Category Archives: Ranchero

Falcon Rancheros of the world, Unite!

Business in the back, party in the front

Business in the back, party in the front

The inspiration for came after noting  just how many Ford Falcons have survived over the past six decades.   “Feral Falcons” posts on Facebook morphed into this site so our roots, it could be said, lie with Ford’s compact car. Many of those still-flying Falcons are Rancheros, the trucklette created by transforming the station wagon variant into a small pickup.

Haulin' little birdie

Haulin’ little birdie

The Rancheros car/truck concept debuted in 1957 and continued through ’59, based on full-size Fords and those, in turn, inspired Chevy’s El Camino. The Falcon-based Ranchero, however,  truly ignited the mini truck revolution in which Toyota and Datsun would soon play their part.

Dio's machina

Deus ex machina

We thought we’d celebrate Labor Day by offering a gallery of Falcon Rancheros, all caught in the wild.  While many are still hard at work, hauling whatever piles of detritus one may choose to toss in the load bed, we’re giving them the day off in recognition of their travails for the last 50+ years.

Distressed express

Distressed express

Ranchero was an integral part of the Falcon line through 1965 and a disproportionate number are still in service. We’re partial to the raw, un-restored, examples found in a condition  that seems to underscore plebian roots.   Let’s salute them on this day of the worker!

Ruffled feathers

Ruffled feathers

Falcon ranger

Snappy kestrel

After 1965 Ranchero was based on the larger Fairlane platform and, ultimately, forswore its working class origin, transforming into a muscle car that happened to have a load bed.  Fairlane yielded to Torino and this less-than-demure ’72 Ranchero GT with a bitchin’ hood scoop is a prime example of that  change in attitude.

Ranchero aggresso

Aggro Ranchero

Here’s a Starsky & Hutch era ’78 Ranchero that shares its platform with the LTD II/Thunderbird of the time. Aside from the fact that it’s a Ford built car based truck, its arriviste affect really has very little in common with that of the humble Falcon Ranchero that we celebrate today.

Blowed up real good

Snooty social striver

The basic Falcon Ranchero concept was revived by Volkwagen in the late ’70s with the Rabbit Pickup, built in Westmoreland, PA over a four year production run.  We encountered this diesel powered 1980 example in rural Kelseyville CA the other day and its owner reports that he’s had 22 of these over the course of time.  The motor on this one has been swapped out for a relatively recent TDi diesel and yields mpg in the mid 40s.  How’s that for addressing the concerns of the working person?

Bauer = Ranchero auf Deutsche

Arbeit macht frei?

 If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted



El Camino: Real after 55 years

Seems as though there’s an automotive anniversary noted daily.  We told you about the 50th anniversary of the closing of Studebaker’s South Bend plant a few days ago and just  got word that 2014 is the centennial of Maserati’s founding. Today’s news is that Chevy’s El Camino was introduced 55 years ago.

Chevy's caruck

Chevy’s ‘caruck’

Chevrolet was caught blindsided when Ford launched its Ranchero in 1957.  It was a truck, carved out of a Ford station wagon, offering the utility of a pick up and the comfort and style of a car.  Chevrolet responded with the ’59 El Camino, an adaptation of the truly bizarre Chevy of that year, complete with bat wing rear fenders.  After the 1960 model year, Chevy abandoned the market but came roaring back with a Chevelle-based incarnation of the El Camino in 1964 and stayed with it for the next 23 years.

Glamor hauler

Glamor hauler

Feral Cars scout Lynda Keeler found this very glossy tourquoise ’67 with jaunty load bed tonneau cover and très cherchez California “black plates.” Sweet!

Nice and rough!

Ruff! Ruff!

Because they’re actually trucks, El Caminos aren’t necessarily babied as with this beastly SS396 from 1969.  Prepare to roll up your t-shirt sleeve and insert a pack of Luckies.

Pebble finish, not Pebble Beach

Pebble finish, not Pebble Beach

An alternative to both high gloss and beat down looks is this pebble finish treatment that is, with apologies to Ike and Tina Turner,  both nice and rough.

End of the line Elco: when it works, it works hard.

End of the line Elco: when it works, it works hard.

El Camino production ended in 1987 as standard pick up trucks, like Chevy’s own C/K, offered more amenities with interiors as plush as many upmarket passenger cars.  Production of the last generation El Caminos shifted south in 1985, as evidenced by this “Hecho En Mexico” window sticker.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 10.41.24 PM

Despite the fact that El Caminos are no longer built, one can certainly find many, many used examples, in varying states of repair from which to choose such as this “pre-owned” cream puff.

"Runs Great" says it all!

“Runs Great” says it all!

OR you can build your own out of a cast off passenger car.  We especially like this nifty little green “Beameramino,” cobbled together from an early 70s BMW 2002.

Munich mover

Munich mover

Every now and then there’s a rumor that GM will start building the El Camino again and that’s because so many have fond memories of these trucklettes.  No less a light than the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, admitted to owning an El Camino.  In a 1994 speech before an audience of GM plant workers in Shreveport, LA he famously noted,  “I owned, when I was a younger man and had a life.. an El Camino pickup in the seventies. It was a real sort of southern deal. I had Astroturf in the back. You don’t want to know why, but I did.”  Astroturf?  That must have been so he could practice his putts, right?

More recently, groovy rockers The Black Keys released an album entitled “El Camino” but, inexplicably, it featured a mid-1980s Plymouth Voyager minivan on the cover.  Yes, those nutty hipsters sure know how to blow your mind!

Country music great Tom T. Hall was El Camino’s spokesperson when the truck was downsized in the 1978 model year.  In this commercial he makes smaller seem better.  He’s the composer of many celebrated songs including  “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “I Love,” the latter of which includes the verse “I love I little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks / Slow movin’ trains and rain.”  Our version would be “I love Babe, the Bambino and El Caminos/crazy old cars and bars.” Yes, the never-to-be-forgotten Chevy El Camino was poetry in motion.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com  OR through our Facebook page. Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it the attention it deserves.