Ford Tech Owned: Time Capsule ’87 Ford Ranger

One of my favorite phenomenons of the car hobby are those completely ordinary vehicles that end up with an owner that preserves it as if it’s the only one of its kind. This 1987 Ford Ranger is, by every definition, an ordinary vehicle – but the fact that it resided in the care of a Ford technician since new has made it one of the nicest left in existence. Find it here on eBay where bidding is already quite active but the reserve remains unmet. 

The seller says this Ranger – again, a low-spec, 2WD Ranger with a stick – is in flawless condition. It has been parked in a climate-controlled garage since new and received every service needed with OEM Ford parts. The mileage is impressively low, sitting at just 40,400 miles. This is the same truck that your local parts store would send the delivery boys out in to drive into curbs and back into garbage cans. It’s amazing that the paint looks as nice as it does, with the classic two-tone design presenting as new.

The truck has been modified ever-so-slightly, with front drop spindles and rear blocks, and a set of American Racing “Gambler” wheels were installed when new. I can live with these tweaks from stock, as it gives the Ranger a nice dose of aggression not present from the factory in 2WD form.  The interior is minty fresh, and thankfully it’s a manual transmission example. The wood grain insert around the instrument binnacle is handsome, and a nice touch in an otherwise “cheap” truck.

The seller notes the 2.3L four-cylinder “had the best” when it came to periodic maintenance and services. There’s little reason to doubt that, given the condition that’s on display here. Although you might pay more for this Ranger than the pricing guides say it’s worth, who cares? This is a tight-looking truck that will be welcomed at any car gathering of your choosing simply because so few are left and virtually none are in this condition. Or, bring it to a Good Guys meet and watch the crowd form around you. Wish I could bid on it.


  1. Fred w.

    They were everywhere in the 90’s, but 99.9% were used and abused and Cash for Clunkers took the rest. If this is the one you want, get ready to pay up.

  2. The_Driver

    Needs a 302, BAD!

  3. Vegaman_Dan

    My NAPA store had an 87 for a delivery vehicle. It was sorely abused and nobody wanted to drive it when full size trucks or the Astro vans were available. So thrashed yet it still ran.

    One day I got a call from another NAPA store 200 miles away asking why our truck was there, parked with theirs. What? Our truck? Our Ranger hadn’t been used in a few weeks and us still parked… huh, it is missing. Did not notice that. Assumed it had been borrowed by a sister store.

    Found out it had been stolen a week earlier, broke down and the thief *paid* to get an alternator installed, driven the rest of the way and abandoned.

    We declined sending anyone cross state to get it, told the other store to sell, scrap, or whatever.

    Still…thrashed as it had been, it still kept going.

  4. z1rider

    I became acquainted with a fellow who was a retired “company man” and was bored to death. He bought an 86 Ranger, 2.8 v-6, auto and started a courier service. The truck ran everywhere around Dallas Tx. When I met him and heard his story the truck had 466,000 miles on it, give or take a few hundred, I don’t remember the exact mileage. The engine was original, the trans had been rebuilt with around 250K on it. He said all he did was follow the maintenance schedule to the letter. That’s the secret. Think of how many older cars/trucks get wasted by neglect.

    Like 1
    • CJ

      Bought a 1990 Ranger, 2.9 V6, 4 speed manual transmission, ran great, outside of regular maintenance, no problems; however the paint started to fade, took it to a Ford dealer, would not do anything about the paint. Gave it to my son, he drove it for several years and sold it. In 2004, purchased a Ranger Edge, have 78K+ Miles, 3.0 V6, 4 speed manual transmission. Had to change the fuel pump, plus regular maintenance! Ford made a huge mistake when they ceased production of the Ranger in 2012.

  5. JW

    Rangers and S-10s were great little trucks for delivery businesses and homeowners who didn’t need a full size truck to haul what mom bought at garage sales. The new Ranger Ford is coming out with is more of a mid sized truck like our 2002 Tundra we had. Nice find but you are going to pay for that.

