Ford Ranchero

Does anyone have any ideas on how to start a car if it has sat for a very long time? I found a 1965 Ford Ranchero that I am thinking of buying to drag race. It has a 200 strait six and a three speed auto. I was not planning to keep the same motor but was wondering what I should do to start it just to see if it would. The motor is loose. I also was wondering what motors would bolt right up to the C4 tranny in it with the same bellhousing thats on the transmission. I was either planning on building up a six cylender or installing a small block (289 or 302). Any answers will be greatly appreciated!


Well, if you don’t care about the motor too much and you know that it’s not seized, I’d just put a good battery in it, spray some starting fluid down the carb throat, and see what happens when you hit the key.

As for transmissions, I think you have an FMX (actually, in '64 it would be called a “Cruise-O-Matic”) which is not a bad thing, just do some research before you start buying parts for it. It should have the standard Ford small bellhousing, which is shared by the 289, 302, 351c, 351m, 400, and probably others I’m forgetting.

I had this engine and transmission combo in my '71 Maverick, and I think the only other engine that uses the same bellhousing is the 250 CID straight six. Well, that’s not entirely true: the 144 and 170 also have the same basic block, but I don’t think you want to go in that direction.

I would advise researching this issue a bit because I THINK there was a bell housing change on the small blocks around 1980? Since this is ancient history I don’t remember the details.
If this is going to be a race machine then why not just go with a 460 and a C6? No replacement for displacement as they say and 460s can generally be found in an old truck or land yacht for a very reasonable price. A cam/intake/exhaust change and you’ll have all the torque you could ever want.

One more comment. I used to own a 1966 Ford Ranchero (289/auto) and these vehicles are light in the rear end. Traction is going to be a problem even with the small block so expect to use all out race slicks or drag radials at the least.

First I would check to see if you have spark to the plugs and fuel to the carb. If you have that then I would remove the sparkplugs and squirt a little oil in each cylinder then crank the engine over without the plugs installed. Reinstall the plugs and try to fire it up. Also make sure you have good and full oil in the crankcase.

As far as what engines will boltup to your current setup I would have to go along with ok4450

People who put slicks on stock drivetrains often quickly learn another lesson- when the tires don’t give, something in front of them does. I had a buddy who ran an ElCamino. In the beginning it would do one of two things; smoke 'em or head for the sidelines. Sticky tires solved the smoke 'em issue but that just revealed the next weakest link. Nothing new in the world of drag racing but with that light rear-end, it just makes it tougher or more expensive to overcome.

So, you get it to hook up and then you encounter serious axle wrap. A locater kit w/anti hop bars and then your OEM rear takes a dump and so on and so on…

An I the only one who thinks this isn’t a good idea. There are very few Ranchero’s left…I’d hate to see another one destroyed. I’d LOVE to see it restored…It’s the kind of car project I’d LOVE to do if I had the time.

I am with you. I would have to think it would be worth more keeping it as stock as possible.

If the Ranchero is straight then I agree that the best thing is to keep it original and not alter it for use as a race car.
My assumption is that the vehicle is probably one of those so-so ones since it has been sitting for a long time and powertrain/drivetrain mods is not something that would ruin the vehicle for life. The original engine/trans could always be kept for reinstallation later.

I also agree that high horsepower and more bite on the rear tires means there is a better chance of stuff in between the engine and pavement breaking, but that’s racing and is to be expected.

If you get nothing when you turn the key, you might need a new negative battery cable. The starter may cost about $20 if needed. It may start if you are lucky. If somebody changes the points, rough them up a little with a points file. If you don’t want to buy one, use fine sandpaper; just once will do. They won’t work or won’t work if it rains if you don’t. Some people do get lucky but you can’t count on it. Use penetrating oil on the throttle shaft. Those things can stick wide open if there is any corrosion. Make sure the safety catch on the hood isn’t rusted open. If the hood unlatches, it can blow open, block your view and ruin the hood hinges and hood.