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$3,500 Hauler: 1965 Ford Ranchero with Protect-O-Top

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Here’s one for you Ford lovers, it’s a 1965 Ford Ranchero with Protect-O-Top and it’s on Craigslist in Lynnwood, Washington, about a half-hour north of Seattle. The seller is asking a mere $3,500 for this l’il hauler. That’s a heck of a price, in my opinion.

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This is a nice looking car. Or, truck. Or, car-truck. I prefer the 1960-1963 Falcon but this one wouldn’t be kicked out of a storage unit under my watch. This one has a rare “Protect-O-Top” bed cover, or topper as we used to call them. The seller refers to it as a “canopy”. Whatever it’s called it’s a nice piece to have and it just adds to the appeal of this Ranchero.

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The seller is listing this one for a friend’s dad and it looks like it’s in nice shape. They say that this Ranchero “is straight and solid, with good metal all the way around, nice glass”. They mention that “someone stole part of the side trim. The bed shows normal wear with no rust through.” I’ll never understand the concept of stealing someone else’s property but, unfortunately, those folks are out there.

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Yes, it’s an automatic but the interior looks good to me. They say that the “seat needs reupholstering (a separate seat comes with it that you can use while doing the upholstery job).” I’m assuming that the rifle rack also comes with this Ranchero. Tons of parts are made for these cars so you should be able to find any interior bits and pieces that you may need to finish it off.

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There’s the spot where the 289 V8 should be, but then the price wouldn’t be a measly $3,500. This one has an inline-six cylinder but they don’t say whether it’s the 170 or the 200 cubic inch version. The 170 has around 105 hp and the 200 has around 120 hp. Of course, the 289 V8 has 200 hp and it’s the one to have, if you can find one for $3,500, which you most likely won’t be able to do. The seller says that this one “recently had the carburetor, fuel pump and filter, and some fuel lines replaced. It runs fine now.” This looks like a nice, inexpensive way to jump into the collector vehicle hobby. Not only is it a cool car and one that’s in pretty nice shape, but you can use it for parts runs for your other projects and continue to tinker with it until you get it to where you want it. What do you think about Rancheros? This one seems like a reasonable deal to me, how about you? Would you change anything, or more specifically, would you put a 289 under the hood?


  1. Pete Member

    Run it like it is and slowly fix rust spots.

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  2. grant

    It must be a regional thing. Only in the south and southeast have I hear of a canopy being called a “topper.” Around here (PNW ) it’s a canopy or a cap. This is a nice find.

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    • Schwag

      We call them “toppers” in the MW, too ;). Also, my name is Grant so that’s pretty cool.

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      • grant

        Nice to meet another one. We’re a rare breed ;-)

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    • dj

      I live in the South. We’ve always called them Camper Shells.

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      • grant

        Lol, and around here, a “camper shell” is a drop in camper for the bed of your truck.

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    • rusty

      Over here in Australia it would be a ute with a canopy. And it would definately have a tow bar on it.

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  3. Frankie

    Looks like they put a transmission cooler on it, smart. I’d keep the six cylinder, plenty of power and easy on the gas. Nice cruiser, great for running to the store.

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  4. Tracy

    Towing a mini camper and you have all you need for some easy get out of town. The only question is with the small cab, do I take the girlfriend or the dog?

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    • grant

      Girlfriend in the cab, dog in the back. Or the other way around…

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    • Wayne Wallace

      The girl friend would likely fit in the back.

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  5. Vince.both Habel

    I have a small dog so I could take both.

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  6. JW

    Have a car buddy that has one of these with a transplanted 302 out of a mustang with a 4 speed, wicked little machine.

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  7. tugdoc

    I had a ’63 Ranchero originally it had a 2spd auto Ford O Matic. I’m not sure when changeover to 3spd Cruise O Matic happened, but I believe only Mustang had floor shifters in ’65. A place to look for rust on these is under the panel where the foot wells would be in a wagon. It’s held down with screws and can leak water and dust. Great little cars Ford advertised 32 MPG with 144 6. GLWS

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  8. Howard A Member

    Topper, camper shell, whatever you want to call them, this one is pretty rare. The curved rear portion meant it had to be for a Ranchero only, and not many companies did that. Fact is, I kind of keep notice of older Ranchero’s, as I’d like to have one someday, and I’ve never seen an older Ranchero with one of these. This looks like an incredible deal here.

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  9. Pontiactivist

    In North Western pa, I’ve always called them a cap. There is one of these sitting around the corner from my buddies place in conneaut Ohio. Rumor has it that it is a 289 4 speed truck originally. was told it used to be street raced years ago and had a hi-po transplanted into it. Guy won’t even talk to anyone about it. Just sitting there wasting away my such a shame.

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  10. Terry

    This is the first a/t equipped Ranchero I’ve seen with a floor shifter. I don’t see a shifter bowl or a prndl indicator on the column and the floor shifter does look like a Ford part. Perhaps an option box that was rarely checked on these?

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  11. mike tony

    Inherited one just like this in 1970. Had same camper shell. Dated a cute girl, and we had a good time in the back for a few years. It was carpeted, speakers, ice box, etc. Eventually married that girl. Just celebrated 40 years. We still have a good time, except now it’s in more comfortable places. (traded it in back in the early 70’s for a Porsche). Got $300.00 for it.

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  12. Lunchbox Bike

    I like the I6 engine, but maybe I would take the cap off and put a tonneau cover on. One advantage of a pickup is headroom over the bed.

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  13. chad

    cool to see the shifter, looks just like the ‘stang and the bronk. Wonder if it’s a C4 & “Yes” I’m another who likes the 200 (or ‘stroker’ 250/4.1) and ’60 – 63 for the simpler sides. Two companies musta made the bed cover. I’ve seen another model on most ‘cheros…

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