Same Number Of Gears As There Are Pedals: 1974 Ford Ranchero vs 1964 International Scout

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Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown! Today, we’ve got two hard-working 3 speed manual vehicles that both need a little assembly. We’ll get there in a minute; first we have to see which bad idea you preferred from yesterday…

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Looks like it’s a dead man’s party up in here. I don’t know what it is about hearses, but folks who love them really love them. Someday, I need to show you all my friend Eric’s custom ’66 Cadillac hearse; it’s a sight to behold.

But for now, we have more pressing matters, in the form of two uncommon trucks (or near-trucks) that both need some work. But both of them come with extra parts to help you on your way. Let’s take a look at them.

1974 Ford Ranchero – $2,200

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Engine/drivetrain: 302 cubic inch V8, 3 speed manual, RWD

Location: Hoodsport, WA

Odometer reading: unknown

Runs/drives? Technically, but not quite roadworthy

First off, for the benefit of our younger readers: When this vehicle was built, the type of transmission it uses had another name besides a manual transmission. It was a standard transmission. Three forward speeds (“slow, fast, and haulin’ ass,” as a high-school friend of mine called them), usually on the column, and a clutch pedal were what you got if you didn’t specify what transmission you wanted, in pretty much any car short of a Lincoln or Cadillac. Most cars were sold with an automatic, but it was nearly always an optional extra.

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But whoever originally bought this toothpaste-green Ranchero didn’t spring for many extras at all, it seems, besides extra cylinders. That 3-speed standard is spun by our good friend the Windsor 302 V8, with a two-barrel carburetor, which the seller says runs “perfect.” It does not have power steering or power brakes, so don’t skip gym days; you’ll need your strength.

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It has some rust, and the interior isn’t exactly pretty, but the good news is that it comes with essentially an entire new interior in a nice brown, except for carpet, which is available for around $200 (I checked). And the seller has extra body parts you can mix and match, and parts cars you can pull from. It’s like a big Lego set!

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It’s as close as Americans ever got to an Australian “ute,” it’s a pre-catalytic-converter V8 with a manual, and it doesn’t even look half bad as it sits. There’s a lot to like here.

1964 International Harvester Scout 80 – $1,800

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Engine/drivetrain: 152 cubic inch inline 4, 3 speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: North Bend, WA

Odometer reading: 66,000 miles

Runs/drives? Nope. Supposedly runs, but steering is broken

Rather have your 3 speed standard on the floor, and all four wheels driven? We’ve got you covered. This early Scout 80, International Harvester’s answer to the Jeep, is in what the seller calls “buildable” condition. It has a bit of a lift (likely just from moving the springs above the axles instead of below them) and some big bald tires, but otherwise it looks stock. It’s powered by a 4 cylinder International engine, which is basically a V8 with the left bank of cylinders missing. The seller was told it runs, but wasn’t given keys; I would have assumed they would have tried to hot-wire it by now to make sure it runs, but maybe that’s just me.

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The rest of it is rough, with that awful rattle-can camouflage job, but at least it includes replacement front fenders. They aren’t in great shape, but they aren’t cut back like the ones that are installed on it are.

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Inside, it’s… well, let’s just say a hazmat suit wouldn’t be the craziest idea before you crawl into this thing. Expect to gut the interior and do what you want with it. But it’s a simple steel box on wheels anyway; you don’t need to get fancy with the upholstery.

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It can be saved, I think, and considering what nice restored Scouts are selling for, this might be a bargain. Not to restore, but just to get nice enough to drive and enjoy. Trailer it home, rebuild the steering linkage, remove and probably burn the seats and replace them with something from a junkyard, and add in a good old push-button and toggle switch for the ignition. It could work.

There they are, two 3 speed standards in different packages.  Which one is your flavor?


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52 Responses

  1. Ranchero is the obvious choice. The Ranchero looks like it could be a driver with a few days of effort. The Scout is just plain awful. I don’t see this thing running again. It could be useful as a prop in a post apocalyptic zombie movie, though.

    This matchup would be more interesting if the vehicles were in similar condition. If they were in similar condition, I would still pick the Ranchero. I have always liked the idea of a ute. I like having an open bed, but I get tired of how lousy my truck handles. Plus, it would be nice to have a truck where the bed isn’t 4 feet off the ground. Loading my F250 is a tremendous pain in the ass. Why didn’t utes catch on in the US??

    1. Probably because they combine the worst of both trucks and cars and offer little in return other than handling (no one besides blog commenters cares about handling), and load height (based on sales, very few care about this either).

      Do I sometimes wish my F350 was lower when loading it? Yes. Is the increased ride height worth it the rest of the time? Also yes.

