1973 Ford Ranchero 500 351 Cleveland from North America


Cheap, fast, but expensive to maintain


Engine needed rebuild, but only after 230,000 miles!

Power steering leaks badly.

Body is prone to rust.

A/C stopped working long ago.

General Comments:

These cars have some serious performance if you know how to unleash them. The 351 Cleveland is one of the most powerful engine ever produced by Ford. I upgraded the intake manifold, carburetor, and camshaft to a more high performance setup when I rebuilt the engine. At first, you're somewhat dissapointed... then you hit around 3,000 rpm and you slowly hear a growl buildup. By 6,000 the engine is full out screaming. I've taken 1st gear all the way up to 50 with no problems, 2nd to 80, no idea what the max speed is, but I'm sure its high. It's fun to watch people's faces when they try to pass you. Downshifting to 1st at 35 mph results in a heavenly sound and feel. The front of the car lifts up and you can feel yourself being pushed back into the seat. The only recommendation I have is to switch to some higher gears (like 3.73 or 4.11) if you want true performance.

The engine is very reliable, but the rest of the car is not. The body is poorly designed which causes severe rust problems (expensive to fix). The power steering leaks like crazy and is difficult to repair.

The interior is very roomy. A normal size person can lean way back and never touch the firewall with their feet!

The car has very good suspension for comfort and decent for performance. I've gone over speed bumps at over 40mph and hardly felt them.

Overall these cars are very cheap to buy, but can cost a fair amount to maintain.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 2nd March, 2004

20th Aug 2009, 21:30

That's a great review! Back in 1983 I had a 1973 Ranchero GT and it was the same way when you were accelerating. I wouldn't hesitate to run with so called muscle cars of the day. And it rode like a Cadillac. Ahhh... those were the days.

22nd Mar 2010, 14:18

I had a 1973 Ranchero GT while in High School (1976-1979) out in California. It had the 351C engine and I had no problem frying the rear tires all day long. Had plenty of behind the seat storage (for beer), and if you really wanted to hide something from the authorities, just unscrew the rear tail light and there is a huge amount of space between the outer rear fender and the truck bed wall!!

Loved that car, and I am now 48 and looking to find my original Ranchero!

23rd Mar 2010, 06:26

Sounds like just the car or truck for a smuggler!

13th Jun 2014, 12:46

I just picked up a 73 Ranchero, Thanks for the storage tips. :) I was looking for a place exactly like that. Cheers!