1979 Ford Ranchero GT - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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This might just be the nicest sub-$20,000 car we’ve ever seen.

Ford and Chevy seemed to come up with the “gentleman’s pickup” at about the same time, and three decades they were a popular alternative to the more industrial haulers on the other side of the showroom. But changing demographics in the 1970s caused Ford to re-think the Ranchero, moving it from the Torino platform to the all-new Thunderbird chassis, making it more of a luxury cruiser with a big trunk rather than a true commercial vehicle. And that’s great for us today, making cars like this 1979 Ford Ranchero GT extremely user-friendly, comfortable, and fun to drive. The fact that it’s also remarkably affordable and practical is merely icing on the cake.

Coming out of long-term storage, this Ranchero GT was obviously always someone’s special toy car. It has never seen snow or winter weather, and that shows with a clean underbody, laser-straight original sheetmetal, and spectacular original paint and trim. Even the gold decals are factory-applied and in extremely good condition. The Burgundy paint with those gold decals is the combination featured in the 1979 catalogs, and it’s easy to see why—it’s handsome and sporting without being dated. They were moving into the ‘80s and they knew tastes would be changing, making this a car that’s still at home just about anywhere. The car was recently pulled out of long-term storage and given a complete service, which included a deep professional buff on the original paint to really make it shine. It’s not quite perfect, but there’s very little evidence of the past 40 years on this car. Heck, just look at the virtually unmarked bed—you don’t end up with a shine like that on a car that worked for a living. In the same way, all the chrome and stainless trim is extremely nice, including the grille, wheel moldings, and even the original selling dealer’s name plate is still on the tailgate. We challenge you to find a nicer Ranchero for less money.

There’s even more evidence inside that Ford didn’t care about making this a working-class car, but rather an upscale machine that might sit in a garage next to a Lincoln Town Car. The plush burgundy fabric and split bench seat are part of the Brougham interior package, which speaks for itself in terms of luxury image. The upholstery, carpets, dash pad, and door panels are in excellent shape and yes, they’re all original parts. The engine-turned dash comes directly from the Thunderbird, as do the round gauges, which include all the vitals: tachometer, oil pressure, fuel level, temperature, and an ammeter, all of which are operational. Only the clock seems to be inoperable, but it shouldn’t take much to get it working again. And just look how crisp and clear the gauge faces are! Nice! This car also features an extensive list of options including ice cold factory A/C, tilt steering column, remote sport mirrors, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo radio, and it all works. Color-matched floor mats protect the carpets and we’re pretty sure that’s the original spare tire stashed behind the passenger’s seat back.

The fifth digit of the VIN is an F, meaning this car packs a 302 cubic inch V8, otherwise known as the 5.0. It is completely stock and unmodified, and you already know the legendary durability that these engines bring with them. Following its storage, this 302 was extensively refurbished by the professionals at Gearheads Automotive, including all new fluids, a full tune up with plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil, and condenser, a rebuilt carburetor, a fresh fuel pump, new belts and hoses, and an R134a conversion for the A/C system. Thanks to all that work, it starts instantly and idles smoothly without any fussing and the big torque makes the relatively lightweight Ranchero live up to its GT badges. The factory catalytic converters are still in place so it’s 50-state-legal, but the brand new dual exhaust system might free up a few extra horsepower. There’s also a new hood pad underneath to make it look right.

The only transmission in the Ranchero was a C4 3-speed automatic, and it’s reasonably quick-witted and ready to downshift when prodded, yet smooth when you’re just cruising. Out back, towering 2.75 gears mean this is a calm, comfortable highway car that just eats up the pavement without effort. The undercarriage is incredibly clean, showing only a light dusting of undercoating that hides nothing but makes it look tidy. There’s no rust, no patch work, no hidden issues for a new owner, just the most rock-solid 40-year-old machine we’ve seen in years. The brakes were fully rebuilt including new calipers up front and new brake hoses all around, and there are fresh shocks at the corners. The gas tank was pulled and cleaned, along with the rest of the fuel system, so you won’t have to worry about old fuel problems coming back to haunt you. Magnum 500 wheels are a nice upgrade as well, and they wear brand new 225/70/14 white-letter radials with just a few dozen miles on them.

This might just be the nicest sub-$20,000 car we’ve ever seen. Rancheros are not for everyone, but if you like Ford’s cool truck/car, this is a fantastic choice that does everything well. It’s welcome just about anywhere and it qualifies for most preservation-class judging where it’ll be a slam-dunk. Representing a huge amount of bang for a pretty small pile of bucks, you probably can’t do better than this cool Ranchero. Call today!

Vehicle: 1979 Ford Ranchero GT
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 115073
Mileage: 74,475
VIN: 9H48F137824
Engine: 302 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 2.75
Wheelbase: 118 inches
Wheels: 14-inch Magnum 500
Tires: 225/70/14 radial
Exterior Color: Burgundy
Interior Color: Burgundy cloth
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