Make A Statement In This 1973 Ford Ranchero

Don’t you hate to be first with an idea and then get overshadowed by a Johnny-come-lately? That’s exactly what happened to Ford Motor Company with their very unique Ranchero, a half car/half pickup truck introduced in the U.S. for the 1957 model year. Chevrolet’s Ranchero version, the El Camino, came along two years later and ultimately, after a false start, built its brand and surpassed the Ranchero in sales volume, longevity and now, collectability. What we have here today on Barn Finds is an example from the seldom-seen sixth generation, a 1973 Ranchero, located in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania and for sale here on eBay for a BIN of $11,995 or make an offer. Thanks to Russell Glantz for the tip.

The research will tell us that Ford was truly the original creator of the utility coupe or “Ute” dating to their initial introduction in Australia in 1934. Ford saw reason to carry that design over to the U.S. in, as I previously mentioned, 1957; Chevrolet countered in 1959 and the competition started. Ford changed direction in 1960 by moving the Ranchero to the compact Falcon platform, designed a hybrid in 1966 with a half Falcon/half Fairlane combo and then went to the Fairlane/Torino/LTD II platform from 1967 through the concluding year of 1979. Total production? 508,729 over a 23-year span or an average of 22,119 per year. For 1973, there were 45,741 Rancheros assembled, a pretty robust production volume doubling the yearly average. Yet, based on observation, I rarely see this generation on the road, at car shows or for sale.

Let’s take a closer look, under the hood is Ford’s famed Cleveland version of the 351 CI V8. I honestly find the Ford 351 series of engines puzzling as in why were there three different architectures, a 351 Windsor, a 351 Cleveland and a 351 M? Anyway, there were two versions of the Cleveland available in 1973, a two-barrel carburetor equipped version and a four barrel too. The seller doesn’t state which one this started out as. I say that because clearly it has been modified with an Edelbrock intake manifold and a four-barrel carburetor of some make. An automatic transmission gets the “go” to the rear wheels.

Well we can’t duck the obvious and that’s the visual appearance – I guess if you’re from 1973, you should look like 1973 and that’s what we have with the geometric paint job that was all the rage in the ‘70’s. It honestly looks well applied and makes quite the visual statement if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Inside, we find a neat, clean and tidy environment but I got to tell you, I don’t know what’s up with the bench seat cover – it looks like the seller snagged the curtains from my grandma’s house and tailored up the upholstery. The vintage images that I can find for a 1973 Ranchero don’t show any interior shots remotely looking like what’s presented here so maybe one of our readers can comment on that. Curiously, the carpet doesn’t match the drapes, ah, I mean the seat covers.

The seller states that this Ranchero is a southwestern car and the underside bears that out. It looks completely intact and rot free with just a hint of surface rust (hopefully not the invasive kind). The body panels all echo this ute’s origin.

Continuing in that vein, check out the bed – usually a source of rust and dents but not in this case – it’s amazingly straight and clean for being 46 years young.

I’m an El Camino fan – there I said it, but I’m warming up to Rancheros too – there is no denying the condition of this example and the price seems reasonable for what it is – it’s just being comfortable with the visuals. What do you think, worth the asking price and would you keep it as is or give the exterior a redo?

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Comments

  1. Arthell64 Member

    I think it would better without the bed cover but I like it.

    Like 5
  2. John M.

    With it’s graphics and slotted mags, this Ranchero must have drove through a time portal from the 1970s.

    Like 13
  3. Fred W

    Interior isn’t original, but the fabric is representative of the time.

    Like 5
  4. Duane

    For whatever reason, Fords don’t command the resale prices that comparable Chevy’s do. I’ve owned two Caminos, and two Rancheros (one Ranchero three times) city or highway, the Ford is superior in ride, gas mileage, and comfort. If you have a 72′ to 75′ Ranchero w/the 351 Cleveland–drive it, enjoy it, and keep it so you won’t have to buy it back. Nothing against Caminos, just like Rancheros better.

