Classic Pickup: 1970 Ford Ranchero GT Cobra Jet 429

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By Richard Truesdell

The year 1970 is acknowledged by most automotive experts as the high-water mark of the muscle car era, muscle cars being defined as intermediate or smaller cars with big-block V-8s under the hood. But what about car-truck hybrids like Chevrolet's Chevelle-based El Camino or Ford's Torino-based Ranchero? Was 1970 their high-water mark as well?

If you take a look at the sales materials for both the 1970 El Camino and the 1970 Ranchero, you'll see that they offered virtually the same drive train options as their coupe, hardtop and convertible counterparts. For the El Camino that meant Chevy's 454 V-8 with ram air induction and for Ford, it was the 429 Cobra Jet V-8 with its own ram air option along with 370 available horsepower.

In early October 1969 Mike Groeniger walked into Jim Wolfe Ford in Albany, California, with the idea that he's be ordering a conventional pickup truck for his job at his father's water works supply business (this would be important later in the story). But instead of doing the logical thing, ordering a Ford F-100, he ordered something different, a 1970 Ranchero GT. For 1970 the Ranchero was all-new, featuring the same updated styling and from the A-pillar forward was identical to the companion Torino models.

But when it came to ticking off the option boxes, the young Groeniger, who had already owned a 260-powered, four-speed 1963 1/2 Falcon Sprint, went whole hog, checking of two significant options, the non-ram air induction 370-horsepower 429 Cobra Jet V-8 and the close-ratio four-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter. While Groeniger didn't specify the ram air option, it's of interest to note that system installed on ram air, shaker-equipped Rancheros was more similar to the system found on the Mustang rather than the other ram air-equipped Torino Cobra Jets.

And Groeniger specified one additional, significant option, stylish hide-a-way headlights that gave the pointed prow of the Ranchero a distinctive look. The car was painted in a Bright Gold Metallic Paint with a contrasting black vinyl top and high-impact laser stripes.

"Because it was a company vehicle, I ordered the bench front seat instead of the standard GT bucket seats," says Groeniger. "My father was not amused when he first saw it but after driving it, he said 'the cops will see you coming in this thing, but I like it.' In 1974 I traded the Ranchero in on a new Thunderbird and I lost touch with the Ranchero for over thirty years."

As it often does, life gets in the way. Groeniger raised a family and as was the case with his own father -- who had owned a number of interesting cars over the years that included a big-window Custom cab 1956 F-100 Ford Pick-up, a 1967 Jaguar XKE Roadster and a first edition Ford De Tomaso Pantera -- he owned a number of Corvettes and a Cobra kit car with a 428 Cobra Jet engine that won top honors at the Oakland Roadster Show in the hand-built class. And with his two sons, restored an example of his first car, the 1963 1/2 Falcon Sprint.

 

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"My sons and I often talked about the Ranchero I had owned, how unusual it was in that you don't see any examples of that vehicle anymore," says Groeniger. "My oldest son was always asking around about and looking for Cobra Jet Rancheros until one day when he heard of a sale of a 1970 Ranchero GT, equipped with the 429 Cobra Jet mated to the four-speed. The color was wrong but everything else seemed to match my car. We contacted the new owner and drove to Santa Cruz, California, to look at the car. It was in sad shape, painted in black, interior mostly dissembled with boxes of parts. The original engine was there but not running. It was hard to tell if this was my original car. While looking over the truck, we noticed the original color, Gold Metallic, in the door jams. Behind the seat in the boxes of parts we found a special bolt. This bolt was the type I sold as a salesman and was specific to the water works industry. That sealed the deal, we purchased the Ranchero and rebuilt it back to factory specs."

