(first posted 9/7/2016) We’re a bit overdue for some Ranchero love. And to goose the hormones some, how about that one-year wonder, the 1966 version? Yes, 1966 was the last year that the Ranchero was technically still a Falcon (in the US) but it also had the new body that was really more Fairlane than Falcon. And in 1967, it got the genuine Fairlane front end. So this is a bit special; feeling the love yet?
Shooting on a busy street in the blazing mid-day summer sun is my least favorite time and place, so these shots are a bit lacking. But the 1966 Falcon front end is obvious enough.
Here’s the rather more interesting 1967 Fairlane Ranchero, with its stacked headlights and different trim.
In a way, it’s a one-year wonder too, as by 1968, the Ranchero had of course also adopted the new horizontal front end of the ’68-’69 Fairlane/Torino. And just now looking at it, I realize the changes are more extensive than that; the cab has a slimmer C-Pillar, and lost its vent windows. I had assumed the cab was a carry-over.
Strictly speaking, the Ranchero wasn’t always identified as a Falcon, although there were often references to its parentage in ads and such. Not in this 1966 ad, though. Maybe Ford was getting us warmed up for its step up into the Fairlane family.
The Fairlane name was on prominent display for 1967, along with “Thunderbird Power”, denoting the availability of the 390 V8.
Now I just had to go see if the Fairlane name was used for 1968. Nope; back to just Ranchero. So the 1967 really is a one year wonder too.
This ’66 Ranchero looks like it may have paid a visit to Tijuana. Stephanie and I were just wondering today if all those semi-open air upholstery shops that were along the bumpy old gravel main road into town after crossing the border are still there . Probably somewhere, but not like they were back in the day. The transition from San Ysidro over the border into TJ back in the 70s was truly amazing, especially for the first time.
When I lived in San Diego in 1976-1977, we sued to go down fairly often, for a cheap meal and drinks. My GF had a bit of a betting gene, so we’d go to the Jai Alai palace and waste some money there. But watching the games was a lot better way to lose money betting than all those stupid machines that gobble up money nowadays.
In my trip back to vintage Tijuana via the Google time machine, I came across this image of what appears to be the border crossing back in the early 1950s. Quite a change from today. And I followed this image back to its web page, and it’s a blog by a certain Iowahawk. Is it the same Iowahawk that comments here regularly?
I’m guessing it might be, as he relates a story from a fellow hotrod pal from HAMB:
“Yeah, we made it to TJ more than once. Friend of mine had a ’56 ‘bird interior done complete less top for $110. I had a ’54 Chev hardtop lowered for $1.25. The most memorable was the night 4 of us went down in a ’55 Chev ragtop, 283 3 speed that ran fair good. All night long a carload of locals in a ’57 Century rag kept trying to race us. finally after half a dozen bars & beers, he decided to give it a shot just for the hell of it. Wasn’t a bad race, the Buick pulling the Chev by 1 car out on the outskirts of town. After the race, we pulled over to bullshit. They wanted to go again, but my bud said no,he didn’t think he could beat him. The Mexicans all agreed it was a good race, & then pulled badges, arrested us & had us follow them downtown where they stripped, searched,& relieved us of all our money, & then gave the driver back $5 to get us home. I’ll try to find Gene’s hometown in my bootcamp book.”
Well, let’s get back to Willamette Street in Eugene, and this Ranchero. Ranchero; you see, there really is a connection to Mexico here. I’ve been wondering how we suddenly ended up in TJ, but it all makes sense now, right? More so than why Ford decided to switch from a Falcon front end to a Fairlane one.
Since we’re all over the globe here, let’s not forget our friends in Australia, as they got a new “Ranchero” in 1966 too, in the form of the XR Falcon ute. Well, the similarities mostly end at the A-pillar, as the Australians tooled up their own version from there back. Since they didn’t do two-doors down under, the short four-door door was used, and a longer C-pillar to compensate.
