Black Gold: 1984 Ford Ranger Diesel

This is a cool little truck! As if a black Ranger wasn’t unusual enough, this 1984 Ford Ranger is a diesel! That’s right, a factory diesel. It’s on Craigslist with an asking price of $4,700. I love this photo, it makes it look like this Ranger is pulling that huge boat. Now that would be something to see. This black beauty is in Bristol, Rhode Island.

This truck is in amazing condition. The odometer shows 42,635 miles and judging from the almost perfect condition of this Ranger, this is one case where it seems like it could actually be on its first trip around the ol’ meter. I’m amazed at the outstanding condition of the body on this truck, this would look like a $300 rusted heap if it would have lived in the upper Midwest for the last 32 years. It’s as close to being like new as any Ranger that I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, the interior is almost as black as the exterior is. A good, deep, thorough cleaning is in order here. Being over 30 years old, this truck is close to being considered a “classic”, at least to me it is. Not in the classic sense of the term classic, of course, but 32 years is longer than a lot of Barn Finds readers have been alive, and if they’re classic, this Ranger is classic! You can see the 4-speed on the floor, this truck has everything! Or, almost everything, if it was a 4×4 it would really be something, but this is a rear-wheel-drive Ranger.

Here’s what all the hoopla is about: a 2.2L Perkins diesel with a whopping 59 hp and 90 lb-ft of torque, similar to what Mazda used as well as a number of other companies that licensed them from Perkins. This Perkins diesel option was available in the Ford Ranger for the 1983 & 1984 model years. For 1985 and 1986, Ford offered a 2.3L Mitsubishi turbo-diesel which had a considerable boost in power with 86 hp and 134 lb-ft of torque. It was still far below the 2.8L V6 option that had 115 hp. In 1986 Ford offered a 140 hp V6. Thoughts on this beautiful black Ford Ranger diesel? I know there are some diesel gurus out there.


  1. Brakeservo

    It May be genuinely low mileage and wonderfully preserved, but it’s still a real loser on so many counts!

    • Ray Bines

      4.135 Perkins (S2) built under licensing agreement by Mazda. Bulletproof little diesel, easily good for 500K miles, typically much more with a strict maintenance schedule. The diesel is the ONLY reason this is a 4.5K truck, were it simply a gas Ranger it would only be 1.5K tops.

      They’re good for 35-38mpg with a top speed of 70-75mph. Cool little trucks for what they are and they do have a cult following online and bring good money when they occasionally pop up on ebay. This one is in better shape than most, hence the asking price, most are totally rusted out with the Perkins diesel long outlasting the truck.

      Like 1
  2. Ed P

    Interesting as a collectible but it would not be much fun to drive.

  3. Rob

    I remember my Grandfather having one out on the ranch, it was a 4×4 with the 2.3 liter diesel. I know he didn’t keep it long, don’t remember why.

    • boxdin

      I’ll bet his right leg got tired of pushing against the floor for long periods of time, trying to go somewhere, sometime…..
      I had a 81 Dodge B150 slant six w 4sp OD manual. My right leg couldn’t stand it.

      • Rob

        No that was on the F250 with the first gen 7.3 International. They had to re-route the hydraulic clutch line because it ran too close to the headers and caused too many problems.

  4. gene

    Nice truck ,but very noisy and slow.
    For the same money one can get a much newer,quieter and faster Ranger.
    So unless you have a strange desire to have one, whats the point?

    Like 1
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    I worked on lots of Rangers and Bronco II’s with diesel power. I was sure that the smaller motor was essentially a Mazda with the Mitsubishi being the turbo version. They both used a VE type injection pump which was similar to the one used by Volkswagen and Cummins. Some problems with the glow plug systems but most of them could be traced back to improper grounds.

    I remember one particular Bronco II with the turbo’d engine. It came off the carrier to the Ford dealer and it stalled and wouldn’t start. No fuel coming from the injection pump so they pulled it and sent it over to our place. We tested the pump and found it to be fine. The dealer sent the injectors over. Tested them and they were just fine. They installed everything and the same thing happened. They pulled everything off and sent it back. We retested everything and sent them back. They installed the components and just as the tech was installing the leak-off lines to the injectors he noticed the sealing washers which hadn’t been changed until now. The original washers didn’t have any holes in them where the leak-off channels were; the ones we supplied (which they didn’t change the first time) had them; the injectors would hydraulic lock and the pump couldn’t pump any fuel. The tech used the new ones and the problem was solved. Interesting how simple a problem can be yet it’s the last place to look.

    Like 1
  6. Fred W.

    Not sure about everywhere else, but these trucks were everywhere in the 80’s and 90’s when I lived in the FL panhandle. Never was too fond of them. Now they are very seldom seen, except in wrecking yards.

    • Rocco Member

      Pensacola/Ft. Walton?

  7. Jay E.

    $4700.00? Seriously?