  6. Clint

    I have 5 Ranger’s in various states of completion. The primary truck (1989) was my daughter’s first vehicle. I bought it in 2001 with 136,000 miles on it. It was leaking fluid from several parts of the engine and the trans shifted hard. I pulled the engine & trans and tore the engine down. I checked the wear in the cylinders & was happy (did a compression check for the rings), pulled #1 rod bearing and #2 main. That little 2.3 didn’t need anything more than gaskets & a clutch. That truck now has 322,000 miles and has had another clutch. This truck was used to teach my daughter, son, daughter in-law & son in-law how to drive a manual (as well as provided their primary transportation). I drove the truck as a daily driver for 4 years. It now has gone back to my daughter. The engine is showing signs of needing a rebuild and I replaced the rear end last year.

    All of my Ranger’s run, but 3 of the 5 were bought as parts trucks (young people can be hard on sheet metal). That 2.3L is darn near bullet proof. If the timing belt breaks; just pop a new one on and go on down the road (did this). This truck was a stripper that didn’t even have a radio.

    Funny side note: every year at state inspection, I always get the look when they drive it in the shop. They always jump out and say “It will fail because the power steering isn’t working”. They then pop the hood and figure out it doesn’t work because it doesn’t have power steering. They always make the comment “I didn’t realize you could get a vehicle in 1989 that didn’t have power steering!”

  7. Paulbz3

    Excellent truck. It could just be the two tone and chrome trim combined with the suspension drop, but it looks to me like the wheel wells have been “rolled”. Will be interesting to see what it sells for as it’s probably already over it’s “book” value…

  8. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

    I purchased a similar Ranger in early 1989, a new leftover ’88. Bare bones Custom model; no power steering, no a/c, AM radio, vinyl mats(no carpet), 2.3 four and 5-speed stick. Kept it for 25 years and 166,000 miles. Sold it to a kid that wrecked it in 25 days. Broke my heart.

    Great little truck; dependable, cheap on fuel, never any major problems with it, just replaced what wore out. Still on the original clutch when I sold it. I would love to have another one again.

    Like 1
  9. Ikey Heyman Member

    I had an ‘89 in the SuperCab configuration – a nice truck but definitely light-duty. Invariably it would get over-loaded at times, especially when lending it to friends who used it to haul firewood, cement blocks, or horse manure!

  10. angliagt angliagt Member

    Oh No! – The seller forgot to cover the license plates!

  11. CanuckCarGuy

    Had a 2001 XLT, regular cab…long box, with the 4.0 V6. Nothing fancy, but it sure cleaned up nice and had plenty of pep… wish I still had it.

  12. Maestro1

    It’s great but remember the 4 banger is SLOW. Very annoying in traffic. Buy it anyway. It’s damn nice.

  13. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    I bought a 1988 Ranger XLT 6 cylinder regular cab short bed (with the same beautiful blue interior as this one) in 1997 with 100,000 miles. It had 5 speed and I was working in Raleigh, with lots of traffic so didn’t drive it to work much due to the congested traffic. I had it almost a year when I took a job 60 miles away, interstate type highway 95% of the way. I thought GREAT, perfect vehicle to drive to work some and save some miles on my car. Not even two months in, after I put 7,000 more miles on it, the engine went. I got an estimate of $3,000 to replace the engine, I had paid $3,000 for it, so decided for the drive I would update my truck with a used 1994 GMC Sonoma with 49,000 miles, which I carried to 207,000 miles. I kept it until two years ago and replaced it with my current 2010 Nissan Frontier. I’m seriously thinking about replacing it with a new Ranger next year. They look nice!

  14. Wayne

    I am retired and to help supplement my racing habit I flip old Rangers. Out here in the west they don’t rust. And since the 4 cylinders don’t break. I only deal with 4 cylinder, 2 WD, manual transmissions. I have had many engines (2.3 and 2.5) apart and generally the only thing wrong is that the oil rings get packed with carbon and stick. (sporadic maint. will do it after about 250,000 miles) Most go to that 450,000 mile mark with no issues with regular maintenance. I upgrade upholstery and flooring as needed, clean and polish, replace brakes and shocks where/when needed, change all fluids and replace tires as needed. My trucks normally sell for about $2,000. And when I list them on Craig’s List they usually sell with in 2 hours. Nothing more reliable that a 4 cylinder, 2 wheel, stick shift Ranger. The year does not mater.

  15. John

    Mine is red. It has 200K on it. My only issue is that the bed is very shallow. I have a hard plastic cover on it, and from the bed to the cover is only about a foot and a half of space. I cannot put a bicycle on its side in it and hope to close the lid.

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