Hooniverse Weekend Edition: Not Found on Ebay; 1981 Ford Durango Pickup!

And its not a Dodge!

Here at Hooniverse, we already showcased a Ford Durango Pickup that was listed on Craigslist. However, Automotive Travelers own Sam Fiorani discovered another Malaise Era Ford that took a Fairmont Futura hardtop that was turned it into a pickup, and it’s for sale at a bargain price!

The 1957 Ford Ranchero

A little history about car based pickups is always a good start, and Sam describes it better than I can.

Years before pickups were considered alternatives to sedans for daily use, Ford bridged the gap between “truck” and “car” with the Ranchero. When it was introduced in 1957, there was nothing else quite like it. Based on the full-sized station wagon, the Ranchero replaced everything behind the front seat with an integrated pickup truck bed. Like every other idea in the automotive industry, the concept of a car-truck hybrid was quickly copied. Chevrolet launched the El Camino for the 1959 model year. With a hiatus from 1961 through 1963, the El Camino followed Ford’s lead for 20 years. When the Ranchero was downsized, Chevy’s El Camino moved to the intermediate platform. These rivals remained through the 1970s.

The 1979 LTD II Based Ranchero

We all know that the Ford vs Chevy rivalry was going on constantly, but it seems that Ford dropped the ball on a product that it launched in 1957. Sam picks up the story….

For the 1978 model year, General Motors introduced the downsized A-body platform, and with it, the downsized El Camino. Ford’s financial condition had been weakened, and its mid-sized platform held out through the 1979 LTD II. Ford had not prepared a proper Ranchero replacement. As a last attempt to capture some of the car-based truck market, Ford looked to Gardena, California-based National Coach Corporation for help. Primarily an airport-limo converter, National Coach took the Ford Fairmont Futura sporty coupe, removed the bodywork aft of the thick B-pillar, and crafted a fiberglass cargo bed in its place. The body lines of the Futura, including the rear panel reconfigured into a tailgate, seemed pre-designed for conversion into a pickup. The whole package only added 50 pounds in the transformation. The new model was dubbed Durango.


I never knew that Ford wasn’t going to build this on its own. Anyway, moving onto the subject at hand.

Built in 1980 and 1981, the Durango’s production numbers range from a low estimate of 80 to high estimates of 210 or 220. With prices in the $9,000 range, the Durango held a $2,500 premium over the standard Fairmont. The Fairmont ended production in 1983, and National Coach closed its doors around 1990. This vehicle, which appears to be the 67th built, is making its appearance at the Carlisle car corral this spring. To make room for his other car projects, the car is now being offered for just $5,495–about half its original retail price.


So is this Durango worthy of your $5,500? It’s a great looking car/truck, and I would lust for it, but what about you?
Read the entire post at Automotive Traveler.

0 Comments

  1. Nice ride, but if I were to make any deal on this particular ride, I would surely want to know why the front clip is a little more colorful than the rest of it. It could mean nothing, but it could mean front end collision repair.

  2. If this Fairchero is mechanically sound and has no structural issues, I would scoop it up quick for $5,500. As the article says, the Futura roof was a natural for the conversion and it looks great with that slanted tailgate and wide taillights. Interestingly, there are a couple of small additional taillights in the bed bodywork that are only visible when the tailgate is open. At this price, there's no way you'd lose money on this semi-official wonder. It even has a flip-up moonroof. I'm not crazy about the color combo and one could quibble about those fake wire wheels, but they certainly wouldn't be a deal killer. And just think of all the great Fox Mustang stuff that would fit right in. Like the instrument panel for starters.

  3. I agree with tonyola, the car looks just right. Just what you'd need to haul a bale of hay or two for your prize Longhorn bull, but that's about it. That trailer hitch is pretty much just for looks. But, that's not the point, as we all know. This could be a Mustang with a bed, and I like that idea.

  4. Arguably, the history of the car-based pickup starts long before the '57 Ranchero. But it probably does start with Ford, who just about invented the mass market light duty pickup by bolting a pickup bed onto the back of Model A coupes and roadsters. Tada, a car based pickup. Trucks and cars then diverged as the 1930's went on at Ford, but other manufacturers stepped in. Chevy offered a "coupe pickup" option in the late 30's which was a small bed that fit inside the trunk opening of a coupe with the decklid removed. That was probably too much of a compromise. Studebaker and then Hudson built extremely attractive car-based pickups, but buyers were not quite ready then to pay extra for a fancier truck.

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