By on January 15, 2015



This was my first vacation in, like, ever. And it was supposed to be a break from cars. No driving, wrenching, writing, photographing!  Stop looking at that Ford Versailles, don’t take a photo of that Renault, because car design is no vacation in such a beautiful place…right?

And then “my” Ford Ranger found me in Leblon. Oh, for the love of why did I walk down this street I can’t believe that stupid truck followed me from…



Let’s do this thing. Let’s see how vehicles are made for different needs, tastes, etc. in different countries.

To wit, here’s a shot of the USA Ranger last seen in 2011. Disregard my modest trim/wheel/grille modifications from other (less-beancounted) Rangers, because the USA and South American Ford Ranger are strikingly similar.

And the differences are where we learn something. Hopefully, considering the backlash to the last Camry analysis.


2009 was the last year for this Ranger body in South America, and it sported unique emblems, bumpers, side view mirrors, door handles, wheels, roll bar/bed liner/cover (seen on all light-duty trucks in Rio) and these trick one-piece headlights.

I had my eye on them via forum searching years ago, but in person? One piece headlights are great, making the Ranger somewhat better crafted.

But the black plastic on large swaths of non-functional lighting surfaces? That’s one of my guilty pleasures. It’s a big deal in the automotive aftermarket, selling the same assembly with almost no chrome.  When done right, like here, the deletion of superfluous chrome looks properly macho…yet upmarket.


I hope I’m forgiven for losing my shit when I saw the Brazilian Ranger, as their headlights tie in the charcoal/black elements of mine. Then it’ll highlight the chrome as accents…not as melodies.


The roll bar toughens up the look, not to mention Rangers are kinda large by Rio standards. Considering trucks are often used for real tasks in places where someone can’t afford a $60,000+ Cowboy Cadillac to park at Starbucks, the roll bar is a great design for loading stuff without roof damage.

Rear tail lights look much like this Ranger’s USA counterpart, but smoked black instead of bright red.


Red is better: it reminds us which end of the vehicle we’re lookin’ at.


Like the roll bar and steel wheels (that look similar to 2002+ Explorer wheels), the South American Ford Ranger has a tougher bumper with less plastic topping. The area reserved for a hitch is exposed metal with (possibly) more real estate. It’s a smart move considering the Ranger’s purpose in life. Ditto the lack of plastic trim behind the wheels.

Speaking of purpose, the tailgate is significantly different. It’s a fine example of form following function. Note the outward bend of the tailgate to accommodate a larger rear handle, and note the extensive plastic protection trim.

Finally, see how the bed’s upper crease stops 1″-ish deep into the tailgate? This allows a design element to “smear” over to a different visual space. On the cheap: the same bed is used, ‘natch.


No smearing in the USA. USA! USA! USA!

Function following form: the crease logically goes across the tailgate. Which means the negative space for your fingers to slide into the handle is smaller. So you can scratch your nice little truck if you wear jewelery befitting a truck that’s more mondo-super-badass. Like that $60,000+ Cowboy Cadillac parked at a Starbucks.

Not a good idea, but it looks better. Speaking of:


I’m sad I couldn’t get a live shot of the Ranger crew cab. All the pretty girls in Rio would be soooooo impressed with it vis-à-vis this Vellum Venom Vignette.

How could they not?


Ditto the 2010 South American Ford Ranger: basically the same platform (right down to the dashboard and glass-to-body ratio) with a macho, overcompensating look that’s all the rage in modern truck design.

Considering the USA Ranger must die in 2011, there was no need to import this “look” here. Too bad about that, especially the cute little crew cab that most Americans couldn’t fit in!

Ford-Ranger-Sport-09-560x373And I saw the Global Ranger, which looks like an overwrought yacht.  Too mid-sized for America and Super Duty sized for narrow Rio streets, it’s better suited as a Global F-150. Not a bad thing for the world, just bad for the honest-to-God compact pickup genre.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week!

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23 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part I...”

  • avatar

    I can’t help myself on vacation abroad, I almost invariably return with lots of pics of foreign cars.

    • 0 avatar

      The first time I saw a Smart Car in Europe (Early 2000s) I spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out what it was.

