1962 Ranchero Makes a Predictable Entrance to the Hooniverse Fleet

1962 ford falcon ranchero project car lemons hooniversePlease welcome my new 1962 Ford Ranchero to the fleet! The image you see above marks the fourth vehicle that’s been towed to my driveway in the last four years. This fine example of the Falcon platform’s versatility sports a 170ci straight six, a three-on-the-tree and…not much else. Power nothing, non-functional window rollers, rusted-out floors and a few good dents in the body. However, it only weighs about 2500lbs and shares a number of key parts with all other Falcons, Mavericks and early Mustangs.
That parts interchangeability should come in handy as we build it out to be our next LeMons racer. Things than many people throw away (like 200 and 250ci I-6s, 8″ rear axles, floor-shifted three speed transmissions and drum brake spindles) constitute upgrades for us. Not only that, but it can haul its own spare parts!
Well, it could, once it’s running…

ford falcon I-6
As-is, it cranks and wants to fire, but seems to have an ignition issue stemming from shot points and redneck wiring connections literally held together by nothing but duct tape. My goal is to get it back to life by the end of this weekend. Fitting, really. If so, I might have to nickname it Jesús, maybe Jesuchero. The overwhelming simplicity forms a nice contrast to the Uberbird, which featured such things as four separate temperature sensors all right next to each other and an electrical system that depended on the gauge cluster “ALT” light to successfully charge the battery.
After the immediate work to get it running, we’ll get on to making it properly driveable. What’s obvious today:

  • Every gasket everywhere leaks
  • Floors are completely shot
  • Re-wire the whole car
  • Seat is kinda flopping around due to being bolted to metal that’s no longer present
  • Exhaust has a big pinch/kink in it
  • Parking brake handle is frozen in place
  • Radiator probably leaks
  • Carb seems to work…but also leak a little gas

The goal is to get it driveable and even serving as a backup/beater vehicle in my personal fleet. Just driving it around will help debug a bunch of stuff that new, bottom-rung LeMons cars spend their first 50 laps addressing. When it comes time to upgrade:

  • Five lug conversion and disc brakes up front
  • Five lug 8″ rear end out back
  • Find some V8 Mustang coils and cut them down
  • Do a Shelby drop and some bracing on the front end
  • Maybe switch to a floor shifter
  • Maybe upgrade to a 2-barrel carb
  • Maybe upgrade to electronic ignition courtesy of a junkyard Duraspark unit

The tricky part is figuring out how much time and money it makes sense to throw at this motor versus the major upgrade a Craigslist 200 or 250 could be. We know we’ll be slow, but just how slow we’re not sure of yet. And that’s to say nothing of the abundance of Ford small blocks floating about. It might just be the case that my ’64 Falcon gets an upgrade to a roller 5.0 and the 260ci gets handed down. After all, 260s aren’t worth much…
1962 ford falcon ranchero interior
No, I won’t say what I paid for it. Yes, you can expect regular updates and maybe the occasional video about it. Yes, we do have some awesome themes in the works. No, I won’t share what they are.

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35 responses to “1962 Ranchero Makes a Predictable Entrance to the Hooniverse Fleet”

  1. Tamerlane's Thoughts Avatar
    Tamerlane’s Thoughts

    Congrats! Will it make it to Seconds Saturdays next week in Oakland?

    1. mad_science Avatar

      I would be shocked if that happened.

  2. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    …those floors are shot? They’re still mostly there!

    1. mad_science Avatar

      They have sheet slapped atop Swiss cheese.
      My plan is to clean up said Swiss Cheese and weld in more metal.

    2. Drzhivago138 Avatar

      I was gonna say…that still counts as “straight body” in the Rust Belt.

  3. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    There may be a lot of ’62 Rancheros in California, but for us East Coast guys that is a pretty rare bird. I hate to sound like an old fart, but I wish you displayed a bit more respect for this automobile. If you’re attracted to it for its rarity and uniqueness, I would hope you’re not going to trash it.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Unfortunately for you and fortunately for us, you can say that about nearly any old vehicle out here… If we wanted a cleaner one, or one to restore, we could look on craigslist for 15 minutes.
      This one is going racing, which is a better life than the car had before it came to Tim’s driveway.

      1. NapoleonSolo Avatar

        Okay. Post a couple of links. It’s 1:08 EDT. Will give you some extra minutes and check back at 1:30 pm EDT.

        1. NapoleonSolo Avatar

          Looked myself, and there are more old Rancheros in the LA Craigslist than I thought there would be – but just one ’62 that’s not too straight. 😉

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            If you think that’s bad, I decided to poke around locally and discovered an Australian Falcon panel van for sale about fifty miles from my house:
            I don’t need these kinds of temptations.

          2. Alff Avatar

            Kundalini wants his hand back.

          3. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Yes you do.

          4. mdharrell Avatar

            Yes, I do.

