TBT: Before Ranger Was a ‘Big Little Truck,’ It Was a Car

Apr 04, 2024

With an all-new Ranger on the way, it’s interesting to note that the name actually has a long history of usage with Ford-built vehicles, including cars, and long served as the namesake of an option and a series of F-Series. 

For the 1965 model year, the F-100 Ranger option was billed as a “performance-minded beauty,” adding bucket seats and plush carpeting throughout the pickup. It also came with the option to upgrade to the most powerful V8 engine Ford had offered to that point. Two years later, Ranger would become its own upscale series. A brochure for the 1967 model year says the Ranger series is “for those who prefer the comfort and ultimate in custom appearance, comfort, and convenience.” 

A year earlier, Ford had created the Ranger II concept, “an ultramodern idea in pickup trucks” that transformed from pickup to sedan with the push of a button. The rear portion of the cab stretched 18 inches into the bed of the pickup while a roof section moved up into position. Meanwhile, two bucket seats fell into place for rear passengers. The prototype was reportedly based on the Ford Galaxie Country Squire

Ranger also served as the moniker of a popular trim series on Ford Broncos of the 1970s and ’80s. It has also turned up in other parts of Ford history – and not just with pickup tricks. Its first use actually came with a series of Edsel sedans beginning in the late 1950s. The short-lived, medium-price lineup featured 18 models in all, including two- and four-door Ranger sedans.  

The Ranger name would eventually stand alone as the Ranger we know today debuted in 1982 for the 1983 model year. The “Big Little Truck” went on to a successful production run in which it was the best-selling compact pickup truck for 15 consecutive years ending in 2001. More than seven million Rangers were built in the United States, including the company’s first all-electric truck – the Ranger EV – before North American production ended in 2011. The pickup made its much-anticipated return to North America when production restarted in 2019. 

The Ranger name has endured, adding a sense of exploration to any vehicle to which it’s attached. Today, the all-new Ranger is made to enable owners to do more of what they love with smart new features to explore new places and take on new challenges.

Love Ford history? Access http://fordarchivesonline.com with your CDSID to search your favorite topics. Or visit http://fordheritagevault.com , where no CDSID is needed, to browse and download product history.