By on July 1, 2015

08 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Ah, the Malaise Era! Engines making one horsepower per three cubic inches. Broughams, Landaus, and molded-in fake stitching on petroleum-distillate Simu-Vinyl™ upholstery. And, of course, a pseudo-pickup based on the Ford Thunderbird platform. 1977-79 Rancheros still show up in California wrecking yards now and then, and that’s where I saw this green-on-green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’79 last fall.
02 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

It’s hard to imagine a greener interior. We’ve seen this phenomenon before.

06 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin351-cubic-inch V8 making 19 horsepower, or something like that. I don’t feel like looking up the exact number, because it will make me sad.
00 - 1979 Ford Ranchero Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Still, this face has a certain appeal. I know it’s wrong, but I could see driving one of these every day (I blame Mr. Mehta for this sickness).

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68 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Ranchero...”


  • avatar
    Garagezone

    The precarious placement of the old steelies holding ye olde Ranchero off the ground is frightening. Looks like three of them… the one under the driver side is leaning. Don’t crawl under it !!

    • 0 avatar
      frozenman

      When taking a closer look at those rims I like to think I see tack welds holding them together, otherwise all kinds of liable is happening here.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Yeah, they’re welded into junkyard jackstands. Still sketchy as hell, and probably not specified in the liability waiver you sign to go back in the lot.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        As long as they are placed in the right places, they work a lot better than the jackstands you are using at home (much wider base). Do the shake test before you climb underneath.

        If the lawyers win, then we will see these self-serve yards all close.

        • 0 avatar
          irieite

          Exactly. Good ‘ol common sense goes a long way. When your life is at stake, you should never take take another person’s word that it’s safe. Check it out yourself.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Round this time:
    “Each of us will have to use less oil and be prepared to pay more for it.”
    Wonder how that resonated with the owner when they heard that from the Whitehouse?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Ah! I’d forgotten about the LTD II ‘Cheros. Good find. These never seemed quite right to me but we can only be thankful that Ford didn’t carry it over into the Fox based mid-sized line. We would have had a Box “o ‘Chero.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    The front porch – er, front bumper – on this malaisey beast is a monster job. Ford always seemed to have the most massive bumpers of the Big Three.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      1979 was the worst year for the baroque bumpers, and by then FMC was the only company to still have them since they were the last to fully downsize.

      Like on the very rare 1979 Town Car Collector Series!
      https://themarkonline.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/1979-collectors-series.jpg

      Which, I believe, had rain sensing wipers and an early Homelink system, as well as auto-on headlamps.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        These may have been boats, but they were beautiful cars IMHO. Subsequent Town Cars never achieved this vehicle’s presence.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree. The very last extra large Ford sedan ever. The mid 80s through 89 Town Car was pretty similar though, and more manageable. Even with fuel injection (I think)!

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            My son had a 75 Ranchero. Very similar but with Gran Torino sheet metal. His was a GT with the 400 engine. It had the same seat as this one. I think Ford called it a Flight Bench seat. Parked side by side with my Father-in-Law’s 85 Town Car, the Ranchero was longer.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I’d like to take that front end and hang it off a wall. Wire it up for 110V to power the lights and bam! Neat wall art.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Is it just me, or is the hood as long as the bed?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Room for an auxiliary engine.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      The hood and bed were about the same length. The driver sat just about equal distance between the front and rear axles.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Yes, almost. Paul Niedermeyer noticed this on a curbside classic a few years ago. His comparison to a Center-cab diesel locomotive was classic (pun intended).
      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-outtake-1979-ford-ranchero-a-nice-truck-my-eye/

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      I remember discovering that the LTD II/Ranchero hood seemed to be a direct replacement (minus drilled holes for a center chrome strip) for the 1974-6 Ford (Torino) Elite. I had one for my first car.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Love that plywood passenger door panel.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      That’s not plywood, its the brown paper they used for vapor barriers at the time. The stains make and the wrinkles make it look like wood, but check out all that blue tape holding it on.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    -What was the price difference between this and the El Camino / Caballero? Surely this is much larger.

    -Always thought the El Camino was better looking, had nicer styling, and was much better proportioned. Every time I have seen a Ranchero, it just looks very off-balance, and like the passenger area is too central. But I guess that’s probably because it’s a Thunderbird underneath.

