The first prolific Mooney model began production in 1964 with the advent of the Mooney M20C. With a short fuselage, powerful 180 horsepower engine and lower price tag, the M20C quickly became a golden standard in early general aviation history.
This aircraft was also designed as a competitor to the Piper aircraft of the day. Unlike the Piper models, many M20Cs remain on the market, especially the Ranger variant.
Produced between 1962 and 1978, the M20C Ranger set the pace and tone for all future Mooney high performance single engine aircraft production. Mooney’s standard of speed and performance was set with the introduction of the Ranger.
The Ranger provides 180 horsepower with a maximum flying time of 3-4 hours. In the 1960s and 1970s, this was a remarkable feat of engineering that inspired aerospace engineering to keep pushing the envelope of performance.
The Ranger is critiqued for a common M20C problem: the lack of efficient aerodynamic handling. This leads to an increased fuel consumption and slightly more rigid handling style during flight. Most Mooney pilots can overlook this flaw, but new pilots used to newer aircraft will find this a hard sell.
Also, without an avionics upgrade, many Rangers will still have non-standard gauges. While most pilots today train on T-style design avionics, the early Mooney models pose a challenge to IFR flyers. Ranger models from 1971 onward come standard with T-style avionics.
The M20C Ranger is a true piece of general aviation history that many pilots would love to own. Finding a well-maintained, upgraded model will run the consumer around $80,000 to $100,000 on today’s market. This is a small price to pay when compared to other Mooney models that provide similar power.
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