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Underappreciated Pickup: 1988 Ford Ranger 4×4 XLT

A few years ago, I listed a Ford Ranger very similar to this one for sale out of the north Georgia property I’ve discussed here in the past. The truck itself was in nice shape, with a good body and no rust. Still, it didn’t seem very special to me, until a buyer from Vermont paid the full asking price for it and had it shipped home. I always look at transactions like those as smoke signals of some kind that tell you there’s a lack of good examples of an otherwise ordinary vehicle, and Rangers like this one certainly seem to fit that mold. This ’88 XLT 4×4 also has low miles and the preferred manual gearbox. Find it here on eBay where bids are just over $4,000 with the reserve unmet.

The stigma about a truck like the Ranger is that we assume it to be a bare-bones beater. And, in many cases, it is. This Ranger is a bit different as it seems to have been incredibly well-optioned when it left the factory, with features including dual fuel tanks; power windows and locks; lockable Dana hubs; and the 2.9L V6 engine. Speaking of the engine, the seller replaced the original V6 with a low-mileage used mill, and the numbers-matching engine is included in the sale should the next owner wish to rebuild it. A rubber bed mad and Century bed topper are also included.

The interior is in very clean condition, with nicely-preserved cloth bucket seats and clean carpets. The door panels are in good shape as well. The seller mentions in the listing that it was towed behind a motor home most of its life, which helps to explain to some extent why it has survived in decent shape; those tow-behind rigs may get blasted with road rash for weeks at a time, but they generally lead easy lives once they get to their destination. The chassis mileage is 65,000, which makes the engine replacement even more unusual if we assume this Ranger didn’t lead a particularly hard life.

In addition to sourcing and installing the replacement engine, the seller has also updated the following components: he installed new spark plugs and wires, replaced the water pump and thermostat, and had the alternator rebuilt. He also added an oil pressure gauge, which may be an indication as to why the first engine was pulled. The tires are also new, so you’ve most of the basic consumables accounted for. The seller cites the reason for the sale as being due to a pending relocation outside of the U.S. and the need to sell some hobby cars as a result. It will be interesting to see where bidding ends for this loaded-up Ranger/


  1. Avatar photo FordGuy1972 Member

    I’m a big fan of Ranger pickups, though I’m not a fan of the extended cab models. I had an ’88 four-cylinder 2WD, 5-speed with a 7-foot bed. I bought it new and kept it off and on for 25 years (I sold it to family members twice and twice bought it back). It was a great pickup, dependable, reliable and apart from regular maintenance, it never cost me a dime. Even after 160,000 miles, it still had its original clutch. After 25 years, I sold it to a kid that wrecked it in 25 days. That’s the way it goes.

    This XLT 4WD looks like a nice one, and in pretty good shape. It’s well-optioned and seems to be rust-free. Put a few bucks into it and you’ll have a good-looking, vintage Ranger.

    Like 14
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    You know, ( oh, oh, here it comes) for a guy that bleeds red, white, and blue, and my general distain for foreign vehicles, there was simply no reason to buy a foreign truck, when these, or the S10 were offered. Okay, the V6 was a bit weak, but this was the perfect answer. It did everything the Asian trucks did, and was built by the good folks in the USA, consarnit. Didn’t matter, Toyota was this buzz word regardless of what we produced, and I may get flak for this, but some then had such an anti-American sentiment, it’s almost as if they bought foreign vehicles out of spite, not realizing how important the US auto industry is, or was to our survival. Why do you think the 50s-70s were the best of times in America. We made our own products, bought and sold our own products, that kept Americans working. Foreign cars, in part, changed all that, and we never recovered. Nice goin’,,

    Like 21
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Just to be clear, I’m not as anti-foreign, as the post may sound, see post below for full explanation, thanks,,,

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Brad460 Member

      I think Howard is pretty much correct. I have several of these small trucks, a 79 Toyota, an 84 Toyota, 85 Toyota and an 84 Ranger. The Toyotas are mechanically excellent, but there is absolutely no comparison to how tight and solid the ranger is. Much more substantial, and you can just feel you have more of a vehicle there. Take the box for example, The ford is double sided and built very tough. The toyota box is very flimsy. The downside for the domestics are that the engines are ok, but don’t last as long as the Toyota 22R.

      I do agree that some people were just so mad at America they purposefully bought imports as a way to stick it to the man. You can see it in their irrational comments on websites that are full of emotion, and not factually based. All products have both good and bad, but to some of those folks, the imports are all positive and the domestics are all negative and that can’t possibly be true in all situations.

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Oldog4tz

    Well the cologne is a fairly lousy engine, so a replacement isn’t unusual. Cylinder head failure common, noisy drive train, etc. 90 thru 92 better, so year of replacement matters.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Frank Sumatra

      The Colonge-built engine in my 1995 Explorer went over 130,000 miles with just regular oil changes. Everybody has an opinion, some of us have facts.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

        Your Explorer engine was a 4.0, which didn’t seem to have the cylinder head problems that the early 2.9’s did.

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo grant

        This 2.9 and your 4.0 are wildly different engines.

