Only 36K Miles: 1986 Ford Ranger STX

Here’s one of those vehicle listings that I want to write quickly and get it posted because I’m afraid someone will buy it before I can finish. Here is a 1986 Ford Ranger STX for sale here on Classics on Autotrader in Libertyville, Illinois. Much thanks to Barn Finds reader Danny M. for spotting this truck and letting us know.

I guess you can’t say that everything keeps going up and up. For instance, in 1997, I bought a 1988 Ford Ranger XLT, 2 wheel drive, 6-cylinder, manual transmission, short bed pickup with 100,000 miles for $3,000. This truck is a couple of years older and is the sportier STX, 4 wheel drive, 6-cylinder, automatic, long bed with an amazingly low 36,000 miles, and the seller is asking $4,500. That’s a great price! I don’t even need a truck, but if it was closer, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this article, I would be going to talk to the seller.

This truck is not perfect. There are some sap stains on the roof and hood and there are a couple of rust spots. But put that aside, there’s plenty good about it. This Ranger STX has a straight 6-cylinder, front wheel locking hubs, 2-inch suspension lift, new shocks, new leaf springs, new American Standard aluminum wheels, 31″ Goodyear Wrangler tires, new mirrors, bed liner, new steering tie rods, and almost all new brake lines.

The bucket seat interior is in great condition. While there are no pictures of the engine, the 6-cylinder runs great. It is mated with an automatic transmission. The truck was found in a barn in Wisconsin. It was hardly ever driven in the winter.  If you’re near Libertyville, Illinois, you might want to take a look at this. So, who’s going to be the first to call this seller to pick up this nice truck?

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  1. Capriest

    WOW! Now this is a rarity. You used to see them everywhere, but they’re all long gone it seems. Great color combo, nice wheels, mild lift. Just great all around. This will be gone quick no doubt. I can’t remember if this came with the 2.8, 2.9, or 3.0 V6? Not that it matters as they were all pretty much junk engines, but with those miles, and the truck being as nice as it is who cares? It’s priced cheap enough to not sting if you need to upgrade the engine when it takes a dump 40k miles from now.

    • PartsPaul

      In 1986 the only 6 cyl was the new 2.9L V6, replacing the 2.8L carb engine. It now had hyd lifters to keep it quieter and also multi port fuel injection. The engine was pretty trouble free once the efi was introduced. Very driveable and decent mpg.
      No 1983 to 2011 Ranger ever had a straight 6 from the factory.

  2. Chris in WNC

    very nice!
    we just bought a 2000 Ranger 4×4 with 29,000 miles,
    so there are a few of them like this left…..

  3. KevinR

    Uh, Bill… V6 not straight 6. Says so right there on the front fender. In 1986 it was a 2.8L.

    Nice looking truck. It probably won’t last long.

    • Bill Owens Bill Owens Staff

      Thanks, KevinR, a case of me taking the word of the seller. I missed the badge on the fender. I could not find a brochure for 1986 Ranger to verify.

  4. Wayne

    I refurbish quite a few Rangers. There are many out here in the west without rust. I have seen 1986 Rangers with both the 2.8 throttle body injection and 2.9 multi-port injection. So I am not really sure of the why and reason. (possibly early and late production) I was a Ford Service manager during the time these were sold new. And don’t recall the exact change time. The 2.8 was/is the more reliable of the 2 engines. (they look the same, but the only parts that they share is the connecting rod nuts!) The 2.8 got the bad rap when the Capris and Mustang IIs with the 2.8 came equipped with a nylon timing gear. Causing terminal valve damage when the gear stripped out. Also, the 1985 and older engines were equipped with carburetors (FORD/HOLLEY) that were problematic when combined with “the day’s” emission controls. (some California ’85 2.8 V6s came with throttle body injection)The fact that the 2.8 had solid lifters that almost no one ever adjusted, made them sound like a thrashing machine. But I will take a 2.8 over a 2.9, 3.0, 4.0 Ford V6 every time.
    I have a 2.8 in my MGB and I am fixing up for sale a 1985 Ranger, 2.8V6 4X4 with 7′ bed (no rust) right now. The 2.8 does not have the horse power that the 2.9 or the 4.0 have. But cylinder heads don’t get punctured by valve springs, head gaskets don’t let go for “no reason” and electronic controls like Mass Air Flow Sensors, Crank Sensors, etc. don’t fail at the drop of the hat.

