The Durable, Endearing Ford Ranchero

Jerry Sutherland
The Ford Ranchero entered the car-masqueraded-as-a-pickup-truck market in North America in 1957; a full two years before the Chevrolet El Camino. Most car guys recognize the fact that one was a Blue Oval idea and the other was a Bowtie creation, but somehow they have merged the names of the two rivals.
Lionel Johnson is the proud owner of a 1967 Ford Ranchero with a long history in his family and he is used to this standard, but stupid question; “Is that an El Rancho?” Ford and the General clearly wanted to add a Latino flavor to their car/truck models, but the result was an amalgamation of the two names.
Lionel likes the name enough to hang the handle on his Ranchero, so his front license plate is El Rancho. He also likes his Ranchero because this truck is a family legacy vehicle. His grandmother bought the Ranchero brand new back in 1967 and it became known as the “farm truck” in his family.
His grandmother used it on the farm and the Ranchero spent time in the fields whenever his grandmother wanted to check on the crops. The truck was not pampered because it was a part of the farm operation and had to earn its keep.
However, the Ranchero was durable enough to work on the farm and eventually it became a part of the family legacy. Lionel told us it was the first vehicle he ever drove and he formed a strong bond with the Ranchero at an early age.
Lionel’s grandmother passed away in 1979 and the Ranchero was retired from active farm duty. His father eventually asked Lionel whether he wanted the truck. “Sure!” was his immediate answer.
Lionel took ownership of the Ranchero in 2006 and began the restoration in 2009. He wanted to complete the project by 2013, in time for his parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, and he was able to meet the deadline.
The connection between the generations in Lionel’s family can be found in his “El Rancho” and he was happy the truck was ready in time to be part of the anniversary celebration. It will also stay in the next generation because Lionel has already willed it to his son.
Right now the Ranchero is fairly close to its original stock form, although the original three-on-the-tree manual transmission is now three-on-the-floor. It also sports a stylish hood scoop and Lionel intends to put some extra horses under the hood with a 351 Cleveland in its future. That beast will need more oxygen to breathe fire, thus the scoop.
Right now the Ranchero’s factory six provides a steady balance of good economy and acceptable highway performance. Lionel can easily run at highway speeds of 70 mph (110 km/h) and sip gas when he drives his family legacy vehicle to car shows.
It is clear his grandmother was a practical woman because her Ranchero was a bare bones no-frills purchase. Farm folk are practical people and her truck does not even have a factory radio because it was a work truck when she bought it.
These days the Ranchero is used strictly for fun and Lionel finds plenty of it whenever he gets behind the wheel of his beloved “El Rancho”.
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