When covering the 2014 (Mercury) Cougar Club of America (CCOA) Western Regional Show in Oakley, California, we encountered Groeniger's Ranchero GT, entered in a special Ford-powered class. Perfectly restored, resplendent in its Bright Gold Metallic with contrasting laser stripes, it caught our attention in a sea of more than 80 classic (1967-1973) Cougars. Posting photos on Facebook, the photos caught the eye of PickupTrucks.com's Mark Williams, who knows a thing or two about unique pickup trucks, who asked for a follow up.

Here's Mike Groeniger's 1970 Ford Ranchero GT, presented for pickup truck enthusiasts everywhere to enjoy. Groeniger puts it all into its proper perspective, "At every car show that we attend the Ranchero generates a lot of interest and conversation. For me, it takes me back to my younger days when the joy of driving was less complicated."

To get an idea of all the options Groeniger encountered when he purchased his 1970 Ford Ranchero GT, click here to download the pdf of the full 1970 Ford Ranchero dealership brochure.

Images by Richard Truesdell

 

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Comments

This truck is WAY better looking than Ford's art dept thought it should be. Their artists show something that looks like a Country Squire station wagon, complete with fake wood sides (barf!) and puke colors.

Even that said, these things could only go fast in a straight line and could not hook up worth a damn from a dead stop. Todays high performance tires make a big difference for the 1960s muscle car collectors.

Rancheros and El Caminos look nice but they only seem useful down under where weights are seemingly lighter and towing/hauling requirements are more relaxed.

Nice looking motor. Love the interior .

I can't tell you how close I came to ordering a '72 version of this thing with the Laser stripe down the side... but I didn't have the money on hand to make the deposit and let "wiser heads" talk me out of it before I could seal the deal. On later analysis, they were not "wiser heads", though they did end up proving to me that Ford was not the brand to own after they bought three Fords of their own during the '70s and all of them were garage queens.

Re the Country Squire look on the brochure... that actually was an option. In its day it was a good looking truck. While raising a family we bought a new 1972 Ford Gran Torino Squire Sport station wagon in that same color with the fake wood. It was considered beautiful and really was a gorgeous wagon. It got many positive comments. Today's beholder has an entirely different view of the world than we did then. We had the 400 cubic inch engine with two-barrel carburetor and never got more than 10 mpg with it. Being a young family on a budget we kept that car less than a year, trading it for something more economical, but a major mistake, a 1973 Chevrolet Vega Kammback wagon. What a big mistake that was!

I was at that show and it was a really cool car. Thanks Richard for the story.

I have to agree that after 1970 the car industry took a huge downhill slide.
Some refer to it as the "Malaise Decade".

I do like the engine drivetrain combo, not the aesthetics. Nowadays you don't require a big block to gain the horsepower/torque like 60s and 70s muscle cars obtained.

The XB Falcon ute from the early 70s is very similar in appearance to this fugly ute.

http://images.tradingpost.com.au/QLFGMXTW/8GD69P/Z3N8-Resized320x240.jpg

http://www.boostcruising.com.au/database/carsforsale/files/1974_Ford_Falcon_Ute_6132007.jpg

http://www.boostcruising.com.au/database/carsforsale/files/1974_Ford_Falcon_Ute_6132010.jpg

In the mid 70s I do think was one of Ford's worst periods for vehicle style and design. Another Falcon variant from Australia.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Ford_Landau_Australian_1975_rh_front_108.jpg

As for the handling, remember these are based on vehicles that in 'car' form that didn't handle.

@Ken,
Your comment is reminiscent of what I'd expect from DiM ;)

If you knew your history of the Australian light vehicle market, in particular utes and pickups, you'd find back in the 60s we had more or less a 50-50 split between US/UK full size pickups and "Aussie" car based utes.

Our ute is viewed like our Outback. It's the image that Australians want to project to the world, very much perception. Some yokel ute lovers attempt to make our local
ute appear to be of value more than what they really are, like pickups in the US'es case.

We have shown that the Aussie ute can be replaced with a pickup style truck (full chassis) as what happened with the advent of the Japanese compact pickups hit our shores in the 60s.

