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No Reserve: 1978 Ford F150 Ranger XLT

This 1978 Ford F150 Ranger XLT leaves potential buyers with decisions to make. It is a tidy and rust-free survivor but could also serve as an excellent foundation for a straightforward restoration. It is mechanically healthy and ready to hit the road with a new owner behind the wheel. The F150 is listed here on eBay in Caldwell, Idaho. Bidding has reached $6,200 in a No Reserve auction.

Ford introduced its Sixth Generation F-Series for the 1973 model year. Although it rode on the same chassis as its predecessor, the company made significant structural and material changes to improve longevity. Previous models developed a reputation for rust issues, but using more galvanized steel and zinc-rich paints on its latest offerings markedly improved the situation. That is why I am unsurprised that this 1978 F150 is rust-free. The panels are clean, and the excellent array of underside shots reveals no problems beyond the occasional area of surface corrosion. The two-tone Dark Metallic Brown and Creme paint add a classy air, and its condition is acceptable for a survivor of this type and vintage. The panels have a few dings and dents, but addressing these would not be challenging as part of a cosmetic restoration. Someone has wisely installed a plastic bedliner for protection, while the rear step bumper is a practical feature. The trim is acceptable for a survivor-grade classic, and there are no glass issues.

Some readers will be disappointed to learn that this Ford’s engine bay doesn’t house a V8. The original owner ordered it with the 300ci six, which sends 113hp and 240 ft/lbs of torque to the road via a four-speed manual transmission and a dual-range transfer case. The original owner’s decision to include power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes means the driver shouldn’t raise a sweat maneuvering in tight situations. The six wasn’t the most potent tool in Ford’s F150 chest. Still, its low-end power and torque delivery made it ideal for off-roading, where it could crawl into inhospitable territory with the engine barely ticking over. The seller indicates this truck’s motor is strong, although they provide no information on how it runs or drives. They appear approachable, so asking questions or negotiating an in-person inspection could be worthwhile.

Potential buyers need to piece together their opinion of this Ford’s interior from a range of photos because there isn’t one that provides a broad overview. However, the impression is positive. Some painted surfaces show slight wear and chips, but nothing demands immediate attention. The dash is in good order, as are the acres of faux woodgrain trim. The seat sports a new cover, with the new carpet adding to the positive impression. A Sony radio/cassette player occupies the spot reserved for the factory radio, while the factory cruise control makes long-distance travel more relaxing.

Treating this 1978 Ford F150 to a cosmetic restoration would seem, on the face of it, the most obvious path for the new owner to tread. However, preservation might be a better approach for a fundamental reason. Potential buyers could pop out to their nearest Ford dealer and drive away in a shiny new F150 without too much effort. It would offer more equipment and refinement than our feature truck but would also leave no change from $60,000. The buyer then faces the double whammy of depreciation and the trauma and grief associated with the scratches and scrapes that are an inevitable part of off-roading. This F150 will cost someone a fraction of that figure, and its lack of perfection means the damage mentioned won’t cause the same level of heartache. That’s why I would probably leave this classic untouched. Do you agree?


  1. Albert Magnifico

    Had a red one back in the day when it wasn’t all that old. Not a bad truck.

    Like 6
  2. BigDaddyBonz

    Brother had one back in the day. Tough as nails. Also had the 300-6. Only reason he sold it was he relocated to Texas for a year and his truck had black interior and no AC. Imagine hopping into that on a summer day! He should’ve left it here for me to ‘take care of’ while he was gone. Or maybe that’s what he was afraid of.

    Like 7
  3. Wonderworm

    Those 300 inline 6 are one of the legendary engines for durability on longevity.

    Like 13
  4. Bob C.

    Hard to believe it was down to a measly 113 horsepower by this point. At least it was back up to 150 by the late 80s with the addition of EFI.

    Like 1
  5. RexFox Member

    This truck is set up perfectly for me, but I would have to closely inspect it and take if for a drive before bidding. It appears to have had some pretty nasty off-road experiences. I wish it were closer.

    Like 1
  6. Glenn

    I had a 1978 F150 I bought new for $7800.00 with a c6 auto and a 5.8 L engine 351. I had it for 11 years and had work done on it A Detroit locker in the 9″ rear and a true track in the front dana 44. It ran well with a Holley carb

    Like 1
  7. John M. Stecz

    You can’t beat that 300 six. Great truck at a fair price .would love to own it

    Like 5

    I have my doubts on the sellers claim of original patina. The extra pinstriping on the sides and hood is not factory. The bolts holding the door mirror on are just regular hardware bolts, not the style that was originally used. The one photo showing the door latch looks like the mounting screws are painted, they would not have been painted originally. The ashtray in the dash does not match the color of the rest of the dash.

    Like 1
  9. Miminite

    Love the 300 and 4 sp, my kind of truck set up. No mention of the axle ratio or if it’s LS, but I like it regardless.

    Like 1
    • Yblocker

      I’d fix it up right, too good a truck to leave full of dents. These were the best trucks back in the day.

      Like 1
  10. Jim raney

    That 300 six is a great motor and a work horse I had one in my 76 Ford truck wish I still had it

    Like 1

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