This is a 1971 Ford Ranchero Country Squire, an unusual vehicle even by the already offbeat standards of the 1970s, and according to the Marti report it’s the only one that was ever built to this exact specification.

The Ford Ranchero was America’s answer to the Australian Ute, a vehicle that combined a regular automobile with a pickup truck-style rear end designed for hauling cargo. This vehicle type was never quite as popular in the US, but Ford did sell over 500,000 Rancheros between 1957 and 1979.

Fast Facts – The Ford Ranchero Country Squire

  • The Ford Ranchero was introduced in 1957, it was a less-common vehicle type in the United States – combining the front end of a passenger car with the utility of a pickup truck. This design was inspired by the Australian “ute,” a car-pickup crossbreed popular in Australia since the 1930s.
  • The Ranchero remained in production from 1957 until 1979 across seven distinct generations, all of which were based on Ford production automobiles of the time. General Motors quickly responded to the introduction of the Ranchero by developing their own version called the Chevrolet El Camino and releasing it for sale in 1959.
  • The example shown in this article is a fifth generation Ranchero, it shared the same platform as the Ford Torino and the Mercury Montego, and it had much the same front end as the Torino from the A-pillar forwards.
  • This 1971 Ford Ranchero Country Squire is the only one produced in this specific configuration, it’s finished in dark green with two-tone wooden side panels, a shaker hood, air conditioning, and it’s powered by a 351 Cleveland V8.

Ford’s Ranchero: The Great American Ute

Although it isn’t common knowledge in the motoring world, the humble ute was actually invented by an Australian lady who lived and worked on a farm in Victoria with her husband. She wrote a letter to Ford Australia asking for “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays.”

Ford Ranchero Country Squire Brochure

Image DescriptionThe Ford Ranchero Country Squire had the unusual distinction of being the most luxurious of the Rancheros, with wood panelling down the sides, deep pile wall-to-wall carpet, woodbine panels under the instruments, and an electronic clock. Image courtesy of Ford.

To their credit, the folks at Ford took her seriously and realized she was onto a good idea. Ford designer Lew Bandt created a two-door coupe with a pickup truck-style rear end and it was released in 1934.

Across the Pacific in the United States the ute never really caught on, American buyers were far more inclined to buy large pickup trucks and so that’s what American automakers produced en masse. The Ford F-150 has now been the best-selling vehicle in the USA for 41 years and counting.

In the mid-1950s, for reasons lost to history, Ford decided to try their hands at building a new ute for the American market. They based it on the full-sized Ford platform that was underpinning the two-door Ranch Wagon station wagon. They removed the station wagon rear end, created a cab up front, and called it the Ranchero after the vehicle it was based on.

The Ranchero was never a best-seller for Ford, but it sold in enough volume to keep itself in production and to give General Motors the impetus to rapidly develop their own model which they would release in 1959 and call the Chevrolet El Camino.

Ford would eventually produce the Ranchero over seven generations until 1979. It would be based on other Ford production cars to keep costs down of course, often sharing the front end of the car is was based on as well as various drivetrains and other options.

Today the Ranchero represents one of those interesting and a little unusual classic cars that enjoys a strong following among collectors and enthusiasts.

Ford Ranchero Country Squire Brochure 1

Image DescriptionIt’s difficult to know who the average Ford Ranchero Country Squire buyer would have been given that it was developed as a luxury car that could haul cargo, but Ford kept the model in production for years so there must have been takers. Image courtesy of Ford.

The 1971 Ford Ranchero Country Squire Shown Here

This beautifully presented 1971 Ford Ranchero Country Squire remains in largely original condition, it’s finished in dark green and it features that unusual two-tone wood panelling down each side – a stylistic reference to the “Woody Wagons” of old.

It’s powered by a 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8 that breathes through a shaker hood, and power is sent back to the rear wheels via a C6 automatic transmission. Power disc brakes are fitted up front along with a black chin spoiler, and it has those distinctive flip out headlights hidden behind the grille – a design feature that came straight from the Ford Torino.

Inside you’ll find a brown vinyl interior with bucket seats, a centre console, matching brown carpet, door cards, and a brown dashboard. Everything was brown in the 1970s and no one is completely sure why. The car has been fitted with an aftermarket wood-rimmed steering wheel, but otherwise it all looks quite original.

The original steering wheel does come with the car in case the new owner wants to return it to factory-standard, it comes with a Marti Report and a binder of documentation. The car rides on Magnum 500 wheels fitted with BF Goodrich radial tires with raised white letters.

Ford Ranchero Country Squire 21

Image DescriptionYou won’t find many automotive interiors more 70s than this – brown as far as the eye can see with wood trim, even the dashboard is brown.

Interestingly this car also came with a locking rear cover which was installed at the dealer when it was sold new in California. This makes it far more practical to use the rear cargo area as a trunk and it makes it far more difficult for would-be thieves to make off with anything.

It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in early January, it doesn’t have a price guide attached to it at the time of writing, and it’s being offered with no reserve. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Mecum

Published by Ben Branch -