Friday, April 1, 2011
Car Of The Day: April 1, 2011
Today's car of the day is Racing Champions' 1957 Ford Ranchero.
The Ford Ranchero was a coupe utility produced between 1957 and 1979. Unlike a pickup truck, the Ranchero was adapted from a 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. Variations based on the original 1960 US Falcon for home markets in Argentina and South Africa were produced through the late 1980s. It sold well enough to spawn a competitor from General Motors in 1959, the Chevrolet El Camino.
For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Ford Ranchero
Here's a beautiful Racing Champions casting that is begging to be released into the JL lineup.
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.
The 1958 version would remain largely unchanged under the skin save for the new front sheet metal and its new four-headlamp arrangement.
The 1959 model was built with the same 118"/300 cm wheelbase as the sedan as were all 1959 Fords, giving the Ranchero the advantage over its predecessors of a longer bed. However, this would be the last time that the vehicle would grow either in size or trim for several years to come. The Custom Ranchero was the only model marketed in 1959.
Rancheros are reasonably collectible, though they are nowadays often overlooked in favor of the later-arriving Chevrolet El Camino, which stayed in production eight more years. Miniatures, apart from hand-cast resin kits from cottage-industry makers are rare. Several Revell offerings of the 1957 model in both 1/32 and 1/25 scale have been offered over the years as has a kit of the 1961 Ranchero by AMT/Ertl. A well-detailed promotional model of the 1959 intended for distribution by dealers was offered both with and without interior trim, windows and friction drive by AMT/Ertl's predecessor, SMP; resin castings of this model's body are offered by the aforementioned cottage industries as well. There are no Matchbox versions, but Johnny Lightning makes a 1964 model, Hot Wheels an adult collectible '57, Racing Champions made a 1/64 scale 1957 Ranchero and AMT/Ertl currently produces a diecast '57 which doubles as a bank. AMT was responsible for other early dealer promotional models as well, including those of the aforementioned El Camino. Tonka produced a resin toy version of the 1968-69 model in roughly 1/24 scale as part of an auto transporter set; the front end of that toy arguably resembles the 1969 model more closely. A 1970 Ranchero was featured in the music video for Brooks and Dunn's Hillbilly Deluxe.
The idea of a car-based pickup remains an attractive one, and is an illustration of how favorable treatment for light trucks over cars by United States regulations skews the marketplace. There are many Ranchero and El Camino owners, indeed, who stopped buying new vehicles when those models were discontinued. Aftermarket conversions of the Fairmont Futura and Mercury Zephyr Z7 sport coupes to a Ranchero-like "Durango" pickup were sold in select Ford dealers in the early- to mid-1980s. Recently there has been more interest in producing such vehicles again, including those like the Subaru Baja, essentially an Outback station wagon with a stubby pickup bed instead of an enclosed cargo area. The Baja, like the Ranchero, is titled in most American states and Canadian provinces as a commercial vehicle. The current market has tended to lean towards compact and midsized crew-cab four-door pickups such as the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and Chevrolet Colorado.
In Australia, Ford continues to produce a car based "pickup", the FG Falcon Ute.