Dec. 16 was a sad day for Ford Ranger fans and St. Paul, Minn., area auto enthusiasts, as it marked the day the last Ford Ranger was built, and the last day a new vehicle would roll out of the assembly plant.
I've had many friends and acquaintances that have worked at the St. Paul Ford plant, which is the only automobile assembly plant I have ever toured. I was too young to remember the occasion for the tour, which may have been a Cub Scout outing, but I vividly recall watching 1980s Northland Edition F-150s moving down the assembly line. I also remember the pride I felt when my dad bought new Rangers in 1986 and 1990, knowing those trucks had been built at the St. Paul Ford plant just 20 miles away.
My father's Rangers were just two of the more than 6 million Fords built at the plant since it opened in 1923. After Model T production began in 1925, the plant built T-17 medium armored cars and M8 armored cars during World War II, then shoe box Fords, 1955-'56 Crown Vics, Galaxies and full-size truck, among others. (Check out this story on a "bumble bee" yellow-and-black 1955 Ford Sunliner convertible built at the St. Paul Ford plant.)
According to Ford, the last U.S.-built Ranger will find a home with Orkin Pest Control, which has purchased thousands of Rangers for its fleet since 1983. The end of Ranger production also signifies the last vehicle to be built with Ford's famous "Cologne" V6, ending 49 years and more than 25 million units of production.