40-Mile Range’r: 1987 Ford Ranger EV

Battery-powered vehicles don’t appeal to everyone, much like a lot of other vehicles don’t appeal to everyone. But, in their circles, they’re as popular as a Hemi ‘Cuda rolling across the block in Scottsdale surrounded by gray mustaches and gallons of adult beverages. This is a 1987 Ford Ranger EV and it’s here on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,500, or you can make an offer, even though there is no “make offer” button; everything is negotiable! It’s in Gardena, California.

This is my personal favorite era Ranger, back when companies still offered small trucks that were really small, not creeping up in size with every redesign as the majority of vehicles do these days. “These days”, boy, I really sound old there. This looks like a former utility truck or something, being all-white. How coincidental it would be if it was a former truck from the Southern California Edison Co.

There are no photos of the general interior showing the seat condition or really much of anything but the driver’s side dash layout. You can see a couple of unusual things going on there, and then there are these gauges; even more unusual for a Ranger. There is an onboard 120 V AC battery charger. A company called KTA Services did the conversion but there’s no word on its vintage.

You can see a good portion of the twenty 6-volt batteries that you’ll need to replace, on top of the asking price. So, plan on $2,000+ extra for batteries, plus any other work that you’ll want to do on this one.

Here’s where the gas-powered engine was, and there are more batteries here. The motor in this one is a “30HP (peak) DC shunt motor from Advanced (model FB1-4001).” The range is 40-50 miles if you “keep your foot out of it”, so it’s made for in-town commuting, of course, not a cross-country trip. 120 years ago there wasn’t a gas station every 40-50 miles so maybe someday there will be the technology available to make a vehicle like this one a road trip truck.

Fast Finds


  1. mark

    So we have a truck that is worth maybe 2000 bucks……………….if it ran,did not need 2000 bucks worth of batteries and would travel farther than 40 miles?

    • Woodie Man

      Correct. Whats not to like?

  2. Keith

    Scrap the batteries. Sell the motor and other goodies. Use the proceeds to purchase a “traditional” drivetrain of your choosing. Enjoy how easy it is to wrench on a rust-free truck.

    A few weekends later… boom! Clean, low-mile truck ready for the road. (Unless you live in CA or some other smog state… in that case, good luck to ya!)

  3. Larry K

    Could recondition the batteries myself,(saw a guy do it on u-tube). Then I’d have a sweet ride for junior although he says he wants a Tesla.

    • angliagt

      Well,if he wants a Tesla,tell him to start saving
      his (own) money.
      I got my first Cortina that way,for free.Owner said
      they’d offered it to their Granddaughters,but they wanted
      a new CRX,or Trans Am.This was a few years ago.

  4. DrinkinGasoline

    I do like the Box Body Rangers but….It’s been a long time since I hugged a tree (and I was told that I did the next day with absolutely no recollection) so I’m gonna have to take a pass on this one.

  5. bob S

    Whatever you do, don’t crash.Crushed, then dissolved in acid. Yuk.

    Like 1

    Somewhat related:
    When someone figures out a way to do a full size EV pick up with at least 300 miles of range and all the creature comforts…I’m in.

  7. hearsetrax

    always loved this style ranger myself as well

    this looks like a case of buy it 4 the corpse and start from scratch stories

    as for Teslas …overpriced/hyped r/c toys

  8. racer99

    Actually think this is a well done conversion but will only be useful for a small percentage of the population and will probably appeal to no-one (except me) reading this forum. You couldn’t buy the components for $1500. This would have a lot more interest if gas was $4+/gallon again.

    • Brian

      Right, all the EV stuff is worth good money here. And the price is certainly low enough. Maybe price out enough Li ion cells to make it go 100 miles and consider if it’s worth it.

  9. Howard A Member

    I hear scrap lead is actually up. I always get such a chuckle out of “electric vehicles”. We have a long way to go. Pretty much hasn’t changed in 100 years. Electric cars did show some promise in the early 1900’s. But until you get rid of the “20 batteries”,,,smh, you’ll NEVER compete with a gas job,,until it’s gone of course, like racer sez. We get real ecological minded when gas goes up, but for now, bring on the gas guzzlers. 4 door, 4×4, pickups are all the rage now, by me. Let’s see how far 20 ( or 50) batteries will move that! I liked the Ranger, that part is nice, but I agree, ditch the electrics,,,,for now.

    • hearsetrax

      split the hair here and thar

      I still say this has potential provided one has the sources and patients to chase a 101 electrical gremlins

      this could be an interesting project for some one with time/patients
      and a fun stalker/C&C toy

      and last I remember “EV West” had a more modern kit for 3rd gen rangers ….. but they no longer have it listed on thar site = ^ (

      was a neat peg legger

  10. Suttree

    What kind of heating system is used in this type of vehicle?
    If it’s cheap enough & hot enough it might be useful in restoring heat in vehicles with a bad heater core.
    Seriously, for years it seems the manufacturers take a heater corea nd build a car around it.
    My ’66 Ford Galaxy was 10 minute job.
    My cherry ’93 Escort is not so simple.

    • DAN

      I swapped out a heater core in a bronco 2
      was about a 10 minute job, try that in a 72 caddy!

  11. Karo

    Not a great buy for a conversation piece. Gen I Rangers are common and quite cheap. I found my ’86 2WD on eBay for $670 back in 2009. Also an ex-fleet truck (Albany, Oregon), but the 2.9 V-6, A/C, and PS are perks the EV doesn’t have. Great for weekend projects and it’s been nearly trouble-free. The Gen I trucks have a simple, honest quality that I find refreshing.

  12. Brian

    Depending on the specific deep cycle battery, you can generally recondition them so they literally last forever… if you’re willing to put in the work with a lead acid battery.

    I think these trucks were converted when they were new.

    And I think a shunt motor should be able to do regenerative braking. Not that you’ll get a lot of extra range from it still but it’s a neat motor.

  13. Frank McLaughlin

    There is one of these out there somewhere that someone put a ford flathead in .That would be perfect for this nice truck.

  14. Guggie 13

    my work vehicle was a newer version of this ( not sure of the year 90s) had the battery pac under the bed and the drive motor was on the rear axle ,it had special tires and a bed cover , the heater was electric , and it had AC, the power steering was also electric but crank windows ,it was used on a corrections facility , very limited range and very outside temp limited to run time (Colder ment shorter ) Had it for about 2 years and Ford recalled them and they went to the crusher . came with a special charger ,Ford rep told me top speed was 80 mph in both forward and reverse , Basically a big expensive golf cart . On a good day range was about 30 miles !

  15. Brian

    For a long time, that Siemens motor in your Ranger EV was about the best motor you could buy for an EV project. The lead acid batteries in those days made an EV a real slug though. Nickel metal hydride worked way better, maybe 100 miles range, but GM held the patent on those and wouldn’t let anybody use them.

  16. Guggie 13

    Panasonic batteries were in the EV Ford ranger I was assigned , I was told by a Ford rep that Panasonic would not release the soft ware to Ford to obtain the 100 mile range because Panasonic had an aggrement with Toyota , who was using the same batteries in one of there own EV van s which had a 100+ mile range

    • Brian

      Interesting. Next, Cobasys (owned by GSM at the time) sued Toyota for using large format Nimh batteries in their cars. GM/Cobasys won and that was the end of the EV in the 90s. We had to wait for Li ion before we could see EVs on the road.

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