Driving through the little town of Eaton, Colorado the other evening I passed by this pairing that was well worthy of a quick stop. Arranged as they were it could well actually be 1972, not nearly fifty years later. I was struck that the owner must likely make a decision every morning as to which car to take that particular day and realized it must not be an easy one. Both (likely) have V8’s and automatic transmissions, both are best sized for two occupants, and neither returns much in fuel economy. But they do differ significantly as well. Let’s get a little closer.
Starting with the Ranchero, it’s immediately obvious that this is a 1972, seeing as how starting in ’73 the bumper is quite different. I don’t know when the last time was that I saw a Ranchero that still had its hubcaps, they and the white vinyl top certainly give off a different vibe than most of them do. The brochure states that with the redesign, Rancheros are now “man-sized pickup cars”, so okay, we’ll go with that, I qualify. This being a 500 means it’s the standard model. While a 250 cu.in. six was the standard mill, options included V8 engines in 302, 351 (2V and 4V), 400, as well as the big 429 displacements. While a three-on-the-tree was standard with the 250, 302 and 351 (4V), a 3-speed auto was an option and standard with the others. A four-on-the-floor was available as well with some trim combinations. Something for every desire and budget apparently.
That pickup bed is 6.5 feet long inside and four feet between the wheelwells so it’ll easily haul all the drywall you need with the tailgate down (or hanging over the edge if closed). Properly equipped, a Ranchero can also haul 6,000 pounds of boat or whatever else, although this one doesn’t seem to have a tow package. For a “pickup car” that parks outside, this seems in excellent condition and well taken care of.
But not every day is a truck day, so in that case there’s the legendary Buick Riviera in the middle year of this three-year body style, 1964. Designed by the legendary Bill Mitchell, this is of course a very well regarded design, although my personal preference for whatever reason runs to the third-generation “Boattail” Riviera. As a perfect and perhaps definitive example of a personal luxury coupe, it certainly has visual presence even though this one is showing the ravages of time a little more.
As a 1964 it would be powered by the 425c.i. Nailhead V8 producing 340hp, although a “Wildcat” 360hp version was available as well, backed in either case by the ST-400 3-speed automatic. The rear to me is probably its weakest angle and for 1965 both the front and rear were redesigned. Inside are bucket seats in front and a two place rear.
No matter what, kudos to the owner for keeping both on the road and apparently using them as drivers. On a daily basis with no pressing need (a load or more than two occupants) and no personal hangups regarding GM vs Ford that makes the choice of one over the other obvious it’d likely be an odd vs. even arrangement or just a random toss of the keys to decide which gets driven. How about you?