Sitting for 30 Years: 1959 Ford Ranchero

When the 1st generation of the Ranchero pickup was introduced during December of 1956, Ford quickly found that it had a hit on its hands. Combining the comfort of the passenger cars on which it was based with the practicality of the ½ ton F-Series pickup, it was a vehicle that successfully filled an untapped gap in the marketplace. This 1959 model is a complete car that is in need of restoration. It is located in Brighton, Michigan, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Its listing appears to have sparked some interest because there have already been 33 bids submitted on the vehicle. This has pushed the price along to $3,250 in what is a No Reserve auction.

Finished in one of the optional factory two-tone color schemes, the Ranchero wears a slightly tired combination of Tahitian Bronze and Fawn Tan. The body itself looks to be reasonably solid, but the owner does say that the floors have rust in them. He also states that these should be easy to fix. The bed floor itself looks nice and solid, and while the car does have a coating of surface corrosion, it does look promising. Some of the external chrome and trim is damaged and may require replacement, and the Ranchero is also wearing the wrong grille. Judging by the mismatched driver’s side fender and trim, I’m wondering whether the Ranchero may have had a hit in the front at some point in its life. If it has, I don’t think that it was a major hit, as all of the panel gaps look good, indicating that there are no bends in the body or frame.

The interior of the Ranchero is largely complete, but a full restoration will be on the cards for the next owner. The seat may require both a new cover and new padding, as the original padding has been dragged out pretty badly. Actually, I think that the seat may have already received a new cover once before, as the existing one doesn’t look like a standard cover for a Ranchero of that era. Apart from the missing radio, the rest of the interior looks to be present, and I have to say that the lovely 1970s shag-pile carpet is an acquired taste…that I would prefer not to acquire.

As well as having a slightly higher carrying capacity than the ½ ton F-Series pickups, the Ranchero also came with at least an additional 100hp under the hood. While the F-Series could be optioned with a 292ci V8 producing 200hp, the Ranchero came with the 352ci V8 pushing out 300hp. However, this extra power was negated to a point, because the weight of the Ranchero was several hundred pounds more than the lightest of the F-Series pickups. Hooked to the 352 in the Ranchero is a 3-speed automatic transmission, while the steering and brakes get by with no power assistance. Even though the Ranchero has essentially been inactive for the past 30-years, the news appears to be pretty good on the mechanical front. The owner says that the Ranchero both runs and drives. He doesn’t specify how well it accomplishes either task, but it does look like it is a good point from which to start. One thing that I do find encouraging is the fact that everything looks quite dry. By this, I mean that there are no obvious signs of oil leaks and no sign of the sort of coolant staining that might indicate that the vehicle has had a history of overheating issues.

The Ranchero really was a sales hit for Ford, and its release stole a march on GM in the coupe/utility stakes by a margin of two years. By the time the El Camino was released in 1959, the Ranchero had itself firmly established in the market. In that year Ford managed to sell 112,897 vehicles. Today they are a solid collectible, but their values haven’t held up quite as well as the El Camino of the same era. Still, a nice example can be found for around the $30,000 mark, but a truly pristine one can command $60,000 or more. This one has a lot of potential and all the makings of a great restoration project.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I love this model, it’s on my bucket list. But the ’59 ElCo is perfection.

    7
  2. Ken Carney

    Now this I could use! Just fix the floors,
    get ‘er running, driving, and stopping, and
    put ‘er to work while you finish the restoration. Would be great for volunteer
    work at church or just hauling things for
    my family. Much better than my BIL’s
    F-350, and a lot more character too!

    7
  3. PaulG

    I’ve seen a lot of these over the years, but that color combo must’ve been beautiful!

    6
  4. Will Fox

    Somewhere over the years someone tried to ‘update’ this Ranchero with Galaxie trim and interior pieces. The gravel shields behind the rear wheel openings weren’t even an option on Rancheros, but look good on here. The bench seat is obviously out of a Galaxie 500 of some variety. If I were to restore this, I would install door panels from a Galaxie pillared sedan since they would fit. I would also find a straight Galaxie grille to replace this bent one.
    This is still very saveable, and hope it goes to a Ford guy who knows what it is and restores it. These are too few to pro-street or customize.

    5
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      SRC (?) makes repro interior panels, door cards and upholstery for the lower trim Fords from this year, including the Ranchero. They may be the only ones doing it. I’ve ordered their kit for a friends Custom 300 and it came out nice.

      1
    • Jerry Brentnell

      that grill is out of a 59 meteor , bet you you don’t know what that is do ya?well they were sold by lincoln, mercury dealers in canada

      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Jerry why do you think that? This grille is a standard Galaxie soft metal contraption from an American 1959 Ford. In this condition, it looks exactly like the one on my 59 Sunliner which I decided to replace with a tubular custom grille. Some time around 1976. Guess what, after ordering one from a Hemmings Motor News ad, the dang tubular grille arrived at my house bent out of shape too!

  5. Bob C.

    That fawn tan looks like the exact same color of the 59 Galaxie my dad once had. We always considered it cream colored. And yes, his floors rusted out too!

    1
  6. ruxvette

    Am I the only one noticing the left front fender is not original to the truck? Hence the “Galaxy trim”.

    1
    • PatrickM

      You are not alone. It appears tome it has been in an accident. The left side of the grille is pushed in, too. I never really liked the ’58 thru ’59 Fords. My former BIL had a ’59 2 door sedan in this motif. He loved it. He was a great guy. I just never cared for the car.

  7. marc covington

    The author is mistaken about the grille being “wrong”. Although bent, that is a correct ’59 Ford grille.

    4
    • HydTech

      He doesn’t know, and doesn’t care.

      4
  8. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    @Adam Clarke, that grille appears to be correct–are you referring to the trim on the hood and fenders? That belongs on a higher trimmed Galaxie. Also note the car sports 1958 Ford wheelcovers instead of the nicer 1959 turbine wheelcovers. This is a nice find. Want. Can’t have.

    1
  9. John B.

    I notice that a lot of vehicles have their original radios missing; I always wonder what happened to them? A few years ago my daily driver only had an original am radio-it was next to impossible to pick up anything worth listening to! Other than originality and having something to fill in the empty space in the dash what use are they? I tried selling some radios at a swap meet several years ago and couldn’t give them away so again I ask, “What happens to them? Can anyone shed some light on this?

    2
    • Gland

      Most were probably tossed, with the rest still sitting on garage shelves. My 70 Duster still has it’s original thumbwheel AM radio but I had it updated with an audio jack and usb. Still looks original but the sound is a million times better

      1
  10. Johnmloghry Member

    Possibilities abound with this truck. When I was a whipper snapper and these were new vehicles they were everywhere. My best friends Uncle had one but I think it was solid white. I’ve slept a few times since then so that might not be right. I would like to have three 59’s a Retractable hardtop, a soft top convertible and a Ranchero all the same color scheme, all fully loaded with options. Dream on old man dream on.
    God bless America

    3
  11. TimM

    Really cool and looks like a promising restoration instead of mega man hours of metal work!! Don’t see to many around any more!!

    3
  12. ctmphrs Member

    If anyone has 59 Edsel wagon taillights for sale, I’ll take them and this Ranchero. They look great with the Edsel taillights.

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