The 1973 Ford Ranchero: A Unique Blend of Classic Pickup Truck and Stylish Coupe

Explore the history, features, and enduring charm of the 1973 Ford Ranchero, an iconic American vehicle that combines the utility of a pickup truck with the elegance of a coupe.


In the early 1970s, the American automotive landscape was undergoing a significant transformation. The market was shifting towards smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, driven by concerns about rising gasoline prices and environmental considerations. However, amidst this changing landscape, one vehicle managed to stand out as a unique blend of muscle and utility: the 1973 Ford Ranchero. In this article, we’ll explore the history, design, features, and enduring appeal of the 1973 Ford Ranchero, a classic American car-truck hybrid that left an indelible mark on automotive history.

History of the Ford Ranchero

The Ford Ranchero first debuted in 1957 as a groundbreaking fusion of car and truck, based on the platform of the full-size Ford sedan. Over the years, the Ranchero saw multiple redesigns and iterations, evolving alongside Ford’s various car models. By the time the 1973 model rolled off the assembly line, the Ranchero was in its fifth generation, which had been introduced in 1972.

The fifth-gen Ranchero was built on the Torino platform, offering a more refined, car-like ride while maintaining its truck-like capabilities. The 1973 model featured updated exterior styling, with a more prominent grille, larger bumpers, and revised taillights.

Engine Options and Performance

The 1973 Ford Ranchero offered a range of engine options, catering to different preferences in power and fuel efficiency. The base model came equipped with a 250-cubic-inch (4.1-liter) inline-six engine, producing 98 horsepower. However, the Ranchero was better known for its V8 options, which included:

302 cubic inches (4.9 liters) with 140 horsepower

351 cubic inches (5.8 liters) with 163 or 266 horsepower (Cleveland and Cobra Jet versions, respectively)

400 cubic inches (6.6 liters) with 172 horsepower

429 cubic inches (7.0 liters) with 205 horsepower

These V8 engines provided the 1973 Ranchero with ample power for hauling loads and offered a more engaging driving experience. Transmission options included a standard three-speed manual, an optional four-speed manual, or the popular three-speed automatic SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic.

Trim Levels and Special Editions

Ford offered the 1973 Ranchero in various trim levels, allowing buyers to customize their vehicle to their preferences. The base model was the Ranchero 500, which provided a modest but comfortable standard equipment package. The next level up was the Ranchero GT, which featured sportier exterior styling, a more performance-oriented suspension, and a range of additional options.

One of the most notable special editions for this era of Ranchero was the Ranchero Squire. The Squire trim added woodgrain paneling on the sides and tailgate, reminiscent of classic American station wagons. This distinctive appearance made the Ranchero Squire a unique and eye-catching vehicle that remains popular among collectors today.

Interior and Features

The 1973 Ford Ranchero boasted a comfortable and well-appointed interior, with features more commonly associated with passenger cars than with traditional pickup trucks. Standard equipment included vinyl bench seats, while optional upgrades such as bucket seats, a center console, and simulated woodgrain trim on the dashboard were available for a more upscale feel.

Other available options for the 1973 Ranchero included power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, and a variety of radio choices, ranging from basic AM to AM/FM stereo with an 8-track tape player.

Sales and production

The 1973 Ford Ranchero: Sales and Production Overview

The Ford Ranchero enjoyed a successful production run from 1957 to 1979, spanning six generations. During this time, it became a popular choice among consumers seeking a versatile vehicle that combined the practicality of a pickup truck with the style and comfort of a passenger car. In this section, we will focus on the sales and production figures of the 1973 Ford Ranchero, which belonged to the fifth generation of this iconic American vehicle.

Production Numbers

Though exact production numbers for the 1973 Ford Ranchero are difficult to pin down, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 to 40,000 units were produced for the 1973 model year. This figure includes all trim levels and engine options available for the Ranchero at that time, such as the Ranchero 500, Ranchero GT, and Ranchero Squire.

Compared to other vehicles in the Ford lineup during the early 1970s, the Ranchero’s production numbers were relatively modest. However, the niche nature of the Ranchero’s market segment, which catered to buyers seeking a unique combination of car and truck features, contributed to its respectable sales figures.

Sales Performance

The sales performance of the 1973 Ford Ranchero was generally positive, with the vehicle maintaining a steady demand throughout the year. The Ranchero’s sales were boosted by its unique appeal, which attracted buyers looking for a versatile, stylish, and comfortable vehicle that could handle both daily driving and light-duty hauling.

The Ranchero’s sales success was also aided by its competitive pricing, which positioned it as an attractive alternative to traditional pickup trucks and passenger cars. In 1973, the base price for a Ranchero 500 started at around $3,100, while the more upscale Ranchero GT and Ranchero Squire trims were priced slightly higher.It is important to note that the Ranchero faced competition from Chevrolet’s El Camino, a similar car-truck hybrid that also enjoyed sales success during the same period. Despite this competition, the Ford Ranchero managed to carve out a loyal following and maintain respectable sales numbers throughout its production run.

Impact on Ford’s Overall Performance

While the Ranchero’s sales and production figures may not have been as high as those of some other Ford vehicles in the early 1970s, its unique blend of style, comfort, and utility contributed to Ford’s diverse and innovative lineup. The Ranchero’s enduring appeal and continued interest among classic car enthusiasts demonstrate the lasting impact of this innovative vehicle on the automotive industry.

Utility and Functionality

Despite its car-like appearance and features, the 1973 Ford Ranchero was a capable utility vehicle, with a payload capacity of up to 1,550 pounds. The cargo bed was spacious, measuring over six feet in length, and included a tailgate that could be locked in a horizontal position to accommodate longer items.

The Ranchero’s suspension was designed to balance both a comfortable ride and the ability to handle loads, featuring coil springs in the front and leaf springs in the rear. For those seeking enhanced towing and hauling capabilities, Ford offered a heavy-duty suspension package that included stiffer springs and heavy-duty shock absorbers.

The 1973 Ford Ranchero Today

The 1973 Ford Ranchero holds a special place in the hearts of classic car enthusiasts and collectors, with its unique blend of style, comfort, and utility. While not as common as some other classic American vehicles, the Ranchero has a dedicated following and can still be found at car shows, auctions, and online marketplaces.

Whether in original condition or modified to suit the owner’s tastes, the 1973 Ranchero remains a fascinating piece of automotive history that continues to be enjoyed by those who appreciate its distinctive charm.


The 1973 Ford Ranchero standsout as a testament to American automotive innovation and creativity. With its stylish design, comfortable interior, and versatile utility, it offered a one-of-a-kind driving experience that appeals to classic car enthusiasts and pickup truck fans alike. The Ranchero’s unique blend of car and truck features make it a fascinating vehicle to explore and cherish, ensuring its enduring appeal and continued place in automotive history.

For those seeking to own a piece of this history, the 1973 Ford Ranchero is a worthy addition to any classic car collection. Its distinct design, coupled with its practical capabilities, make it a conversation starter and a joy to drive. As you embark on your search for the perfect Ranchero, remember to be patient, inspect potential purchases carefully, and consider seeking the advice of fellow enthusiasts and experts to ensure that you find the Ranchero that best suits your needs and desires.Happy hunting, and may your journey into the world of the 1973 Ford Ranchero be filled with excitement, nostalgia, and the satisfaction that comes from owning a truly unique and captivating classic vehicle.

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