Ford Falcon Ranchero  1962
Photo section: Falcon Ranchero ("UT" in Australia)

You're right: it's a model. It is 1960 when ours was a 1962, it is Falcon; but it's pale blue (very pale green, actually; film, hmph) where ours was that awful almost-Petty repaint blue that appeared on a lot of cars in the 70s; it's 1:43 and a "bewty" of a "ute" as they say in its homeland, Oz (Australia, Mate). I paid a little more than I might have if I'd been more patient, but I couldn't take the chance. A white one went for half again as much from a USA seller, just a month ago.

Like the MGBs and Morris Travellers, there is something about its shape that appeals to me. I'm not that fond of the Falcon sedans (like this one from An Officer And A Gentleman, and this I found on eBay), but the Ranchero (it seems to me the Aussie one has a little bit different treatment at the back of the cab, thicker post or something: compare here) and what the Aussies call a "van" and I call a panel truck or panel delivery, are just delightful to my eye. Not so much the the station wagon, although I now have a red one and a white (fake woodie "Squire") one. I couldn't resist the wattle bark tan "Ovaltine" example of the panel, even though to my knowledge they were never sold in the USA. I passed on the koala gray "Firestone" panel when the bidding went to forty-something.

The 1962 we bought out of a classified ad had a Ford two-speed automatic, and a 250 cu. in. six-cylinder engine. It stayed with us from some time in 1984 to mid-1989. It was another of those you could count on to do its job without complaint. When it did complain, it was almost invariably something I could fix. Even the chewed-up ring and pinion, apparently due to an error on the part of the elderly "mechanic" that sold it to me. I got a Maverick rear axle (you want it? It's out back, still) and put the gears in the Falcon housing. It lasted as long as we had the car.

This old thing really scooted when you stood on it. I had no idea the motor was so special until Ed Sawyer came across the street and pointed out it had what was usually a truck engine, larger than either the 170 or the 200-inch items optional in the '62 Falcon line.

I heard something rattling in the top end, and hoped it wasn't a broken ring. I still don't know what it was, but when I took off the cylinder head I found a little ball of beaten metal in one cylinder. Looked as if it might have been a large cotter key at one time. Must have been sitting in the air cleaner or someplace, and finally worked its way into and through the carburetor. I did a minor "de-coke" and put it back together. It worked good forever, as far as I know.

Not so for the ignition. There was something weird going on. It ate condensers. I eventually put two of them on there in series, and never lost another.

I think this car had some kind of animus against Margarita: the time I heard the rattle we were on our way to the Zoo when I stopped it and elected to leave it parked and walk home for the other car (which car I don't remember). After the Zoo she towed me home in the Falcon. Could have driven I suppose, but what a problem it might have been. Then we were going to Fedco out by Highway 94 when an ignition wire under the dash grounded and made serious smoke. Pulled across lanes of 94 and the I-805 North/94 East merge, and couldn't find a way to make it go, so started walking. A guy in a cement-mixer truck stopped and gave us a lift to an off-ramp in a Crips area, me in my bright red polo shirt. We managed a ride home from one of Margarita's friends, had the Ranchero towed. I replaced the fused ignition wire and all was well. She pretty much refused to get in it again.

Bought it for seven hundred, sold it for eight after more than five years' use. If I could find a good 1963 version of this car (better front suspension) I think I could live with it.


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