      The desire to sit up high is consistently underestimated by enthusiasts.

      1. I agree that sitting up high is nice, but it genuinely limits the utility of my truck. Loading heavy items is enough of a pain that I find it easier to tow a trailer and leave the bed empty. Plus, I have a lot of trouble reaching over the side of the bed (I’m 6’1″ or so, so I’m not short). Smaller trucks like the Ranger are easier to load, but then you have to deal with a much shorter bed and limited towing capacity, so they have their limitations as well.

        I guess you are right about sales figures, though. If customers were interested in utes or full-size trucks with a low ride heights, manufacturers would build them.

        1. “but then you have to deal with a much shorter bed and limited towing capacity”

          These tradeoffs would exist with a modern ute too, and arguably more so. Ultimately, you’re chasing the customer who values handling and load height enough to live with:

          -2wd, possibly car-based AWD. In any case, not transfer case style 4×4.
          -Short bed only
          -Car-based unibody payload and towing limitations
          -Regular cab only

          Some people can accept the first three, which is why the Maverick is popular. But any two door vehicle is a tough sell in 2022, and 2 door trucks most of all.

          There may be a tipping point on bed height though, Ford lowered the ride height of the Super Duty during the 2020 refresh. It’s possible my 2019 will be the high water mark for factory ride height outside of off-road packages.

          1. I didn’t realize Ford lowered the ride height of the Super Duty for 2020 (I have a 2021). I can’t imagine the bed of my truck being any higher.

            I see your point about the limitations of utes. I guess it makes sense why they didn’t catch on. I still think they are cool, but they probably are closer in utility to a Maverick than an F150 (much less my 250), so they wouldn’t be very useful to me.

      2. I think that trucks got stupidly high somewhere in the late 90s and early 2000s. The truck built in the last 10 years doesn’t have significantly better off road performance from a 96 F150 or Chevy K1500, but they have huge besides and super high ground-to-tailgate for mostly asthetic reasons.

  2. Seems like a perfect candidate for the “Why not both?” meme. If only.

    I do say that I am a bit shocked that the Rancho is currently winning by a healthy margin. I voted for it thinking it wouldn’t get much love over the uber-popular Scout, especially with 4WD. As v10omous says, the Scout is the one with most upside, although it will take a lot of effort and money to get it into desirable shape.

    Growing up, my Dad had three Ranchos (in series, not at once), a Falcon-based, a Fairlane-based GT (428 CJ!!!), and an LTD-based one that came after this Torino-based one. If it weren’t a 2,000 mile drive each way, I’d be tempted.

  3. Is that strap holding the top on that Scout? Yikes. “Buildable”? You could say that about damn-near anything that has a good frame. While the Ranchero isn’t nearly as cool fixed up, it at least looks doable. Ranchero it is.

  4. Scouts came factory equiped with rust. As bad as that Scout looks in the pics, I bet it’s WAY worse in person.

    The Ranchero, on the other hand, could be a really fun cool beater with a reasonable amount of work.

  5. Rather shocked to see the Ranchero in the lead, but that Scout looks especially repulsive.

    The Ranchero brochure for 1974 (thank you, Ford Heritage Vault) describes the Ranchero 500 as “man sized, value packed” and yeah, sure is. Interestingly, the 302 was the standard engine on the base Ranchero 500, with the 250 I-6 an option (I assume for mileage considerations).

  6. I went for the Ranchero even though I’m astonished you could buy a car-based anything without power brakes in ‘74. That just seems really late in the game to not have such an important safety feature as standard equipment.

  7. Sorry gotta say Scout is the better deal. I love both cars but we have to think cost/effort vs return. That $2200 Ranchero is nice but needs some body panels, which means paint. A decent, get my money back paint job plus the other work says over $10k. Recently I saw a local numbers matching 74 running and ready to rumble nice original paint for less than $8k. Granted it was gone when I called but spending $15k to get a car worth slightly more than half that is no no no. The petri dish Scout needs much more, would cost more, and need more time. But at the end I think it would be worth twice the cost, certainly break even without any wrenching and unless you’re a moron it would never be worth half what you spend.
    People who take on projects with no information are the reason they are never complete and go thru several people before the project is done.

  8. I like them both. The Ranchero has a much better chance of being able to drive it. The Scout will take a lot more work.
    Fortunately, I learned how to get up to $3000 per day with blank ATM cards so I can buy both!

  9. It had to be a Scout. What, there wasn’t a three pedal three speed El Camino or Caballero out there?

    As the proud owner of a ’69 800A, I had to go Scout. It’s mostly there, and they’re pretty simple to patch up. It won’t cruise the interstates as well as the Ranchero, but there isn’t much on or off road that’ll stop it.