The Japanese pickups competed head to head with the Aussie utes more so than the pickup in overall capability. They won out because they were cheaper in overall running costs.

They more or less killed off the traditional car based Aussie ute eventually. We still have the ute, but in a different form, a US style full chassis form.

Even Australia did have protectionist barriers like the US does now to protect our vehicles, including the ute. But a gradual, measured, ie, incremental drop of protection over 20 years has turned out that the full chassis pickup style ute has won over.

The US is going through a similar phase right now with changes to CAFE, EPA, etc.

As for your towing comment, well we do tow, but like the US I do think this towing 'excuse' is a little over rated. Most pickups are SUVs that don't tow anywhere near the rated capacity of even our midsizers.

I do think the great attraction of the US pickup is the cab size for most, not towing or even 4x4ing. Many like V8s, but have a look at the V6 and it's acceptance in your pickups.

All in all your comment displays a lack of historical knowledge regarding our vehicle market. A trolling comment I would suggest.

I'm back home and on PUTC!

A thing of beauty! Great story!

Viva Ranchero!

@Big Al - if you are really back then I'll see you at TTAC. Unemployed inbred bottom feeding trolls can't kill that site like they are here.

The old 429 V8 was just a bored out 391 V8 ? These were the big block Ford engines where the 427 was considered the small block like the 302-351 ?
right?
The 330-360-390 was just used in the pickups, not similar as the car engines

HEMI V8
I know that's not you doing all that repeating
I have respect for the real HEMI V8 and reading his contributions to this site I have learned a lot.

Can't we just get along with each other cause I highly enjoy reading the information here and what I learned from this site made me an expert on pickups.

I remember reading in the past about certain alloy wheels cracking and falling apart at high speeds and a friend with an F-150 experienced a high speed wobble so I told him about the cracking wheels and he found a bad-cracked wheel and he was impressed how I knew that.
I knew that cause I read about it here.

Please stop the fighting and bickering!

Great, Real American stuff, not boring Euro soaps, genuine U.S.A style

@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1/Frank/Idahoe Joe/The Guy/AD/Casey/papa jim/Young Guy/BeeBe/Steve/Chris/The truck guy/Alex/Mr Chow/Yessir/All Americans/Scott/Buy American or say Bye to America/Ram Big Horn 1500/Hemi Monster/Tom Wilkinson at Chevy/mark49/Tom#3/Truck Crazy/carilloskis or whoever you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

@tom3,
Ram wants you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw&feature=youtu.be&t=1m34s

So let me see if I am getting this 429 Ford Ranchero story correctly.
The Ram brand is of less than stellar quality. This is a known and not really news. However none of that has anything to do with the 1970 429 Ford Ranchero. If there was a story about a Ram or Dodge truck. I might comment on that vehicle and not launch into rant positive or negative about another brand that had absolutely nothing to do with the vehicle being reviewed in that article. So in other words , please grow up.

Why is it that PUTC will delete all my comments yet BAFO's dumba$$ comment is still here??? Maybe BAFO is Mark William's alter ego.

Ghastly. The El Caminos/Caballeros were much better looking cars, er, pickups. I think every year of Ranchero looks like it was beat with the ugly stick.

@hemistupid, yes they ought to delete your comments, if they really do. You are surely the definition of stupid. Can't just let everyone enjoy this article because your stupidity takes over and the IDIOT comes out. I just feel bad for all the real ram guys who honestly love they're trucks and they have to sit back and watch this IDIOT known as hemiv8. What a waste of air you breath when someone else who needs it is dying. Just can't get over the dumbas$ you are. Maybe you need a serious diaper change?? Maybe you need a old country as$ whopping. But that would be child abuse. What a natural born waste of breath you are.

From myself and I am sure many , many others THANK YOU.

@Inbred bottom feeding trolls

- if you win PUTC loses

The fact that you are free to act the way you do...

AND

the fact that you chose to act that way...

is why your country is in a state of decline.

