Real Explorer: ’76 F-150 4×4 Wants to Go Back to Work

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1976 Ford F-150 Explorer Custom

Long before the name dominated the SUV market, the Explorer was a top trim on Ford pickups, like this mid-’70s survivor.

While the muscle-car era began to dwindle in the early 1970s, the truck market seemed to come into its own at the same time. This split-grille 1976 Ford F-150 4×4 Explorer represents the great characteristics of this truck era: cool graphics, purposeful looks, and real capability (even if it wasn’t necessarily horsepower-related).

This truck already sports headers and dual exhausts. Combined with the aftermarket lift, wheels, and knobby Hankooks, we think this was someone’s pride and joy of truck-yeah-ness.

That offers a lot of the appeal to us. While it was well-cared-for, its owner didn’t garage it and leave it. The mods all come across tastefully. The lift height hits a functional sweet spot without going overboard. Ditto for the tires; they’ll do the job off-road without being totally unusable on the pavement.

That said, most everything else looks great. The mostly original orange paint, decals, and emblems all point out what a high-trim truck used to be. It catches the eye nicely from the outside with a design suited to simple lines of the single-cab, long-bed body.


While the two-tone interior looks similarly attractive, it doesn’t overload luxury by any means. At its core, this truck could still have hauled sacks of seed corn with the family farm’s dog hanging its face out the window.

Eric Rood is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and LS1Tech, among other auto sites.

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