I’m beginning to feel less like some dude trawling the junkyards and more like Cal Worthington hawking miles and miles of slightly used cars what with all of the barely used creampuffs that I find in the ‘yards. Once again I can present to you yet another unwanted vehicle at the junkyard that looks like it could fire right up and drive out under its own power and then keep going for at least another 100,000 miles. Only this time, it’s a pickup truck and from what I recall, it’s exactly what everybody keeps on saying they want in a truck. Small (not mid-size!), economical, regular cab, with a longer bed to carry more mulch, and a low price. And a minimum of fancy stuff; no screens, no airbags, no safety stuff, let’s all just be thrown clear into a haystack like in the old days. Guess what? That’s never being offered again as a new truck. Not even the upcoming Ford Maverick that will start at $21,490 (including the non-optional destination charge) qualifies as it has a rear seat and a very short bed instead. And probably some safety gear and I know I saw a touchscreen in the preview I saw. And it’s FWD and unibody, so it’ll never last, you don’t want any part of that, right? Right.
But this! This seems to be exactly it! Where were you when the heirs or whoever put it on the curb or on Craigslist or FB Marketplace or whatever? You missed out. Big time. Any offer would have likely taken it, they probably got $200 when they hauled it down here as scrap while every other used vehicle seems to be currently fetching 3x what it was worth a year ago.
1983 was the first year of the Ranger. Well, the Ranger as its own truck model, there were other Ranger variants of the F-series before. This one though took over from the Courier and was hurriedly moved up in the sales schedule when GM came out with the S-10 and cleaned up for about six months without this as competition. As a result, the 1983 model year was a long one, about a year and a half. This one was built in the latter part of the production year but is still a first-year model.
This one’s got the regular cab and it’s got the long bed at 7 feet. Did you know that still makes it a whole foot shorter than the Maverick? Perhaps the rear bumper wasn’t included in that though as I’m fairly sure it was an accessory back then. Still. What on this truck can’t be fixed for pennies when (if) it breaks?
Chrome front bumper. Eggcrate grille (for those large AA grade eggs as opposed to Chevy’s smaller ones). The Ford logo up front and no-nonsense large sealed beams to dimly light the way home.
It’s an XL model, so around the middle of the range back then. There was a Ranger with no suffix below it as well as a fancier XLS and then the top XLT above. No Platimum, Limited, or King Ranch nonsense. Or even Prince Ranch back then, fancy trucks didn’t really sell. But they were still handy and loads of folks bought them. Although a Ranger eXtraLarge is a bit of an oxymoron when you think about it.
Ford was all about the tape stripe back in those days. And to good effect, I’ll add. I miss the old two-tones now that they are gone (and I’m not validating the bit of contrast paint you can get on the rocker panel area these days as an option on many trucks, that doesn’t count). The painted FORD is good too, now you can pay extra for a colored insert into the embossed areas of the tailgate if your choice offers that.
Seven feet of Lebensraum back here, six was standard. I could have stretched out like nobody’s business on the overland trip in this thing and still had the tailgate up. You could even reach over the bed sides and scoop those leaves out by hand! The bed itself looks in excellent shape, I’m thinking this truck was likely even garaged its whole life.
I’ll confess to seeing a few tiny specks of rust on the right side of the bed above the wheel well. But those dents I’m guessing were put in here at the yard. The owner must have fretted about the rust though. Still, at this rate there’s lots of life left in it even as is.
According to the VIN that’s the 2.3l Lima engine, although the 2.0l version was also available. 80hp sounds frightful enough, but the 73hp of the 2.0, well, maybe the Maverick is sounding better in that regard. But I’m thinking it runs fine, nobody has even touched this engine in a long time. The air cleaner lid is still there and dusty without fingerprints, that’s always the first thing to be opened up.
That’s not even dirt, it’s just dust from driving and perhaps sitting. Nothing’s missing besides a battery. I believe I was the first person to open this hood after the truck was placed in its spot.
Showroom fresh. And no safety nannies like headrests, your head can take a hit against the back glass, it’s not like the rear bumper is going to absorb anything! It does have seatbelts but the jury is out if they were ever worn. Nice beige-ish fabric upholstery with vinyl borders. Wood-grain trim on the dash. Carpets. Such hedonism.
I made an exception this time and actually got in, I was curious how I would fit and frankly the truck was basically cleaner than the vehicle I arrived in. It turns out that with the seat all the way back (a little further than it was in this picture), a person that is 6’1″ with a 32″ inseam fits perfectly with no slop. Now, the steering wheel doesn’t adjust and neither do the pedals so it’s a little rigid and all, but it did work for me, if you match or are smaller you’d be fine. Plenty of headroom too.
A full complement of gauges bar a tachometer. Warning lights in the middle. A knob for the headlights on the lower left and the wipers on a separate stalk from the turn signal stalk (which is slightly below and out of frame).
46,917 miles. And I think they are the total, no missing first digit. The seat is in too good of a condition for that, the vinyl shows no wear and the fabric wasn’t even remotely loose or different from driver to passenger side.
It’s got the optional five-speed. Like a Toyota SR5! The knob looks practically new as well.
No headliner in an XL, just painted metal in perfect condition. Not even any oxidation rust. The visors had little mirrors clipped to the other side and the dome light looks like new as well. And there’s even a coathook!
The cubby up on the dash is handy to store stuff that doesn’t need to be in the glovebox below. That’s a cigarette lighter to the right of the steering column, it matches the headlight knob on the other side. No A/C on this one, but who needs that. It has a radio with two knobs, no presets, and a slot for the 8-track! You did keep all of your tapes, right?
I’m not sure what I could possibly say here. It’s virtually perfect. That little dark area should clean right up.
I did though find all of the vehicle documentation except for the Monroney. Even the paint chips! Desert Tan and Light Desert Tan. The truck apparently hailed from Kansas, one state to the east of here.
Built March of 1983, USA Ford Truck, GVWR 3001-4000lbs, Ranger 4×2, 2.3liter 4-cylinder, 1983 model, assembled in Louisville, Kentucky.
The base price for a 1983 Ranger was around $6,400, but since this is the XL with a long bed, the larger 4-cylinder, two tone paint, and the five-speed, it’d be more. Motorweek actually tested a very similar truck in the same two-tone color scheme, also an XL with this longer bed but the smaller 2.0l and 4-speed and said theirs cost $8,200. So let’s add a few hundred for the larger engine and 5-speed and call it $8,500 for this one. Which is about $23,000 today. Assuming this truck actually did run and the bed didn’t have the side dent before it was dropped off here, how much would you have paid for it last week?