You chose the low road......

The USA cannot retain supremacy in anything when its inhabitants chose to race to the bottom.

Haven't made one comment on this post. It is sad idiots can't grow up. No interest in a 1970 Ford. 1970 Hemi Cud'a yes!

Lou, Thanks for the preaching from up north. But you don't have to talk down to us abpit some silly argument about PUTC posters and American decline in every post.

There's a big difference between decline as a condition and decline as a choice. What we have with Obama is a president choosing decline. Let’s keep the fire concentrated on the real issues, not PUTC members.

If you don't want to be gleeful about it and would like to stop US decline, here are the steps (and you should because until Canada becomes an island, US decline is going to be Canadian decline):

1) Home grown energy. Start fracking! Every state needs to have an “all of the above” energy policy.

2) Get rid of that trainwreck called Obamacare and replace it with free-market healthcare across state lines and have health savings accounts so people can use the money to buy their own insurance in the private market.

3) Penny plan: cut 1 penny from every dollar in govn't spending for 6 years and guess what? You get a balanced budget. Part two of that plan is to have a balanced budget amendment so congress cannot overspend again.

4) Limit the amount of taxes that can be collected. Fair tax.

5) Term limits: six years in the House, with only one term in leadership, and 12 years in the Senate with only two years in leadership.

6) School choice.

7) Secure the damn border.

I'm stunned at how stupid these posts in the comment sections are.

Wouldnt mind having a modern Ranchero,but made by GM of course

http://youtu.be/IYCMWOIcpzA

I'll pass.

http://static.commercialmotor.com/big-lorry-blog/2010/07/08/Overloaded.jpg

I never realized they put the 429 4 speed in these.

Not my favorite Ranchero body, but to each's own.

My dad had a thing for the pre 64 Falcon based Ranchero, but with us 6 kids, that got hard to find the extra money.

As a body&fender guy, he would buy stuff, fix it, drive for awhile, and sell. One of them was a 74 or so ugly pale green Ranchero, which was ok. Would fit him, my step ma, and us two kids.

Better liked was my friends GMC Sprint with a 402.

I wonder why Mark Williams deleted all of those other "crap" comments in this article and continues to leave the comments under my name? It's very evident these comments ARE NOT mine.

Mark Williams, how about showing some decency and attempt to manage this site with as little bias as you can muster.

I find this approach quite disappointing.

MARK WILLIAMS how'bout removing these comments as illustrated below;

'Posted by: Big Al from Oz | Aug 3, 2014 4:10:34 PM'

Provide some equitable editorial management.

Thanks for all the positive feedback on my story. But kudos go to Mark who follows my Facebook page and saw my posted-day-of-the-event photos of this special truck among all the Mercury Cougar images that were on my timeline that day.

I'm always on the lookout for interesting vintage pickups so if you have something you would like to see featured contact me via Private Message on my facebook page:

http://facebook.com/richard.truesdell.3.

@Jim - I'm targeting the trolls. They abuse free speech and abusing the rights given to citizens does contribute to the degradation of society.
If one damages the pillars of a society then one damages the society. Free speech is one of those pillars.

I agree with most everything you say except "free market health care". A study was done to compare the Canadian socialized medicine model versus the USA model. They found their weren't huge differences. The Canadian system fared much better with long term chronic disease like renal failure due to people not affording the care. The US system had shorter wait lists for surgical procedures because it makes the system money.
After all was looked at there was a 5% lower mortality rate in the Canadian system.
The glaring problem that the study showed was that one system wasn't much better than the other but the USA system was around 80% more costly.
Securing the borders would help small business and the lower socioeconomic end of the scale because of exploitation of illegals and the costs they place on social systems.

You have to note that in 2008 Canada did take an economic hit but no where near as bad as the USA or other countries. We used to be considerably interdependent on the USA. I live in a region dependant on lumber exports. The housing collapse would traditionally have been a catastrophe.
The irony is the USA placed tariffs and restrictions on lumber to protect USA interests a long time ago. That hurt us but forced companies to expand their markets. We now ship more wood to Asia than to the USA.

