Ford Ranchero is First Produced
The Ford Ranchero was a sedan-based pickup truck produced between 1957 and 1979.
Unlike a pickup truck, the Ranchero was adapted from a station wagon platform that integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body. A total of 508,355 units were produced during the model's production run. It was adapted from full-size, compact and intermediate automobiles by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market. Variations based on the original 1960 US Falcon for home markets in Argentina and South Africa were produced through the late 1980s. It did well enough to spawn a competitor from General Motors in 1959, the Chevrolet El Camino.
The first Ford Model T and Model A pickup trucks were created from sedans by placing a truck box behind the body of a car truncated behind the driver's seat. In 1934 Ford Australia's designer Lew Bandt modified a coupe with a smoothly integrated loadbed that could be used like a car to drive to church or to deliver pigs to market. This created the coupe utility which remains a popular body style as the "ute" in that country. In North America, pickup trucks evolved into a heavier duty form with cabs and beds that were quite distinct from passenger automobiles. The Ranchero was the first postwar American vehicle of its type adapted from a popular sedan from the factory. It combined the sleek looks of a sedan with the utility of a light duty pickup truck.
Introduced in December 1956, three months after the traditional September model year start-up, the Ranchero was based on the standard and new-for-1957 full-size Ford platform, specifically the short wheelbase Custom sedan, two-door Ranch Wagon station wagon and utilitarian Courier sedan delivery. Essentially a Courier with an open, reinforced bed, its own unique rear window and integrated cab and cargo box, the Ranchero was initially offered in two trim levels and, throughout the model run, was built on the corresponding automobile assembly line but sold as a truck through Ford's truck division. There was an extremely basic standard model, marketed to traditional pickup truck buyers such as farmers, and the Custom which picked up most of the options and accessories available on the Fairlane line, including stainless steel bodyside mouldings and two-tone paint. Upscale models were badged both as a Fairlane and Ranchero, with a stylized representation of a longhorn as the symbol for the model located on the tailgate. Indeed, print advertising of the time played on the theme of the American Southwest that the Spanish model name and longhorn symbol were meant to evoke, showing artistic representations of the vehicle being used in ranching and outdoor activities, proclaiming it as "More Than A Car! More Than A Truck!" The Ranchero was a hit with both the automotive press and the buying public, filling an untapped market niche for vehicles with the utility of a light pickup with the ease of operation and riding characteristics of a car. In fact, the Ranchero had a marginally higher cargo capacity by about fifty pounds/23 kg than the half-ton F-Series pickup. Both standard and Custom could be ordered with any engine available for Ford cars, all the way up to the 352 cu in (5.8 L) "Thunderbird Special." In Canada, the Ranchero was also available in the Meteor line-up. The 1958 version would remain largely unchanged under the skin save for the new front sheet metal and its new four-headlamp arrangement. The 1959 model was built with the same 118"/300 cm wheelbase as the sedan as were all 1959 Fords, giving the Ranchero the advantage over its predecessors of a longer bed. The new Galaxie 500 introduced that year would, like the sedan, become the new top-of-the-line trim level for the Ranchero. However, this would be the last time that the vehicle would grow either in size or trim for several years to come.
In 1960 the Ranchero became much smaller, becoming based on Ford's compact Falcon, specifically the two-door sedan delivery variant. The popularity of small, economical cars like the Volkswagen Beetle perpetuated a shift in thinking among the three largest American manufacturers; 1959 would see the introduction of the 1960 Falcon along with the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair and Plymouth Valiant. Pickup versions of the Corvair and Volkswgen Bus were offered as well. The economic recession of the late 1950s certainly played a role as well. Ford believed the market wanted a more practical vehicle, one much smaller, lighter and cheaper than a full-size pickup truck, and indeed the Ranchero sold well in this incarnation. Now marketed in print as the "Falcon Ranchero," the new vehicle's standard powerplant was an economical 144 cu in (2.4 L) straight-6. In 1961 the 170 cu in (2.8 L) straight-6 was offered, and in 1963 the optional 260 cu in (4.3 L) V8 was offered in addition to the 144 and 170. The two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission (offered between 1960 and 1963) or three-speed C4 Cruise-O-Matic could be ordered as could a three-speed manual transmission.
The Ranchero evolved along with the Falcon in 1964, becoming just a little larger along with its parent and using the same basic body style for 1964 and 1965. In 1965, the 289 cu in (4.7 L) V8 replaced the discontinued 260 and an alternator replaced the generator in all Ford cars.
1957 Ranchero Custom with Two tone paint scheme
The Ford Ranchero was produced by the Ford motor company from 1957 through 1979. This unique vehicle was the first of its kind being the first car with a truck bed. In the 23 years of total production, there were a total of 508,355 units produced. After the immediate success of the Ford Ranchero, Chevrolet proceeded to try and duplicate their own version of the Ranchero in 1959, but the Ranchero was the original "car-truck".
One unique feature of the Ranchero was that it was always patterned after a selected Ford car line. In the 23 years of production, the Ranchero car line changed 5 times with numerous body style changes.
From 1957 through 1959 the Ranchero was patterned after the full size Fairlane and featured all the engine options including the Thunderbird 352 special v-8 engines as well as luxurious interior trim options. The Ranchero was offered in the standard model as well as the custom model, which featured attractive body side molding, more accessories and the more elaborate interior finishing. Many of these Rancheros were offered with two tone paint and interior trim options, making these some of the most desirable Fords sought after by the collector and individual today.
