Before there was the modern midsize Ford Ranger, there was the Ford F-100 and F-250 Ranger. It debuted as an option name on the fourth-generation F-Series. That first variant, a name given to models with bucket seats in 1965 and 1966, featured a curtain over the gas tank, which was located behind the seats in the cab. Fancy!
Before Ford even know if the bucket seats were a success, they already had bigger ideas for the Ranger name. In 1965, Ranger received its own place in a larger document requesting approval for the name of the a new member of the Bronco family. In the brief, prepared for members of the Ford Engineering and Product Planning Committee on August 9, 1965, Ford executives learned of the proposed details for the 1967 F-Series Ranger – details that would make it an upgraded version rather than just a bucket seat model.
In its archives, Ford has a copy of the memo that approved the Ranger name for use and shows the other options the company considered.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
It was proposed that the ’67 F-Series Ranger would have a chrome front bumper, bright grille, bright headlamp doors, and bright reveal moulding. On the sides there would be bright rocker and wheel opening moulding, bright hub caps, bright ornament, and bright drop moulding. Details at the rear would continue the trend. There, Ford put bright backlite moulding, bright taillight moulding and tailgate handle, and bright tail light bezels.
Pleated vinyl seat trim, matching door trim panels, bright headlining moulding, custom instrument cluster, cigar lighter, horn ring, instrument panel moulding and plaque, and carpet would be unique in the cabin.
The nomenclature and trim level were approved for the fifth-generation F-100/F-250 and the rest, they say, is history.
The 1975 Ford F-150 Ranger XLT trim level added a level of refinement to the workman’s truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Before you get too hung up on thinking about how far Ford has come since then, think about what might have been. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker considered 10 other names for the Ranger as part the trim level’s development process, which is documented in the brief. Scroll down to see the full list, including one name that currently is taken by a different Ford vehicle.
Ford didn’t use Centurian but Buick did, albeit for a brief period. From 1971 to 1973, the Buick Centurian sat between the LeSabre and Electra in the lineup. Before that, Buick used the name on a concept car that was presented at the 1956 General Motors Motorama. That model now resides at the Sloan Museum, which is part of the Flint Cultural Center in Flint, Michigan.
Ford passed on the Explorer name for its truck, but the Explorer would still become a part of the Ford family. The Ford Explorer debuted in 1991 as a replacement for the two-door Bronco II. It’s currently one of the best-selling SUVs in the country.
So far, no automaker has used the word constellation on a car, truck, van, or SUV. The closest may be the word subaru, which is the Japanese word for Pleiades, the name of a small cluster of stars northwest of the constellation Taurus. The Subaru brand logo has six stars in it – one for each of the stars in the Pleiades cluster.
Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Well, we all know who ended up with the Highlander name. The popular Toyota Highlander three-row SUV is one of the best-selling SUVs currently available for sale. It’s been a top choice for decades now, with a long list of family-friendly features. Toyota completely redesigned the model for the 2020 model year.
The Coronado name sure gets around. Well, it used to. These days, most of the brands it was linked to in the early and mid-1900s are defunct. Chrysler used to use the term to describe mid-year cars that came out in the spring with refinements to drive sales, halfway through a model year.
The Plymouth Coronado was a run of extended wheelbase eight-passenger sedans made in Belgium. They were built using the body of the Plymouth Belvedere with the middle cut open and extended to seat eight.
DeSote used the Coronado name to denote a trim level on its 1954 Firedome and 1955 Fireflite cars.
Plymouth Valiant cars were sold with Coronado branding for years in South America and Australia.
Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC
Dodge originally employed it on a two-door hardtop model from 1950 to 1954. From 1946 to 1961, DeSoto used the name on models it exported. In the mid 70s, the Royal Monaco was available in a Diplomat trim level.
From 1977 to 1989 the Dodge Diplomat used the name that was rejected by the Ford team. It was a rebadged version of the Plymouth Gran Fury. The Gran Fury became popular as a police car while the Diplomat preferred to live as an upmarket alternative to the Dodge Aspen.
Gran luxe roughly translates to big luxury. Perhaps somewhat shockingly, with all the Gran Sport, Gran Turismo, and Gran Coupe models that have come and gone over the years, Gran Luxe has never made it onto a vehicle. It does feel a bit like Maserati would be the natural choice for its home now through.
The Sovereign name was used by Daimler for rebadged Jaguars from 1966 to 1983. Daimler Sovereigns were built from various generations of the Jaguar XJ and was available in a variety of body styles.
Photo courtesy of Buick
Ah yes, the Buick Regal. The Regal was recently discontinued by Buick in North America but up until the late 2010s it was a formidable choice for Baby Boomers looking for a comfortable ride. The Regal nameplate was first introduced by Buick in 1973. The Regal lives on in China where it recently underwent a mid-cycle update.
Over the years, the Westerner name has been given to a few models. The Nash Metropolitan Westerner was displayed at auto shows across the western U.S. in 1961 and 1962 as a show car. It features a Palomino Beige Pearlescent paint job and California saddle leather upholstery.
For the 1967 model year, AMC sold a number of specialty wagons that were designed to appeal to specific parts of the country where they were sold. The limited edition luxury AMC Rambler Rebel Westerner featured a Frost White paint job, wood plank body side inserts and tailgate, a “Pony Express” medallion, and Stallion Brown and White Antelope vinyl upholstery that was paired with “richly tooled” leather on the seats and door panels. Buyers could only purchase theirs from dealerships west of the Mississippi River.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company