1979 Ford Ranchero 500
You’ll have a hard time finding a cleaner Ranchero than this, and thanks to its unusual color combination and V8 power, it will always be an object of interest to collectors.
Ford’s Ranchero was a good idea for the times, a variation on the sedan delivery theme that instead created kind of a “sedan pickup” that combined the ride quality of a car with the utility of an open pickup bed. Heck, from the earliest days of motoring, trucks were often just cars with boxes on the back, and in the ‘30s, more than a few automakers created unique machines by combining business coupes with slide-out pickup beds in the trunk. But with its crosstown rival, the Chevrolet El Camino, the Ford Ranchero dominated the market and became an icon on city streets for more than two decades. Today they make awesome collector vehicles with a unique look and a big dose of practicality, as well as car-like comfort for long drives. No compromises fun, that’s the Ranchero.
1979 was the last year for Ford’s Ranchero, which was now based on the Thunderbird platform. This pretty Jade Green example is a nicely preserved survivor that obviously came from someplace warm, because there’s no sign of rust or rot underneath. The crisp sheetmetal is all original, and that paint, which shows a soft shine that’s perfect for 1979, is in outstanding condition. The last of the Rancheros are incredibly popular with collectors, and they really are quite good-looking with their stacked headlights, flared fenders, and tidy proportions. You’ll note that this one is completely unmodified and even details like the contrasting green rub strips along the flanks are in exemplary condition. The bed, which is big enough to haul drywall home for you, is almost like new, suggesting that this truck/car never worked for a living—I mean, there’s not a mark on it! It also appears that the snug-fitting tonneau cover has been in place for a very long time, and it still fits well with no sags or tears. The chrome bumpers, bright taillight lenses, and Lincoln-esque grille all remain in great shape, making this a good candidate for preservation-class judging.
The green bench seat interior shows its Thunderbird roots, with woodgrained appliques on the dash and door panels and sporty round gauges in the instrument panel. Showing very little wear and no damage, the seat is still supportive and comfortable, and the doors close with a reassuring solidity. It shows just 52,071 miles, and given the overall condition of the car, we have no trouble believing that's authentic. As a commercial vehicle, this Ranchero is light on comfort and convenience options, but that also means fewer things to go wrong and less stuff to fix in the future, and it’s kind of refreshing to see a no-nonsense vehicle like this. The original AM radio is fully functional, the heater and defroster are potent, and the remote outside mirrors adjust easily. Carpets are still in very good condition with no significant wear, further proof that this Ranchero was never a working vehicle, and all the weatherstripping seals up tightly.
The Ranchero also received a torque, energetic 302 cubic inch V8 as its standard power plant, and in the relatively lightweight truck/car, performance is lively. It’ll spin the rear tires easily if you’re not careful, and it moves like a muscle car with a great V8 soundtrack. The engine bay is highly original, showing almost all its original equipment fully intact, including the air cleaner, power steering and brakes, and all the factory tags and decals. The block still wears Ford Blue paint and while this same engine benefits from all the late-model Mustang 5.0 modifications, it remains completely stock, right down to the cast iron exhaust manifolds and single exhaust system. Routine service items have been replaced in the past, and Vintage Motor Cars has recently serviced it with fresh fluids, flushing the fuel system, and a new battery. It starts quickly idles nicely, and pulls easily, with the 3-speed automatic clicking off precise-feeling shifts. The 3.00 gears in the 9-inch out back make it a great highway cruiser, and you probably shouldn’t be surprised to see 20-24 MPG on the open road in this one. Tires are heavy-duty 225/75/14 Goodyear whitewall radials, suitable for load-carrying and giving the car a nicely finished look with full wheel covers.
You’ll have a hard time finding a cleaner Ranchero than this, and thanks to its unusual color combination and V8 power, it will always be an object of interest to collectors. Bargain-priced, but only for now, these unique vehicles can only go up in value from here as trucks are becoming bona-fide collectables. If you’ve been looking for a late Ranchero with stacked headlights and zero rust, you can scarcely do better than this one.