I got my first ticket in this car in 1977. It has taken me many thousands of miles to many different places since then. It has fought with semi-trucks and been invaded by wasps on Grizzly Island. It has chased cows down Snow Mountain. It had its third engine installed on August 31, 2000, and is on at least its third tranny. I know for sure the right front fender and the passenger door are not original to this car. I also know the hood is the third one on this car. For many years it looked like a real junker, with different colors on different body parts. This machine is incredible. It's like the Energizer Bunny. It keeps going and going…
My late father LeRoy Watson brought this car into the family back in the mid-1970s. He went through many cars in his lifetime and never held on to any of them for very long—except for this one. “What a pretty little truck,” he was heard to exclaim. He was a flight engineer for forty years, starting in the Army Air Force of World War II before the Air Force was a separate branch of the military. His job was to keep airplanes flying while they were in the air. This meant using whatever materials were available on board and improvising in flight if necessary. I have found during the restoration of this car since his death that some improvisation took place in its maintenance as well. Some non-stock parts were made to work by my father. Much of his work has been replaced now. In some ways I regret this, but in the long run it will make it easier to maintain this car if the parts that are supposed to fit it do in fact fit where they are supposed to. My father did express a wish to keep this car stock and to return it to original condition.
In 2006, the Ranchero got me and a friend to Oregon. We even lived in it for some weeks while looking for a place to rent that would accept our pets. In July 2007 though the Ranchero became undriveable. The last of some minor accidents over time caused damage I still haven't been able to afford to repair in three years (it is July 2010 as I write this). I hope to get it running again someday, because I love it and because living without a working car really sucks.
Some history some of what this car has been through.
Thirty-sixth year! Details of restoration from Spring of 2000 to Spring of 2001.
Gallery of images These show some of what was done to the car.
A Gathering of Falcons Some images from Santa Rosa, California on June 16, 2001.