My Curbside Classic: 1992 Ford Ranger – It Was Meant To Be

This “My CC” is from John Palmer, known as ciddyguy hereabouts.

There are times in one’s life when certain things are meant to be, because they are what you need at that point. Sometimes that need may be a particular person you needed to know who can help you, or it’s a friend who’s in a position to help you get what you need. This is about one of those times and the car that came into my life as a result.

I called this dear friend who’s like a brother to me, whom I’ve known for nearly forty years to see if he was going to be home, and if so, to borrow his shop vac to vacuum up some water that was accumulating in the passenger seat floor of my then road-weary ’88 Honda Accord sedan. So I dropped by and began to vacuum up said water from the floor and when done, showed him how much I’d sucked up, as it even surprised me. He took pity on my sad state of woe with the poor Honda and agreed that it was time to replace the car as I was in NO way financially able to get it back into good, road worthy shape.

So he then told me of this green Ford Ranger truck that was sitting out in front of his house that he and his dad were thinking of selling anyway. They’d not had it long, five months to be exact, and it had a new clutch, front brakes, front wheel bearings and fresh oil in the transmission.

So, he talked to his dad, and we came up with a deal for me to purchase it, the next day. We changed the oil and plugs and such as it hesitated when cold and from a dead stop. Once we got that done, the truck ran flawlessly, not bad for 189,000 miles on the odometer either. The truck’s appearance still looked great at the time, and it still looks pretty good five and a half years later, despite some minor parking lot dents, as you can see in the pictures.

My Ranger is a 2WDS STX extended cab with the 4.0L Cologne pushrod V6 and the Mazda sourced 4spd manual with overdrive 5th. It has AC, cruise and an AM/FM Cassette deck (replaced by a CD player in 2008) but manual locks and windows. The cruise control still works, but the AC doesn’t (never converted to 134-A either as far as I can tell and was going to have it converted but never got far with it other than testing the compressor which works). I pulled a CarFax report on it in 2009 and it showed up as a local truck, bought down in the Tacoma/Pierce County area back in 1992. I’m the third owner, and since this truck’s odo doesn’t have the 7th digit, I had to do a little deducing to figure out if the mileage was indeed 189K. Yep, the pedals and the sloping driver’s seat cushion were two obvious clues.

Overall, I’ve grown to really like this old beast, which has been very reliable even though its shifter has always been on the balky side. The clutch has been fantastic, easy to feel when it engages, and one can feather it quite well despite it being a tad on the heavy side. The only major mechanical problems were replacing the master and slave clutch cylinders. The only other issue was that the thermostat went last year and I had the “pleasure” of replacing said component. Not too difficult to get to, the bolts, however, not so much (lost my 10mm socket in the process). Even replacing spark plugs isn’t as easy as it may look, as some of them are more difficult to get at than others.  The only other items of note maintenance wise were new tires and exhaust, and that’s been it outside of the usual oil, plug and wire changes. Not even the coil pack has gone out.

I have to confess that I didn’t always like this generation of the Ranger, but now that I’ve owned it for a good while, its straight forward good looks have kind of grown on me. I see plenty of these old Rangers around the area in all manner of conditions since rust isn’t an issue around these parts. Its interior is somewhat plain as well, but it does sport a full gauge cluster however.

This motor is a derivative of the 2.9L Cologne V6 that had a rep for cracked heads. Most of those issues were solved in the 4.0 motor, and other than some maintenance issues as these engines age, they are known to hit 200K+ miles easily otherwise. I have 235K+ miles on mine, and it continues to run just fine, though now it appears to be leaking some oil and coolant.

While I haven’t taken a lot of road trips in my Ranger, it has seen plenty of trips back and forth to and from my apt in Seattle to Tacoma where Mom and good friends live. I drive it daily out to Bellevue where I work via I-90, so it continues to serve yeoman’s duty in that capacity. My best friend and I have had thoughts of how much fun it would be to have the canopy resealed, rekeyed (the T handles are missing their keys) and the rear glass reinstalled (which was all I had done), because it would’ve been the perfect place to stash my camping gear and go on a road trip or two. Sadly, finances and the rising cost of living are out of sync with my job, so that has put the kibosh on those plans.

Really, I can’t complain one bit about owning this truck. It was a surprise when the offer was made, and I at that time never thought in a million years I’d ever own a truck, let alone another Ford. But here I am, obviously a happy Ranger owner. I’d consider another Ranger in the future, but really prefer to get back into a small A or B segment hatchback, with mileage closer to 40 highway. Let’s see if that is meant to be.