Here’s an interesting fact I just learned while browsing late-night Wikipedia: there is a vehicle out there called the Ford Durango. The actual vehicle itself, however, is even more interesting than its name: it’s a car-based pickup truck that was made in limited numbers, apparently to test the waters to see if there was demand.
Here’s the basic gist: throughout the 1970s, car-based trucks like the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero were surprisingly popular, and other brands followed suit with their own models — the Volkswagen Rabbit pickup, the Plymouth Scamp — at the end of the decade or early in the 1980s. But the trend was clearly starting to die off, and Ford pulled the plug on the Ranchero in 1979.
However, there was apparently some question as to whether the market could bear another of these before the trend totally died — and so, the Ford Durango was born. It was made as the result of a joint venture between Ford and California-based National Coach Works, and it was based on the “Fox” platform which also underpinned the Mustang — and so, here’s a neat piece of trivia: yes, the Mustang chassis was once used for a pickup.
But not the Mustang body. The Durango used the body of the Ford Fairmont Futura Coupe, just “pickup-ified,” and only a few hundred examples were built in the early 1980s before the project was shelved. The most interesting thing about the Durango, aside from its back story, is probably the fact that the brake lights were on the tailgate — so Durango models were sold to owners with warning labels reminding them not to drive with the tailgate down, or else other drivers wouldn’t be able to see your tail lights.
And so, that’s the story of the Ford Durango — the little-known, car-based Ford pickup that used the “Durango” name before Dodge ever did.