"Canadian system fared much better with long term chronic disease like renal failure"

@LouBC

Actually, renal failure is very often caused by diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly encountered form in Western countries, because people eat too much and have lousy habits like drugs, drinking to excess and tobacco.

For that reason it's fair to call it a lifestyle disease. Why should taxpayers cover the cost of someone's care if they spent their life abusing their own health?

Another related point. Millions of Americans can afford their own health costs and REFUSE to pay for it. Instead they rely on public health systems.

In my state fully one third of folks receiving the benefit of health insurance refuse to pay, meaning that some old geezer like me gets the privilege of paying more for my coverage. Not fair or decent.

Ditto for car insurance. In many Florida neighborhoods the uninsured drive anyway and those who buy insurance get to pick up the tab. Unfair and lousy public policy.

Had to chime in!

Richard, thanks for the great article. I remember these Rancheros and the El Caminos.

@Lou BC--The fan boys are killing this site. I see this site becoming more like cars.com, its owner which use to have articles with a comment section but now is more a marketing site. TTAC is a good site and some of the knowledge of the writers is top notch. I enjoy reading Ronnie's articles, he is a true automotive historian.

@papajim - any system could be improved upon. The USA system is poorly run mix of private and public.
What you point out is the traditional left and right debate. The left is concerned with fairness as defined by equal and universal access whereas the right views fairness as people having to pay their own way and not burdening others.

Both sides get hung up on debating ideology and refuse to see that there is merit to both sides of the debate. I've always said a blend of ideology is better i.e. if you truly can afford you should contribute but if you truly cannot you should be assisted.
The metaphor that is appropriate is helping someone walk across the street. I don't need to help a young fit man but I do need to help the frail lady with a cane.
The left feels that the fit young man should get as much help as the frail lady and the right thinks if it is a burden to me I won't help either.

...and the right thinks if it is a burden to me I won't help either.

@LouBC

Correction:

the Right rejects the idea that government officials get to pick the winners and losers, or that some bureaucrat decides which old lady gets a walking stick and which one gets a limo.

Also, you completely dismissed (ignored?) my remark about
fit people who refuse to pay their own way. Socialist proposals to cure all injury always seem to end up creating new ones.

Today, only the rich can afford to pay for health care in America. Only the rich can even afford health insurance.

Our current administration promised to "bend the cost curve downward." they got everything they wanted and passed the law. The Supreme Court even bent over backwards and gave them its blessing.

Today, my insurance cost has doubled in less than 3 years. I had to drop my wife's coverage because the premiums for family plan on my employer plan exceeded 2k per month. Someone who has cancer has no choice but to pay through the nose.

So I do. But I don't have to like it.

@ papa jim - "fit people" need to pay and my point was that a purely right wing or purely left wing approach does not work.

The US health system costs 80% more than the Canadian one for basically the same outcomes.

We have "for pay" profit oriented healthcare that tends to cater to the wealthy or car insurance companies or workers compensation insurance. I'm on an employer funded plan.
The question is what to do for those who don't have coverage?
Wallmart has a large portion of its workforce on food stamps.

There will always be abuse of any system but a 25 year old too lazy to work is less of an abuse than a 50 year old dying of renal failure because he can't afford for profit health care.

My insurance does not double even if I have more claims.

It is too bad that you have to pay more but it isn't because of someone unwilling to pay, it is because corporations want to make money.

Capitalist business models work well when you have competition and a product that a consumer can chose not to buy. If the cost is too high you go elsewhere or do without. That exerts downward pressure on the price.

That is impossible in healthcare. If you cannot afford the product you either go into severe debt or suffer needlessly or die earlier than you should.

Like I said - a blend is needed.

Cool story. Enjoyed the read



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