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1958 Ford Ranchero : Classic Cars

The Ford Ranchero was a coupe utility produced between 1957 and 1979. Unlike a pickup truck, the Ranchero was adapted from a two-door 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.

During the 1970s the Ranchero name was used in the South African market on a rebadged Australian Ford Falcon utility. These vehicles were sent to South Africa in CKD form. In Argentina a utility version of the locally produced Ford Falcon was also called the Ranchero.

The Ford Ranchero sold well enough to spawn a competitor from General Motors in 1959, the Chevy 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 Australia. 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. Seat belts and padded instrument panels were optional.

The 1958 version would remain largely unchanged under the skin save for the new front sheet metal (shared by the big '58 Ford and inspired by the Thunderbird) and its new four-headlamp arrangement.

The 1959 model was built with the same 118 in (3,000 mm) wheelbase as all 1959 Fords, giving the Ranchero the advantage over its predecessors of a new, longer 7 ft (210 cm) bed. However, this would be the last time that the vehicle would grow either in size or trim for several years to come. The windshield was also 25% larger. Seatcovers were vinyl or "woven plastic", while the spare tire was located behind the passenger seat. The Custom Ranchero was the only model marketed in 1959, and was offered in 26 colors (eleven solid shades, eleven two-tone combinations with white on top, and four other two-tone choices).

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Sources : 1958 Ford Ranchero Photo | 1958 Ford Ranchero Article

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