By on May 22, 2017

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Since we haven’t seen a Ford product in this series since this Fox Granada four months ago, and we just saw three GM cars in succession, I decided this week would be the turn of a once-plush Ranchero GT Brougham, now fallen on hard times in a San Jose self-service wrecking yard.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, GT badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

One of the hallmarks of the Malaise Era was the use of big, wild graphics and interior gingerbread on the kinds of vehicles that had powerful engines just a few years earlier. This Ranchero has some great stripes and dramatic-looking GT emblems.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

It was already well into hooptie territory when it got into its career-ending wreck.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This cartruck is from the Ranchero’s final generation, which was based in the midsize 1977-1979 LTD II. GM kept making El Caminos and Caballeros until 1987, while Chrysler made front-wheel-drive Rampages and Scamps for the 1982 through 1984 model years. We’ve seen discarded 1978 and 1979 Rancheros so far in the Junkyard Find series, and it’s nice to have the complete set now.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, Raider Nation decal - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Try to imagine this Ranchero a quarter-century ago, full of Raider Nation revelers beer-bonging Meister Brau, chain-eating Rel’s gas-station burritos, and vomiting a partially digested mixture of both onto the asphalt of the Oakland Coliseum North Lot.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, Brougham emblem - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Or go back another 15 years, and imagine the optimism of the original purchaser of this fine luxury truck, with its Brougham badges and in-your-face graphics.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, 351M engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The 1977 Ranchero GT came with a 351 Modified engine, rated at 148 horsepower. That’s about 26 horsepower per liter, which compares not-so-favorably with the 107 horsepower per liter of the 3.5-liter Ecoboost in the 2017 F-150.

1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham in California wrecking yard, seat upholstery - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The upholstery did a good job surviving the California sun.

I couldn’t find any 1977-79 Ranchero TV ads online, so we’ll watch the one for the version with no truck bed. Isn’t it you in an LTD II?

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford Ranchero GT Brougham...”


  • avatar
    namesakeone

    It’s nice to see that some pieces were at least taken from this one, unlike a lot of junkyard finds.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Every nine year old used to think these and the El Camino were the coolest thing. I’ll just say that…

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Engine picture. Had Ford Motor Company switched from the Yuban Coffee can vacuum reservoir to a smaller and less expensive Kroger less than 50% peanuts mixed nuts can? Must have made the A/C go to default defrost vets on the trip up Donner for that cheap steak dinner at the Tahoe Casinos.

    Or maybe, the big vacuum can was removed at the Oakland Coliseum during the tailgate party to make the ultimate pre-game bong?

    • 0 avatar
      CaptainObvious

      ^This.
      I remember my Gran Torino’s A/C going into default mode heading up mountains.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        lol even my 1997 Escort Wagon would send the system in to default defrost mode if the hill was steep enough and the transmission downshifted far enough.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Well, for years Ford used the Hi-C fruit punch cans (about 5″ diameter and 8″ tall) for vacuum reservoirs (our 1971 LTD and 1977 Lincoln Town Car had them, with the Lincoln having a second one for the headlight doors) – were the Yuban coffee cans that same size?

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Not a GT. Not a Brougham. Not a truck.

  • avatar
    skor

    It’s true that the 351M only produced 148HP, but it also produced something like 260 or 270 pound feet of torque, and did so at very low rpm. Also keep in mind that the HP rating is net, unlike the 50s-60s HP numbers which were gross ratings, and usually wildly optimistic. The engine trans combo installed in this car was a fairly reliable set-up for its day in which most cars sucked, including the imports. The worst thing about this engine is that it sucked gas like it was designed by a Saudi oil sheikh.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “260 or 270 pound feet of torque”

      Which was still pretty miserable. But that’s the way it was and we liked it that way!!

      It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but this one probably made more like 300~ish with the basic timing advanced about five degrees from spec, the air pump removed… ;)

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Jim/skor, I think the most (only?) desirable thing from this car is that engine that can be tuned (as you say) and put in something decent.

        Maybe an early Panther Grand Marquis coupe? They weren’t too bad looking, and a 351 should give it the grunt a 302 just can’t muster.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    So. Much. Ugly.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I still like the concept of a Ranchero/El Camino.

    I still regret passing on a nice one from a few years ago.

    But this era were like purposely awful with the front end styling.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      In the 2005-2010 time frame when I was living in the city of Gallup proper there was a neighbor down the street who was true “Ford-natic” and had a two-seat 50s Thunderbird, 2004 Town Car, TWO full size 90s Broncos, and 70s Ranchero.

      The Ranchero was sitting in the front yard and was the only one I never saw run under its own power. Which was odd because he was the retired owner of a machine shop. If anyone would have been able to get that sucker running it would have been him.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Incredibly bipolar, with the GT graphics on the outside, and Brougham script on the inside. One of these with EcoBoost V6 could be interesting.

  • avatar

    Back in the day, these were if you were too cool to drive a car, but too rich to drive a truck. A very successful contractor, one who no longer actually touches the stuff….

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      I remember P. J. O’Rourke’s thoughts about the El Camino/Ranchero (quote approximate, forgive the profanity): “[They] seem to say, ‘I’m too goddamned tough for a car and I’m too goddamned rich for a job.’ “

  • avatar
    RS

    An autonomous F150 Brougham is probably in development…where the ‘autonomous’ feature will be the chauffeur of the future.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    We bought a 75 Ranchero GT in about 1990 from the original owner for my son to drive as his first car. It had a 400 V8 and drank the gas. It was massive, longer than my father-in-laws Lincoln Town Car. Smooth running engine with enough torque to be quite fast. Brakes were not well balanced, as the rears would lock up under heavy braking. The styling was different than this one, but the two-tone blue seats were similar. That vinyl wore like iron.

  • avatar
    operagost

    This model raises the “Brougham” term to the pinnacle of irony, as not only does it not have an open front seat area, it doesn’t even have a back seat.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Maybe you missed the part of the Eco Boost having 2 turbos. I mean you are comparing engines old vs new, based on “displacement”, no? Ida thunk the “Boost” part gave it way!

    Turbos are just like “displacement on demand”. But a few other things make it a silly comparison. The 351 V8 made lots more power than you realize just looking at its “horse power” rating. This despite a low compression-ratio.

    No overdrive or lock-up torque converter and “Oil Embargo” induced “freeway flyer” axle-ratio gears made for real lazy acceleration.

    Throw all of today’s tech at it, including “a couple turbos” and who knows?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I did not know you could order the GT trim and Brougham together. I remember seeing GT models with the buckets and console but the Flight Bench Seat on other models was quite nice.

    Those Yuban coffee cans were on a lot of Fords as vacuum canisters for HVAC or the retractable lamps. When I had my 70 Mustang the HVAC was blowing cool from the defroster vents. I diagnosed the vacuum lines and found the Yuban can under the wheel well to to rotting. I went to the auto supply for a replacement but it was dealer only item. I bought one and never had another issue with it.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Brougham AND GT? Who put the chocolate in my peanut butter!


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