While Antipodeans used their utes – half car, half truck – as a true dual purpose vehicle for transporting sheep and taking the family to town, it’s hard to find any evidence (in a quick image search) that Americans did the same. There are plenty of hot-rodded Rancheros and El Caminos, and plenty being used by urban farmers hauling their stuff in town. Perhaps fuel and full-size trucks were cheap enough in North America, or the farm roads rough enough, that the cars didn’t do well with their actual target demographic. Or perhaps, as is so often the case with utilitarian vehicles, Ford’s marketeers had stumbled on an early lifestyle product – selling an image urban North Americans wanted to project to their community. Period advertising certainly suggests that, with plenty of images of the vehicles parked at some farm with a cowboy standing nearby, or in one ad, just a cowboy hat kind of floating above the
truck car. So if you’d like to project a retro-urban-cowboy image, or you just have bulky car parts to haul around, take a look at this 1961 Ford Ranchero for sale for $3300 in Portland, OR.
Rangoon red is a great color for this trucklet, and with the narrow whitewalls, matching color wheels and caps contributes to a nice period correct look. It’s said to be a very good original car, which doesn’t account for the yellow paint showing through on the rear passenger side fender. The seller provides a very helpful and fairly thorough description of the car, pointing out straight body and trim, and describing the apparently minor rust issues on the floor, separation issues with the tailgate, and a solid bed. Another deviation from original spec is a floor-shifted automatic transmission conversion from three on the tree, said to have been done in the 1970s. Wiper blades are also said to be original, so don’t plan on driving in the rain until you’ve replaced them!
The Mexican blanket covers a worn seat cover with decent foam underneath, an uncut dash, and no mention of what’s happened to the missing door panels. The steering wheel and instrument cluster look good, and the rear window and tray are said to be good too. A budget upholstery kit runs about $500, so if you’re willing and able to recover your own seats that’s probably a great way to upgrade the car.
The engine looks reasonably tidy, and the truck has had much recent mechanical attention, including a new carburetor, head, pushrods, fuel pump/sender/lines, brakes, battery, gas tank cleaning, and exhaust. The ignition system was also serviced, but is said to need further troubleshooting, and hoses and wiring are also said to need some cleanup. The seller suggests towing the cruck home and completing the basic maintenance before driving. If you’re okay with a bit less detail, and looking for a very mid-century looking color, perhaps you’d be better served looking at this 1962 Ford Ranchero for sale for $2600 in Forest Grove, OR.
The body looks nice, and what appears to be fancy Algiers Bronze makes a cool contrast with the basic-spec dog dish hubcaps. Of note on this side are a less-than-smooth repair to an antenna hole on the fender, and some kind of impact damage on the tip of the passenger front fender. It’s also said to have rust in the bottom of the bed, and a new windshield rubber.
It has a new Weber carburetor, rebuilt engine, and an electric fuel pump, together with a 3-speed manual. The pairing of the larger 200ci engine with the 3-speed should make the half-car reasonably responsive, and if you do some Mustang-based performance upgrades, might make for a fun back roads toy with a tail that’s easy to slide around. Or chain down an old engine in the back if you want more traction!
The interior seems to need the most attention, with a bench from a late-model truck, house carpeting on the floor, and a missing horn ring and scratched paint on the wheel. Door panels appear to be home made. An aftermarket turn signal switch is visible, and there are a few extra gauges to measure coolant temperature, oil pressure, and alternator output, together with a tachometer. Which truck would you pick to project your inner cowboy?