1963 Ranchero Deluxe
From 1960 through 1966 the Ranchero followed the Falcon body style design and now became the compact Ranchero pickup. The early falcon Rancheros were a great economy hauler which boasted 30 miles per gallon from the 144 cubic inch six cylinder and able to haul an 800 pound load capacity. These trucks made good sense for the ranch or around town. In 1963 the Ranchero was equipped (optional) with a 260 v-8 engine. This new Ranchero had great styling following its father Falcon. Now also available with factory 4 speed manual transmission, buckets seats, and deluxe trim option, this was a truck to have.
1965 Ranchero Deluxe with two tone paint
The 1964/1965 Ranchero changed Falcon design again and also featured all the performance upgrades as the Falcon car. In 1965 the v-8 option was now available in the 289 cubic inch version. Also available on deluxe Rancheros, was the very rare , two tone paint scheme for 1965 deluxe Rancheros. These Rancheros used the 1964 style double strip body side molding with the rear quarter panel chevrons (see photo). The 1966 Ranchero was somewhat of a unique vehicle in that its body style was only used for one year and followed the 1966 Falcon body lines. This was also available with 289-4v engine. A very nice looking truck with plenty of power.
The Ranchero made a change in 1967, when Ford decided to make the Ranchero into a Fairlane body style. Now available with the sporty stacked dual headlights featured on the Fairlanes, these were very well accepted and are among the most popular among Ford collectors. This new Ranchero was available with all the v-8 options including the healthy 390-4v with 320 horsepower right off the showroom floor. Sporty Fairlane trim options, bucket seats, 4 speed transmissions, styled steel wheel are among the popular options available.
This sporty Ranchero continued in 1968 ushering in the new age of high performance with the big block Torinos. Rancheros were now available in three models, named "500", "GT", and standard models. GT models, were the most highly equipped of the three and were stock with v-8 engine and color keyed body side "c" stripe up through 1969 to follow papa Torino. Available from the factory floor with the 335 horsepower 428 cobra jet motor and ram air induction systems, wow! What a truck!! They continued to be offered with many goodies for the Ford truck lover. Up through 1971 With some of the most powerful production motors ever built. These same trucks were also, available with the six cylinder engines for the man on a budget. These Rancheros offered great variety to the truck buyer. These Rancheros were medium sizes vehicles following the Torino platform.
1972 Ranchero GT
In 1972 Ford made a major body change in the Torino commonly referred to as the "fish mouth" grill design. Although large, was very attractive vehicle. The days of huge horsepower were now gone due to smog issues and changes in rating horsepower. The new Rancheros had several engine options, usually fitted with the C6 or FMX automatic transmission but also available with the healthy "Hurst" 4 speed shifters up through 1973. This Torino body styles carried through until 1976.
1977 Ranchero GT
The 1977 Rancheros had now became the ultimate in truck luxury with The Thunderbird/LTD body style . In addition to the new longer, LTD body lines, the Rancheros were available with many of the LTD standard equipment such as power seats and windows, power steering, power disc brakes, and tow packages. These trucks were big and comfortable and were available in the Ranchero standard, 500, and GT models previously offered since 1968. The last and final year of the Ranchero produced a limited edition 1979 ½ Ranchero with all leather interior, dash board, and special paint color and trim scheme. The number of these produced is unpublished, but has proved to be a very interesting vehicle on its own.
The 1959 Ford Ranchero continued the design revolution started with the 1957-1958 Ford Ranchero, America's first modern car-pickup hybrid. The 1959 Ford Ranchero was restyled and treated to mechanical updates. It would need all the help it could get to fight Chevy's hot new copycat, the El Camin
Fully restyled, the 1959 Ford Ranchero wore a broad grille filled with slim stars, and quad headlamps nestled in big fender housings. Little vestigial fins, punctuated by backup lights, surmounted jumbo round taillights.
Supporting the new sheet metal was a frame wider, heavier, and stronger, with side rails bowed outward almost to the edges of the body, to allow more passenger room. Suspension improvements all aimed at a softer ride.
The 1959 Ford Ranchero powertrain also got attention. The optional Fordomatic transmission was redesigned and was lighter and simpler, with 105 fewer parts. It sold for less than the older version, but still had only two forward speeds.
The Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic was only slightly modified, and both automatics now placed the selector quadrant on the steering column rather than in the instrument panel. That panel was new, and the parking brake was foot-engaged, though it had to be released by hand.
Engines were sixes and V-8s, as before, topped by a 352-cid V-8 with 300 horsepower, which turned out to be rarely ordered by Ranchero buyers.
Befitting an improved U.S. economy and its new styling, Ranchero production rebounded to 14,169 units for 1959, despite competition from the just-introduced 1959 Chevrolet El Camino.
Despite improved prospects, however, the 1959 Ford Ranchero would be the last full-size version of Ford's car-pickup blend. For 1960, the name would be applied in the compact Falcon line, where it was an immediate hit.
The Ranchero remained a compact Falcon or midsize Fairlane or Torino-based model. By the end of the 1979 model year, however, production had finally fallen victim to the growing popularity of small, fancy import and domestic trucks -- not to mention Ford's switch to front-drive car platforms.