Rambler Ranch: Hidden Gem In The Sticks of Eastern Colorado
It seems that some of the best things are always hard to find.
“What is this ‘Rambler Ranch’ you speak of?” You want to know what it is? It’s this heaven on Earth, hidden away from mortal eyes, this utopia of classic AMCs and Ramblers (among other cars) is an excellent paradise to simply walk around for hours. Gawking at the stupendous collection of not just cars, but classic Kelvinator appliances too. Unfortunately… this place is so amazing that I forgot to take pictures. This means this article will be a written “report.” Not show and tell. That aside, why don’t we start off this story of automotive glory with the drive there?
Chapter One: Getting There
This place is in Elizabeth, Colorado… nope, I hadn’t heard of this place either (until this event came up). After my mom got directions off MapQuest, it wouldn’t be till when I saw the true extent of just how far away from civilization Rambler Ranch truly is.
Let’s go back a little bit though. Me and my dad jump onto E-470, travelin’ southbound with a long way to go and a (relatively) short time to get there. E-470 wasn’t bad at all, there were other cars on the road but I hesitate to call it “traffic.” Let’s just say the road was populated. Soon enough, we get off the toll-road and drive into one of the MANY towns. The first t0wn was nice. Awesome hills, perfectly sustainable (and by that I mean they had a Kings Soopers and other common stores), beautiful vistas and what not. The drawback? Apparently, this town was in “Tornado Alley.” For those who can’t figure out what that means, it means the area is very prone to tornados
Anyway, we drive away from this nice but supposedly tornado-prone area and into… an area with a bunch of hills on a road. While not very noteworthy, there were more hills than I was expecting. The road we were traveling on was a dual-carriageway, which then quickly turned into a one-lane road on both sides. There was a ditch on one side and an assortment of trees on the other. Sooner than later the environment then became very… country with a side of houses. We weren’t fully into the “houses are few and far between” stage of our travels yet. The more we traveled, the more desolate the landscape became. Fewer houses were becoming more and more common until there were no houses at all.
It didn’t help that we were now going a different way than MapQuest had suggested. I wasn’t overly worried, but I was starting to feel slightly uneasy. To calm my nerves, I checked the map again and found out that there was theoretically a second way of reaching the same destination. “Theoretically” is the keyword. As I had no idea at the time whether or not this second route was even a viable option or not. My suspicions plateauing at “dirt road out in the woods to a sign saying ‘no trespassing’ on a gravel road that wouldn’t look out of place on an ‘Alien Encounters’ episode (truth be told the latter half of the drive was giving me that impression). Nevertheless, if there was a second way to get there, then we were going to go that way.
Some small “off the map” towns later, and we were finally about a mile and a bit away from this fantastical place. With only one other lane going in the opposite directions and thick, dense trees on both sides of the road, it wasn’t easy to spot the opening for the dirt road. When we did find it, we nearly missed it. Word to the wise: If you’re using your phone as a GPS, and you’re about a mile away from the dirt road that leads up to the proper entrance, slow down. Seriously. Don’t travel 50+ MPH on this road. If you do, you’ll either miss spotting the dirt road or won’t have enough time to stop and make a hasty turn. you’ll know you’re getting close when the GPS says something along the lines of “continue straight for a mile.”
We nearly missed it and had to make the aforementioned “hasty turn.” Just a few more yards and we were driving into the parking lot for what has to be one of the greatest places on Earth.
Chapter Two: Parking and Familiar Faces
Soon enough, we parked (on the dirt) and got out of the car. The cool air hit me almost immediately as I stepped out of the vehicle. The (light) fog through the trees, the wetness of the air (despite the generally dry air in Colorado, the recent rain made the air wetter than normal), it really was the symbolism of “a fantastical place hidden away from the normal world.”
Without gushing too much of how symbolic the weather was, I’ll move on. So we got out of the car and made our way to one of the big metal buildings housing a handful of cars (and as we soon came to find out, a metric ton of diecast cars). We got through the doorway and; much to my shock, saw William Taylor of Auto-Archives and Sara Bain who also works at Auto-Archives. This came as a complete shock as it was pretty much a miracle that they came on the same day me and my dad came on (I don’t quite remember why they were there, but I know it wasn’t for the same
reason we were there). We walked around the first building, talked with some people from RMAP we met at the Denver Autoshow earlier this year and soon went to get dinner (the time span between getting there and having “dinner” was really short). Thankfully they were serving dinner at the Ranch (so we didn’t have to leave basically right when we got there). It was good, I believe I had something like a pulled-pork sandwich with BBQ (which was delicious) and dad… can’t remember what he had, I think it was similar in scope to what I had, however.
A little retro gas station.
While eating dinner, William and Sara sat with us and we caught up and had a good chat with them. I got seconds, went back to the table and before I knew it an announcement was being made. Someone from the Rambler Ranch was speaking and then John Kraman (one of the Mecum Commentators) came to speak about the auction that was happening in Denver in a few months time (this was before the auction). Towards the end of the announcements the skies started to open up again (this time for the rest of the night). Shortly after, Dad and I went back inside and continued to walk around Rambler’s Ranch in awe at how much Terry (the owner of Rambler Ranch) has collected. In the first building, he has cars lined up almost in a parade fashion and diecast cars nearly everywhere. Not to mention the library level of magazines he’s collected. We asked him if he scanned any of them yet and he said he hasn’t. He also stated that doing that now would be a herculean task (the only way to get it done even slightly quickly would be to get at least 2 dozen volunteers to help out). If you’re a linguist and a car guy, this place will challenge you on how many ways you can say “wow.”
