Right now, Ford Rancheros are outrageously affordable, but don't
expect cars like this 1976 Ranchero to remain in the bargain
basement for much longer. They look great, have the same V8 muscle
as their mid-sized siblings, and with that pickup bed out back,
they're hobby cars that can really earn their keep.
The Ranchero always lived in the El Camino's shadow, but when you look at this Torino-based truck/car, you see muscle car DNA throughout. Finished in spectacular Copper Metallic paint, it certainly has a timeless look that is a lot less dated than many of its contemporaries, and in the right light it just seems to glow. Fit and finish are quite nice, with doors that fit well and a shine that looks right on the vintage hauler, and we have to admit that it's nice enough that you might hesitate to take it to Home Depot for your next weekend project. The Torino DNA is evident everywhere you look, from the handsome front and to the beautifully sculpted quarters, which really give it a muscular look. Most of the emblems and badges have been shaved, so it looks quite clean, and the airbrush work on the hood is pretty impressive. The bed is ready to work thanks to a heavy-duty mat, but there's more pretty copper paint back there, too, so you know no corners were cut in the paint department.
From behind the wheel, this Ranchero feels every bit like its Torino GT siblings, and with a split bench seat wearing handsome black cloth, it has a bucket seat feel with 3-across seating. The carpets, door panels, and dash pad look equally nice, and all of it is neatly restored, suggesting that someone has always cared for this car. Five round dials look give the dash a racy look and they've cleverly installed a VDO tachometer in the slot normally reserved for the clock. A trio of auxiliary gauges hang underneath in their own woodgrained panel, a nice touch. A Pioneer AM/FM/cassette stereo head unit fits in the dash just to the driver's right, and there's modest storage behind the seats if you have gear that you'd like to keep out of sight. The spare tire is also back there and it wears its own fitted cover.
Under that scooped hood lives a stout 429 cubic inch V8, one of Ford's better performers even in the early '70s. With a 4-barrel Edelbrock carburetor, the name of the game is torque, and the big block V8 moves the relatively lightweight Ranchero with genuine authority. It's dressed up with Ford Racing valve covers, an Edelbrock air cleaner, and a chrome radiator shroud, plus cool custom wire wraps that echo the tiger theme. It was rebuilt about 1000 miles ago, so it runs superbly and the modifications weren't extensive, so it's still very streetable and user-friendly. Underneath there's a C6 3-speed automatic transmission and a heavy-duty 9-inch rear end, and it's easy to see that that this car has never lived in the rust belt, because the underside is in very good condition. The dual exhaust system uses glasspack-style mufflers for a spectacular soundtrack and classic chrome wheels with baby moon hubcaps offer a traditional performance look. Staggered 225/70/15 front and 275/60/15 rear blackwall radials add just a bit of rake to this cool hauler.
So take note if you're looking to get in ahead of a trend, Rancheros are over-due for a price bump. Take this one home and start having fun before everyone else catches on that they're are a ton of fun, too. Call today!