    Like 13
  5. Roarrr Rogers

    A very nice grocery getter, The 351C is the choice of them all, lots of suds! Lots of car/pickup for the price! They could have been bought with pretty well whatever ford offered from the little six to the 429 SCJ and 5 speed C/R etc making them into a cobra P/u~~

    Like 3
  6. Troy s

    351 Cleveland with two barrel heads makes for a strong running street engine with these mods. Old guy had one at a local car show a few years back,,,yellow with orange flames up front. Just another big Ranchero I thought, like many others I’d seen until I Iooked under the hood… momentary shock as my eyes glazed directly into a Boss 429 all polished up and ready to rumble. Mean built street machine.
    Leave this one pretty much as is, no shells over the bed either.

    Like 3
  7. CanuckCarGuy

    Always preferred the Ranchero, especially the late ’60s body…excellent paint scheme on this one, and the slotted rims seal the deal. Can’t recall the last time I saw one live and up close, very sharp.

    Like 8
  8. christopher george lawrence

    southwestern car with no AC. Pass.

    Like 1
    • w9bag

      Look more closely. It has factory A/C.

      Like 4
  9. Stangalang

    If I remember correctly (and I may not ) the Windsor..Cleveland and Modified engines were all assembled in different Ford plants. The Modified having DO0E heads with larger valves and smaller combustion chambers. I had a 351 M that I dropped in a maverick.

    Like 2
  10. Timmyt

    You can gain 50-60 horsepower on this by removing the Briggs & Stratton air cleaner and let some air in the engine

    Like 4
  11. AndyinMA

    I would buy it just for the paint job

    Like 8
  12. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Nice car though not a fan of the ’70s-era paint job. I’d lose the bed cover, too and would have to re-cover the seat in a more appropriate material. Probably priced a little high if you can’t live with it as-is. Needs A/C added for comfortable hot weather driving as well. Other than all of that, it does have rust-free going for it. I’m thinking somewhere around $9k, give or take.

    • TonyF

      Hey guys it does have ac, does nobody see that big compressor on top of the motor or the hoses, drier etc

      Like 9
  13. Tort Member

    I would have to paint it before I drove it. Otherwise nice.

  14. w9bag

    With the stripes, this looks the car is going fast while standing still. But that bench seat just looks terrible. Please, can the knowledgeable folks out there concerning the 351 engine, please shed some light on the difference on the Cleveland, Windsor, or “M” variances ?

    Like 1
  15. WR Hall

    I had a 73 Ranchero I got from a customer as a junker. We rebuilt the motor a 351 C. Not a great job but it ran OK. I had it for about a year when I dumped it. This was the fastest thing I ever had. Not good for hauling much outside of little junk. Not real comfortable either.

  16. Bob

    The 351 Windsor was a small block with a tall deck and small block heads. The 351M and Cleveland were very close in outer appearance.

    Like 2
  17. Troy s

    The confusion over 351 cubic inch Ford’s always come up along with the 400…or was it a 400 M..all the time. Interesting to me that Ford didn’t think of making the 351 Cleveland somewhat larger in displacement, like 366 cubes or even more. Those heads breathed better than the ones on the 429, at least the four barrel/boss heads did. The Boss 302 came before any mention of a 351 “Cleveland” ever existed. It’s lots to learn here, even after these engines have been out of production for a long long while.

    Like 3
  18. Jeff T.

    ford clevelands are all most the same as 351-400m most parts interchange most rancheros from 74 to 79 had the M motors in them ,the australians carried on with the clevelands into the 80s even made a 302 cleveland with hi compressions heads straightout of the factory ,highly sort after as replacement for smog low compression heads on the M motors if u can find them in the US though still reasonably plentiful in Australia and NZ ,i am presently buildina a 400 M with this combo in a 75 ranchero , keen to see how it shapes up next to the venerable old FE 390 which apparently the 400m was meant to replace in the early 70s.

    Like 1
  19. bhowe Member

    I actually think that upholstery is stock. My folks had a 72 Galaxie with nearly identical upholstery, albeit in a different color. Love the 70’s paint and the slotted mags. Perfect just as it is, although it could use a good engine detailing.

    Like 1

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