Thursday, September 4, 2014

Babe the Big Blue Ox

The other day I was riding through Windsor Terrace when I ran across this monster doing its best to keep property values in check:
A 1977-1979 Ford Ranchero! Discerning between these 3 model years is just about impossible but what's the point anyway? This Ford's been used so hard that it's become timeless. In normal car usage years this thing is 100 years old.
Rarely does a vehicle check so many of my favorite things to mock/celebrate off the list as this one: it's a Stacked Square Headlight Edition ride from the lowest point in automotive history ('77-79 is the pits), it's a car/truck combo, it's full of garbage, the rust and dents are everywhere, there are remnants of a formerly sporty paint job, and goofy aftermarket accessories are present.
From what I can gather the front piece consisting of the grill and lights is from a different Ranchero. This means that there was a front-end collision, followed by the sourcing of another front, followed by another front-end collision! Ranchero's had a really hard life.
As mercilessly as I lambast the Stacked Square Headlight Edition rides of this era I think Ford managed it better than anyone. Perhaps it's because the whole damn car is so Baroque that it gets away with it. I love the crazy angles and jutting prows of this front end.
The damage on this thing is comprehensive! That rectangle of slightly darker blue between the fender dent and the part that looks machine-gunned was where the RANCHERO emblem once was. Obviously this black door is a replacement which makes you wonder how bad the original was that this rusty mess is an improvement.
Ranchero's got fatal rust holes burning through the body. The Cragar SS rims are even rusting away, but she is wearing 2 brand new Grand Radial GT tires! Looks like we're missing a lug nut though.
Here we can see one of the strangest 2-tone paint schemes ever where the blue of the side goes up in a forward-leaning peak behind the trapezoidal window.
I can only imagine the neighbors are psyched to have this parked in front of their house!
I think the color combination is Bright Medium Blue over Black.
This car obviously has a desk job as you can see from its huge sloppy rump. The taillights are the same as the Country Squire station wagon.
Believe it or not this is her best angle.
I LOVE things like this mudflap! Why is it here? What does it mean? Is it supposed to be a cutesy way of bragging about your ride while saying "please don't touch my car"? I don't know what it means but I'm seriously impressed that it's attached to the car at all since the body looks like a half-eaten Hershey bar. No Grand Radial GT tire on this side! They're just throwing tires on this beast at random.
A whitewall on the passenger front is doing its best to class up the joint.
As always I'm happy to see such an abysmal wreck roaming the streets wearing its improbable inspection sticker like a badge.
After 1979 the Ranchero was discontinued. In 1981 Ford tried again with a smaller Fairmont-based car/truck hybrid called the Durango. Only 80-350 were built total before they quietly pulled the plug on that as well (yes the official production figures are that mysterious!). The Chevrolet El Camino continued on through the 1987 model year, after which all domestic automakers forced their customers to decide whether they wanted a truck or a car. Decades later these footnotes in history are some of the oddest, most ungainly vehicles out there, which is exactly why I'm fascinated by them.

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