By Betsy Kozak-Howard, ACC-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.June 25, 2013
Styling down the street in a sleek two-door, red car-truck combination is a regular occurrence for Ann Hendrix. The 1978 Ford Ranchero GT was fully restored by Hendrix as a classic show car.
Hendrix's ride recently won first place in the 1970-79 class during a May car show held in Fawn Grove, Penn.
Hendrix is an administrative assistant with the Army Contracting Command -- Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in the Enterprise Resources Division
The Ford Ranchero, unlike a pickup truck, was adapted from a two-door station wagon platform that integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body.
"I have a showcase full of trophies," boasted Hendrix. "I've been showing this car for 12 years and I enjoyed every minute of it."
The Ranchero first caught Hendrix's attention while driving home one day in 1992. It was sitting beside the road with a for sale sign and "it looked sharp," recalled the self-proclaimed tomboy. "I've always liked old cars and knew I had to have it."
After a $1,200 purchase, Hendrix drove the car home and began assessing the restoration project.
"At that time, the Ranchero was in rough shape. There was a lot of surface rust on the body and holes in the quarter panels," she said. "It also had a junk engine that needed to be replaced. Despite the condition, it was a smooth ride."
Hendrix was experienced with repairing cars, but she knew this job was going to require the help of specialists.
"I learned a lot about fixing cars working with my dad," said the 5-foot 8-inch Hendrix. "I used to help him rebuild engines, carburetors and do other mechanical repairs. I hired professionals for both the Ranchero's body and mechanical work. This car is my expensive toy."
The motor was replaced and other mechanical work was completed before starting the body work.
The vehicle was stripped down to the bare metal and a new coat of russet metallic paint was added, restoring the classic to its original color. The interior was also refurbished with new carpeting, headliner and dash pad. With the car fully restored, "I was in Ranchero heaven," exclaimed the Maryland native.
Hendrix eventually started showing the car at various events.
"I love going to car shows. When I was younger, I used to attend a car show held twice a year at a local drive-in. I had to wipe the drool from my mouth as I admired all the cars," Hendrix jokingly recalled with a chuckle.
Annie, as Hendrix is referred to by other car enthusiasts, attends car shows on a regular basis but said she was considered a rarity in the beginning.
"There weren't a lot of women with their own cars in the early days but now there are several. One of my favorite car shows to attend is the All Ford Nationals held every year in Carlisle, Pa. I took first place there in the Ranchero Class in 2009," she said.
Hendrix's said the Ranchero will never be finished as she continues to add enhancements to her classic. She performs regular maintenance to safeguard her investment, "which is now worth much more than I paid for it," concluded Hendrix.