Perfectly Preserved: 1971 Ford Ranchero

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It is the eternal question that divides opinion; If you have a classic like this 1971 Ford Ranchero, should it be preserved or restored? The seller has selected the preservation pathway, treating its bare metal and surface corrosion to prevent further deterioration. It would turn heads if fully restored, but the story would be no different if the new owner left it as-is. It has received significant recent work but is ready for a new home. They have listed the Ranchero here on Craigslist in California’s Hayward/Castro Valley region. You could drive away in this beauty for $12,000.

There’s a lot to like about this Ranchero, from its Anti-Establish Mint paint to the Black highlights and Yellow stripes. The paint has baked and worn over five decades, exposing bare metal that developed surface corrosion. The seller could have performed a straightforward cosmetic restoration, instead choosing to treat the corrosion and clearcoat the entire car. It was a worthwhile exercise because this Ford will undoubtedly draw attention. There is no evidence or mention of penetrating rust, and the vehicle’s location makes it plausible that it is rust-free. The panels sport a few imperfections, but they are an integral part of this classic’s survivor persona. The bed cover is a wise, practical consideration because it provides weather protection for that area and security for the owner’s possessions. The trim and glass are in good order, with the wheels, deep trim rings, and hubcaps offering a tasteful touch of aggression.

I’ve discussed in previous articles the concept of preserving a weathered exterior but treating an interior to a refresh, and this Ranchero demonstrates how effective that approach can be. It looks like the seat sports a new cover, while new carpet graces the floors. Combined with a virtually perfect dash, pad, and door trims, the impact is striking. The cracked wheel is one of the few flaws, but that could be repaired. A modern aftermarket stereo hangs below the dash, but I can’t spot any further additions. It isn’t dripping with factory options, but the ice-cold air conditioning will be welcome if the new owner lives in a warm climate.

Powering this Ranchero is a 351ci V8 producing 240hp. Shifting duties fall to a three-speed automatic transmission, with power assistance for the steering and brakes making light work of driving chores. The combination may not sound exciting, but with a curb weight of 3,285 lbs, this Ford can storm through the ¼-mile in 15.7 seconds. The seller states that this classic’s V8 received a recent rebuild while the transmission has been serviced. It runs and drives perfectly, making it a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

I am fond of vehicles like this 1971 Ford Ranchero, using an Australian 1996 Ford Falcon ute as my daily driver. It is almost as comfortable as the sedan it is based on, but it offers a greater towing and carrying capacity than a station wagon. That makes them an excellent compromise for those who find something like an F-100 too big for their needs. They are relatively light, meaning even modest engine power will provide excellent performance. Part of me would love to see this Ranchero restored, but the other part feels its existing appearance will draw crowds who will appreciate it as a survivor. Therefore, I probably wouldn’t change a thing. Would you?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    So here we have the patina question again. I’ve noted before, for me patina is acceptable for some trucks, but rarely for cars. But what about a quasi-truck like this Ranchero?

    In this case, to me the patina gives it somewhat of an awkward, four-tone appearance (black hood/roof/bed cover, green paint, yellow stripe, brown rust). I’m voting for a repaint. Again, just my opinion.

    One minor detail: did Ford use the clever “Anti-Establish Mint” color name on anything other than Mavericks?

    Otherwise, looks like a nice Ranchero.

    Like 21
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972Member

      I’ve stated my opinion on “patina” here on BarnFinds more than once. I don’t care for preserving rust or worn paint, that just doesn’t make sense to me. Plus, in my opinion, it’s not a good look as it detracts from an otherwise nice vehicle. I’d repaint this Ranchero the same color, but I’d do the whole car in this nice shade of green including the hood and roof. I wouldn’t replace the yellow stripe and I’d ditch that ugly tonneau cover. I like the interior; it looks good, and I’d make sure to get the A/C sorted out. The ask seems reasonable for what you’d be getting.

