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Look, times are tough, but they are also pretty weird too. That means we have to do some weird stuff to overcome what makes the world tough. With that in mind, many people who need a new truck right now simply can’t afford to buy one, and when I say “new,” I just mean new to them. Used trucks make less sense to buy today than new ones. So, if you need a new truck but can’t afford what’s in the dealer’s lots, you gotta look elsewhere. How elsewhere are we talking? I’m talking about the Ford Ranchero

Can a Ford Ranchero replace your pickup truck? 

I mean, the Ford Ranchero is probably not 1:1 with your pickup truck. However, it has a lot more going for it than most of us think. 

The ute is really what we are making an argument for. The Chevy El Camino, Ford Ranchero, Dodge Rampage, Subaru Baja, and maybe even the Hyundai Santa Cruz are all utes. Utes are small trucks that fit snuggly between cars and trucks but steer clear of being an SUV. These little mutant cars have proven handy for decades and in markets all over the world. The ute is an under-utilized vehicle segment in the world but in America, in particular. 

Which came first, the Ford Ranchero or the Chevy El Camino?

1971 Ford Ranchero Squire, front right
1971 Ford Ranchero Squire | Wikimedia Commons

The Ford Ranchero, despite its more obscure position in pop culture, predates the 1959 release of the El Camino by two years. The Ford Ranchero really kicked the truck/car market off. But for several reasons, consumers never took quite the same shine to the Ranchero as they did to the El Camino. 

The 1959 El Camino was never the most sought-after of Caminos. Unlike the 1957 Ford Ranchero, which just turned the Ford Fairlane into a pickup truck, the El Camino was a completely new design and a little ugly. The first Ranchero looked like a million bucks but never grew into the muscle car world like the El Camino did. It was the late 1960s into the early 1970s that sent the El Camino into the classic car pantheon. 

Can the Ford Ranchero actually do truck stuff? 

Ford built the Ranchero to offer one major truck feature while basically leaving everything else in car mode. A Ranchero isn’t gonna help you pull a stump out of the yard or drive you deep into the woods to haul out a deer carcass. However, you probably also won’t get asked to help your friends move, which is ironic because that is something it actually could do. 

The Ranchero and El Camino are just sedans with truck beds slapped on the back. The funny thing is, though, that is what 90% (ballpark)of what people who drive trucks actually need. 

So, could you replace your truck with a Ford Ranchero? The answer is probably. Most people don’t actually do truck stuff with their trucks, so the Ranchero wouldn’t affect much – except they would look and feel cooler. Now, if you actually use your truck to work, hunt, off-road, etc., then I hate to be the one to tell you, but it probably won’t do all you need it to. No matter what you need out of a vehicle, the Ford Ranchero is an icon that started one of the coolest and weirdest niche car segments of all time. Here’s to the first ute, the 1958 Ford Ranchero