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by FordMuscle Staff

A few years ago we stumbled across a bit of home video within the
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 the video.

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 is
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 mantra that
"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 our
interest in a specific Ford model by introducing that one influential car
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 to the
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 for drag
racers. Fortunately, the "truck" attribute of the Ranchero has done
wonders to keep them out of the wrecking yard until they have lived at
least three useful lives. There are a large amount of Ranchero believers,
not necessarily Ford performance freaks, that are willing to have an
engine, transmission, or front end rebuilt twice just to keep these things
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
www.dearbornclassics.com 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 knot hole
backwards, when Rick saw the Ranchero in 1999 he had to have it.
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 hobby?

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 down there?

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 couldn’t 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 cutting corners.


(Mustang II Independent Front Suspension and 408 Clevor)

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In This Article:
FordMuscle takes you on a seven year trip with Rick Devito and his 1965 Pro Street Ranchero build up. Follow along and see Rick prove that success is a journey, not a destination.

One of the simple decisions Rick had to make during his build was what color to paint the car. That's 2002 Thunderbird Teal. We respected his decision to avoid painting the center bodyline a different color.

The interior was reworked and fitted with the right 2002 thunderbird seats, complete with very appropriate teal inserts.


A 408 Clevor was built For Rick's Ranchero by Scott Gunderman Performance Engines of Indianapolis.


Powerplant: 408 Clevor
Block 1972 351 Windsor
Heads 1971 351C 4V quench chamber
Intake Offenhauser Boss 302 Tunnel Ram with adapter plates
Carburetor 2 x 650cfm Mighty Demons
Cam Comp Cams
Solid Roller
.650/.669" lift
duration 264/270 @.050
Ignition All MSD Ignition, Taylor Pro Race 409 Plug wires.
Pistons Wiseco Custom Race Pistons
Compression 12.5:1
Rods 6.2 Eagle H-Beam
Crank 4340 Forged Eagle
Rockers Comp Cams 1.7:1 Stainless Steel
Valve Diameter 2.190" Intake
1.710" Exhaust


One of the more involved projects Rick faced was the installation of a Mustang II Independent Front Suspension. Look for a step-by-step tech article showing the sequence on www.fordmuscle.com in October.


Front Suspension Rod & Custom Mustang II IFS
Rear End 9-inch with 4.33:1 Richmond gears, Moser 31 spline axles, narrowed to 38.5". Curry nodular 3rd member.
Transmission Top Loader 4-speed
Rear Suspension Chassis Engineering Ladder Bar
Extras Custom 2x2 Square Frame





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