Truck Rewind: Did the 1966 Ford Ranger II Concept Predict the Future of Trucks?

Built on a 1963 Ford station wagon frame with a 120-inch wheelbase, the 1966 Ford Ranger II concept was initially penned by the legendary visionary, Syd Mead. Powered by a 390 cubic-inch V8 (with three carburetors) the three-speed SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic transmission only powered the rear wheels.

In many ways, it was a youthful design that was based on the same car-based idea the 1957 Ford Ranchero was so popular for.

Keep in mind: the trucks built in the mid-1960s were aimed at utility, not comfort or sport. Very few trucks has provisions for more than three riders and, other than vehicles like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino, fewer still had a “car-like” ride.

Then again, unlike the 1966 Ford Ranger II concept, no truck had a two-piece fighter-jet cockpit canopy either.

Sizewise, the 1966 Ford Ranger II concept is 18 feet long, 57-inches high and 84 inches wide. These proportions are remarkably close to modern mid-size trucks. While the initial concept that was penned by Syd Mead was much more complicated, with a smaller cab that had a rear seat flip up from the bed’s floor, it was meant for the same youthful generation that were buying up Mustangs.

The bed was eight feet long and six-feet wide.

“This was designed to mount onto a ’63 Ford station wagon frame. It was fully operational with A/C, radio and a fully operational top conversion. The small rear ‘cab’ roof slid back, a rear seat unfolded and a ‘filler’ section with a window rose into position. This meant that, sacrificing bed length, the vehicle converted electrically from a bench seat, three-passenger vehicle into a five-passenger close-coupled club sedan/truck. The vehicle was toured for about two years.” – – Car Design News

After Mead’s departure from the project, Ford added the rear extra cab component and took the Ford Ranger II concept around the auto show circuit for a few years before retiring it.  While it never caught on stylistically, many elements of the Ford Ranger II concept made it to future Ford Rancheros.

How different would the automotive industry be if things like a one-piece cockpit roof made it to mass production? What do you think?

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.