This composite picture clearly shows the divergent paths taken by the mothership in Dearborn and its distant offspring in Campbellfield, Victoria. Well, they used what they had at hand, meaning the station wagon body, which was modified to become the ute. A very utilitarian undertaking.
I’ve run out of connections to this Ranchero; maybe you can make some more.
Crossing the border to Mexico is risking life and limb these days from what I hear…
No. I drive into Tecate from California and back regularly. It’s not exactly a sleepy outpost, but its not crazy either. Never forget the media can only sell the horrendous, sleezy, or beautiful. They don’t have much to work with as far as ordinary operations go…..
True: Based on way too many years of “Law & Order” episodes, Every time I mentioned that I did (insert name of event/activity) in Central Park or anywhere in NYC, My (Pittsburgh) friends react: “…. and you didn’t get robbed!?!” Well, you stand that chance ANYWHERE, But most places don’t have 300 cop shows skewering perceptions! Ah, media!
Via the early 1950s photo, I see on the ’50? Ford, that sticking Buick “portholes” on ”lesser” cars did not start recently!
It was very common back then, even in Australia.
Amazing, since we hardly got any portholed Buicks here.
I guess I should not be that surprised, It (in most years) seems to be an “easy” custom touch to add. Since it was done in modern times speaks to the fact the Buick still has “cred” in places. Now if they would just start making Buicks again…….
The Falcon/Fairlane/Mustang/Maverick/Granada story is the most interesting story of what an automobile “platform” can become. The MoPar “B” and “K” also. For whatever we think of them, these three platforms provided a hell of a lot of cars we love,hate and debate to this day. More sweeping drama in them than most movies!
You left out the Lincoln Versailles…the Falcon gone nouveau riche. Maybe if they’d made a ute version…
Of course the Versailles was the ultimate Falcon. I also left out all Mercury models. (So many Falcons, So little time!) LOL!
The spiritual forbear of the Blackwood?
Maybe they really should have gone for it, considering the (limited) popularity of 70’s Cadillacs converted into utes. Though Versailles is way too glitzy for a ute, even a Lincoln version. The Provence, perhaps?
I could actually see a Lincoln version of the Torino based Ranchero. Ford made big bucks watering down the Thunderbird to the Torino platform. Given Thunderbird’s traditional Lincoln relationship, It would not have been unreasonable,given the right 1970s recreational substances!
I credit Toyota for taking it further still. What we consider a “Camry” is also Avalon, Highlander, RX350, ES350, Venza….and…uhm…what have I forgotten?
And that platform is 15 years old. Can you imagine how much additional profit Toyota has been able to earn by amortizing platform development across all those models for 15 years?
True enough for variety of cars, That’s almost K car like! My working knowledge of Toyota is limited. I had no idea the “Camry” was that prolific!
Solara. My wife has one and loves it.
I still reckon ours looked better than yours mostly.
That 68/69 Ranchero is a deceptively fantastic shape, however, and probably my favourite pickup ever (slightly ahead of the 72 and our XA).
Hilarious anecdote from Iowahawk.
The XR looks better than the ’66 Ranchero? Really? To me, the XR looks like someone took a torch to a four door wagon, which is essentially the case. That pinched cab looks so wrong. But maybe it’s an acquired taste.
I think it’s a matter of what you’re used to seeing. To my eyes, the American one looks odd. Not wrong, just alternative-universe odd. 🙂
I have the same “odd” in a good way feeling about Australian cars. There’s a “what if” vibe. And actually some should have been sold here as “captive” imports, The Australian cars look less “foreign” to my eyes than many “captive” imports we did get!
I love the 68 as well – the straight lines along the sides, thin pillars and simple grille give it a very clean and attractive look.
Different Iowahawk, I’m afraid. Wonderful story, wish it were mine to tell!
In that composite photo, the Aussie does look awkward, and I do like the featured Ranchero, but for some reason I tend to prefer the Aussie utes to their Ranchero equivalents.
Perhaps because they’re less stylized?