  5. Gay Car Nut

    I remember when the Ford Ranger was on the market. I never drove one, but I remember thinking how perfect it was for most jobs.

  6. Dave

    Westinghouse bought a 6 foot bed 4×4 version to use as a field service truck. The only knock we had was that you couldn’t get three people in it. It went through everything you could put in front of it, got good mileage, and when they traded it in 3 years later it had 105000 miles on it and looked and drove well.

  7. Fordguy1972

    I bought a new Ranger in ’89 that had zero options. 4 cylinder, 5-speed, 7 foot bed, no power steering, no carpeting, no A/C. It has power brakes and an AM radio; that was it. It was my truck until I got divorced so she got the truck, I got the ’68 Torino. A couple of years later, I bought it back. After a few years I sold it to one of my brothers. Bought it back again a few years later. 135k miles and 25 years after I bought it, I sold it to a kid that wrecked it 25 days later.

    That ’88 was a good, dependable truck that never let me down. Not pretty, not fast and damn hot in the summer with no A/C but I’d like to have another one just like it………….. with A/C.

  8. CanuckCarGuy

    This is a great looking little truck, at a good price point. I’ve got a soft-spot for Rangers having owned a ’95 and an ’01…would love to find one like this locally.

  9. sluggo

    We have a 1991 Ranger 4×4 w/ v6 2.9 and 5 speed manual trans and the 4×4 add on box. Ours is nicely outfitted but high mileage, Would be a nice project for someone. (Clutch quit, but have a new one in the box, based on the motors mileage its a push to replace the clutch or rebuild the engine while you are at it. It DOES run !) Has a nice color matched canopy. Aftermarket alloy wheels and other nice stuff, Got a set of studded snow tires as well and tire chains. Ill be happy to give BF first shot at a listing, but planned on putting up for sale next week, Pro maintained but the honest answer is its at a point that needs some work.
    There is some tech details anyone looking at these should know. First, these are NICE little trucks, My wife loved hers and this is a reluctant sale. Many fun camping trips! However they are light duty, frames, and other parts built for spec. Keep that in mind. There is/was a LOT of options for engines and swaps, some went the big 4L or added a V8 but the 2.9 was a good motor and decent power for the chassis/design.
    The trans are an issue. There is 4 or 5 different gear boxs and you need to know what you have and proceed accordingly. SOME were better than others. some use gear oil, some use ATF in the manual boxs, Durability varied. We broke 5th gear on ours. First rebuild was a distant relatives shop and they did a bad job. FIL rebuilt it again and premium parts, Its good. But its a PIA to pull the trans/transfer case and replace the clutch. You want new or good rebuilt clutch/slave cyls because you cant access once trans installed, (Or cut a small port-access).
    Treat these right you have a nice truck, but they are a light duty truck. Ours did great in mud and snow, got stuck in the mud on our farm 2x, but we babied ours. Thrash on them, its not going to handle it like a old scout or cornbinder.
    (ours is Red/silver)

  10. B Bruce girdler

    I have a 1999 XLT with 47000 original miles on it with the 2.9 flex fuel engine

  11. Howard A Member

    Good little trucks, a bit short on space without the extra cab. Never cared for the Ford V6, and a rare case where I’d rather have the 4 cylinder.

  12. SSPBill

    A guy on the other side of town has a Bigfoot edition Ranger. I believe it’s used as a shop truck. I don’t think I could sport that but I always liked the early Rangers. I daily drive a 2003 FX4 Level 2 (off-road). I get tons of compliments and comments including two separate offers on it.

  13. Mark Burich

    I have a 1992 with 288000 miles on it. 4 cyl 5 speed and it just continues to run and run. Other than tires and a couple clutches, no other major work. Bought with 146000 miles on it from original owner who also gave me his 30 sheets of maintenance records from the original dealership. Id buy this one if I was in the market! It sounds and looks like a great deal!

  14. Bakyrdhero

    Not one comment on how it’s a DREADED automatic. Must be an off day..


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