“More than a car, more than a truck — it’s a completely new idea in utility vehicles!” went the Ford sales brochure when the Ranchero was launched in 1957.
The Blue Oval was fighting a losing battle against Chevrolet after World War II in the pickup segment. The F-100 was being pegged back in sales by GM’s Task Force series and Ford needed something radical to capture the imagination of the truck-buying public. This hit the nail on the head. Based on the new-for-1957 full-sized Ford platform, from the front bumper to the dashboard it was basically a two-door Ranch Wagon albeit with the stretched roof replaced by a bed. It sold as a pickup but wasn’t capable of serious hauling; it retained the estate’s rear springs and front ball-joint suspension and only had a payload of 544kg. It was, however, perfect for light-duty use, and more pertinently, with luxurious interior trim options and a smooth 352 cubic inch (5.8-litre) V8 it felt more like a Fairlane than the rugged F-100. Just under 22,000 sold in the first year and the unique car-truck made such a strong impression that Chevy duplicated its own version two years later, called the El Camino.
The Ranchero could be had in two trims — standard and custom — with the latter featuring eye-catching body side moldings, more elaborate interior finishings along with power steering, power brakes, power windows and four-way power seats. Two-tone paint was common back then and overall, due to its unique configuration which made the Ranchero — and indeed El Camino — cool, funky and fun, they’re very desirable models and always high up on the ‘want’ list of collectors.
The Ranchero had a 23 year production run and 508,355 units were built — and a concours-quality ‘57 model can fetch up to Dh250,000 today.