        Like 3
    • Avatar photo Rickirick

      I had one bought new. my extended warranty went to 60k. The valve cover gaskets needed replacing at 58k. Built in America!

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Okinawa Joe

        In the BMW owners manual for my GF’S 2010 328i it states valve cover gasket is required maintenance at 60,000 miles. They were right it started leaking like a sieve at 62k Miles. Your issue not uncommon in cars built in the 80’s, not so on domestics today, but there is BMW, lol

        Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Dave

    The Ranger was a Mazda from 1994 on. My ’88 F150 had a Mazda transmission. So this American vs Asian manufacturing argument is just nonsense, even Crusty the Clown should know that. The one thing I’d like to have done with a Ranger is transplant a 302 into it. I did have an S10 that I swapped a 350 into and it was a much more capable truck, and got better fuel mileage than my TBI ’89 Camaro.

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo Big Schwag

      Sorry Dave, it’s the other way around. They did use some Mazda transmissions but everything else was a Ford product / equipment. The Mazda version was just a re badged Ford Ranger.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Dave

        Sorry big sheaf my Ford F-150 had a Mazda transmission in it. How is that “the other way around”?

        Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Rbig18

    There is no way to compare these or the S10 favorably to a Toyota of the same vintage. Had S15 GM version (1985) bought new. It did ok. There is a reason 4runners and Tacomas of that era are sought after today and worth a bunch. Domestic products of the time were poor quality.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Hey Rbig18, as in 18 wheels, perhaps? We can go ’round and ’round til the coops close,, let me be clear on my above statement, that was clearly “anti-foreign”. While I do prefer American vehicles, because of the economy schtick, I don’t really know if the Asian products were really any better. I myself, put a jillion miles on a S10, knew many with these Rangers, that had great luck, I figure, it’s splitting hairs, really. It’s a machine, and regardless of origin, it’s going to have problems.
      Now, my old man, he thought buying a foreign car was the MOST un-American thing one could do. I don’t know about that, I can think of much worse, and the old man was full of it. The definition of America, is we can buy what we want, and not ordered to drive Ladas,or whatever.
      Unlike the old man, I like all cars, but I never for a minute thought the American versions were any less capable. I’m an American, dag nabit, from a city that was hit hard by foreign cars( Milwaukee) and ask the great folks in Lansing, or Janesville, Lordstown, St.Paul, Louisville, and a HUGE list goes on, including, above all, Detroit, what THEY think of foreign vehicles. It’s STILL not pretty to many. And I’m sorry, I’ve worked on many foreign vehicles, and American, they used high quality components, 75 years worth of truck building, where as, I feel, the Asians used cheap material, many using rusty scrap metal they bought from US, that cheap “gold” hardware, “our” trucks used trusted names, like Dana, Timkin or Bendix. They had lousy seats, heaters AND controls. My S10 and my Sonoma were very comfy trucks, heaters that would fry an egg. No sir,( oops, or ma’am) you couldn’t convince me for a minute, Asian trucks are any better, and don’t even get me started( pun intended) on Nissan,,

      Like 6
      • Avatar photo Stan

        🇺🇸 🥧 🗽 🛻

        Like 2
      • Avatar photo TomP

        Fyi, There are no American cars anymore, unless you’re talking about the BMW’s and Nissan’s being built in the U.S.. The car in my driveway with a Ford engine has parts in it labeled from India, Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Vietnam. And the emblem on the hood of the car says LAND ROVER..

        Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

    I’d love to have a truck like this someday. Yeah, they weren’t screwed together as the Toyotas but I still love them. Put a little better suspension on them from Autofab or Solo and go have fun in the dirt.

    @Oldog4tz is right – the original engine probably had head problems. Hopefully the replacement engine runs well for many years in its stead.

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo Steve Brown

    Perfect truck for a little off road project. Lift, tires, gears and have a nice capable truck.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo RexFox Member

    This is a nice truck that could easily meet the needs of most home owners. I would be very interested if it was closer so I could inspect it before bidding. I prefer a 4 cylinder and rolling up my own windows, but would gladly take it as-is.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo jwaltb

    ‘82 S10 V6 5 speed was my first new vehicle. Handled great and ran like a top for 116,000 miles until some punk slid into me and totaled it during an ice storm.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo TomP

    I love Rangers. I have an ’88 Ranger in my garage. It has 33k miles on it and is all original, right down to the original General tires that it rolled out of the factory on. When the new Rangers came out a few years ago I was considering buying one until I saw that they were the same price as a full size truck….

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Glenn Schwass Member

    I had a 85 S-10 with the V6. Couldn’t get out of its own way and started shutting off when the temp was over 95° out. Dealer Couldn’t fix it. I traded it in on an 89 k1500 4X4. It was 10 times worse. Went to an 02 F250 next. It blew spark plugs out every 30k and played Russian Rulette with coil packs. I now have a 17 Tundra. Won’t go back unless I need a diesel. I do miss the Ford Seats. Most comfortable unlike my 2015 Co truck Chevy that has negative lumbar seats and handles/rides like a trash truck. Tundra was built here and out tows my F 250.

    Like 0

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