1976 Ford Ranchero 500
8-cyl. 351cid/154hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
1966 was a transitional year for Ford’s car-based pickup. Both the Falcon and the Fairlane now shared the same 113-inch wheelbase used for station wagons and for the Ranchero. Up front, it used Falcon sheet metal, but from the cab back it was more closely related to the Fairlane. The evolution from the Falcon came to fruition in 1967, when the Ranchero’s front clip was now the same as the Fairlane. 1967 Also saw a renaming of the upper two Ranchero equipment packages. The Custom became the Ranchero 500 while the Custom with bucket seats became Ranchero 500 XL, which also included a center console.
1967 was also the first year that the Ranchero started to have some muscle car aspirations. Two 390 cubic inch V-8s were now available. One was a mild 270-hp with two-barrel carburetor and the other was a much hotter 320-hp four-barrel unit from the Fairlane GT. In 1968, the restyled Ranchero went from aspiring to be a muscle car to full-on being one with the new GT package. While at the start of the model year the same low and high performance 390s were still around, it got serious mid-year when the 428 Cobra Jet was also made available. More and bigger engines were the big news for 1969. The six was now 250 cubic inches, the small V-8 grew to 302 cubic inches, and two flavors of a new 351 V-8 were available. Even the 428 Cobra Jet saw bigger numbers with optional ram air induction good for 360 hp.
With revised styling and a few changes in engine availability in 1970, the Ranchero was starting to become more of a personal luxury truck. New was the Ranchero Squire, and like the top-of-the-line Squire package Ford wagons, it featured woodgrain body appliqués. 1971 was the last year of the high performance engines, as not only did they started to get detuned or discontinued, but their horsepower ratings changed with the rest of the industry to the new SAE standard for 1972. That year also saw the all new platform get markedly bigger, with its most prominent feature being a large grille that mimicked the Louisville line heavy-duty trucks. Safety legislation for 1973 saw the front end redesigned to incorporate large 5 mph rated bumpers, with only minor styling tweaks through 1976 (aside from the addition of catalytic converters in 1975).