Supercars are, by their very nature, impractical. They’re dramatic, fast, have doors that open in delightfully baffling ways, and if you take one to a hardware store all you’re coming home with is a fistful of drywall screws. But, once, long ago, Ford decided it didn’t have to be like that.
It was 1966 when, for a brief, glorious moment, Ford managed to bridge the chasm between practicality and raw supercarhood with a concept car called the Ranger II. To achieve this impossible task, Ford needed to bring out the big guns, and they did, hiring noted futurist-artist Syd Mead to design the truck.
The result is, I’ll say it, astounding. Look at this thing: it has all the presence and drama of a supercar, including a gleefully bonkers door system, but also has a huge, practical truck bed at the rear, a truck bed lined with walnut and aluminum.
But that’s not all—the Ranger II had a trick up its, um, fender. Here’s a press release of the period:
Ford Division’s Ranger II is an ultra-modern pickup truck with a custom designed passenger compartment. Seen as a two-seater vehicle in the above photo, the Ranger II converts into a four-passenger pickup (below) at the flick of a finger. The rear portion of the cab moves 18-inches into the bed of the truck while a roof section moves up into position and two additional bucket seats fall into place. The Ranger II’s ultra-streamlined windshield is made of specially tempered plastic-type glass. It also features high intensity headlights of rectangular design, extruded aluminum grille and walnut flooring in the cargo bed.
Did you catch the part about the automatically-extending cab and roof section? The Ranger II, while normally a two-seater pickup, can transform itself into a double-cab by just pressing a button. Here, look at it in its extended position:
See that section behind the wraparound windshield? That’s the extra 18-inch roof section, with a window. Here it is from the top, so you can see it better:
Dear god that thing is so cool as I’m looking at it I can feel my body secreting a crude pair of sunglasses on my face. Look at the front end of this thing, too:
It’s like all those ‘70s design cues that ended up just seeming overdone and frumpy, but in their original, un-distilled state. The pointed, divided prow, the dramatic vee of the windshield, those grille-hidden lights, it all just works in this context. I’m not sure what that center hole is in the front there, but I’m assuming it shot a beam of concentrated fantastic-particles that made anyone it struck pregnant with a baby that could play electric guitar and make metal sculpture. Yes, I mean anyone.
It’s also worth mentioning that this concept car actually ran. It was built on a ‘63 Ford station wagon frame, and even the A/C is said to have worked.
Since this magical time, I’m not sure another supercar truck has even really been attempted. If this is what you have to beat, I can understand why.