Car customizer Barris' new Ranchero starts with pony car
By K.C. CRAIN | Automotive News
The Ranchero is coming back. Only this time, Ford Motor Co. won't be the one building it.
Car customizer George Barris of Batmobile fame has developed a modern version of the half-car, half-truck body style popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
But instead of starting with a sedan, which was the basis of the Ford Ranchero and competing Chevrolet El Camino, Barris is basing his conversion on the Ford Mustang coupe and convertible - removing the back seat and trunk and replacing it with a stainless steel truck bed.
Barris, head of Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood, Calif., is working with Nick Gavriles, a Detroit area car customizer and president of Barris Kustom Industries Detroit. An unnamed partner is helping fund the project, Gavriles says.
The Mustang Rancheros will be converted at a shop in Walled Lake, Mich., northwest of Detroit.
Barris plans to build 1,000 hardtops and 1,000 convertibles but says the project is viable at lower volumes.
A concept of the vehicle was shown at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas in November.
Ford Motor had not responded to inquiries about the project or use of the Ranchero name by late Friday, March 14.
Barris says he saw a need for a stylish pickup that is smaller and does not have to pick up bales of hay.
It is a growing niche. Last year, Subaru launched the Baja, a car-truck variant of the Legacy. This year, General Motors will start building the Chevrolet SSR, a high-performance roadster based on the TrailBlazer SUV chassis.
Barris has built six prototypes but says he won't take orders for the Ranchero until after a formal launch this spring at Galpin Ford in North Hills, Calif. Galpin, owned by Bert Boeckmann, is a high-volume dealership that offers customized versions of several Ford vehicles.
Barris says the price of a Mustang Ranchero should remain close to the original sticker price. A 2003 Ford Mustang coupe with a V-6 engine carries a base price of $18,320, including destination charge; the convertible starts at $24,020.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....