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Ford Fairlane Ranchero from 1970 to 1979½—on the Torino, Thunderbird, LTD platform

The new decade brought a completely revised 1970 Ranchero that sported a shallow, more pointed grille with a curvy, Coke bottle body shape and all the options available for the full-size Torino. There was a new addition to the lineup with the “Ranchero Squire” trim package. The more uptown Squire option is similar to the Country Squire station wagons with wood-grain vinyl appliqué both inside and out. Another minor but important change in 1970 to the full range of the lineup was the addition of “Ranchero” or “Ranchero GT” badging on the glove box door, which is a first; prior to this, no  identifying marks were inside any Ranchero models.

Ford Ranchero 1970 or later 1

© Ldionisio | Dreamstime.com Ford Ranchero GT

Under the hood, a Ram Air option was newly available for the 428 Cobra Jet engine, bearing a design resemblance to the Mustang’s shaker hood scoop; this moniker comes about due to the scoop being bolted directly to the carburetor making it shake when the engine was at an idle while the hood around it was more stationary. This oversize hood scoop bore a strong resemblance to the Ranchero’s brother, the Torino GT’s, front clip, with both models getting passerby attention, particularly if the hideaway headlights were a chosen option. The biggest change that year was the grille now divided into three sections rather than the two sections on the previous years of the Fairlane Ranchero.

Ford Ranchero 1970 or

© Ldionisio | Dreamstime.com Ford Ranchero GT

Models of the Ranchero in 1972 took on a big change with the most obvious the large “fish mouth” style grille. The three different trim packages were still available along with the wood-grain paneled Ranchero Squire option for the GT, but now their wider bodies attached using an “engineered on frame” mounting technique. The power options were pretty much the same as ’71 other than a new 400 added to the fold for ’72.

All the engines received a setback to conform to the EPA emissions regulations, which put the horsepower ratings down across the board. Conforming to the ruling was the only way to fit within the framework of this progressive mandate. However, the 429 (385 series) still moved out very well, particularly with the four-speed standard transmission.

Ford Cobra jet 428 cubic inch

© Justcause | Dreamstime.com Engine

For 1973, the Ranchero had more government-mandated changes with regard to impact protection; the redesigned front bumper had to withstand a 5 mph tap without sustaining any damage. The Ranchero underwent only minor trim changes until the end of the 1976 model year.

The Ranchero platform changed in 1977 with the axing of the Torino; the unlikely platform chosen was the Thunderbird two-door luxury coupe, which also drastically changed for ’77, and now both vehicles shared the limelight with the mid-sized LTD. The Ranchero has luxury available as never before. This new platform is among the most sought-after versions by Ranchero enthusiasts, and it’s most recognized by the stacked rectangular headlights.

The three levels were all still an option, but the largest engine is the big-block 400-cubic-inch (6.6L). The Ranchero remained almost the same until manufacturing of this beautifully designed and practical automobile ceased at the end of the 1979 production year. But wait, for one last shot, Ford managed to put out a 1979½ commemorative model.


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