Home » The Legendary Ford Ranger Was Available With A Rare Diesel Option, But It’s Not What You Think

The Legendary Ford Ranger Was Available With A Rare Diesel Option, But It’s Not What You Think

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The Ford Ranger is a truck that doesn’t need an introduction. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t need to go whole hog F-150, the little Ranger is your truck. For decades, Rangers have proven themselves as tough trucks for hard work, rough terrain, and days of play. But Americans haven’t been able to pair the legend with a diesel for a very long time. For just a couple of years, the beloved Ranger came with diesel engines, but they may not be what you think.

Saying “diesel” today can feel like uttering a swear word in front of a child. It can feel dirty. In a time when reducing emissions is in style, the compression ignition engine is escaping the small spaces under the hoods of passenger cars and sticking with large trucks, locomotives, and heavy equipment. However, in decades past, diesel wasn’t the enemy, but possibly the future. Diesel engines got fuel economy that gas engines couldn’t match, and they saved their owners chunks of change at the pump.

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Here in America, diesel saw a brief, but meteoric rise in the 1970s and the 1980s. Oil crises, concerns about the environment, and tightened economic belts helped lead a push toward lowering emissions, cranking up fuel economy, and saving some money along the way. Diesel engines, then known for their ability to squeak out better fuel economy numbers than the day’s gas engines, found their way into everything. You could buy a luxury Lincoln Mark VII or the lowly Chevrolet Chevette with diesel engines. If an automaker thought it could score better fuel economy from a diesel, it experimented with the type of engine.

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This era was a rather silly one for diesel, too. Dodge saddled its trucks with Mitsubishi diesel engines that made less power than a gasoline six-cylinder engine. Your only reason for opting for a Dodge D series pickup with a Mitsubishi diesel was to save money. That aforementioned Lincoln? Yeah, that ride was motivated by BMW diesel power and even the driver’s RV, the Vixen 21 TD, used the BMW diesel Ford was playing with.

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Of course, the most infamous use of diesel power was laid down by General Motors with the unreliable Oldsmobile diesel. The ’70s and ’80s diesel craze got so weird that even Toyota was willing to sell Americans a Camry with a diesel engine. That hasn’t happened again since.

The genesis of the Ford Ranger was right there in the early 1980s, sometimes referred to as being the tail end of the so-called Malaise Era. Ford’s smaller truck legend was born in 1982, and for just a few years it would also get diesel power. Like Toyota, Ford hasn’t sold a Ranger in America with a diesel ever since.

Changing The Compact Pickup Game

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While full-size pickup trucks are the bread and butter of Detroit’s Big Three, the mid-size pickup and compact pickup truck both still gather a considerable size of the vehicle market. The Ford Maverick sold 94,058 last year all on its own. The Ranger hasn’t done a bad job either, selling 101,485 units in 2020 while in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toyota does even better. Its Tacoma laughs in the face of the Ranger with a whopping 238,805 units moved in 2020 and another 234,768 trucks sold just last year.

There was a time when the Ranger filled in Ford’s slot for a compact truck and the concept of a smaller truck that still performed hard work was novel.

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Access 1983 Ford Ranger Brochure Ar 96 212010 19026 (2) Images 4
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Ford traces the Ranger’s roots back to the 1917 Model T. The automaker produced a pickup truck based on the Model T that Ford pitched as a more affordable sibling to the one-ton Model TT truck. However, Ford does not say this was a compact pickup. For that, Ford says you’ll have to fast-forward to December 1956 for its launch of the Ranchero.

One of Ford’s selling points for the Ranchero was that it was more than a car and more than a truck. This wasn’t just marketing gobbledygook. Ford designed the Ranchero to be a stylish, desirable car while at the same time, it was a work truck with a greater payload than many trucks of the day. Ford went as far as to give the Ranchero 50 more pounds of payload than an F-Series half-ton. The automaker says that not only was the Ranchero its coupe utility of the day, but the Ranchero was its first true compact pickup truck.

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Ford’s next compact truck on the American market would not be one of its own design. In 1972, Mazda brought its compact second-generation B series pickup to our shores. Ford slapped its badges on these trucks and sold them as the Courier. As silly as that sounds, this became common practice in the 1970s. GM threw its hat into the ring with the Chevrolet LUV, which was an Isuzu Faster behind the badges. Dodge was late to the game, but still managed to slap D-50 branding onto Mitsubishi Triton trucks.

