Rust-Free 1st Year 1983 Ford Ranger

I predict that these early Ford Rangers will be future collectibles and this first-year model, a 1983 Ford Ranger, sure looks like a steal. It can be found here on craigslist in Bowdoinham, Maine. The seller is asking a painfully-enticing $2,900 for this great looking truck. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this great tip!

I like pretty much every vehicle that is shown on Barn Finds but I’m really into small pickups. The first-generation Rangers are some of my favorites. My brother had one brand new and it was a great little truck but this Ranger is like a Rolls-Royce compared to my brother’s base model Ranger was. This green and white example has power steering, power brakes, and a 5-speed manual transmission – not to mention the homemade wood canoe rack, which I’m personally not a big fan of.

The first-generation Rangers were introduced in early-1982 and they were made for the 1983 through 1992 model years, back when people didn’t need humongous, bloated vehicles. As a reference, the 2019 Ford Ranger is 3-feet longer than this Ranger is. THREE FEET. Did I mention that this Ranger is rust-free? I know, it doesn’t take much for me to get excited by older vehicles but this truck sounds like a winner.

There are no engine photos, unfortunately, and these four photos are the only ones in the listing. They say that it has a 4-cylinder so it could be a 2.0L or 2.3L inline-four but we don’t know for sure which one. I’m assuming that it’s the 2.3L four. It hasn’t been driven since 2017 so it may need to have some deferred maintenance done but they say that it can be driven away. I’d sure like to do that, this is a great looking Ranger. Have any of you owned an early first-generation Ranger?


  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I bought a new ’88 Ranger, a left-over, in early 1989. It was a bare-bones 4-cylinder 5-speed with not a single option. When I got divorced, the ex took it to Philly for a few years and then sold it back to me when she got a new car. I kept it for a few years and then sold it to a brother. After a few more years, I bought it back again. It was dependable, cheap to run and never let me down; a great little pickup. After 25 years and 160,000 miles, I sold it for the last time to a kid who wrecked it in 25 days. I currently have a ’97 Ranger very similar to my old ’88 in that it is a base model, bare bones stripper, too.

    I like this one, especially given that it seems there is little if any rust. Mileage is reasonable and while only a lowly 4-cylinder, the 5-speed helps to get the most out of it. Cheap on fuel, easy to maintain and it comes with plenty of kindling. A very handy daily driver at a good price. Love to have this one.

    Like 14
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Sometimes here at Barn Finds we see a well-preserved economy car from the 60’s through the 80’s. Some of them don’t appeal to me, but I’m always happy to see that a car which was essentially a throw-away has survived. This Ranger fits in the same category, a simple vehicle made to be used (even abused?) and then discarded. So it’s great to see a preserved example, and I like it. Plus, it has the advantage of being a truck…. the hot segment of the market. I suspect it will be gone quickly.

    Like 12
  3. Bakyrdhero

    I’ll bet this one was a beauty back in 1982 when it rolled off the assembly line. It still looks good today, but in its day, I’ll bet this one went quick off the dealers lot.

    Like 9
  4. KevinLee

    I dunno, I kind of like the wood rack, although, usually not. Here in Texas, it would fit right in, like an old livestock hauling rig. I’ve owned two Rangers, and wouldn’t mind having a third.

    Like 5
  5. Wayne

    But it did not leave the factory with a white hood. That has been changed or painted. I don’t believe that they will be collectors items. Too many built and thousands still running around out here in the west. (no rust) The collector idea would be great for me as I currently have 7 on the ground right now. (2 4X4 s already sold and not yet picked up)
    4 cylinder and manual transmission is pretty much the most reliable vehicle on the planet. Ford Rangers through 1999 are the equivalent of a brick. They just keep working. V6 ( excluding the 2.8 which is incredibly durable) and automatic transmissions not so much.

