Junkyard Find: 1978 Ford Ranchero

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1978 ford ranchero

Ah, the Malaise Era. Some cars are just poster children for the 1973-1983 period of diminished expectations, sclerotic automaker bureaucracy, tape stripes, and the ascendancy of focus-group marketers. Take, for example, the 1977-1979 Ranchero, during which Ford decided to use the massive Thunderbird platform as the basis for their popular cartruck. It should have been a commercial disaster, but in fact it sold quite well.

A “personal luxury” car, with a truck bed!

This example, which I found in a gloomy Northern California self-service yard a couple of weeks back, is pretty much used up.

When cars rust to death in coastal California, they do it like this. During the long rainy season (all winter), water leaks in past the low-bidder weatherstripping and pools beneath the carpeting; GM cars preferred the trunk floor for this process, while Fords went for the front floors.

Ford wasn’t shy about crazy snout treatments in the 1970s; while I think the peak was the 1970 Mercury Cyclone, the MalaiseChero still has some weird style.


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  • SuperACG SuperACG on Dec 15, 2011

    Say what you guys will...I like this! Definitely dig the swanky stacked lights, but it needs the oversized aftermarket "pimp grille" so common on the Caddys and Lincolns of the period. If you guys remember the Overhaulin' episode where they took an El Camino with a similar front end, and swapped the "Laguna" face on it...I was upset about that. I just like the "weirdness" of the 70s. Maybe it reminds me of being a kid, but nothing, not even the weirdness of the 80s can surpass 70s charm.

  • Svenmeier Svenmeier on Dec 15, 2011

    I know I'll get flamed for this, but I always thought the Ford LTD II looked quite nice, especially in wagon form. http://stationwagonforums.com/forums/gallery/files/6/1977FordLTDIISquire.jpg

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.