You see the logo all the time–The King Ranch line of pickups has been super popular due to the mix of longevity and luxury it provides. Owning one is nothing short of having your cake and eating it too. So where did the Ford pickup truck title originally come from? Certainly Ford didn’t just pluck it out of the air.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Having grown up a desolate Irishman in New York City in the early 1800s, Richard King had to get away. One day he hopped on a ship headed south and from there bounced around in the ranks of seamanship and the riverboat industry. After years of busting his ass and eventually owning his own river transportation business, Richard finally gave up the salt life and settled down in Texas.
It was there that he came into a land grant with a riverboat buddy. That grant started it all. In addition to the plot of land obtained through the grant, King invested most of his hard earned money in surrounding land. A year later, King Ranch was formed when his partner died shortly after. From there on King would have the whole thing to himself. At which point, he had completed the transition from floating money, to cultivation along with cattle, horses, sheep and goats.
So this thing was strictly a place to breed animals right? Ha! Fat chance. The King Ranch was forced to expand their business during the depression to pay the bills. Thus, they took a dive into black gold. The oil industry was only the beginning of the diversification, King Ranch has also been known for their expertise in timber as well. Today the ginormous plot of land is additionally used for crop growth and agricultural R&D. At 825,000 acres, King Ranch is bigger than the state of Rhode island and includes satellite locations in Florida, New Mexico and South Carolina. The combination of the four locations are utilizing a total of 350 Ford vehicles.
So now that you’re well aware that King Ranch actually exists, you’re probably wanting us to address the elephant in the room. How in the world did Ford manage to link up with a ranch that’s ages old? Well, Jalopnik explains that Ford was simply looking for a lucrative branding opportunity. Let’s face it, what sells trucks better than an endorsement by a famous Texan ranch? For the audience that pickups tend to attract, we’d like to interject with “just about nothing for $1,000, Bob.” As Ford likes to put it,
“Ford recognized the King Ranch represented the same philosophies it designs and engineers into its trucks: toughness, authenticity, integrity and quality.” Fifteen years later (15 years 3 months to be exact) it’s quite difficult to argue with them under either circumstance.
The next question you may be pondering is “Where did the logo come from?” The “Running W” as they call it seems to have come out of left field–yup, left field seems pretty accurate. King Ranch’s website can’t even decide if the logo originates from the river that Richard King worked on or from the Diamondback Rattlesnakes commonly found on the property. Maybe its the uncertainty that adds to the mystique of the place. From what we’ve gathered, the logo registered in 1869 was trimmed to a “W” simply to avoid complexity with the cattle branding iron. The truth is that nobody knows for sure where the current logo came from, so we just accept it and move along.
Perhaps Ford’s color and materials designer summed up the essence of the King Ranch in the most accurate way possible. Aileen Barraza said, “The King Ranch models evoke luxury that is earned,” Barraza continues that “It’s a reward for hard work, which is what has made the ranch so successful.”