Junkyard Gem: 1985 Ford Ranger XL

Murilee Martin
·2 min read

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Ford sold Courier-badged Mazda B-Series/Proceed pickups from 1972 through 1982, but the need for a genuine Detroit-developed small pickup inspired Ford to design the Ranger (not to be confused with the Edsel Ranger or various F-Series pickup trim packages of the 1960s and 1970s) for the 1983 model year. The angular little first-generation Ranger sold very well during its 1983-1992 run, but the early examples have become very difficult to find. Here's a well-optioned '85 with the rare V6/5-speed powertrain combination, found in a Phoenix, Arizona self-service yard last winter.

The 1985 Ranger could be purchased as a super-stripped-down Ranger S for just $5,993 ($14,780 in 2020 dollars), but most buyers opted for the XL, XLS, or XLT option packages. The XL got you stuff like floor mats and wheel moldings.

The base engine in '85 was the 73-horsepower 2.0-liter "Pinto" four-cylinder, though the optional 80-horse 2.3-liter version of that engine was a lot more common. This truck has the most powerful engine available in a Ranger that year: the 2.8-liter Cologne V6 of Capri fame. Mustangs, Pintos, Aerostars and the Ranger-sibling Bronco IIs also got the Cologne 2.8 during the 1970s and 1980s. This one was rated at 115 horsepower when new. This being an Arizona truck, it has factory air conditioning— unusual for small trucks of this era in regions lacking 120°F summer days.

The rear-wheel-drive Ranger with V6 and 5-speed ended up being respectably quick by mid-1980s small-truck standards, with a curb weight well under 3,000 pounds.

The five-digit odometer means we have no way of knowing this truck's true final mileage, but the not-too-bad seat wear suggests it may be under 200,000 miles.

You'll be on the road again with the Ranger!

Parachute it off a tall cliff. The Ranger won't mind.