As The Development Of The Ford Ranger by Jim Clark notes, the oil crisis of 1973 taught Ford a few lessons. One of them was the fact that people still wanted to buy pickup trucks even though there were fuel shortages. Ford started looking into the future and its research concluded that the buyers of the 1980s were going to look for a smaller fuel-efficient truck that was still a real truck. Clark’s article notes that Ford fed a ton of different variables into a sophisticated computer to figure out a path forward. The resulting data convinced Ford that if it was going to have significant fuel economy gains by the mid-1980s, trucks needed to have four-cylinder engines.

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Access 1983 Ford Ranger Brochure Ar 96 212010 19026 (2) Images 6
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In 1976, Ford launched “Project Yuma,” the development program for a clean-sheet design that would replace the Courier. Ford would spend $600 million revamping its compact pickup and the team got the rare chance to start with a completely blank canvas. The guiding principle was that the new truck had to be compact and designed around smaller engines.

Ford set its Project Yuma high goals early on. Not only did this truck need to be small and as fuel-efficient as an import, but Ford wanted this new truck to have a focus on quality. Ford was gaming on the idea that the buyers of the 1980s weren’t going to take more of the same garbage shoveled out of auto plants in the 1970s. Further, Ford wanted this compact truck to be as tough as a full-size rig while offering the ride and drive that would make a buyer want to use it as their personal vehicle.

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To achieve this, Ford’s designers cobbled up several concept models and rolled them out for then-current truck owners to criticize. Ford learned that buyers were open to small trucks, but they still had to be real trucks. That meant cabs built for six-foot-tall people, five lug wheels, and a towing package. Buyers wanted the small truck to have a three-across bench seat and to be just as hardy as a big truck.

Ford took notes from prospective customers and ironed out a plan. First, it would produce a rear-wheel-drive truck called the Ranger which would serve as the genesis of a new truck line. Then, over a couple of years, Ford would fill out that line with a four-wheel-drive, a diesel, and a variation of the truck that wore a cap over where its bed would normally be.

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The key to the Ranger’s frugality wasn’t just being a puny truck with tiny engines, either. In 1979, Ford’s engineers hunkered down to make a fuel-sipping truck. The future Ranger was subjected to wind tunnel testing and engineers carved out a shape that helped the little truck slip through the air while still looking like a truck. The Ranger spent over 500 hours in a wind tunnel and through it, engineers worked their way through wind turbulence problems and they even added a functional front apron. Through their work, the Ranger earned a coefficient of drag of 0.45, slippery for an ’80s truck, and the spoiler alone added a mile-per-gallon. Sure, 1 mpg isn’t much, but every bit counts when Ford was setting a 20 mpg target.

More fuel economy was achieved by putting the Ranger on an aggressive diet. Engineers used computer analysis to optimize the truck’s body, reducing weight. A calculated mix of high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium parts meant that engineers found a way to shave 20 percent of weight from the Ranger.

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Once engineers got the truck as slippery as they could, they then turned to the Ranger’s engines. Ford’s 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter fours were modified to deliver better low-end torque and to increase their durability. A new, reduced friction valvetrain was also introduced in an effort to increase fuel economy. Ford’s engineers then subjected the engines to 700,000 miles of testing to prove they were up to the task.

Finally, once the truck was ready to save buyers at the pump, engineers turned to the “personal vehicle” aspect. The Ranger couldn’t ride like a truck, but it was something someone might want to daily. Engineers worked with a computer to find the lowest spring rates and lowest ride frequencies possible. A 310-pound front spring rate was found to be great for good road manners but also eliminated the need for stabilizer bars. Up front was a refined stamped steel twin I-beam and the leaf springs in the rear were lengthened for a smoother ride.

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1983 Ford Ranger Twin I Beam

In addition, service intervals were lengthened and handy features were introduced like a removable double-wall tailgate. A Ranger, which was 17 inches shorter (175.5 inches) than the era’s F-Series, couldn’t carry 4×8 sheetrock out of the box due to the bed’s wheel well bumps. But, all it took was a pair of 2x6s to carry 4×8 material. Other touches included comfortable seating and cab noise levels on par with passenger cars.

