Tastefully Modified Texas Ranchero Packs Cadillac Power, Towing Package

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

When you’re looking at a basket-case Ford Ranchero, a Cadillac 500-cubic-inch V8 plus TH400 transmission, an ancient Mercedes-Benz hood, and a yard full of random scrap metal, do you feel optimistic? The builder of this fine machine certainly did!

Built on a budget of just under a grand, this daily-driving, super-customized, tire-melting monster gets plenty of respect in the Houston area.

The engine came from an abandoned 24 Hours of LeMons Eldorado project, and the Shorty Ranchero’s builder decided to come check out the Yeehaw It’s Texas race and see what this weird race was all about. Little did he know that his machine would be worshiped by LeMons racers the way that cargo cults worship C-47s. I’m pretty sure he’s been drafted onto a team by this time.

Little touches like this “fuel gauge” abound; there’s a mirror positioned so that the driver can see the fuel level from behind the wheel. The beer keg fuel tank was found at the side of a Texas highway.

The Excalibur-style spare-tire mount didn’t have a tire attached, but that didn’t take away from the Shorty Ranchero’s class.

Supposedly it drives just fine, quite comfortable on the highway and with ridiculous power. We can’t see a single flaw!














Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Roger628 Roger628 on Oct 14, 2011

    Walk away and I'll spare your lives. Just walk away.

  • Akirachan Akirachan on Oct 16, 2011

    Thanks murilee for the post! what an awesome car, the kind that used to frequent pages at j*l+pn^k before it started getting yuppified!

  • 2ACL Not as bad as some have quipped, but half the appeal of a sport compact is the car on which it's based. The Ion was one of the worst in segment, blunting the outreach of GMPD's work. More marginalization hit in the form of competitors evolving into some of their most compelling interations. $8.5k? KBB tells Joe Average to aim for half that. Within the context of those specifically interested in this model, the magic words for asking more than market seem to be 'Competition Package.' If the best the seller can do in a short ad is vaguely reference aftermarket audio, they don't deserve a premium.
  • The Oracle I can’t wait to see the UAW attempt to organize the Chinese plants when they come.
  • Redapple2 They strove to excel and improve in this era ( on the cheap? ). They gave us Saturnasty and Northstarubish and the F150 grew in dependability and features over the Silveradoffal. -gm- a legacy of utter garbage.
  • Tane94 Yes and yes to both questions. GM and Fird have long used built-in-China components in their vehicles -- the GM 3.4L engines used in past SUVs being just one example. Why is the US so scared of China's manufacturing prowess? Why is the US so scared of China's ascendency to world super-power? Look at China's high speed rail network, including mag-lev trains, and then US trains. I would buy a China-built vehicle with no trepidation.
  • Theflyersfan Adding to what Posky said (and for once, I kinda agree with what he wrote), and as an auto enthusiast it kills me to think this, but why should auto makers care about enthusiasts any longer? Hear me out... It can be argued that the first real enthusiasts were those coming home from WW2, having served in Europe, and fell in love with their cars. And Detroit responded. That carried over to the Boomers and Gen X. The WW2 generation for all sakes and purposes is no longer with us. The Boomers are decreasing in number. The first years of Gen X are nearing retirement. After us (Gen X), that's when we see the love of cars tail off. That was the generation that seemed to wait to get a license, grew up with smart phones and social media, got saddled with crippling home and student debt, and just didn't have the same love that we have. They for the most part are voting on do-all CUVs. Yes, automakers throw us a bone with special models, but they tend to be very expensive, saddled with markups, high insurance rates, and sometimes rare. Looking at you Audi and Lexus. Friends of mine who currently have or have just raised teens said their kids just don't care about cars. Their world is not out in the open and enjoying the moment with the roar of the engine. It's in the world they created for themselves at their fingertips. If they want bland and an appliance, that's what will be built.
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