      I had a ’70 Ranchero GT with a 351 Cleveland, C6 auto, posi rear, buckets, console, A/C, painted red with a vinyl roof and it was completely rust free. The high compression 351 was difficult to find good fuel for and expensive. After a while I sold it as the fuel issue was getting to be a hassle and moved on. It was a sharp car/truck and when I did find good gas for it, it was quite the performer.

      Like 7
    • Troy

      Rust is rust NOT patina once it starts you might be able to slow it down but if you don’t repair and repaint your begging for problems because what about the other side of the body panel that you can’t see. This one looks like its not rust yet just down to the primer then someone cleared it. So I’m with you repaint.

      Like 7
  2. mike

    Nice now just needs a nice paint job.

    Like 10
    • Midway

      A good body and paint job will run 3 K, so knock 3K off the price, if anyone wants a priceless patina vehicle there are plenty to choose from in the great lake area and I do mean priceless.

      Like 3
      • Rick D

        Please tell me where you get a paint job for 3K ? Around here it would start at 10K

        Like 5
  3. Johnny

    I have to agree. Imo, I think a full repaint, in original color, would be what I would do with it. Being a Michigander, I see enough in the way of rust on cars as it is. From the pictures and description, I believe that’s the way I would go with it. I do have an infinity for a clean look, and patina, just isn’t that. Again, just my opinion.

    Like 7
  4. AzzuraMember

    Love this year of the Ranchero. The color combination is very striking. I am not a fan of patina having owned way too many cars with visible rust. Paint it in these same colors and enjoy the admiring looks it will certainly receive.

    Like 6
  5. Maggy

    I like patina when it’s down to the primer.If it’s past the primer and now rusty metal I don’t care for it imo.I don’t care for the seal the rust so the rust is preserved under a satin clear look either but that’s just me.Cool truck .I’d paint it the same color and stripes.imo.

    Like 7
  6. Glenn Hilpert

    This car has been up for sale several times in the past and now again. Maybe it is the price or other hidden issues, unknown however and agreeing with most other commenters, this Ranchero would look sharp with a factory original paint job.

    Like 3
  7. Fran

    I love it! Presentation or restoration? Gee the owner takes the preservation choice! Why not paint it? Answer $$$$

    Like 4
  8. Scott L.

    Not just you. I agree that rust shouldn’t be shiny. Paint, yes; rust, no.

    Like 4
  9. Stewart Hill

    Had the same thing, but with a 302. Same colour but without the black hood and stripes and had a white fibreglass low profile canopy. I am wondering if those stripes were a dealer added option?

    Like 1
    • Rjonec

      This is a special value package Ranchero. They came with a blacked out hood and bed. The stripes were also part of the package. Anytime the patina gets clear coated it looks bad. Leave a it as is or repaint it.

      Like 1
  10. Dwcisme

    I’ve always been a fan of Rancheros. If I had Jay Leno levels of money, I’d get (at least) one of every generation. Given my druthers, on this one, I’d want a cosmetic restoration but keep it a driver. This just isn’t a good look for this car. I’m not a fan of patina and the clear coat makes even the parts that were supposed to be mat finished, shiny.

    Like 2
  11. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    The age old question, preserve or restore? The answer is simple…. preserve until it gets to the point it needs to be restored… if ever.
    The tonnue cover also helps with milage and airflow.
    I never knew aggression could be tasteful. Isn’t that called passive-aggressive?

    Like 1
  12. Grumpy

    Rust is cancer
    Kill the disease cover with life
    I had a71 w/351c four speed manual
    Great ride 👌

    Like 0
  13. Donald Porochonski

    Just one more comment about patina. I think it looks good on prewar cars and pickup trucks. Or at least like it belongs on a eighty something year old vehicle. Otherwise it just looks like you’re too cheap to spring for a decent paint job.

    Like 0
  14. Scott

    The original paint on the hood of the Ranchero is suppose to be a matte black. In this case by adding the clearcoat it’s given the surface of the hood a shiny paint appearance. That is totally wrong on this Ranchero. They should not have put a clearcoat on the hood. Actually detracts from the value of the car in my opinion.

    Like 3
  15. Grumpy

    Paint ain’t gottimr for fuss or rust

    Like 0

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