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The Ford Ranger began its ride into the sunset today, as the last of the compact pickup trucks rolled off the assembly line at the automaker’s Twin Cities plant in St. Paul, Minn.
Since 1982 Ford has built 6,657,881 Rangers, making it one of the company’s most successful vehicles of the past three decades. The small truck has been prized by many small businesses for its low price and fuel economy.
But with sales dropping from a peak of nearly 350,000 in 1999 to around 50,000 in recent years, Ford has focused on promoting the increasingly efficient full-size F-150 pickups and Transit Connect compact cargo van as alternatives to the Ranger, which would’ve needed a full redesign to remain competitive and keep up with advances in safety and fuel economy regulations.
The final Ranger was purchased by pest-control company Orkin, which has been one of Ford’s biggest customers for the truck over the years and, legend has it, may have purchased the very first one, as well. The vehicle will actually see duty in the field before being retired to the company’s archives.
But while the current Ranger is dead, its name will live on…overseas. Ford recently introduced a new global mid-size pickup called the Ranger that will be sold just about everywhere except the U.S. and Canada. The reason? It’s almost as big as the F-150 and might cramp its style (and sales.)