The 1959 Ford Ranchero continued the design revolution started with the 1957-1958 Ford Ranchero, America's first modern car-pickup hybrid. The 1959 Ford Ranchero was restyled and treated to mechanical updates. It would need all the help it could get to fight Chevy's hot new copycat, the El Camino.
Fully restyled, the 1959 Ford Ranchero wore a broad grille filled with slim stars, and quad headlamps nestled in big fender housings. Little vestigial fins, punctuated by backup lights, surmounted jumbo round taillights.
Supporting the new sheet metal was a frame wider, heavier, and stronger, with side rails bowed outward almost to the edges of the body, to allow more passenger room. Suspension improvements all aimed at a softer ride.
The 1959 Ford Ranchero powertrain also got attention. The optional Fordomatic transmission was redesigned and was lighter and simpler, with 105 fewer parts. It sold for less than the older version, but still had only two forward speeds.
The Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic was only slightly modified, and both automatics now placed the selector quadrant on the steering column rather than in the instrument panel. That panel was new, and the parking brake was foot-engaged, though it had to be released by hand.
Engines were sixes and V-8s, as before, topped by a 352-cid V-8 with 300 horsepower, which turned out to be rarely ordered by Ranchero buyers.
Befitting an improved U.S. economy and its new styling, Ranchero production rebounded to 14,169 units for 1959, despite competition from the just-introduced 1959 Chevrolet El Camino.
Despite improved prospects, however, the 1959 Ford Ranchero would be the last full-size version of Ford's car-pickup blend. For 1960, the name would be applied in the compact Falcon line, where it was an immediate hit.
The Ranchero remained a compact Falcon or midsize Fairlane or Torino-based model. By the end of the 1979 model year, however, production had finally fallen victim to the growing popularity of small, fancy import and domestic trucks -- not to mention Ford's switch to front-drive car platforms.