Last time on Hot Car of the Week we took you back to old England with a reminder of what true automotive class really is.
This time, we’re going Down Under to find something with more humble, blue-collar beginnings: a 1977 Ford Ranchero GT belonging to Pete Norton of Sooke.
Story goes that an Australian farmer wrote to Ford of Australia back in the late 1950’s protesting that he didn’t have a vehicle in which he could take the pigs to market on Saturday and that was appealing enough to take his wife to church on Sunday.
So, Ford responded — not with an apologetic letter, but with a car; they took an existing Ford sedan, stretched the chassis by a wee bit, tossed a pickup box in the rear end, and voila – the Ranchero (also known as a Ute in Australian-auto-lingo) was born.
This particular baby-blue Sookie Ranchero is a GT model, featuring a rebuilt 351 “vee-eait” engine, sport rims and tires, as well as special “GT” accents along the rear pillars and lower skirts – so it means business as much as it means hauling anything in your house and garage in style.
GM followed suit later with their own ute version, the Chevy El Camino, basically a truckified version of its existing Chevelle, though not to the same applause the Ranchero earned years prior.
Still, Chevy had the last laugh, because while the Ranchero ran its course into the early 1980’s, the ute’s spirit returned in 2006 under the Holden badge (Holden is GM’s Australian marque) with a a full-pickle, no-replacement-for-displacement Corvette-based LS3 V8 under the bonnet.
The only difference, of course, to the classic utes is that the Holden is so fast that it can take your pigs to the market and return them as paté… in the same day.
Next week’s Hot Car… it’s Japanese, turbocharged, has all-wheel-drive and spent much of its career going sideways on a race track…