This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
Ford Ranger II
First Seen: 1966 Detroit Auto Show
Description: Pickup truck with expanding passenger compartment
Sales Pitch: “Ultramodern idea in pickup trucks”
First seen at the 1966 Detroit Auto Show, the Ranger II Concept was most notable for two features: a forward-opening canopy-style cab, and an expandable passenger compartment that traded cargo-bed space for more interior room and a back seat for two additional passengers.
When conceived by automotive designer and futurist Syd Mead, the Ranger II was designed to be built on the chassis of a full-size station wagon. The final Ford concept shared its architecture with Ford’s F-250 pickup truck. The concept was powered by 390-cubic-inch V8 mated to a Ford SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission.
In 2-passenger configuration, the Ranger II boasted an 8-foot bed. The finished bed featured a walnut wood floor with aluminum rails, padded wheel arches, and vinyl bedsides. To make room for two extra passengers, the Ranger’s driver need only push a button. Set into action, the Ranger II’s small rear roof section slid back 18 inches, a pair of bucket seats rose from the floor, as did side “filler” sections with windows.
The well-equipped Ranger II featured an AM/FM radio and Ford’s SelectAire air conditioning.
At first blush, it would be easy to dismiss the Ranger II Concept as nothing more than whimsical take on Ford’s already-in-production Ranchero car/pickup crossover. But credit goes to Ford’s concept-design team for being well ahead of the curve in recognizing that Americans were beginning to accept pickup trucks as personal-use vehicles, and the space for more than two passengers—three, really, as most pickups were equipped with a bench seat in the Sixties—would become a consumer expectation.
What bums me out is that there’s no evidence I can find that the automatically expanding cab actually worked. It appears Ford simply schlepped around concepts in 2- and 4-passenger configurations and allowed a little exposition to substitute for the actual transformation.
Ford Ranger II Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)