Reportedly, Ford considered canning Project Yuma. 1979 brought on another fuel crisis and Ford’s redesign of the F-Series wasn’t bringing in the cash the automaker wanted. However, canceling the Ranger would have been a bad idea as General Motors was in the middle of developing its own compact truck. A canceled Ranger would have left GM to have all of the fun, and Ford couldn’t do that.

Access 1983 Ford Ranger Brochure Ar 96 212010 19027 Images 8

Still, General Motors beat Ford to the punch by six months, but Ford still got the Ranger on the road in early 1982. That year, GM sold twice as many Chevy S-10 and GMC S-15 pickups, but Ford still sold 76,684 Rangers between March 1982 and September of that year alone. It didn’t take long for Ford to catch back up to GM. In 1985, more than 232,000 Rangers went to new homes.

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By all accounts, the first-generation Ranger was a fine truck. Yes, it was as slow as molasses, but so was the competition. What was important was that it was indeed a real, comfortable truck and when you equipped it with the 2.0-liter four and a manual transmission, you got as much as 28 mpg.

Going Diesel

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Not as well-known is the fact that Ford had one extra trick up its sleeve. When the Ranger launched in the 1983 model year, buyers had one more option to choose from.

The first diesel engine that was available to the Ranger was a 2.2-liter four made by Mazda under license from Perkins. This engine features a 22:1 compression ratio and Ford advertised it as the engine requiring the least maintenance for the highest fuel economy returns. The Perkins diesel featured glow plugs to help with cold starts. During warm-up, the plugs stayed on until a coolant temperature of 86 degrees. Further aiding cold starts was a control to advance injection timing until the engine got warm enough.

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Ford was careful with the diesel’s advertising. It didn’t mention the fact that the Perkins wheezed out just 59 HP and 90 lb-ft of torque, but the fact that with the correct package checked, a diesel Ranger hauled a tad over 1,600 pounds. This wasn’t the best payload numbers the first-generation Ranger could kick out, but was a better outcome than many gas engine configurations. Ford further touted the benefits of diesel by talking up the fact that you didn’t have to worry about points, plugs, coils, condensers, or carburetors. The prospect of up to 41 mpg was also enticing. The EPA’s site, which uses corrected numbers, claims up to 28 mpg from the diesel.

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Still, a diesel Ranger was a slow one. A Ranger with the 2.0-liter four made 73 HP and gradually accelerated to 60 mph in 18.9 seconds. I found no official data for the diesel, but if the gasser was that slow, measuring a sprint to 60 mph with the diesel may have been a better fit for a calendar. The Ford Ranger diesel could have even been one of those weird instances where you’d hit a quarter mile before you hit 60 mph.

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An improvement came in 1985 when Ford switched to the Mitsubishi 4D55-T 2.3-liter turbodiesel, which netted 86 HP and 134 lb-ft of torque. This engine reduced acceleration times down to about 13 seconds. That’s not fast, but better than before. The engine boasted electronically-controlled glow plugs, which eliminated the “wait-to-start” light that plagued the earlier Perkins diesel. These glow plugs also allowed the Mitsubishi diesel to start right away rather than waiting for the engine to warm up like with the Perkins. Other goodies added to this engine included a fuel heater, a block heater, and a tachometer. One of the complaints with the early Rangers was a lack of a tach and Ford finally fixed that. Payload remained about the same and fuel economy got about 1 mpg or so better.

You can see the problem here. Diesels in the early 1980s were not like today’s diesels. Today, we expect a diesel to pull houses while still getting great mpg. The diesel drivers of the 1980s had no such expectations. Diesels back then were for fuel economy and ease of maintenance. I could not find exact MSRP data specifically for the diesel, but a base Ford Ranger with a regular cab was $6,203, while an XLT was $9,216. That base price made a base Ranger about $400 cheaper than a Courier.

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Production numbers aren’t known, but an estimate allegedly coming from AutoZone of all places claims that the take rate for diesel was about 1 percent each year. If we take that 232,000 number from 1985, that would mean 2,320 diesel Rangers were sold that year. Of course, that’s just an estimate and sadly, nobody knows production numbers for sure. What is known is that the diesel Ranger is rare, but also somewhat worthless. Again, this was an era when diesels were frugal, not powerful. You can get a nice Ranger diesel for well under $10,000.

