by FordMuscle Staff
A few years ago we stumbled across a bit of home video within
FordMuscle Falcon Forum that really caught our attention.
While FordMuscle doesn't suggest you try this at home, if
you're willing to take personal responsibility and the area
is clear, then we'll certainly watch for our own enjoyment.
At the time of the clip, Rick Devito of Indianapolis was caught
up with the in-between stages of building a Pro Street 1965
Ranchero. Rick, being the clever guy he is, had a temporary
306 to keep the project rolling while the 408 "Clevor"
was in the works with his engine builder. See
Needless to say, after watching the video
FordMuscle wanted to know more. In fact, we thought the Ranchero
would make an excellent feature car in its July 2004 form.
Unfortunately, Rick wasn't ready and indicated to us that
he was making more improvements to the truck. Well, now Rick
finished and we're honored to do the introduction of what
he has dubbed
"Nicole". Nicole, meaning "Victory For the
People", is a 1965 Pro Street
Ranchero that he has been envisioning since purchasing the
tired rig back in 1999. Perserverance and Rick's personal
"Success is a Journey, Not a Destination" have brought
him to the point he is today with one wicked Ford "car-truck".
The Ranchero Perspective
Like most of us, it was a friend or family member that sparked
interest in a specific Ford model by introducing that one
at an early age. For Rick it was his roommate back in 1985
that showed him the light. Rick was like most impressionable
18 year old young men, so when his roommate allowed him to
borrow a 1966 Ranchero now and then, it didn't take much more
than driving the stock small block and 4-speed to set the
mold. Long after his roommate went off into the military,
Rick was talking about that old Ranchero.
You can't blame a performance Ford enthusiast for being attracted
Ranchero. In production for 23 years (1957-1979) the Ranchero
rode on the Falcon, Fairlane, Torino, and LTD chassis. The
tenacious run of this model, its utilitarian design, and the
essentials of rear-wheel drive
and many V8 options make it a favorite go-fast project vehicle
racers. Fortunately, the "truck" attribute of the
Ranchero has done
wonders to keep them out of the wrecking yard until they have
least three useful lives. There are a large amount of Ranchero
not necessarily Ford performance freaks, that are willing
to have an
engine, transmission, or front end rebuilt twice just to keep
hauling loads or filled with pool maintenance equipment. This
aspect bodes well for the performance oriented Ranchero owner
by making parts cars more plentiful than equivalent Fairlanes,
Falcons, and Torinos.
For more information on the Ranchero lineage be sure to visit
for a year by year breakdown.
Rick Can Rebuild Her
In 1999, Rick Devito's 1965 Ranchero
was about to embark on its fourth life or face the wrecker.
The rust damage was so severe that it was going to take a
dedicated Ford lover to take this one on. Rick was the right
guy with the right vision and determination to make it happen.
Although it looked like it had been dragged through a
backwards, when Rick saw the Ranchero in 1999 he had to
The quarter panels had holes big enough to keep a cat
warm on a winter night. Like a good-looking bartender,
the Ranchero really wasn't something a sensible guy would
choose to get involved with, but who's sensible in this
The floorboards were almost nonexistent. It wasn't long
before Rick's wife suggested he attach two cylindrical
rocks and try pedaling with his bare feet. Is that grass
Once the excitement of a new project car wore off, Rick
contemplated where to start. Simple, just add bondo, paint,
and wheels. No, no, no, let's cut the rear end out and
build a Pro/Street Rod. The following weekend Rick torched
out the leaf springs and differential.
With that decision made, Rick needed to select a tire
size. He opted for 31 x 18.5 x 15 Mickey Thompson's, Weld
Draglite wheels, and a Chassis Engineering Ladder Bar
set up. Rick picked up a 9" and sent it to Moser
Engineering to be narrowed to 38-1/2".
Then the chassis design began. Since the front frame
rail on the driver's side had rust holes where the floorboard
met the toe board, the new chassis would consist of
2"x2" square framing.
Where the front of the frame rails met the factory front
clip, the topside was removed to fit over the existing
frame and reinforcement plates were added to each side.
Some good flat floor pans were installed once the Ladder
bar crossmember was in place to accommodate frame rails.
Rick did his best to envision the
final look of his Ranchero. Planning the proper sequence
of events to get there was critical. He
chose to stay away from graphics and painting the bodyline
section down the middle a different color. Here's a shot
at the body shop.
Rick selected 2002 Thunderbird Blue as the paint. Two
years later and after some tough dealings with two different
body shops, the Ranchero was back home.
During the 2 years Rick was waiting on body and paint,
he was steadily putting his temporary engine together
and gathering various Ranchero parts and pieces. Rick's
chassis was designed for an engine he couldnt
afford at the time so he built this 302 with 351W heads.
With the help of his kids, assembly went rather well.
At this point Rick took a break to enjoy the car while
contemplating how to accommodate a 408 Clevor without