its styling featured stacked dual headlights,
a one-piece aluminum grille and rectangular taillights. The base pickup
was $2,514 (a $300 increase). Also available was the $2,611 Ranchero
500 and the $2,768 Ranchero 500XL. XLs had extra moldings. This car-truck
came with all Ford engines up to a 390-cid 320-hp V8. This sporty truck
is the probably the most collectible Ranchero. It was carried over
in 1968, but the 500XL was renamed GT.
a V8 and C-shape body stripes. The ’69 followed the same
pattern, but replaced the 289 with a 302-cid 220-hp V8. Other options
included 351-cid 290-hp, 390-cid 320-hp and 428-cid 335-hp. The 428 came
with a heavy-duty suspension, aluminum valve covers, bright engine parts,
an extra-cooling radiator, an 80-amp battery and “428” badges. In
1969 Ford also offered a new Ranchero trim package, called
Ford considered Rio Grande Ranchero's 'Special Performance Vehicles'
and added a hood scoop, side stripes, bed rails, a vinyl roof top,
and custom wheel caps.
1970-‘71, the Ranchero
continued to be based on mid-sized unit-bodied Fairlanes and offered
standard, 500, GT and Squire models. The GT was sporty and the Squire
luxury” with carpeting and wood
trim inside and out. Production hovered in the range of 20,000-23,000
units per year.
1972-‘76, the Ranchero reverted to body-on-frame
construction. It grew larger and more popular. The front had the “fish-mouth” styling
of the mid-size Torino. These Rancheros were very luxurious. The basic
trim level became the 500. GT and Squire packages remained available
for upscale buyers. In 1972, production zoomed to over 40,000, but it
would taper to 16,100 in 1976.
Ranchero’s final restyling came in 1977 after Ford Torino production
ended. Based on the Ford Thunderbird, revisions included stacked rectangular
headlights, a neo-classic cross-hatched grille, new doors and revised
quarter panels. The same trim levels were available. Ford’s
302 was base V8 and GTs came with the 351. Final year production in 1979
was over 24,000 units.