UTE Survivor: 1961 Ford Ranchero

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Nearly small enough to cover in gift wrap, this Ford Ranchero is a tidy little pickup that is ready to drive! Thought to have 66,000 original miles, this Ford has recently been serviced. Offered for a reasonable $3,700, you can find this Ranchero here on craigslist out of Santa Monica, California. Thanks to J Liu for sharing this awesome find!

Having received a lot of recent maintenance, this little Ranchero seems like a sweet find. The brake system has been completely rebuilt, as well as the carburetor. Also fresh shocks have been added. The inline 6 is a good runner and is backed by a floor shifted 3 speed manual transmission. The engine compartment isn’t too shabby, but if you admire a picture perfect bay, there are a few small projects and cleaning you could undertake to make this engine even more photogenic.

From what I can see, the interior looks quite reasonable. There is some minor paint chipping on the steering wheel, and the bench seat looks to either be recovered, or borrowed from another vehicle. Also there is a second radio mounted below the dash.

The seller has been honest and explains that this Ford needs a restoration, and has some rust. I personally like the appearance of this machine, and would opt to preserve this one as is. While the rust that is mentioned isn’t immediately apparent, I don’t doubt that there may be some rust to contend with. There is a little bit of rust in the front edge of the hood. I am guessing that the bed may have it’s fair share of rust as well.  As a whole, the body is very straight, and the rockers, quarters, and lower sections of the doors look excellent. Would you give this Ranchero a new home?

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  1. Adam ClarkeStaff

    Great article Brian, and so glad to see the use of the word “ute.” My daily driver is a ’96 Falcon Ute, and it’s a great car. I’d have this one in my workshop any day.

    Like 2
  2. Miguel

    How is it possible that every beat up old car now has under 100K original miles?

    Like 10
    • Mountainwoodie


      Exactly! the thought I had as I started reading!

      Feliz Navidad Y Prospero Ano…. A Todos

      Like 2
    • Andy

      I don’t think many people expected to get much more out of a car before about 1980, so they probably put them away before things really started going downhill.

      Like 4
  3. Kenneth Carney

    Just what I need for running errands around town. Those little sixes run
    forever when properly maintained.
    So what if it’s got 100K on it, it’s good
    enough for me.

    Like 6
  4. Andy

    It would be nice to keep this original but it would also be hard to fight the temptation to drop a 260 or 289 in that understuffed engine bay.

    Like 7
  5. PhiljustPhil

    A little scary to me that the rear license plate shows so much corrosion. I wonder what the underside of this ‘lil darlin’ looks like?

    Like 1
    • Tom

      I also have 61 ranchero and a big problem area is the front of the bed has an access panel so you can get to the rear shocks. I was unpleasantly surprised to find about 6 in of mud and gunk had collected in there, rotting all the sheet metal

      Like 0
  6. junkmanMember

    Too bad the original seat is gone, if you’ve ever seen one you would think that it is appropriate for a ranchero. They had imitation cattle brand markings and I think hoof prints (not sure about the hoof prints) but definitely cool. Only ever saw one and that was 25 years ago. I wish I had time and room for a nice one of these, maybe someday.

    Like 1
  7. HoA Howard AMember

    We never used the term “Ute” in the US, fact is, we never knew they even existed. We never saw any of the cool cars that came out of Australia. To us, these vehicles did neither job well, not the best car, not the best truck, and had a very limited following. Most people looking for a pickup, just bought a pickup. There was a ( brief) time I was looking to get one of these, just for the novelty, but remembered Falcons I had, and decided against it. Californians idea of rust may differ from Wisconsins, and being unibody, I’d check the front out pretty good. Blows my theory out of the water, why this Cal. car isn’t 5 figures. Maybe the next time around. Great find, tho.

    Like 4
  8. Graham Lloyd

    Howard, usually the floor is the first thing to rot out on these. Followed by the quarters. The front end metal seems to do pretty good.

    I had a 61 Ranchero for about 7 years. Former flower car. Only option was the heater. Daily driver in the summer. Hauled brush, furniture, lumber and the occasional motorcycle. A portable workbench when building the fence and shed. Dead nuts reliable and would keep up with traffic with no issues. An amazing little car.

    The floors rotted out on it and one winter the portable shed I kept it in collapsed from the snow load. I sold it for what I paid for it. One of the few times I didn’t loose money on a car.

    If it wasn’t for the amount of crap I seem to haul and the need for a large truck, I would sell my F350 dually and get another one.

    Like 1
  9. dave brennan

    If it were 1500 miles closer , he’d already have my money

    Like 2
  10. Wayne

    You have to inspect these cars/trucks very carefully for rust at the front bed/rear cab area. Also the area under the bed accessed behind the seat. I have seen what looked like a very solid Ranchero be a nightmare for rust issues. (And yes it was a California vehicle.)
    But I still like them. And if I found the right one at the right price I would do a make over with a 2.3 Turbo and 5 speed from an SVO and all the first addition Mustang handling and braking goodies underneath. It would stay light, balanced and fun.

    Like 4
  11. Del


    Grab it and repaint it.

    Cute classic

    Like 1
  12. G.W.Gilmore

    Fix the little rust ares it does have and fit a 5 liter in it and if it were mine I would want to convert it to automatic with a floor shift. That’s my opion and we all deserve to have them even if others don’t like them.? I think paint it a lite sky blue with navy blue interior to me would be a great combination?

    Like 3

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