    Fun story:
    This weekend, I parked up at Lowe’s. Before I got out, couple spaces away, an old man parks in a brown something or other, so I look up from my texting. It’s a very old, very beat up Conquista! Realizing I didn’t know this trim level existed, I wonder if it’s an El Camino or a Caballero, but figure it must be an El Camino. The man leaves and goes inside.

    Another truck parks, and four younger Mexican men get out, and they immediately of course notice the back of a car written in their language, and they puzzle over this Conquista for probably 20 seconds before moving on to the store.

    I take picture of men puzzling over Conquista for documentary of life purposes.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Today’s Rare Ebay Find: My favorite Thunderbird thing, which would be.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Thunderbird-Landau-/261917343174?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3cfb7d7dc6&item=261917343174

    A Thunderbird Landau Sedan (largely forgot by everyone), this brown/red 71 has got the pointy nose, where I prefer the flat nose and recessed lights of the 68-69 models. A very luxurious and formal elegant conveyance for those who need a little -more- from their Thunderbird.

    Suicide doors!
    Full-width tail lamps!
    Brougham!

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    That image of the all the vacuum hoses in the engine compartment made me think of the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Indy falls into the pit of vipers.

    “Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes.”

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Nothing to see there. A mid-1980s Honda (pick one, any one) has 10 times the number of hoses. I have worked on both and will take the 1970s Ford every time (can do it from memory – not at all possible with the Hondas).

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    All that’s really missing is a big set of texas-longhorn antlers over that grille.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    Also, if that’s a CD lying on the ground beneath the grille in the first picture, poetic justice points if it’s KC and the Sunshine Band…..

    “That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it!”

  • avatar
    agent534

    I love me these Rancheros! The nice straight fender line style shared with the Cougar and T-Bird. Not so much in granada green tho.

    Up in Mass, not far from me, there is a guy with at least 4 Rancheros, from 73-up, the ones where they went to full frame like this one has.
    He converts them to 4×4 by putting in a ford truck front axle, and tranny/transfer case. They look nicely done, like it could have been factory. I have pics somewhere…

  • avatar
    skor

    Two factors in the huge number difference in HP ratings between 60s engines and 70s engines. First, the 60s ratings were gross HP, some of those numbers were, um, ‘optimistic’. For example, the Ford 289 HiPo engine was rated at 271HP, in the real world it probably delivered around 235HP. Secondly, the 70s engines were lower compression, were equipped with smog pumps, had the timing retarded, etc. That’s why you saw the HP numbers drop so much. BTW, I think that 351 was rated at 143HP.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    The El Camino was always better looking but I would still drive a Ranchero with a smile on my face.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have decided the Ranchero was very acceptable in brougham and wood paneling guise.

    http://bangshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/avacado-ford.jpg

    I’d drive THAT all day.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      That’s a nice one. My favorite Rancheros were built on the Falcon chassis. I think the first gen Falcon Ranchero was the prettiest.

      http://www.cars-on-line.com/photo/68800/63ford68830-3.jpg

      The first gen Falcon Ranchero were light as a feather. With a modern 4 cylinder, and 6 speed auto, I’ll bet you could get nearly 40 mpg.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    This vintage of LTD always reminds me of my childhood wonderment, watching Reese use his future soldier skills to hotwire the ignition switch and to get away from that mean terminator thing (even though he stole a car, not a Ranchero).

    Similarly, my impressionable mind “got” the utility, hybrid flexibility, and coolness of the pickup-car concept, while subconsciously understanding that it would always be a niche market vehicle.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    this is godlike. THIS is the American Way.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I got about 240 HP out of my 351, bone-stock, with a 650CFM 4bbl.

    Of course, it was in my boat, so I guess that didn’t really matter anyhow.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Back when I was a wee lad my father owned a ’75 Chrysler Newport with a very similar green on green on green on green on green color scheme. The green vinyl interior was HORRID, even by my little kid standards, and in that God awful vinyl that would sear the skin right off your hide when you slid in on a hot summer day.

  • avatar

    I always thought this generation of Rancheros looked funny. The front end looks like an LTD or Continental, but the rest of it is a 2-door truck.


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