Images are from the brochure collection of Hemmings Motor News
America’s automotive marketplace was changing drastically in the postwar era, and a fast-growing segment of buyers was purchasing vehicles that placed more emphasis on smaller size and greater economy than traditionally accepted. Ford Motor Company responded to this trend with its compact Falcon, which was proving a best-seller, and it was that platform upon which the company chose to base its second generation of stylish, light-duty Ranchero.
In the nameplate’s third year, the Ranchero was all-new. This pickup – which, in 1959, inspired a GM copycat in Chevrolet’s El Camino – would for 1960 be derived from the the Falcon two-door station wagon/Sedan Delivery and share that passenger car’s unit-body construction, instead of body-on-frame. The resulting truck offered room for three across, a conveniently low lift-over for its six-foot-long bed, and a quietly attractive appearance.
Unlike Chevrolet’s working variants of the air-cooled Corvair, Ford’s Ranchero used conventional, proven mechanicals. Its new 144.3-cu.in. OHV inline-six was shared with the Falcon, and with an 8.7:1 compression ratio, Holley 1-bbl. carburetor, and “Turbo-Action” spark plugs, the engine made an advertised 90 hp. This power was sent to the semi-floating hypoid rear axle through a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission, or optional two-speed Fordomatic Drive automatic. The whole package was reasonably sized, with an overall length of 189 inches and a curb weight of 2,435 pounds.
Much was made of this new Ranchero’s cost, both initial and running; it was advertised as being the lowest-price pickup in the country, and was said to achieve up to 30 mpg. The base $1,882 MSRP of 1960 is roughly equivalent to $16,312 today. Of course, cost-adding options included a Deluxe trim package with interior niceties and flashes of chrome trim, and the brochure promised the availability of numerous spiffy two-tone paint combinations.
21,027 Falcon Rancheros were built in this short model year, a figure that would remain fairly constant for the next few years. The Ranchero was part of an impressive fleet of Ford haulers, and would remain on the Falcon platform through 1965, before becoming Fairlane-based in 1966.
Do you think this Ranchero was a neat little package, or do you prefer a classic truck to be full-sized?
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge.