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Local car buff has one of Ford’s Last Rancheros

August 12, 2010
By J.T. Whitehouse

Dave Bayoski of North Jackson, and a member of the Mahoning Valley Olde Car Club (MVOCC) loves the hobby of collecting cars and through his travels, may have latched onto one very rare one, a 1981 Ford Durango.

According to information supplied by Bayoski, the Durango came a few years too late. Ford Motor Company had entered the pickup truck based on a car market in 1957 when it released the Ranchero that competed with the Chevrolet El Camino. Ford continued production until 1979 when the Ranchero became to large for the market. When 1980 rolled around, the economy wasn’t that great and the market was fading away.

Ford tried to gain back the small pick up market by contracting with National Coach Products in Gardena, Calf. National Coach took a new two-door Ford Fairmont, gutted the rear interior and cut across the roof to the rear of the car. The company then filled in the void area with a one-piece fiberglass box and the entire back end of the Fairmont was transformed into a tail gate. The finished machine became the 1981 Ford Durango.

The original concept was to produce 12,000 to 25,000 per year, but the market for car-like trucks just wasn’t there. Pickup buyers were heading more towards the new Chevy S-10 and Ford Ranger models, leaving the Durango to suffer a short-lived fate.

 For Bayoski, the ownership of one of these rare finds began during a trip to California. While in the sunshine state, Bayoski picked up a copy of “The Recycler,” a publication similar to the Mini Merchant. He said he saw the ad for the 1981 Ford Durango and he immediately arrange to go look at the vehicle. When he showed up, he knew he just had to own it and that proved not to be an easy task.

“I got involved in a bidding war,” Bayoski said. “Someone had called on a phone and was trying to buy the Durango too.”

Bayoski did win the bidding and brought the rare Durango home to North Jackson. After some research, he believes he may have a very rare model. He said the Durango has a “jazzed up” paint and striping package.

"I think it was jazzed up for a dealership to show off the new Ranchero replacement,” he said.

He also believes this one was one of only 200 built.

The vehicle has become a keeper for Bayoski and one he loves showing at events like Cars in the Park in Boardman. He also takes it out once in a while for local cruises.

Bayoski does have other cars in his collection, some of which he will sell. The Durango is in the do not sell column though as are several others that his wife Terry loves so much.

“I’m very lucky to have a wife who loves cars too,” Bayoski said.

In fact, Terry owns her own vintage 1967 Olds Cutlass.

Bayoski has also taken his hobby further. He said his family had been car collectors and he grew up with that.

“I guess its in my family blood,” he said.

He formed his own business in 1979 called Mahoning Auto, in which he handles collector, custom rod and specialty vehicles. He is a certified appraiser who can assist others through a variety of services involving rare vehicles.

He is still on the lookout for rare vehicles to add to the collection or sell at a profit.

“We still keep looking for cars,” Bayoski said.

Terry added, “Once we get them, sometimes it is hard to part with them.”


Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Dave Bayoski of North Jackson stands next to his pride and joy, a 1981 Ford Durango, which could be a one-of-a-kind. It is parked next to a classic Packard that is also part of Dave’s collection.

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