Still, I won’t discount the fact that the Ford Ranger diesel has a strong fanbase and for them, a Ranger with a diesel engine is the ultimate rig to buy. Trucks like these are another artifact of automotive history that we probably won’t see again. Diesels were once seen as the future, now they’re a relic of a time that was. The next time you see a Ford Ranger rolling down the street, listen to the engine – if it’s clicking and clacking, it might be a diesel.

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Hat tip to Jake T for the story recommendation!

(Images: Ford, unless otherwise noted.)

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Scotty
Scotty
19 days ago

I’m currently in the Philippines and you can ONLY get the Ranger in a 2.0 diesel, including the new 2024. The rest of the world has cool stuff.

JDE
JDE
19 days ago

Ford had some weird mid 80’s diesels. the Continental Mark 7 had a Mercedes Diesel option.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
19 days ago
Reply to  JDE

No, that was sourced from BMW, not Mercedes-Benz.

JumboG
JumboG
19 days ago

I found interesting the original Ranger was designed for 6′ tall people. As a 6’5″ person back in the late 80s (I’ve shrunk 2″ since then) I found Ranger and S-10 cabs to be uncomfortably tiny, while having no such issues with Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi or Isuzu cabs from the same time frame.

MiniDave
MiniDave
19 days ago

I had an 86 long bed with the V-6 and manual 5 speed (which was a Mazda transmission BTW) and it was a great truck – I even hauled my 20ft Bayliner Cuddy cabin with it. The way I found out about the gearbox was mine was under warranty and it ate the 2nd and 3rd synchros, the Ford dealer said they did a lot of synchro jobs on the Ranger Mazda transmissions….I’m thinking it was a cost/weight/price/availability choice that really wasn’t up to truck usage.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
19 days ago
Reply to  MiniDave

Had the same exact Ranger but an 87. Great truck, put a ton of miles on it with few problems. . I was flat towing my CJ-5 to Jeep Jamborees in those days and never had a tranny problem.

Scott Lelievre
Scott Lelievre
19 days ago

This was my first car in 1992 and I paid $500 for it. It got way over the rated MPG and saw 50mpg+ on a regular basis. Slow is an understatement. Maintaining 55mph was sometimes a challenge. The fastest I ever got it to go was 80mph down a steep hill. Perfect vehicle for a high schooler though. Cheap to run and slow as hell.

Erik Waiss
Erik Waiss
19 days ago

This is my Gen X nostalgia for Popular Mechanic/Science and other publications shining through, but can we just admit how fucking rad those outline illustrations half shaded with water colors really were and are?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
20 days ago

I wonder how an 80s Ranger would have done with the 2 liter Perkins Prima direct injection turbo diesel. These were originally installed in the Austin Montego car and van and had a brief vogue as a Landrover engine swap before galvanic corrosion made 200 TDI engines from Discoveries plentiful.
We had an 85 Ranger S (for stripper) which moved OK by early 90s standards, although the 93 with a V6 was a massive improvement except in leg room

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
20 days ago

Your only reason for opting for a Dodge D series pickup with a Mitsubishi diesel was to save money.

And that’s a BAD thing?

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
20 days ago

Two points I’d like to mention about this article, which was great, and one I’ve suggested several times!

First, the 4d55s really are long- lasting motors. Shortly after I bought my Ranger (a ‘97 3.0), I met a guy driving an ‘87 diesel. If I recall correctly, he had already travelled 380k miles on it, a figure that undoubtedly would increase as it was his daily. Overseas the 4d55 was used in some commercial vehicles and Pajeros, and does have a small but devoted tuning community. Supposedly they take boost well…I’d love to get a diesel Ranger and test this theory. Someday.

Additionally, if you want to talk about the true “Holy Grail” of the Ranger series, then how about the Bronco II diesel? A truck so rare it’s not known if any were ever actually built. The diesel was offered on the Bronco II for 1987 only, not marketed *at all*, but service manuals and other literature referencing the diesel BII do exist. There was a post on The Ranger Station some years back showing pictures of an alleged factory—built BII diesel, but I don’t know if it was ever verified or not. If indeed any were built in ‘87, it’s got to be the absolute rarest Ranger iteration ever built.

Gene1969
Gene1969
20 days ago

 A Ranger, which was 17 inches shorter (175.5 inches) than the era’s F-Series, couldn’t carry 4×8 sheetrock out of the box due to the bed’s wheel well bumps. But, all it took was a pair of 2x6s to carry 4×8 material.

And later then put this feature in the Maverick. Glad they didn’t let this idea fade.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
20 days ago
Reply to  Gene1969

Ford has had the slots for boards in every subsequent pickup, and adding vertical slots to act as cargo dividers. I’ve actually used this feature in a Ranger back when I worked in a cabinet shop. That truck had planks for carrying 4×8 sheets and did it regularly, although it was mostly MDF rather than plywood.

Mike TowpathTraveler
Mike TowpathTraveler
20 days ago

You’ve got to wonder about the bizarre thought processes of Detroit when they think it’s a great idea to send their brand new Ford Ranger into a breaking surf line at an incoming tide…..

“Honey, those waves ahead are looking big. Don’t you think we should turn around?”

“Dear, with this new Ranger featuring the Mitsubishi 4D55-T 2.3-liter turbodiesel, we can power through anything that Mother Nature wants to dish out!”

Gene1969
Gene1969
20 days ago

Not really. If you listen close enough you’ll hear the wife say, “I’m telling you, Jack COULD HAVE fit on the door and it WOULD’VE held them both!” Meanwhile the husband is thinking, “Jack, take the wheel.” and ends the argument once and for all.

Data
Data
19 days ago

And yet they chose the Dodge Ram 2500 for Twister.

Gene1969
Gene1969
19 days ago
Reply to  Data

Well, there is precedence for that, but I understand where you’re coming from.

Bucko
Bucko
20 days ago

I’d love to know the configurations that were available. Manual? 4×4? Long bed? Ford seems to have a habit of configuring drivetrains like thees with the least desirable possible options. They then get a 1% take rate and cancel it due to lack of demand.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
20 days ago
Reply to  Bucko

I’m pretty sure that it was only available with the manual trans and 2wd.

Acid Tonic
Acid Tonic
20 days ago

People forget how easily these engines make power. My “90hp” 1.9 TDI puts out over 330whp and enough torque to shear all the teeth off the stock .761 5th gear. Swapped to a hardened .840 from a gasser.

1.9 at 12psi is 90hp/145ftlbs
21psi 160whp/300ftlbs
36psi from an hy35 is 330whp/385ftlbs.

There is no detonation to worry about. Sounds unbelievable but at 330whp I am running 44degrees advance at 5500rpm lean as I desire.

A gasser would detonate itself to death trying that.

Shane Blackshear
Shane Blackshear
20 days ago

Where was the 41 mpg figure coming from.
Also it’s bonkers to me that any ICE engine was getting 28 mpg in the early 80’s. How haven’t we made more progress?

JumboG
JumboG
19 days ago

Cars weight a lot more than back then (A Ranger now weighs nearly a ton more than a 84 Ranger,) and highway speeds have increased. Plus now you can accelerate to 60 in the same time it took a car/truck back then to get to 25.

Marathag
Marathag
20 days ago

Ford could have just kept making the Classic Bronco half-cab, with a longer bed and lighter duty axles and transfer case to get the curb weight lower after the Big Bronco came out in ’78

Marathag
Marathag
20 days ago

The diesel drivers of the 1980s had no such expectations

Guys who were doing real work with Diesels had been using Detroit Diesel Two-Strokes for two decades by this point.

The Screaming Jimmy, as they liked RPMs

Then they put gutless tiny little things under the hood, rather than putting a half ton 4V-53 up front, 212 cubics inches and 140hp

DMill
DMill
20 days ago

Pretty sure 82.5 was the first of the stand-alone Ranger model. My first Ranger was a hand me down 82 &1/2 my dad bought new, used it until 2015 when the clutch pedal went through the rusty floorboard.

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
20 days ago

Lets not forget another great Ford diesel of the 80s- the Lincoln Mark VII with its BMW Diesel

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
20 days ago

Paragraph 3

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
20 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Welp, I stand corrected! missed that one.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
20 days ago

In a rare moment of C-suite brilliance, Big 3 executives were wise to source small Diesel engines from Japan, rather than designing them from scratch or attempting to convert existing gas engines to Diesel. At least they learned a lesson from the Olds 350 debacle.

A. Barth
A. Barth
20 days ago

In 1972, Mazda brought its compact second-generation B series pickup to our shores. Ford slapped its badges on these trucks and sold them as the Courier.

My family had one of these around 1980 or so. IIRC it was a good little truck but rusted pretty quickly, which may explain why they’re uncommon these days.

