Car: Ford Ranchero
What makes it special: It was the debut year for the first generation of Ford's Ranchero model. It combined the sleek looks of a sedan with the utility of a light duty pickup truck. It was offered in two trim levels and was built on the corresponding automobile assembly line, but sold as a truck through Ford's truck division. It's popularity eventually forced Chevrolet to introduce their "El Camino" model as competition two years later in 1959.
What made it famous: It had an integrated cab / cargo styled body that made it useful for light utility work or deliveries, and was available in both a "Standard" or "Custom" version that added more creature comforts and chrome accessories. Both standard and Custom versions could be ordered with any engine available for Ford passenger cars, all the way up to the 352 cu in "Thunderbird Special" V8.
Why I would want one: Having had an early '70's Ranchero for a time, it's not only handy, but it's cool. It's a chameleon that blends well as a pampered original, customized show car, or all-out street machine. The 1957 Ranchero was the most attractive of all the Ranchero model years, in my opinion.
Fun fact: On the "Quit Your Snitchin'" episode of the TV show "My Name is Earl", the character Earl bought a 1970 model year Ford Ranchero for his brother Randy.
( 1957 Ford Ranchero photo from barrett-jackson.com )