Could be. The ute was always a functional vehicle. I reckon the only stylized ones were the XA-XC generation.
That one has a nice look.
“I still reckon ours looked better than yours mostly.”
I quite like the 66 front end. I’m not much of a fan of the 66 Falcon body, so that face tacked onto the Ranchero looks good to me.
The Fairlane Ranchero episodes of RoadKill are some of my favorites, since they are actually doing something with the car rather than building something crazy that is ultimately useless.
G-series 911 photobomb.
How wide was the Falcon/Fairlane platform?
The “Falcon Platform” encompassed a very wide range of cars from the original 1960 Falcon to the Versailles, including at least three different track widths, and 18 different wheelbase/track width combinations. We covered that here: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-fords-falcon-platform-from-falcon-to-versailles-in-18-different-wheelbase-lengthtrack-width-variations/
If you want to know just the ’66 Falcon width, here’s the place for details like that: http://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/ford_usa/falcon_usa_3gen/falcon_usa_3gen_futura_sports_coupe/1966.html
In this case, it’s 73.2″ wide.
The Falcon/Fairlane/Mustang 289 V8 fit well under the hood of this car/truck body. Very easy to work on.
Ford’s blurring of the Falcon and Fairlane always seemed a mistake to me, and the death of the U.S. Falcon franchise along with so-so sales of Ford mid-size products seems to attest to that.
That blurring did create some serendipity for the Ranchero. After Chevy introduced its El Camino as a mid-size in 1964, someone at Ford realized identifying the Ranchero as a mid-size vs. as a compact was probably the way to go. Switch out the front clip and presto!
I’m generally not a fan of what Ford did to any of its 1968 cars. The 1967 line was quite handsome across the board, and the ’68s seem generic and uninspired. But, I’m actually a bit drawn to the ’68 Ranchero. The cab redo is quite nice. In addition to the lost side window vents, the side door glass also went frameless – a change the El Camino didn’t see until 1973.
The 67 Fairlane front end always looked tacked on on the Ranchero body to me, there was more compact proportioning of the bodyshell for the Falcon nose and I find it to be a better fit. The 68 seemed to be longer as well, same with the 70 but maybe it’s an optical illusion. I find both more palatable than the 67 though
I first saw one of these 66 models for sale in Australia a few years ago, I remember thinking , why would someone bolt a plain Falcon front end to one of these.
Then I find out it was an actual model. They really need the Fairlane fronts to come alive
Make mine a 68.
They make our 60s Falcon utes look very homemade. our 1972 models with the proper longer doors fixed that.
Also I wonder if there’s more legroom in the Ranchero, I’m about 6′ 1 and could never get comfortable in our big three utes till more recent models.
The expansiveness of the Falcon name and platform is truly amazing; not only did it define Ford in the US until the early ’80’s (and arguably beyond), but the Falcon was one of the first “global cars.” If I catch one, I’ll write it up; the Falcon is one of my all time favorites and would probably be a good answer to the automotive spirit animal question from the other day.
The ’66-’71 Ranchero shared its wheelbase with the Falcon, Fairlane, and Torino station wagons, as well as the Mercury Comet, Villager, Voyager and Montego station wagons of those same years. They (Ranchero and Ford mid-sized and compact station wagons) all shared a wheelbase that was in-between that of the compact Falcon sedans and the other mid-sized Fords.
Yes, the Falcon wagon shared its bodyshell with the larger Fairlane and Torino and the biggest difference was the front-end clip.
The only complaint that I had about my recently sold ’66 Ranchero 500 was the lack of power steering. You really had to muscle that steering wheel if not on the highway.
Other than the stiff steering effort I enjoyed the car/truck. It rode well, the 289 V8 engine gave it all power I needed and fit well in the garage.
I found it’s one-tear-only Falcon/Fairlane styling quite pleasing to the eyes.
CC-in-scale doesn’t have a Ranchero, but here’s a ’66 Falcon.