Simply Spotless: 1958 Ford Ranchero Custom

Vehicles like the Ford Ranchero represent an interesting compromise for the motoring public. They offer greater load-carrying capacity than you might expect to find in a sedan or station wagon but with greater comfort and refinement than most people would receive in a full-size pickup. Ford released the 1st Generation Ranchero for the 1957 model year, and while they sold in respectable numbers, the typical life they led means that they aren’t thick on the ground today. Our feature vehicle is a 1958 Ranchero Custom, and its overall condition is nothing short of amazing. It is a classic that needs nothing beyond a new home, and it is worthy of consideration for anyone seeking a distinctive turn-key classic. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, you will find the mighty Ford listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set the price at $15,500, although he may entertain trades for the right vehicle. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder rex m for referring this remarkable survivor to us.

Vehicles like the Ranchero and Chevrolet’s El Camino descended from a backstory involving lateral thinking and a demanding farmer’s wife. It dates back to 1934 in Australia, where the lady in question approached Ford with some specific requirements for a new vehicle design. She demanded a vehicle capable of carting the pigs to market during the week but was comfortable and refined enough to transport her and her husband to church on Sunday. Designer Lew Bandt didn’t start his work with a clean sheet of paper but modified an existing Ford Coupe to include an integrated cargo bed. This was preferable to the usual separate bed designs that the market had seen to that point, with this new design showing lower noise levels and greater refinements than manufacturers had previously experienced. Ford Australia gave the green light for production, and thus, the Coupe Utility, or “ute,” was born. The buying public readily accepted the concept globally, and both Ford and General Motors soon had their own versions rolling out of their American factories. The Ranchero appeared in December of 1956, and the 1st Generation remained in production until the end of the 1959 model year. Our feature vehicle is a 1958 model, and it is the more upmarket Custom version. It presents superbly in its combination of Torch Red and Frost White. There’s a lot to like here, and not much of which to be critical. The paint shines impressively, with no evidence of flaws or defects. While the owner doesn’t specifically mention it, I get the impression that the Ranchero may have received a reasonably recent restoration. That helps to explain the flawlessly straight panels and the total lack of rust. There are also no signs of the sort of damage that these classics receive when they’ve spent their lives as a workhorse. The glass is crystal clear, while the chrome and trim are spotless.

When we turn our attention to this Ranchero’s interior, it provides a pleasant surprise. Far from there being the battered upholstery and trim of a car that has worked hard all its life, this interior is close to faultless. The seatcover and carpet look pretty fresh, while the owner indicates that the door trims are new. The painted surfaces shine as nicely as the exterior, while the bright trim and gauges are close to perfect. The only fault that I can spot is some slight wear and chips on the wheel. These aren’t bad, and restoring the wheel should not be difficult. The owner has installed a CD player, and this is disappointing news for a buyer craving originality. This would’ve entailed cutting the dash, which means that there would be some work involved in returning that aspect of the interior to a factory-fresh state. The owner has fitted an under-dash air conditioning system, but the buyer will be left with installing the engine bay components. That sounds like a great job to tackle over winter to be more comfortable when the next batch of warmer weather arrives.

Ford offered buyers a selection of engines and transmissions for their new Ranchero, but the original owner ordered this one with the 223ci six-cylinder unit and three-speed manual transmission. While this motor may have only offered the driver 144hp, it still allowed the Ranchero to haul some impressive loads. With the bed empty, they were a lively performer because they weighed considerably less than the station wagon on which they were based. For buyers, the good news keeps on coming with this classic. It is a numbers-matching vehicle, and the engine bay presents superbly. The owner has recently installed a new fuel pump and brakes, and it seems that the Ranchero runs and drives well. It isn’t clear whether this is original, but this Ford is equipped with a 2.75 rear end. That makes the owner’s claim that it will cruise happily at 80mph on the highway seem pretty plausible.

History shows us that manufacturers will develop some vehicle types for a specific market, but they don’t receive ready acceptance in others. Traditional American muscle and pony cars did not ignite significant passion in Australian markets in the 1960s and 1970s, but companies like Ford and GM couldn’t roll them out fast enough for domestic consumption. The story was very different for the classic Aussie ute. They became a staple of the domestic new car industry, but their acceptance in the US and UK market was far beyond what Ford Australia could’ve imagined in 1934. Today, spotless older examples have a strong following, and that’s why I think that the owner will find a buyer for this gem pretty quickly.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I could see Howard Sprague, or Hank Kimball, or Sam Drucker, or myself daily-driving this beauty. Hey Goob!

    Like 10
    • mark

      Sam Drucker would have hauled groceries in this.

      Like 6
  2. Todd Zuercher

    I thought this car looked familiar…..and then I realized I see it sitting in a guy’s driveway on one of my commute routes home from time to time. Looks like a great car in person too!

    Like 4
  3. tiger66

    “It presents superbly in its combination of Torch Red and Frost White.”

    Torch Red is correct, but Frost White was an Edsel color. Colonial White would be the correct white for a ’58 Ford and the Ranchero brochure supports that. In the late ’60s I owned a ’57 Fairlane 500 in Colonial White and a friend had a ’58 in Colonial White and Desert Beige. Both cars cost less than $500 back then. The ’58 was less than $300 and had a 300-horsepower H-code 352.

    Like 4
  4. Steveo

    For the life of me, I’ll never understand how something like this can sell for cheap while rattle trap mid-60’s Mustangs go for the price of a pretty nice new car. Is it really that hard to meet women these days?

    Like 20
  5. sir_mike

    Very nice Ford.Funny how the 1958 ranchero used the 1957 rear but I get it.

    Like 5
  6. Frank Sumatra

    Interesting back story. Nice write-up. Nice car also. Should be gone by time this comment is posted.

    Like 6
  7. Howard A Member

    Adam always does a great job, however, I must disagree, these were not widely accepted, at least not in the USA. They had a very limited market. They were poor cars and even poorer pickups. It’s why both Ford and Chevy dropped them in favor of smaller ones( Falcon and Chevelle) The one piece body was a bad idea in trucks, found out later by the “Unibody”, and most went with a cheaper standard pickup. ’58 was a bad year for cars, in general, and not many bought a ’58 Ranchero, and the ones that did sell, rusted profusely in a few short years, it’s amazing to even see one like this.

    Like 8
    • Mountainwoodie

      and an original ’57 Ranchero, albeit with a V8, is on my bucket list.with a 3 speed of course.

      Like 2
  8. CaCarDude

    Looks like the seller has done a nice job fluffing up this old Ranchero, I like it but am more in to the Chevy El Camino as I have owned two ’59’s back in the day. Very few of these first generation Ranchero’s to be seen these day’s, I like the added deer whistles decorating the top of each front fender, nice touch, not.

    Like 2
  9. Miminite

    ’58 Ford cars were a bit of an oddball year IMO. I like them because a favorite aunt had a 4 door sedan in this yr/bodystyle. This one is nice. The 223/3 on the tree combo is perfect. It would go good enough to get around here and there, and the AC is partially installed. I like it!

    Like 1
  10. HC

    This 58 Ranchero is in great condition, but I prefer the 1960s Falcon Rancheros bodystyle. This one is pretty much a Fairlane front with a truck rear end

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