    That said, the Ranchero is pretty cool as well.

    1. I was gifted a ’70 800B Scout – a buddy just left it in front of my diff shop and I felt so bad for the poor thing – it had a 304 V8/auto combo and actually ran OK, it was just missing a front axle and a bunch of other stuff, that my friend and I did a half-ass makeover over the course of a year and got it roadworthy, then I shot a 30-foot IH orange-red paint job(don’t get any closer, you’ll see why my business card doesn’t say “painter” on it).

      I must say, though that these first-gen Scouts are really pretty poor on-road vehicles, and I’m an IH guy from way back. Mine had power steering that was so limp you could drive it with your pinky and I retrofitted power brakes from a Scout II on it, but was still fairly terrifying to drive at higher speeds, and the two 10-gallon gas tanks combined with IH’s famously thirsty V8 led to endless running out of gas events. I got rid of it to some high-school kid for like $1200 back in ’93, and I still hope he didn’t kill himself in it.

  10. I may be mistaken, but I think the Scout has a Dana 44 rear axle (possibly posi) and a spicer/Dana 18 transfer case. both of which are potentially good desirable parts, thus making the Scout at least a good donor for another project if it turns out to be so far gone that its not worth fixing.

  11. I wonder how many people who worship leaf-sprung solid-axle 4×4’s from this era have actually ridden in one…just imagine you are in a large piece of HVAC ductwork, sitting on a milk crate, as it falls down a particularly steep flight of cement stairs. That pretty much sums up the experience. Yeah it’ll get damn near anywhere offroad, but most of your time is spent on pavement. My dad’s Scout II would literally bounce you off the ceiling (no headliner, seatbelts…why?) when crossing railway tracks. I voted Ranchero as Ford sedans from that time (my best friends parents were Ford people) were pretty sweet, and the 302 & 3 on-da-tree would be fun for running around town. Power brakes & power steering – what are ya, some kinda soft-palmed city dandy?

  12. As you might have guessed, I have a soft spot for old American Utes. Also, while both of these cars are in frightful condition, I think the Scout is the worse of the two. It would really depend on just how rusty they each are, though—both are pretty bad. Assuming they’re equally rusty, I’ll take the Ranchero.

  13. Wow, the capitalist pigs are right; no one wants to work anymore…
    I’d be in the scout 100%, it will be worth more when finished ( $48k, average!! the Rancher not even 1/2 that) , it is more truck than THAT Ranchero, plus the Ranchero brings back bad memories of my mother’s Ford Station Wagon. Is it abused, a sure, but I don’t see structural issues and the body panels have fewer curves than a Nebraska highway. (which you can’t say about me at the same age..) The I4 can probably be swapped out for anything from a crate engine, junkyard LS3, or heck a 2JZ..
    I just love these big simple lumps that can be a blank canvas..

  14. As much as I like Scouts, getting parts is usually a customer order to get it anywhere near good looking.

    The Ranchero is offbeat and somewhat useful for light loads. Fix the interior, get the panels sorted, MAACO paint, and you have a nice driver quality. There is also room for some modern touches like a vintage air system, updated radio that looks stockish, maybe power windows/locks.

  15. I always though Rancheros were silly – even the name was silly (not as bad as GMC Caballero, though).

    A ute has all the disadvantages of a car paired with all the disadvantages of a truck. A friend had a Dodge Rampage in the ’80s, kept it for a year and then traded it on a Daytona. It had only two seats but didn’t handle well, had a bed but couldn’t carry anything large or heavy. Probably would have been a great vehicle for a travelling closed cell foam salesman.

    I always loved Scouts, but not this one. If it had the 304 and four speed, it would be a lot more appealing.

  16. Definitely the Ranchero. Personally I like the Scout as what guy doesn’t like a 4WD box on wheels that’s probably as simple as they come? But, my sister dated a guy with a Scout wayyyy back in the day (think mid-80’s) and it was just a miserable piece of crap. I think it thought it belonged in the military – for every hour it ran it needed 2-3 hours of tinkering/repairs. And don’t even get me started on how quickly and completely it rusted out to dust. On top of having bad memories on one this Scout looks like it needs more than a hazmat suit to be approached with. Can only imagine how many and what kind of droppings are in this ‘get your tetanus shot ready’ bucket. The Ranchero looks like it was neglected and forgotten, this Scout looks like it was used and abused and put away wet a few times too many.

  17. I have no desire for either vehicle in any condition. Even show room ready for the asking prices here wouldn’t do it for me. So, I guess based on my current “life style” I suppose the Ranchero would have a better chance of accidentally making me happy.

    Grudgingly, the Ford.

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