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The Vault: Nearly 40 years after launch, Ford Ranger nearing comeback

In 1982, Louisville became the truck capitol of the world when Ford debuted the first mid-sized pickup made on American soil.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was months in the making – the debut of the 1982 Ford Ranger.

“It was just that perfect moment in time for Louisville to shine and come to the floor,” Ted Ryan, Ford Motor Company said.

Ryan, the Archives and Heritage brand manager for the automaker said the launch of the small to mid-size truck was strategic, coming at a time when money was tight for most Americans and workers needed jobs.

“The decision was made to bring the work back to America and to launch an all new mid-size pickup truck, The Ranger – and the Louisville Assembly Plant was the plant chosen to launch this fantastic new vehicle,” he said.

Produced exclusively at the Kentucky truck Assembly Plant, the production of the Ford Ranger re-opened the plant and almost instantly, demand was high.

Sky11 captured the moment nearly 100 Rangers, in that iconic red and white body, rolled off plant property heading for dealerships across the region.

Credit: WHAS-TV
FILE: Dozens of 1983 Ford Rangers are lined up outside of the Ford Assembly Plant.

The new truck stimulated Americans desire for something different in the market and the Louisville economy. However, the thrill didn’t last.

“The Ranger that small to mid-size truck pretty much worked its magic and was tapering off – sales were tapering off by the late 90s and we were looking for a replacement,” Ryan said.

Louisville was the truck capitol of the world for just a moment and never lost the love of that original Ranger.

Almost four decades later, history is now repeating itself with a newly released, revamped Ranger. It’s one Ford officials said the country was asking for.

Credit: Ford Motor Company
The new Ford Ranger

“Obviously Ranger has a tremendous heritage. I think what’s great about today’s Ranger it’s is really just built on everything that’s made Ranger great over the years including when we brought it to market back in 1982,” Trevor Scott, Ford Motor Company, said.

In another twist of fate, The Ranger relaunch comes at the same time as Ford will release an all new Bronco.

And so they say, history repeats itself.

►Contact reporter Shay McAlister at smcalister@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@WHAS11Shay) and Facebook.  

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