    Like 3
  6. Rick

    I have owned a 1991 Ranger for 14 years. I have put time and money in it and it looks and drives like new. I get lots of compliments on it. (2.3L, stick shift)

    Like 6
  7. Gary

    Bought a new 86 ranger. A stripper, 4cyl, 5spd, no radio, no a/c not even a rear bumper! 5995.00. Sold it 5 years later with 100k and got 2700.00 for it. First and only new vehicle i ever bought. Good truck and it never had any issues.

    Like 4
  8. TimM

    I just got a 2001 for $400!! It needed a fuel pump and a brake line replaced!! I’ve been driving it around and I really like pretty much everything but the color!!! It’s black and it absorbs the heat like a frying pan under a flame!! It’s a great little truck!! This one looks in great shape and I can’t see you going wrong with the price!!!

    Like 1
  9. Rube Goldberg Member

    Somebody got a nice little truck. I had a friend, bought one of these brand new. His was a 4 speed, and I didn’t think the 5 speed was offered until ’85, but it was an option. This truck sure kicked the Asian trucks in the teeth. Many were used for city delivery or construction trucks, and not many survived. There was no reason to buy a foreign truck when Ford offered these, I feel. Great little trucks, and the roundheads at Ford should get their heads out of their touchas, and offer something like this again. A guy down the block has one of those new Rangers,,IDK, looks a lot like an Asian truck to me. I suppose designers today think everybody wants to drive the same looking vehicle. How did we ever lose our way?

    Like 3
  10. Bakyrdhero

    Asian truck..geez

    Like 1
  11. Bryan W Cohn

    The 4 cylinders were all 2.3 Liter engines, the 2.0 Liter having long gone by the wayside in the Pinto/Capri/Courier era.

    They are very different engines, the 2.0 Liter having a better flowing head and intake and solid lifters with adjustable valve lash being the two big differences. The 2.3 Liter engine had hydraulic lifters and a more restrictive intake and different port shapes. The 2.0 Liter intake doesn’t fit the 2.3 either.

    Now you know why when people were racing Ford 2.3 Liter engines in various cars/midgets/etc it was common to use an Esslinger or other alternate head while those who used the 2.0 Liter used the stock Ford head.

    I know, totally useless information but somebody has to know some of this nonsense, right? Don’t get me going on the Ford Kent/Cortina engines or we’ll be here all night….. :)

    As for original small/mini pick ups, they are worth their weight in gold due the the stupid chicken tax. $2900 is a steal for this truck.

    Like 2
    • David Ulrey

      Well not exactly correct on none of them having a 2.0. That is if I understood your comment correctly. If I did misunderstand it then I do apologize. My first wife had a bare bones, can’t remember the year anymore but it was definitely an early one with the 2.0 litre in it. Surprised me the first time I lifted the hood because I thought that the 2.3 was the only engine available aside from the 2.8 Cologne V6. Some years later I was also a counter man at NAPA. Sure enough, a 2.0 was in the system too for the early Rangers. In any event, great little trucks. I’m not adding hers to my list because it was hers but I personally have owned 3 of the little critters. Great trucks.

      Like 2
    • Zapp

      The basic Ranger S had the 2.0. They are easy to spot; look for black grille and window surrounds and no mouldings on the wheel opening arches.

      The one featured here, with bright trim, would have a 2.3 litre four.

      Like 1
  12. Paul Hudson

    Nope, I had a new Stripper 1983 Ranger as a company truck. It was definitely a 2.0 Liter. It had the 4 Speed Manual and no power options or A/C. It was pretty gutless but reasonably reliable. We later got a 1991 Vulcan 3.0 V6 with automatic. It was a good runner and could tow a little. This truck had 340K miles when I sold it. Running well but Transmission was slipping. The body and interior were great. I test drove a 4.0 V6 Ranger when we bought the 1991 and it felt like driving a Mustang GT it was very powerful with the 5 Speed. I’d love to have another early one.

    Like 1
  13. AMXBrian

    My 07 has 216k and still my dd. The 4.0 isn’t the best on gas, but it’s done everything I’ve needed it to do.

    This little gem is gone, the seller deleted the ad on clist.

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