Monday, April 27, 2020

Livermore Street Sighting - 1979 Ford Ranchero GT

I don't know what it was about the 1970s, but someone decided maroon and gold looked good together on cars. I don't mean to offend any Arizona State or House Gryffindor fans, but when I was a kid, I did not like the combination. In 1980 my dad bought a 1966 Mustang convertible that had been repainted maroon and gold. I suppose it's a classic color combination for clothing and such, but on that car I hated it. This '79 Ranchero came from the factory like that. Except on this vehicle, it's not plebeian maroon. It's Cordovan.

The Ford Ranchero was one of the few American coupe utility options on the market in the '70s, competing with the Chevrolet El Camino. El Camino and its GMC Caballero twin had transferred from the Chevelle platform to the new smaller G-body Malibu in 1978, leaving the large Torino/LTD II-based Ranchero looking rather dated and a good 15 inches longer than the El Camino. The Elco lasted until 1987, while Ford hung up the lasso after 1979. So you're looking at one of the last Rancheros made. In its final year of production, you could get the Ranchero in a number of flavors. There was the standard 500, a basic ute with interesting two-tone paint optional, the luxury Squire with woodgrain exterior trim, and the sport-oriented GT. The GT model featured a lot of Mustang-inspired goodies like full sport instrumentation, dual sport mirrors, white letter radial tires, "flight bench" seating with fold-down center armrest, and contrasting body stripe graphics in black, white, gold or argent silver depending on body color. A Brougham Decor Group was offered for a plusher interior with fancier door panels, individual folding armrests and thicker carpet. This one features the optional Magnum 500 wheels with beauty rings, stainless wheel arch trims and the Bumper Protection Group with over-riders and rub strips.

On the subject of Cordovan, it's a high-end horsehide leather popular for use in shoes. It's one of my favorite Malaise era luxury marketing buzzwords up there with Brougham, Landau and Corinthian leather. Cordovan is a dark red color that connotes luxury. It was used on Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys during this era and into the 1980s. The interior on this vehicle is probably "Cordovan" as well - finished in cloth or vinyl, not leather. No black interior was offered for 1979 either, an unheard-of thing today. Apparently an actual leather interior was offered on a limited basis for some of the final production run. The gold tape stripes are probably the most "Malaise" color combination available and really make this car a time capsule. If you're going to go Malaise, go full Malaise. For whatever reason, I've become kind of a sucker for weird old brown cars and this is close to it.

This Ranchero is a reasonably well preserved example which I'm sure is in original condition. The factory stripes look a bit worse for wear at nearly 40 years of age when photographed. The stripes are actually still available in reproduction form, licensed by Ford. The question for the "it's only original once" crowd is, is it better to keep the patina or spend the $200 for new stripes?

Photographed May 2018

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