- UPDATE 16 FEB -
Since this post has proven to be quite popular, and I know I have some British readers, I was wondering, do you have a term for a vehicle that's a car in front and a lorry in the back? With an open bed, I mean, not like the Mini Clubman>
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I find car-truck hybrids to be intriguing vehicles. I have always been puzzled by even their limited popularity.
It seems like almost every manufacturer has tried selling one of these mutant machines at some point, no matter how impractical or how bizarre the bodywork needed to stretch around a car front and a pickup bed. These cars are the automotive equivalent of a mullet haircut, but the party’s out in front, work in the back.
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You could see them as the predecessor to the SUV in that they bridge the gap between a material hauler and a people hauler, and are poorly suited for either task.
But because this Ranchero was built on a car chassis, if it were built today it would be categorized as a “crossover”. Strangely, it took more than two decades for the open pickup bed to get a roof.
When this Ranchero was built, pretty much the only people who drove pick-up trucks were people who needed to actually haul stuff. Farmers, trades people, lumber jacks.
So, why would anyone buy a car that looks like a pickup truck but isn’t robust enough to pull a big trailer or haul a ton of manure? As you can see from the silhouette of this Ranchero, they did not buy it for its vast cabin. And the bed, being open, is not really even suitable for the groceries.
My theory was always that the buyers of Rancheros and El Caminos were strictly trying to make a statement. I have just never been sure what it was.
I did not have the opportunity to visit with the driver of this pristine example, with its classic Crager S/S wheels. However, I’m guessing from the fact that I came across it dripping with morning dew after it had spent the night beside the sand volleyball court outside a large tavern near Rock Island, IL, that its owner might have had surfboards in mind. It’s all I can think of.
Despite the Ranchero’s long history (1957-1979,) built on the Fairlane, Falcon, Torino and finally the Thunderbird platforms, with a total of a half a million or so delivered, the Ranchero lived in a tiny patch of the shadow cast by its true truck cousin, the ever-massively-popular Ford 100 Series pickup, which has so far been the choice for over 32,000,000 Ford buyers. Who actually needed to haul stuff.
All words and images copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2009