Utes, or ‘coupe utilities’ are head-scratchingly-niche vehicles that somehow found their way into public favor back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Various models got produced including the famous Ford Ranchero, Chevy El Camino and GMC Sprint among various others.
You may also be familiar with the Holden Monaro ute, a bedded-version of the same car that spawned the badge engineered 2004 Pontiac GTO.
The first modern ute was the Ranchero, a pickup comprised of a station wagon’s body with an integrated bed up back; in its sportier forms it would be an interesting blend of muscle car and pickup.
With modern ‘lifestyle’ offerings such as the Hyundai Santa Cruz decidedly unexciting, Ford could do worse than bring back the Ranchero similar to these exclusive renders courtesy of HotCar’s artist Timothy Adry Emmanuel.
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This render shows how the 1973 Ranchero’s design could translate to a modern vehicle, one which would need to sell in significant numbers and meet crash, safety and economy regulations.
It would be the return of Ford’s ‘fun’ side, where utility meets character and sometimes, performance: back in the day, the ’73 model could come with a 4.1-liter I6 all the way up to a 7-liter V8 and a bunch of smaller V8s in between.
Power was low due to emissions laws strangling the V8s and resulting in only 205 hp for the biggest 7-liter engine; but the 5.8-liter Cobra Jet offered 248 hp.
This version by Timothy Adry Emmanuel depicts the ‘500’ base model of the Ranchero from ’73, restyled to meet today’s expectations while conserving a little of the drama of the classic ute.
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Nowadays, seemingly anything with a truck or SUV vibe is in vogue, and ‘lifestyle’ vehicles continue to be popular. The Ranchero render brings playful primary colors back to the table, on a body style that is square and playful – it certainly looks muscular in a cartoonish way, but also retains some features of the 70s classic including the crease along the side and the rear lights and details on the tailgate.
Up front a throwback grille and two circular lights lend a retro vibe to the car and the modern wheels wouldn’t look out of place on any other modern performance vehicle. What looks like integrated dual rear exhausts suggest this would get powered by Ford’s 3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine from the F-150 Raptor with 450 hp.
We think this car would slip nicely beneath the Ranger in the pickup range along with the Maverick and would likely sell well if priced competitively; we can agree that a Ranchero Raptor variant would be particularly excellent.