Ask any off-roader or truck enthusiast what his or her most favorite off-road truck is and you will inevitably get a different answer; it's just one more thing that makes each of us unique. However, the conversation rarely ends without the mention of a particular type of truck - the early model Ford Bronco. Regardless of whether you are strictly from the GM, Mopar, or Ford camp, you cannot help but give respect and admiration to one of the vehicles that gave new meaning to the term off-roading. In this special section, we thought we'd showcase some of the best early model Broncos we've ever seen. Enjoy!
Rocky Roads One Serious '71 BroncoShaun Bryant of Santa Monica, California, could be called one happy man. On top of purchasing this Bill Stroppe-prepped chase vehicle from his friend and the co-builder of this awesome Bronco, Mike Vanakaris owns Vintage Bronco Sales and Restoration, also in Santa Monica. What originally began as a hobby in high school auto shop has flourished into a way of life for him. So when the time came to own his own early Bronco, he chose the fine example that's shown here.
In order to have a truly capable off-road truck, there must be a proper balance of power and torque. Knowing this, the builder began his creation at the block, the Ford 302ci V-8 was bored 0.040 inches over, balanced, blueprinted, and deburred. Inside the newly punched block is a virtual showroom of aftermarket high-performance products, some of which include the TRW pistons and rings, the Clevite bearings, an Engle camshaft, and a TRW high-volume oil pump. The Carter 625-cfm carb, which was also blueprinted, routes fuel and airflow through the Edelbrock Performer manifold and out to the stock heads. The spent gases from the new powerplant are expended via a set of James Duff headers, which was ceramic coated, and a pair of 2-1/2-inch Flowmaster mufflers that has a custom crossover H-style pipe to help equalize exhaust pulses.
Transmission duties are handled by the New Process 435 four-speed automatic with a granny gear installed for the Low range. Driveshaft modifications were tended to by Cannon Engineering of North Hollywood, California, using an Advanced Adapters Ranger torque splitter with an overdrive unit attached to the Dana 20 transfer case. To keep the Bronco cool, a four-core custom NASCAR radiator heads up the cooling department. With the power and torque generated by the engine and the tranny, turning the 15x10-inch Center Lines and 36-inch Super Swampers are no problem. Stopping the rig are disc brakes from a '77 Bronco that were fabricated for this application.
The body, the paintwork, and the fabrications were handled by Rocky Roads International of Inglewood, California. Once at the shop, a full fiberglass hood and body replaced the factory units, while James Duff fender flares completed the overall look that the builders were looking for. To finalize the exterior, a two-stage paintjob was applied using Ford Indigo Blue from DuPont. With the paint and the body completed, the only thing left was to install the Bully Bumpers in the front and the rear and the Warn 10,000-pound winch.
For off-road insurance, a plethora of accessories were further installed on the vehicle. Items such as the Link-Arc underhood welding system, the under-vehicle auxiliary lighting system, and the Ready-Air compressed air system all lend support when called upon.
To finalize the vehicle, the interior had to have all the creature comforts of home. From the comfortable Flo-Fit seats and the Grant steering wheel to the powerful 500-watt Kenwood stereo system, once you're inside, you'll never want to get out.
Yellow Fever A '74 Bronco That's Just Burnin' UpRandall Thompson of Cameron, Wisconsin, just wanted one thing - to get his Bronco back on the road again. What used to be a beater caught on fire one day and before anyone knew it, including Randall, he was building one unbelievable rig. During the rebuilding process, Randall had to make some minor changes - of course.
Wanting to keep the stock 200-cid Ford powerplant, Randall contacted Adams Automotive in Cameron, for some performance upgrades. By reworking the stock block and boring it 0.030 inches more than factory, Randall swears that the truck drives as if it had a V-8 under the hood. The remainder of the power train was kept stock, which is the way he wanted it.
Being an avid off-roader, Randall decided to lift the Bronco 3-1/2 inches using K Bar S springs up front and an add-a-leaf in the rear. The Desert Steel traction bars help to keep the 9-inch Dana axle with 4:11 gears in place. The steering system was fabricated to accommodate the Heim joint tie rod ends and the steering arm. To soften the ride a bit, K Bar S shocks replaced the factory units at each corner. The brake system was upgraded using GM calipers and Ford rotors in the rear, while the front discs are from a '76 Bronco. All of the brake lines are stainless steel. The rolling stock consists of 33x12.50x15 Thornbirds mounted to 15x8.5-inch aluminum rims.
To complete his rebuild, Randall replaced the steel body with a lighter fiberglass unit. The stunning PPG Concept Corvette Yellow paint was applied by Cameron Auto Body of Cameron. The shop was also responsible for painting the 5x2-inch rear bumper, that doubles as an air tank, as well as the 2-inch custom-fabricated front bumper. The interior was also redone and now has a custom-made stainless steel dash with diamond-plate aluminum flooring. Of course, the Mustang steering wheel and RCI seats with the five-point harnesses and the 2-inch rollcage round out the package.
All Fired Up A Flamin' '72 BroncoOne look at the custom flame job on the Bronco of James Waggoner of Riverside, California, and we wish that it was parked in our driveways. A Bronco driver since these early SUVs were introduced, James said that he has always owned one. So when he purchased this '72 with the notion of building a trail blazer, it came as no surprise to his family and friends.
To make his rig a little more trail worthy, James opted to lift the Bronco 2-1/2 inches using Rough Country coil springs in the front and a new pair of Duffco leaf springs in the rear. Rough Country nitrogen-charged shocks are situated at each corner as are the 33x12.50x15 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires mounted on 15x10-inch Center Line Racing rims. Decreased stopping distance can be attributed to the rear disc brake conversion kit from Duffco's as well.
For the utmost in power, performance, and reliability, a new 351ci cast-iron block Ford V-8 with Ford SVO aluminum heads replaced the tired stock unit. With the new block bolted in place, other performance modifications followed. Items such as the custom-designed four-core radiator, the 750-cfm double pumper Holley carburetor, the Edelbrock Victor Jr. high-rise intake manifold, the power pulleys, the MSD ignition system, and the JCB ceramic-coated headers all help to create the 400 hp that James has on tap at all times. The '84 C4 transmission was treated to a B&M Shift Improvement Kit and a custom clutch and valvebody. A 9-inch setup is located in the rear with the gearset an Auburn limited-slip unit that has a ratio of 4.11. The front diff also has an Auburn unit with the same ratio.
To complete his Bronco, James had Little Louie of San Bernardino, California, apply those previously mentioned flames on the brand-new fiberglass hood and body. On the inside, the stock front bucket seats were reupholstered in brown velour as was the rear bench and the headliner. For protection, a 3-inch rollcage was fit inside the cab.
At a total cost of $32,000, it's a far cry from the $3,500 James paid for the '69 Bronco he started out with - it was money very well spent. Somehow, we agree.