          5. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            A Ford with the steering wheel on the wrong side and Lucas electrics? It’ll segue neatly into your existing collection of slightly more than obscure automobiles.
            Bonus 1: Parts available from your local Ford dealer,(Probably just badges though).
            Bonus 2:Telling everyone it’s the panel-van version of a Mad Max Interceptor,(look, the doors are the same!).

          6. 0A5599 Avatar

            The best way to eliminate the temptation is to buy it.

          7. mad_science Avatar

            Orange County catches all of LA, SD and Inland Empire with the “nearby areas”. Here are 100 listings for Falcon, Ranchero or Fairlane under $5k:
            Mine’s in worse shape than the fast majority of them that aren’t just parts cars.

          8. NapoleonSolo Avatar

            Forget I ever mentioned it. You have my blessings. I used to visit southern CA in the 90’s and specifically recall ’62 or ’63 Falcons riding down the highways with zero rust and just a little bit of fading. Have to admit I am surprised to see they haven’t been recycled in the past couple of decades.

          9. mad_science Avatar

            Smog exemption on pre-76 cars does a lot to keep them on the road. Typically anything in the 76 to about 88 range meets its doom when it fails smog.
            Also remember they sold 5 years of first-gen Falcons (counting 64-65) and they sold a hojillion of them.

          10. NapoleonSolo Avatar

            I put a lot of miles on a ’63 Comet with column shift. Good basic transportation in 1971 but it did lean all over the place. My best friend’s family had a ’61 or ’62 Falcon that was an absolutely horrible shade of metallic green. Very ugly car. My ’64 Valiant was lightyears ahead of this Ford design. We also ended up with my grandfather’s ’64 falcon when he passed away. Much better looking and a nice medium blue, but still a leaner. Man, we also had a ’63 Comet station wagon when I was a kid. Dark blue, pretty classy, wrecked in the fog at an intersection in around 1968. I remember that one had holes in the floor for seat belts with none installed, and it was a bit hypnotic to watch the pavement whiz by through that little hole.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    Are you looking for drivers? I have extensive experience with column-shifting on road courses. Please tell me you’re looking for drivers.

  5. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    I always liked this year for the styling. Even when it’s haggard it has an interesting look. This is the kind of car that looks nice dressed up, but is equally handsome in workman’s jeans and 5 o’clock shadow.

  6. dukeisduke Avatar

    why are the floors so rusty? Did someone leave the windows down? I hate going to the junkyard and seeing cars with the windows down.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      It’s California Rust. The sun cooks the weatherstripping, which then leaks, which then gets under the carpet for 2-3 months per year. Repeat for 30 years and this is what you get. My Wagoneer has the same issue.
      What exacerbates it the worst are the vinyl floors that bottom-spec vehicles received as water underneath stays trapped.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It’s not just an issue in California. In my first car, a ’59 Ford sedan that had spent all of its years in the Pacific Northwest, the floor got so bad that the gas pedal fell through it while I was stopped at an intersection. Happily the throttle linkage remains perfectly usable even without a pedal.

        1. mad_science Avatar

          It’s like a reverse convertible. Under-floor ventilation!

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Ford should have marketed it as the Terrestrialiner.

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    A great uncle of mine that lived in south Louisiana had a ’60 Ranchero. He got it brand new, won it in a raffle.

  8. Batshitbox Avatar

    A pal of mine had a few Rancheros and discovered you could put a Volvo rear axle in them. To what advantage, other than being close at hand in the moment, I don’t know.
    I imagine, if you’re willing to change the location of the spring perches, and run two different lug patterns, you could put any rear axle in there. A Dana from a Scout II might be a little wider than the Ford unit.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      No shortage of 5 on 4.5 axles in the ~58″ range:
      YJ Dana 35
      TJ Dana 44
      Ford 8″
      Ford 8.8″ from a Ranger or Explorer (Explorers have LSD and discs)
      Ford 9″
      Toyota 7.5 or 8″ from a 2WD truck
      Volvo Dana 30

  9. mzszsm Avatar

    That’s an odd looking votive candle…

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      novelty tobacco water pipe? Or “jelly bean dispenser”, as my mother improvised to my youngest sister as we strolled by a head shop in Syracuse when I was looking at colleges. (WTF, Mom? That’s an especially weird lie, and especially so given my mom’s cluelessness in matters of that nature.)

      1. mzszsm Avatar

        “You mother’s alright, she’s really up on things…”

  10. dead_elvis Avatar

    Your LeMons theme is ready, intimidating, and NSFW.

  11. Pixel . Avatar
    Pixel .

    Keep an eye out for a Maverick/Comet donor. The axle pads on the rear end are the right width, and the axle is only about an 1″ wider(as opposed to the much wider mustang units). You’ll need to lengthen the Ranchero spring plates as the rear end is wider, but it otherwise bolts in.
    I swapped the whole drivetrain from a ’71 maverick into my old ’62 Comet, easiest swap and best upgrade ever.

  12. CSM Avatar

    This looks new compared the one I recently contemplated purchasing. The owner of my potential new project wouldn’t even consider the $500 cash I brandished. Asshole.