Fun fact: Ford used the Courier name in the 1950s for a line of panel-van-type delivery vehicles – basically station wagons with only two seats (giving them a large, flat cargo area) and no side windows in the back.

Here’s a pic of a 1954 model:

https://live.staticflickr.com/5348/17530759325_1e0b25b307_b.jpg

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
19 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Dad had a ’78 long bed XLT 5 speed – White over Red.
We were in California – So never had any rust issues…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
20 days ago

That 1st generation Ranger is my favorite, US-built small truck. The follow on iterations were fine trucks, but, speaking personally, the original was the best looking of the bunch. Ford got so much right straight out of the gate. There’s a woman down the street who has a beautiful two-tone (black w/silver side insets) ‘84 model, I think. Lots of pickup envy, there. Thanks for the write up on the diesel Ranger. Much like the Comanche diesels, they’re a rare find.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
20 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I’m with you. My sister dated a guy with an ’83 or ’84 Ranger, blue on light blue (just like the one in the picture above towing the boat). His was a manual 4-cylinder model, but boy was that truck fun and seemingly indestructible. It was a far cry from my ’93 Ranger which was honestly a bit homely by comparison.

Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
20 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I agree. To a point. I had one- I think it was a ’90 or so and while it was a great little truck the seats were HORRIBLE. I tried aftermarket lumbar supports of every type and just couldn’t get comfortable. I’ve never had that with any vehicle I;ve ever owned.

Aerostarman89
Aerostarman89
20 days ago

Great article, I learned so much about these. I had no idea that they used that many different diesel engines. Growing up, one of my neighbors had one a Perkins variant & I swear I could outrun it to the end of the block on my 10 speed.

Thank you Mercedes for taking my idea & expanding on it.

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
20 days ago

All these small trucks lately, and still no stories about the Toyota Trekker…

LTDScott
LTDScott
20 days ago

It’s exactly what I thought. In fact, back in ’98 I went through Ford’s factory internship program as part of my degree, and in one class the professor held up a Mitsubishi turbocharger and asked what Ford vehicle it came from. He thought he was going to stump us, but me being the nerd I am immediately knew it came from a diesel Ranger, much to his chagrin.

LTDScott
LTDScott
20 days ago

Right back atcha, Mercedes!

World24
World24
19 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Hooo! I know that feeling! Did the same thing going through the Mopar CAP program! Even had another student who could do it too, and we would spend minutes on end arguing or commenting on the car itself, to the dismay of our fellow classmates!

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
20 days ago

I opened this and immediately hit CTRL + F and typed “grail”. Just a tag..I’ll allow it.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
20 days ago

That is the one I envision when I hear Ranger. Although I do really like my dads 21 Ranger. If we were getting the PHEV Ranger in the US I would be in the market…

I am not a hater of the Holy Grails usage, although I do feel it is overused here it doesn’t bother me. Maybe we should come up with some alternatives. “Well-respected Goblet”, “Beloved Shot-glass”.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
20 days ago
Reply to  Turbotictac

I “holy grail” because we over use it. And one man’s grail is another’s holy s#!+ I hate it.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
20 days ago

I’m on my 2nd 4.0 manual Ranger, although the current one is badged a Mazda. Both 4×4, the 93 was a teal STX with silver and purple stripes that lasted over 400,000. The current 98 Mazda version is a grey, extended cab that’s got 229,000 in the body and about 180,000 on the motor. I won’t sell this one unless I find another 85 2.9 manual 4×4 with bucket seats, just like my first one.

Last edited 20 days ago by Danger Ranger
Bucko
Bucko
20 days ago

Would love to see a story on the 1983/1984 Rabbit turbodiesel. I saw brochures that they were available and know that Quantums of the era had them, but I’ve never seen an actual Rabbit turbodiesel. Jettas were ostensibly available with the same engine; I think I’ve seen one or two of those.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
20 days ago
Reply to  Bucko

I knew a few folks who had diesel Dashers back in the day. They definitely would have been slightly less slow with a snail.

Robn
Robn
20 days ago

Core memory: My dad picked up a new ’79 Dasher diesel 5-door in reddish brown after one of his friends special ordered it and backed out of the deal. I remember playing with the plastic gloves at the diesel pumps at the time.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
20 days ago
Reply to  Turbotictac

True enough. The real “holy grail” Ranger is either going to be the GT or ‘02-‘03 FX4 manual transmission.

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