Chapter Three: More Buildings
After we were done walking through the first building, we walked around to the back and found a kinda “holding” area for even more cars! These were newer cars that in some cases could be said as underappreciated by the regular car enthusiast. 80s Galore was in this particular “extension” of the first building. Some older vehicles (I think from either the 30s or 40s) and some newer cars still. There was even a Yugo Cabriolet (it might’ve been a “sport” model too!). As someone who loves some of the more “off-beat” cars, this was one of the early highlights. Especially since I saw an Omni GLHS for the first time in person. It was so cool I couldn’t stop geeking out over it… makes me want one even more haha.
See!? So. Many. Cars!
After we were done walking through the first building, we walked around to the back and found a kinda “holding” area for even more cars! These were newer cars that in some cases could be said as underappreciated by the regular car enthusiast. '80s Galore was in this particular “extension” of the first building. Some older vehicles (I think from either the '30s or '40s) and some newer cars still. There was even a Yugo Cabriolet (it might’ve been a “sport” model too!). As someone who loves some of the more “off-beat” cars, this was one of the early highlights. Especially since I saw an Omni GLHS for the first time in person. It was so cool I couldn’t stop geeking out over it… makes me want one even more haha.
The only downside to this particular area was that the roof was made of metal (like sheet metal). So when the rain got heavy the roof emphasized the noise to an incredible level. It was raining hard the roof just made the noise even louder. It was hard to hear and hard to talk without yelling slightly. When we walked out of the metal extension that was almost like a giant awning, we walked across the dirt road towards a house opposite from the first building. When we got inside, we saw a plethora of Kelvinator appliances. It was so cool to just go back in time and see how much character these appliances had. They weren’t just fridges in a boring color. They had chrome and an aesthetic that really gave it some (much needed IMO) personality. To say something has “character” and “personality” is cliche I know; And if I do I try to explain why to the best of my ability, but the fridges were interesting to look at. That’s something you really can’t say for most modern fridges or appliances. They were all just so darn interesting. Getting back to the story, after walking around this house we walked up the dirt (now slightly muddy) path to another building further away on the property. When we opened the metal door… TIME. STOPPED. If we thought the first building had a lot of cars then we hadn’t seen squat yet. There were AMCs and Ramblers galore. With some other (more oddball) cars sprinkled here and there. There was a Bricklin! Which, after having looked up the engine that powers it, makes sense now. When I saw it for the first time though? I was astounded. I had seen the Bricklin in an R&T article once or twice before but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever see one in person. Seeing it in person was just all kinds of cool.
Told ya there was a Bricklin!
Outside of the Bricklin, there was even a few (yes, more than one) AMC Matadors. Another car I had seen online but never thought I’d see in real life before and there were (if I remember correctly) 3 of them! This isn’t a one-off occurrence though, Terry has managed to get a MINIMUM of two of every model he has! With only a few cars (the rarest of the rares) being singles (like the NASH HEALEY he has). The interior colors were breathtaking as well. Blue, tan-ish orange, red, you name it! Rambler’s Ranch really is a love letter to times long gone. Don’t think I’m done, it gets better. In a room off to the side of the main show area is a recreation of a classic diner! You know the kind (if not, then think Baby Driver). And behind that, there is a room full of more classic appliances! Even the dog gone bathrooms have some subtle nods to the past.
We hung around the diner a little bit before walking through the rows upon rows of cars. All immaculate, all looking like they rolled off the assembly line decades ago. Even a Renault Alliance (100+ Cool Points) was in this huge crowd of cars. Even Pacers and Gremlins could be found aplenty. Again, this has got to be one of the coolest places in the Rocky Mountain state.
Chapter Four: Houses
We walked out of the second (massive) building and continued up the road once more. Quickly finding two houses. Still raining cats and dogs, we hurry inside and see these weren’t just houses, but recreations of houses looked like in the late 50s and early 60s. Classic TVs with black-and-white programming could be seen, the colors and decor echoed the spirits of a time now belonging to history. But the icing on the historic cake was the inclusion of a vintage dial telephone. Which actually worked (apart from the fact it couldn’t make calls). I even got to see what it was like making calls back when my dad was a kid. After learning how laborious simply calling someone was, my dad joked how kids my age won’t know the satisfaction of slamming the phone on someone… now I wish there was a call center for that very thing.
We continued to walk around both sides of the home and then make our back down the hill towards the first building. We look around a little bit more, chat more people (including Terry) and then, after a whole day of ogling, we to leave this place of wonder and happiness. It was a darn shame (even more so when we realize when we get home we didn’t take many pictures), but going there was an experience and I’m itching to go again!
Here's the website if you want to know more: www.ramblerranch.com/
I hope you enjoyed this post about what Rambler Ranch was like! Thanks for reading. See you next time.