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Ford Pick-Ups

Pop Pickers Published: 17th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Pick-Ups Desirable El Camino SS396 model
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The forerunner of today’s luxury suvs –but are car-derived trucks a hit with you?

Pros & Cons

A fi ne utility classic with all mod cons particularly on later models, offering individuality, good looks and comfort, strong performance from El Camino SS454 and Cobra Jet powered Ranchero
Only really practical if you can make good use of the rear bed, or you have a serious passion for pick-ups in general, but it may not squeeze into your garage
£4000 - £30,000

When does a car become a pick-up truck? When Ford took a 1957 Fairlane, removed the rear part of the roof, added a rear bed, thus creating the most civilised pick-up truck ever. While still very much a utility vehicle, the Ranchero had all the bespoke trimmings of the Fairlane, two-tone paintwork, chrome bumpers and exterior trim, plush interior and which drove like a car. Engines ranged from a 223ci straight-six through to 272ci and 292ci V8’s from the Ford T-Bird which were coupled to three-speed manual and Ford-0-Matic automatic transmissions. Sales in 1957 were a reasonably healthy 21,705 while the American public were still getting to grips with this new concept pick-up. The sports utility vehicle was in its infancy. Chevrolet responded with the El Camino (translated in Spanish meaning The road or The Trail) in 1959-60 with their pick-up based upon the Impala and retaining the wild ‘Batwing’ rear end styling, beautifully incorporated into the tailgate. Straight-six and V8 engines were offered, along with manual transmissions, and Powerglide and Turboglide automatics. Interestingly sales fi gures were very similar to the Ranchero at 22,246, but much lower than Chevrolet had expected and thus production was not to continue. However, it resumed again in 1964 as Ford’s Ranchero was now based upon the Falcon and became a more ‘compact’ pick-up with 30mpg economy from the 144ci six-cylinder engine and a payload of 800lbs. Chevrolet’s second generation El Camino was based upon the Chevelle/Malibu that ran until 1967. Engine options were a 327ci 5.4 litre V8 and 396ci 6.5 litre V8. Production of both the El Camino and Ranchero continued through many more generations which would offer larger and more powerful engines culminating in the El Camino SS454 with a 7.4-litre between 1968-1972 and 335bhp 428 Cobra Jet in the Ranchero based on the Torino from 1968 which included the base model ‘500’ and GT. The El Camino model line-up included the Super Sport, Conquista and Black Knight. GMC also rebadged the El Camino as the Sprint and Caballero. Production of the El Camino ceased in 1988 and the Ranchero in 1979 with the fi nal guise based upon the Thunderbird and LTD.


First generation pick-ups of both models start at around £5000 and continue upwards relative to their condition and how much restorative work has been completed. Typical price for a late production Ranchero in excellent condition will be upwards of £7000, El Caminos 1982- 1987 around £8000. In the USA concours examples of the El Camino SS454 can fetch $40,000 - $50,000.

What To Look For

  • Rust problems can be a big issue with these trucks due to poor paint, sealing, and lack of rust prevention in general. Check out the floorpans, bed floors, the bottoms of the doors, rear quarter panels, and wings. Also pay attention to front and rear screen frames.
  • Sourcing replacement mechanical parts isn’t a big problem, however some trim and panels can be very hard to fi nd. These trucks enjoy a good following in the USA with specialists able to supply many spares, especially for the El Camino.


A pick-up that drives like a car with useful utility status, that would make ideal transport for enthusiasts who also own a classic motorcycle. Defi nitely more user friendly and less ‘agricultural’ than something like a Chevy 3100. Paradoxically plenty of space in the rear bed, but very little inside and thus not too practical at all times. These pick-ups are big, the El Camino 1968-1972 is 17ft 3-inches long and 6ft 3-inches wide, 1973-1977 18ft long 6ft 7-inches wide, 1978-1988 12-inches shorter and 600lbs lighter than the previous model. The El Camino defi nitely had the edge over the Ranchero for popularity, with those being built 1982-1987 being the most sought after.

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