Ford Ranchero First Generation
|1957 to 1959|
|Also called||Meteor Ranchero (Canada)|
|Assembly||Lorain, Ohio, United States|
|Body and chassis|
|Engine||297 cu in (4.9 L) V8|
|Wheelbase||116–118 in (2,946–2,997 mm)|
|Length||202.0 in (5,131 mm)|
Introduced in December 1956, three months after the traditional September model year start-up, the Ranchero was based on the standard and new-for-1957 full-size Ford platform, specifically the short wheelbase Custom sedan, two-door Ranch Wagon station wagon and utilitarian Courier sedan delivery. Essentially a Courier with an open, reinforced bed, its own unique rear window and integrated cab and cargo box, the Ranchero was initially offered in two trim levels and, throughout the model run, was built on the corresponding automobile assembly line but sold as a truck through Ford's truck division. There was an extremely basic standard model, marketed to traditional pickup truck buyers such as farmers, and the Custom which picked up most of the options and accessories available on the Fairlane line, including stainless steel bodyside mouldings and two-tone paint. Upscale models were badged both as a Fairlane and Ranchero, with a stylized representation of a longhorn as the symbol for the model located on the tailgate. Indeed, print advertising of the time played on the theme of the American Southwest that the Spanish model name and longhorn symbol were meant to evoke, showing artistic representations of the vehicle being used in ranching and outdoor activities, proclaiming it as "More Than A Car! More Than A Truck!" The Ranchero was a hit with both the automotive press and the buying public, filling an untapped market niche for vehicles with the utility of a light pickup with the ease of operation and riding characteristics of a car. In fact, the Ranchero had a marginally higher cargo capacity by about fifty pounds/23 kg than the half-ton F-Series pickup. Both standard and Custom could be ordered with any engine available for Ford cars, all the way up to the 352 cu in (5.8 L) "Thunderbird Special." In Canada, the Ranchero was also available in the Meteor line-up. Seat belts and padded instrument panels were optional.
The 1958 version would remain largely unchanged under the skin save for the new front sheet metal (shared by the big '58 Ford and inspired by the Thunderbird) and its new four-headlamp arrangement.
The 1959 model was built with the same 118 in (3,000 mm) wheelbase as all 1959 Fords, giving the Ranchero the advantage over its predecessors of a new, longer 7 ft (210 cm) bed. However, this would be the last time that the vehicle would grow either in size or trim for several years to come. The windshield was also 25% larger. Seatcovers were vinyl or "woven plastic", while the spare tire was located behind the passenger seat.The Custom Ranchero was the only model marketed in 1959, and was offered in 26 colors (eleven solid shades, eleven two-tone combinations with white on top, and four other two-tone choices).