Ranchero is still growing-back to ’59 size in 1968 and the new Fairlane Ranchero is now sharing the platform with the full size Torino, which could include the more uptown exterior trim. The interior upholstery available could be very plush, like its counterpart, with luxury as one of the options. The brushed aluminum dash instruments feature white numerals, in a four pod cluster. There are warning light indicators for charging and oil pressure rather than gauges. If you have an upscale model then one of the gauge housings could hold a tachometer and another housing a clock, if you chose them.This year, included on all models, is the new seat belt warning light. The whole Ranchero line has a slimmer two spoke steering wheel with a broader safety pad, but includes a horn blowing ring that is still similar to the ’67 models.
Trim levels in ’68 range from a Spartan entry level offer, then the Ranchero 500, to the luxury GT model; the full range now sports a new style flat, three piece grill with the four headlights horizontally oriented, wrap around bumpers, with reflectors, side marker lights doing the double job of parking lights and directional indicators. This year all the goodies for the full size automobiles is also an option for the Ranchero including air conditioning, buckets, center console, AM/FM radio, rim choices, front power disks, hood scoop (included with the GT), and also offer a vinyl roof; all these are there if you want to pay the price.
Power train options start with the base 250 cu in six up to a full range of V8’s offering fuel economy by mounting a two barrel carburetor but also have a four barrel if fast is more important. The middle of the road engines are the 289 cu in, the 302 cu in (4.9 l), and the new 351 Windsor all with the two barrel as basic equipment. The largest power option available is the 428 cu in (7.0 L) Cobra Jet FE putting out 390 hp from the factory floor in a detuned mode, but with little tinkering this engine is quite capable of developing 427 hp without much effort or expense. The transmissions available are a four speed FXM automatic, three speed standard, and if you like, for more get up and go, a four speed is also offered for the larger engines.
The 1969 Ranchero changes little from the ’68 offer BUT a little known and extremely rare option package was available, only for the ’69 model year. The “Rio Grande” was around; only by special order and is a trim package for the GT model coming in three “grabber” colors. This special edition sports a scoop in the partly blacked out hood, side stripes, bed rails, vinyl top, and unique wheel centers with “Ford Ranchero Rio Grande” in them. The Rio Grande version is identified on the registration as a “Special Performance Vehicle” no matter what power train is chosen; another identifying feature is a blank spot on the VIN where the “trim code” would normally be. There is possibly up to 900 units out there somewhere.