    • 0 avatar

      While watching Saving Mr. Banks recently, I found myself noticing the great 50s and 60s cars in the scenes as much as I was noticing the story elements. I especially noticed how often the same two-tone Ford (Fairlane?) kept popping up. I tried pointing this out to my wife, who looked at me like the sadly demented male that I am.

  • avatar

    We need some more photos of other cars you saw in your Brazilian vacation! What is the red thing in front of the Ranger? Nice little tiny SUV Adventure.

    Did you meet Marcelo while you were there?

    • 0 avatar

      Behind the Ranger is a Renault Clio. In front of it is a Fiat Idea Adventure. In front of the Idea is a Fiat Grand Siena. The only other car I could identify was the silver hatch on the other side of the street in the 7th pic is a VW Gol (G5).

      No, we didn’t meet up, unfortunately. Sajeev graciously invited me to come and see him, but I had a previous commitment I couldn’t get out of.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s too bad you all couldn’t hang out.

        I like the Idea Adventure. I bet that would sell well here. It’s very charming looking. Do most/all of them have 4WD/AWD?

        • 0 avatar

          The Idea Adventure, just like any other model within Fiat’s Adventure family, is a FWD-only deal. They do get a simulation of a blocking differential by the way of some ABS gimmickry in the front axle, which works better than it sounds.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I wish Marcelo and I could have linked up, but he sounded pretty busy. Then again, I was busy being a tourist so it’s all good.

  • avatar

    I love seeing cars in the flesh I have only previously seen on the web, TV or in video games while on vacation. Even my wife, who has become a fan of Top Gear, was pointing out various models when we went to the Baltic region last year. How many Citroens do you see in the US… pretty much zero so its kind of exciting to see one parked on the street.

    When I was in Brazil (on business) the number of trucklets (car based utes) and motorcycles was shocking. Almost all the cars were smaller and older. For example one of the people I was working with was a department head / manager type, his “fancy” car: a 5 year old VW Golf. In the states a similar position would be driving a brand new BMW 5 series or Lexus SUV series for sure.

  • avatar

    SCHMUCK! You are at a beach right next to Ipanema and you took pictures of a stupid truck.

  • avatar

    I’ve made many trips to Brazil in the last two years, and rented Renaults, Peugoets, VW’s, etc, but the one vehicle I’d really like to bring back is a Ford Ranger. Crew cab, 6 speed, Turbodiesel, Platinum edition.

  • avatar

    Very nice, Sajeev. What *is* with the extra plastic around the door handles? Is it merely for decoration, or is it an antitheft device, like those things they used to put on Mercedes-Benz’ in the late eighties?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s just ugly “decorations”. As Sajeev mentioned, as the truck got older, they did re-designs of cheep things trying to always go for a more macho look. By the last generation, before the new Ranger came out, it was, to me, a pretty gross caricature of its former self.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Oh boy a Ranger. A very large pickup for Rio standards.
    I bet the owner left it outside Leblon Shopping as it would not fit through the parkade entrance. And if it did, it would probably melt the plastics in the heat inside that garage.

    Now do us a favor: grab your ice cream at Sorvete Italia and go take some pictures on the peach PLEASE.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Oh boy a Ranger. A very large pickup for Rio standards.
    I bet the owner left it outside Leblon Shopping as it would not fit through the parkade entrance. And if it did, it would probably melt the plastics in the heat inside that garage.

    See if you can find a GURGEL around.

  • avatar

    Global Ranger, eh.

    BAFO will come galloping out of the dusty parts of Northern Territory to tell us his diesel version, at a mere $53K is the best truck value in the world, and Robert Ryan will inform us it was of course designed in Austrilia.

    I like Sajeev’s comment on overwrought styling. It just needs some sexy eyelashes.

  • avatar

    Fun piece, Sajeev.

    I admit I, too, lusted lustily after the single-piece Brazilian Ranger headlights. Hella expensive trying to get them into the states, though, and if your state is an inspection state, good luck passing inspection.

    Now that my Ranger has been sold, this is no longer a source of great consternation in my mind.

  • avatar

    Very nice truck and a good write up .

    I too always look for odd ball vehicles when on vacation , I found Moto Junk Yards in Jamaica , Vintage Cars when I lived in Guatemala etc.


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