The Ranchero, the first US designed "Ute",
was an ever popular model in the Ford line-up - its
popularity ensuring it would enjoy a longevity spanning
23 years, from 1957 through 1979.
this time the vehicle underwent several significant
revisions, with the last model bearing no resemblance
to the first - however in all versions the car remained
exceedingly popular, with some 508,000 vehicles manufactured.
To counter the success of the Ranchero, GM were to release
their version of the Ute, the 'El Camino
', born from the
sedan and released some 2 years after
the original Ranchero.
The original Ranchero (1957 to 1959) was based on the
successful Fairlane, and offered the same luxury appointments
and extensive options list as its sedan based counterpart.
Engine options included the Thunderbird 352 V8, while
the model line-up included a 'standard' and 'custom'
model, the latter featuring attractive body side moldings,
a comprehensive appointments list and more refined
Particularly collectable today are the "two-tone" versions,
such as that shown in the 1958 model pictured left.
From 1960 through 1966 the Ranchero became a little more
utilitarian, now borrowing from the Falcon parts bin.
This meant the car was smaller (for US standards), however
the carrying capacity was not compromised and, from a
working cars perspective, was perhaps far more suitable
as a tradesman's vehicle.
The early models used a 144ci six cylinder engine,
providing for the time very good fuel economy (an important
consideration for a work vehicle).
But as is the case
today, the public demanded that their Ute offer the
same performance as was available in the sedans, and
so in 1963 you could option your Ranchero to have the
260ci V8 engine fitted - with a factory 4 speed manual
transmission, buckets seats, and deluxe trim options!
By 1965, the V8 engine's capacity had grown to 289ci
and, while rare, was available in a "two-tone" paint
With the "Custom" Ranchero proving immensely popular,
and most customers ticking lots of boxes in the options
list, Ford decided it made sense to again base the car
on the Fairlane rather than the Falcon. The 1967 Ranchero
therefore featured the Fairlanes "dual stacked" headlights,
with engine options ranging to the 390ci 320bhp V8.
Other options were to include bucket seats, 4 speed
transmissions and styled steel wheels.
As the years progressed, the Ranchero was to become
even more sporty, with a "GT" model being introduced
into the line-up. Based on the Torino (made popular
in the Starsky and Hutch police drama), the Ranchero
could be optioned to have the 428 Cobra Jet engine
producing 335bhp and featuring a ram air induction
During the early to mid '70's, changes to the Torino were
reflected in the Ranchero, such as the introduction of
the C6 or FMX autos and 'Hurst' 4 speed manuals. The 1977
Ranchero - the last of the line - was now to be based
on the Thunderbird and LTD body style . That gave the
car added length in just about every direction. The options
list included much of that offered on the LTD, such as
power seats and windows, power steering, power disc brakes,
and tow packages.