Mark Dinzebach's 1964 5.0 Falcon Ranchero
Location: St Louis, Missouri
I purchased this '64 Ranchero in September of 1997. The first set of photos were taken then; the second set, one year later in September of 1998. As you can see, it has come a long way, but still has a lot more to go. I purchased my first Falcon in 1973, this Ranchero is the thirty-third Falcon I have owned. ( thirty-four and five have arrived
since then) My wife says this is one of the better ones, at least it made it home under its own power. Most arrive by tow chain.
This car sat around for about a month while I decided what I wanted to do with it. It had a very straight, rust free body, which is a rarity in the Midwest. I have always liked the look of the early Rancheros, so I didn't want to alter it to much. I sure like how the new vehicles start and run (remember trying to start a carberated car on a below zero day). I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on something and have it sit in a garage because I would be afraid to take it out and use it. Out of all this, a plan was born. I decided I would build a reliable, easy to start, drive and operate, truck on a budget. It had to be as easy to use as a new car; I wanted anyone to be able to get in it, turn the key, put it in drive and go. This meant no shortcuts like you see on so many cars. I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to living with a little quirk this vehicle was not going to have any. Plain, simple to operate, reliable and cheap; should be easy.
To put this plan in action, I started by yanking the 250 ci. six cylinder. (Yes, it was a 250 that sported a 64 valve cover and air cleaner; a 250 does fit in a Falcon) In went a fuel injected 5.0 and AOD out of a wrecked 88 Crown Vic. I was told the the wiring would be a pain, the motor wouldn't fit, it will never run and a whole bunch of other unprintable remarks. ( mostly from the chevy guys). About 80 hours of work later, it did run. I made believers out of a few skeptical
friend when it started on the first turn of the key. So far so good, it started easily, ran smoothly, would smoke the 13" tires as far as I
wanted it to, but would not stop and handled poorly with the extra
weight of the V-8.
I just happened to have a set of Granada spindles with disk brakes. On they went, along with a complete front end rebuild kit and power
steering. A one inch sway bar and a lower cross member from an early model Falcon took care of the handling and stopping. A small problem
though, five lug wheels on the front, four lug on the rear. I purchased a Lincoln Versailles 9" rearend with disc brakes a few years earlier and
decided to try it. The only problem was the ratio, 2.80:1 didn't cut it. A 3.73:1 from an Econoline van was exactly what I wanted. Low enough for out of the hole performance, but high enough for a decent cruising rpm with the AOD, and five lug wheels all around. What should I use for wheels? I liked the looks of the Magnum 500s, but a set of them would sure bust the budget. The solution, Granada. I picked up a junkyard set, then sand blasted, painted and clear coated them. The
look of Magnum 500's, but at the price of one new wheel.
Still to much brake pedal effort though, my wife still couldn't stop it. I decided, power brakes. But what would fit? I had an original booster and master cylinder for a '64 Falcon; it fit, but there was no room to install a dual reservoir master cylinder. Several trips to the junkyard with a tape measure brought the solution, Geo Metro. The Geo booster/master fit in the Falcons cramped engine bay and stopped the car well. I drove the car a couple thousand miles, in all weather
conditions, before I told anyone (except Mike in Chicago) what kind of booster it was. I know of at least a half dozen Falcons that are now stopped with this combo. It seems to work well for most people.
The car still has a long way to go, I have done nothing to the interior except paint the dashboard and install a dash pad. I have a tilt column out of a '67 T-Bird that is going in next. A Mustang instrument cluster, intermittent wipers, power locks and windows should round out
the interior. For now, I have left the body in primer, if it accidentally gets scratched while working on it, I'm out nothing but a little time. As the car sits right now, I have a little less than
$3,500.00 in the whole project. Most all the parts I needed, I was able to find in a junkyard. I feel I am well on my way of reaching my goal of a reliable, daily driver vehicle, that retains most of the looks of a stock Ranchero, with out having to spend the kids college fund to attain it.