    Like 1
  8. Mike

    This one has none of the reasons you buy a diesel for. its a Mitsubishi diesel. not a Perkins, if they had used a Perkins these trucks would have been a bestseller.
    I owned one like it and this might have been the same truck I had as I sold it to a gentleman in this area. underpowered , no gas mileage to speak of (19 mpg) (why own it) parts were hard to get. I owned Mazda diesel truck 2 Isuzu diesel trucks and 2 Toyota diesel trucks. all economical durable long lasting drive trains. if someone gave me one of these I would clean it up shine it up and sell it and go looking for a Toyota, Mazda or Isuzu wish I never got rid of an 86 Toyota extended cab 4×4 with a 2.2 LT Toyota Turbo diesel in it. 30 plus MPG and plenty of torque. The mazda was a gear driven timing system, it had timing gears not a timing belt it was the most reliable engine of the 4 and got 37 mpg with A/C.

    They had an outfit that came through the Country in the 1990’s that searched the motor vehicle registry and contacted the owners of every on of these trucks and bought all that would sell and shipped them to Haiti and other Caribbean Nations as Agricultural vehicles because they could import to these nations without the 25 to 100% import duty on any other non agricultural vehicles.

    They stripped our Country of a very nice asset and some reliable economical vehicles.

    • Frank in SC

      You actually believe a 59 HP and 90 lb/ft of torque Perkins diesels would be a best seller? You must be thinking of another diesel truck.

      • Mike

        I thought it was less than 59 HP!
        I drove a bunch of them when they were new, & man, they were sluggish!
        I have a 1986 Ranger with the 2.3 TD, 4X4, & 5 speed I bought new.
        It is FAST, gets over 40 MPG, and really has the torque!

    • MK

      It’s a Mazda “S2” 2.2L Diesel. It was an almost exact replica of a Perkins 4-135 from my understanding. The shop manual for that Perkins seems to match the engine in my ’83 Ranger Diesel. Timing gears, non turbo, super solid IP. They made these from ’82-’84 in the Rangers and I think in the Mazda B2200s.

      The Mitsubishi Engine might have been the 2.3L turbo made in the later Ranger Diesels. I don’t know as much about those

    • Dalton Horton

      I have a 1984 Mazda b2200 2.2l perkins that I would like to turbo but don’t know of any exhaust manifolds that would work. Any ideas?

    • Jrod

      Actually, you might be mistaken. I had an 1983 when i was in high school. It was a lot of things. It was slow. It was noisy. It was not a chick magnet. It was a Perkins diesel. But i wish i had it still. Mine would rattle of 40+ mpg all day long. Best ever tank was 51.6 driving to North Carolina from Wisconsin. Sadly it broke a connecting rod at 287,957 miles hauling scrap to the local junkyard. Drove from WI to Kansas to get a different motor. Sadly it was not meant to be that motor gave up a mere 77,000 later and we scrapped the truck. The one that got away.

    • Mike Askren

      I bought a new 1986 Ranger with the 2.3 TD
      It was faster than any 86 V-6 I raced, & got 45 MPG.
      I still have it, & no one ever contacted me about selling it, which I wouldn’t have.
      I wish I could have afforded to buy 2 of them–I would love to buy a couple more just for parts if I need any down the road.
      Anybody know where there’s one at, I’d appreciate letting me know.

      Like 1
      • Oldschool

        I have one in lower alabama

        Like 1
  9. Fred W.

    “They had an outfit that came through the Country in the 1990’s that searched the motor vehicle registry and contacted the owners of every on of these trucks…”

    Well, that explains a lot. They were everywhere all seemed to disappear overnight.

  10. Jack

    I live about 10 minutes from this if anybody wants me to check it out for them.

    • gabe

      would u check it out? please let me no as soon as u can thank u

  11. Steven

    It’s actually a typo. There is no such thing as a 1975 Ford ranger. The first year the Ranger was produced was 1983.

    • boxdin

      Actually in 1975 “Ranger” was a trim pkg on full size trucks.

      Like 1
  12. Doug Towsley

    If anyone is in love with this Body style, we are selling Wifeys beloved little Ford. Same body style. late 80s or early 1990s ( i will get all the specs and pix in the AM) But she bought it in mid 1990s when sold her Wrangler Jeep. (Farm girl, She likes a stick shift 4×4)
    Ours has is 4×4 with 5 speed trans, Aftermarket nice alloy wheels, Spare set of studded Snow tires. Matching canopy (Fiberglass) and is a two tone Burgandy red over silver lower accents. When we got it, The prev owner had a roll bar in it at one time but removed. Most of the time we run a canopy on it but I DO have a nice roll bar and front bash guard that will fit. It has the GOOD V6 and has been very reliable. Trans was rebuilt a couple years back, but currently the clutch was starting to rattle so we parked it. Tried moving it the other day and the hydualics went on on the clutch. I need to order new slave and master for the clutch but I have a NEW clutch, pressure plate, and throw out bearing ready to install. So, its getting tired and needs attention but still looks sharp. Post if anyone wants pix. Too many vehicles.

