Published on September 27th, 2014 | by Frosty
A Bronco and a Granny Blanket
I first fell in love with my Bronco when a mate drove it to Cradle Mountain. I could hear this deep bass-burble coming from outside the cabin, I poked my head out into the cold winter air. I saw a white mountain of American Muscle Four Wheel Drive, steam rising from the side exhaust and the backdrop of 4 inches of bright white snow (coincidentally the same amount of lift the Bronco had).
It was a few years later that the stars were in alignment with my mates wife telling him the Bronco had to go, and I knew exactly where – my garage. It was in a dishevelled state when I got it. All the right things had been done mechanically – nice 4 inch lift kit, big 35 x 12.5 x 15 inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tyres on outlaw 10 inch rims, a set of large pacemaker headers and big 3 inch straight through exhaust system, Edelbrock performance intake manifold, 600 Holley carbie, new F100 steering box (modified by my mate with a plate to stop the age old problem of F100 and Broncos tearing the steering box of the chassis) and a new brake booster. The interior left a bit to be desired, signs of rust, no heater (apparently my mate had been getting-by driving with an old granny blanket over his knees!), basic CD player and the list went on.
One of the first things I had to do was fix the heater – granny blanket and a tuff Bronco was not the image I was going for! After some investigation it turns out the Bronco had a heater core the same as in an XD Falcon. Good news was I found one easily and it was dirt cheap. I had a look online and read some articles about how easy it was to replace the heater core – something about 4 bolts accessible behind the glove box. Bad news is that with the right hand drive conversion the bolts were no longer accessible. I ended up pulling out the entire dash! Turns out pulling it apart was the easy part, if only I could count the long cold nights, scraped knuckles, “leftover” bolts and screws and thoughts of “what the Funk and Wagnalls have I done?” before the dash went back in. After I was almost finished the project a mate showed me how I could have got the heater core out and replaced it without removing the dash, at which point I could feel my eyesight going blurry and my veins pulsing with every heartbeat 😉
At this point I was starting to think this was going to be a very long project and if I escaped without some form of coronary event I was going to be very lucky. To my relief most of the modifications from here on in were a lot of fun. One of the coolest things I fitted was a rain sensing windscreen wiper system. I also fitted remote door locks with a Viper immobiliser, Alpine full screen iPod head unit with reverse camera, Focal 6×9 speakers in the rear and Alpine Component Pro series splits in the front, 3 inch tubular side steps (nerf bars), dual battery system with deep cycle second battery, re-chromed door sill plates and overhead lights, stainless chequer plate on doors, front bench seat replaced with Recaro factory seats from an ex Ambulance F150, new carpet and sound proofing insulation as well as Dynamat fitted to the rear of car and two front doors, front Bucket seats and rear bench seat re-upholstered and new foam, set of four Narva spot lights fitted to light bar on roof, slotted front disks fitted, C6 transmission overhauled, rear window motor, drop pitman arm (to level-out steering arm after 4 inch lift kit was put in), Rancho steering damper, new axles and tinted windows. I also painted the tan/cream interior black which included the dash, door trims and all interior trims (I think the combo of straight white exterior and black interior with black carpets looked great). Without doubt the coolest modification I did to the Bronco was replacing the centre console with a full size Waeco fridge freezer – how many cars have a 47 can capacity with an interior light that comes on when you open the lid?
The last thing to be done was a respray and I opted to stay with the current white paintjob. The problem with lifting a Bronco (or any F truck for that matter) is that almost without failure the top of the cab will crack near the windscreen and start rusting. Within 6 months of the respray the rust and crack returned to the Bronco, but let’s be honest who’d have a Bronco and not lift it?
Driving the finished project was an absolute joy. The cool factor is well over 9 out of 10 and the looks from other road users and pedestrians constantly confirmed this. One of the few drawbacks with the Bronco was it was a less than subtle car for having a perv in traffic – I remember driving with a mate and him pointing out two young ladies in a car ahead of us. Who’d have thought a big bright white Bronco with a noisy V8 and 4 inch lift would draw their attention to our attempted covert observations? Busted! Covert operation aborted!
The Bronco has an agrarian feel to it but you feel like you are really driving it (especially with 35’s and a 4” lift), not the disconnected feeling you get from so many modern cars today. For all its negatives the Bronco is one of my all-time favourite cars, where else can you find a car that is supremely capable off road, looks uber cool, sounds tuff and is a joy to drive? Did I mention that it has a centre console that holds 47 cans?
Summary: 4" lift, 35's, Straight through exhaust and a cracking interior make for an unique, fun and very capable off road vehicle. Such a shame they stopped importing the Bronco.