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1970-1971 Ford Ranchero GT

The 1970-1971 Ford Ranchero GT gets our attention in this edition of Muscle Car Milestones. Part car, part truck, the fifth generation Ranchero ushered in the 70s with fresh styling and plenty of gusto. Since its introduction in 1957, the Ranchero has filled a niche for those wanting sports car styling with pickup truck utility. Let’s see what makes the 1970-1971 Ford Ranchero GT worth checking out.

The 1970 Ranchero was based on the mid-sized Torino. It featured unit-body construction, a 114-inch wheelbase, and a 6.5-foot bed. The 1970 Ranchero GT featured laser striping, GT lettering and bright chevrons on the bedside, and a sport hood scoop. The Ranchero also sported deluxe wheel covers, bright wheel well moldings, and hidden windshield wipers. Performance options include power front disc brakes, dual body-color mirrors, and a heavy-duty suspension package.

Inside, drivers were greeted to vinyl seating, woodtone inlay steering wheel, electric clock, and black lower instrument panel. If you wanted more flair, high-back bucket seats, tachometer, and a Hurst shifter with the four-speed manual transmission were available. Interestingly enough, 1970 was the first year that Ranchero badging appeared in the interior. In previous years, the Ranchero featured Fairlane or Grand Touring badging inside.

The 1970 Ford Ranchero GT came standard with a 302 cubic-inch V8. It produced 220 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Buyers could fork out extra for the 351 Cleveland two-barrel rated at 250 horsepower and 355 lb.-ft. of torque. Next up was a 351 Cleveland four-barrel with 300 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. From there, things get interesting. Drivers could opt for three different versions of the 429 cubic-inch V8. The 429 Thunder Jet brought the heat with 360 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. The 429 Cobra Jet packed a wallop with 370 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. The 429 Super Cobra Jet was the ultimate Ranchero GT with 375 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque.

21,640 Rancheros were built during the 1970 model year. Out of that number, only 3,905 Ranchero GTs were built.

The Ranchero GT carried over to 1971 with few changes. An interesting option for the Ranchero for 1971 was the Ranchero Special Package. This package included your choice of eight chromatic exterior colors and four matching interior trims, black non-reflective paint, twin racing mirrors, and a black vinyl roof. The package also comprised of accent black paint in the bed, unique body side striping, and dog dish hubcaps with bright trim rings. This package also reduced the price of the Ranchero GT by $137.

Engine choices were essentially the same for 1971, except the 429 Thunder Jet was dropped. Horsepower ratings were also down slightly due to new laws that mandated net horsepower, as opposed to gross horsepower, ratings be used to advertise horsepower.

The 1970-1971 Ranchero GT was one of those niche vehicles that gave drivers a mixture of performance and practically. It was the best of both worlds. Today, it’s rare to see one at a local car show or cruise-in. The Ranchero GT would carry on throughout the 70s, but to us, it didn’t quite have the styling and verve as the fifth generation.

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