Readers Rides

1961 Ford Ranchero Classic?

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By Mark Weisseg

I have not touched on the subject of the Ford Ranchero or the Chevy El Camino as classic cars or trucks depending on how you look at it yet.

This little Ford was cute but not a fast classic. It had a little six cylinder engine and a three speed on the column. The Ranchero is interesting because they really started in the late fifties and the car was bigger. Then, a redesign made them smaller for many years and then as we moved into the seventies they once again grew.

We have always debated if it was a car or a truck or both. In today’s terms we might call it a hybrid of some sort. I had an employee in the 90’s that bought these from the late seventies and he loved them for these reasons. First, it rode like a car. Second it had a bed to haul things ( but not too heavy) and third he loved the styling. I never saw the argument of styling but that is always in the eye of the beholder. I remember his car had a 351 V8 engine which provided plenty of power.

Now, the downside to this car – truck. It was rear wheel drive and in wet weather or snow it was awful. It had one bench seat and no room inside the car other than stuffing things under the seat. And lastly even though they built and sold the Fords since the late fifties it never was a sales giant. Same story almost with the ElCamino but the Chevy version did not go back that far in its history. Most of the Fords were sold with the old reliable 302 V8 and again automatic transmissions ruled the day late in its life.

I am to this day a bit in a fog about this vehicle. I really like the one in the picture above because they are rare and sort of cool. But, that is about where my love ends because it always felt like a square peg in a round hole. Nobody really understood where it fit in except the folks that owned them. Eventually, these gave way to a two wheel drive pick up truck that could haul more. Go check how hot the Ford F100’s of the late sixties and early seventies are now and you will see $$$$. But the Rancheros are still idle for now.

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