1962 Ford Ranchero – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

There’s something deeply appealing about a pickup. Sure, it’s not that practical if you need to move more than two people about (you could put a load of people in the back, but the law would take a dim view), but if you need to move… stuff, there are few better ways to do it. The problem is, the pick up is a traditionally agricultural thing. Sure, modern offerings might be full of leather and satellite navigation, but they’re still a tad crude underneath. The perfect pickup would be a car, but combined with the ‘chuck it in the back and go’ versatility of a pickup.

The Americans were all too aware of the potential that such a notion held. So, in 1956 they took a standard Ford sedan and cut the back off it. In doing so, they created the now legendary Ford Ranchero. Half car, half pickup, all fun. Production began in 1957 and sales were good. It may seem counterintuitive to make a car more commercial in nature. It’s not something you’d see today. There’s no Mondeo pickup, for example. But back in ’57, attitudes were evidently different and as such, the Ranchero flew out of dealerships up and down the country.

What is it? 

The car we have here is a 1962 Ford Ranchero. This is a good thing, as is makes it a second generation. The first Ranchero was cool and all, but the car upon which it was based was a big old beast. The second generation model was based around the smaller, more compact Ford Falcon. It was still rear-wheel drive, of course, and you could order it with a V8 if you wanted. But ultimately, it was a smaller, more usable machine. The Falcon was a huge seller for Ford, and there were many derivatives such as a sedan, a two-door, a convertible and a van – on which the pickup was based. It was all things to all drivers.

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This one is fitted with what looks to be the original straight-six engine, along with a column change manual. It needs some love, naturally, but it looks to be incredibly solid. In fact, it seems like a lot of the panels have benefitted from some attention. Though the doors look like they need some extra work. Crucially though, this is a cool ’60 Ranchero that runs and drives. It’s a bargain at £7,995 and it has the potential to be something really, really special.

Why is it a project? 

The car has, according to the seller, been imported from a dry state in America, and was registered here in the UK last year. The seller goes on to state that there is no rust to contend with, and that it comes with what looks like all the parts to fix it up – lots of trim and even a rear bumper by the looks of it. The Ranchero is still a popular machine, so the aftermarket parts supply is actually very good. There are lots of companies stateside that make reproduction kit.

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The car runs and drives, which is good. But it’s safe to say it’s going to need a complete service from top to bottom. Being from a dry state is good for the sheet metal, but terrible for the rubber. You may well have to replace fuel, cooling and vacuum lines and the like. The same goes for any suspension mounts. But again, parts are plentiful, so don’t stress. Once all that’s done, it needs all the trim and the new rear bumper fitting, and of course, some paint. If it were our money, we’d go for something bright – candy orange, or maybe even some sort of metal flake. Bit of a hot rod vibe – this car would suit that down to the ground.

Five things to look for:

1) Rust

The seller says it’s pretty free from corrosion, and the pictures certainly lean into that. Plus, this Ranchero came from a dry state, so it’s not like it even had the opportunity to rust. But even so, check it. The pillars in particular are going to need a good look, as are the doors (which look to have been repaired), the sills, the bonnet and that all-important tailgate, too.

2) Rubber

As we touched on earlier, being from a dry state is good for the metal but bad for the rubber. Check the fuel lines, the vacuum lines, check all the window surrounds, the suspension bushes and so on. They may well have been changed, which would be good. If not, don’t fret, as replacements are available from America.

3) Interior

It looks a bit rough and ready in there, so have a good poke about. What you need to find, really, is enough frame and form on which you can have some reupholstering done. You also want to check the dash, make sure everything works or at least has the potential to.

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4) Engine

Let’s be honest, you’re going to put a V8 in this, aren’t you? Nothing daft, just a nice 302 with a mild cam, perhaps. So checking the straight-six that’s in there is probably moot. But you should give it a look over just in case, so check for any leaks, check the core plugs, the carb and listen for any low-end grumbles. The engine is actually pretty tough, so may have some resale value when your V8 lands.

5) Bed

It’s a pickup, so the bed matters. And it’s just about the one part that you can’t replace with any degree of ease. Looking at the one picture in which we can see it, it actually looks pretty decent. The Ranchero wasn’t a heavy hauler by any means, so it should have escaped major wear and tear. Hopefully.

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What should you do with it? 

V8, nice paint, lower it a little, fit some better wheels, job done. This could be such a cool little custom, and one that has all the ‘cool’ of being American, with none of the inconvenience. The Ranchero is a small vehicle, so you’re not going to feel out of place driving it on UK roads. This could be a great bit of fun, or a brilliant vehicle with which to promote your business. Or of course, if the bones of this Ranchero are as good as the advert suggest, it could be a great contender for an original specification restoration. With excellent parts availability from America, the only limit is your imagination.

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