  13. Martin Sparkes

    My brother had one as a teen. It was a 4×4 and I always thought it was a very cool truck. It got phenomenal mileage. Well into the thirties. And it was not loud at all. He put a camper on one day and tried to do a brakestand in front of some friends. There was a massive bang as the rear dif exploded and no camping trip that weekend. I thought the motors had reliability problems but that may have been the later version.

    • Doug Towsley

      They are built fairly light duty and will not tolerate such abuse well, Used with discretion and common sense they give really good service. MY wife and her family are die hard Ford people. Me??? I am a Chevy guy so, I concede ours was a good little truck and excellent service.
      As for the variations I have no experience with the Diesel version, I suspect its obvious why no one has heard of them. As to the 4 and 6 cy versions it pays to research which is which. The came with a lot of variables and ours has the GOOD V6 and only a few hiccups with the EFI and I know how to address those, But if taken care of has been very reliable. The trannies apparently they used a LOT of different ones. I have no direct experience on the auto trans but on the stick 4×4 there was 5 different transmissions used. Pays to pay attention. Some use gear lube, some use ATF even though its a stick shift. Some variables in the transfer case as well. Ours the 5th gear broke, We were in the process of moving and paid a relatives shop to repair, they farmed it out to another shop and they did a crappy job. Trans went out 6 months later AGAIN. FIL rebuilt the tranny for us as we were overwhelmed with other issues. HUGE favor. He siad it was a major PIA but he is totally OCD and a perfectionist. He replaced all the bad parts and had words with the shop who did the crappy job. Trannys been fine since.
      So, I hear the 4.2 V6 later ones are good as well, but they DID have some issues with some of the parts on these trucks so pays to research the trucks thoroughly. For a light duty mid size truck, they are pretty good. Many fond memories of camping trips over the years

  14. MK

    These things drive like tractors. They top out at 55 mph. 1st gear gets you to about 4mph. I swear my ’83 Ranger Diesel has so much torque. Definitely a farm truck, unless you have the Mazda B2200 version with the 5-Speed! Than you can go on the highway. These engines are up there with the 4 and 5 cyl Mercedes, 7.3l, and the Cummins in terms of reliability.

    This truck is expensive because they know….

  15. Mike

    Someday I’d like to get an 83 Ranger 2.2 diesel and make it extremely basic. Including short bed, no power steering or A/C and 2wd. Put the 15” steel silver stock rims on, though. So it doesn’t sit so low. Maybe the 5-speed TK transmission, too. I just want a very simple small pickup with some character. I’m thinking tan/black interior, with black paint on the bottom half and light tan from the body line, up. The little chrome stock mirrors for 83, maybe a chrome rear view mirror, too. I might take the chrome paint off the dash board and also build a real wood dash bezel. Use the stock AM/FM radio with the chrome knobs and maybe make the arm rest/door handles out of wood, too. Chrome door handles, chrome grille, aluminum rear sliding window and chrome around the windshield. Probably black stock bumpers and black stock hub caps. Think Model T like, using imagination and common sense to build an all around inexpensive, but versatile vehicle.

  16. Craig Rudolph

    I have a Mazda B2200 diesel pickup for sale. It is 2.2 perkins engine 5 spd trans. The drive train is complete but the cab and frame are shot—rust. Bed w. tailgate. doors, front clip w. grill, seat all usable. All glass good. Dash is complete. 4 original hubcaps. $750.00 cash. Will help load on your trailer.

  17. Dave Snyder

    I own this truck now. I committed to buying it as a parts truck to the 1983 Ranger Diesel that I had already and it turned out to be in too good of a condition to have it as a parts vehicle. I’m currently selling both of them as a lot of 2 and I’ve since shampooed the interior and installed new Black carpet. The AC is Ice and I’ve updated the front and rear glass. I get a lot of people coming up to me as a previous poster said because they are surprised it’s a diesel. It’s fun to hear their stories about why the truck brings back memories. For me it was the same year body style and interior of my first new truck. I’m in the industrial trades and we have diesel on site, so it doesn’t make sense to drive to gas station when I can fill it off of the service truck.

    • Ken

      Dave, did you sell the Mazda B2200 yet?

      • Dave

        This truck is now sold to a Veteran in Ohio 🇺🇸
        I have one more. It’s a 1983 diesel Ranger Perkins, 4 speed, drives as it should, custom Aluminum flatbed and rack. Wheel adapters to make it dual wheels, new paint, stereo Bluetooth dual tanks, respectable interior. Doesn’t burn, good rubber. Can drive away no problem but may have injection issues as it has Whitish smoke. EVERYBODY comments on the truck!

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