The original Ranger debuted in 1982, the first compact pickup Ford had ever produced. But it wasn't an easy sale. Back then, times were hard for truck dealers, as auto profits were slumping and plenty of manufacturers were losing money on trucks. Ford President Donald Peterson stuck to his guns and made sure it rolled into dealerships in 1983. It stuck around and went on to reach peak sales in 1999 with almost 350,000 sold. Ford proved they could beat the Japanese manufacturers at their own game. The Ford Ranger was a favorite of small business owners and weekend road warriors, offering them a viable alternative to the work-centric Ford F-series.