The Ford Bronco was one of the few true competitors to the Jeep Wrangler ever. It was tough, powerful, and had a decent suspension setup from the factory. One of the biggest problems when building a prerunner style vehicle is choosing between having a lot of suspension travel and retaining four-wheel-drive. While we were at the 2017 Jump Champs, we stumbled across a 1991 Bronco that was built to do it all.
Aaron Barrack, the owner of this Bronco, bought the truck two years ago. It was bone stock and only had one previous owner, which is pretty hard to find. Aaron is from San Diego and he spends a lot of his time in Mexico racing and surfing. He knew he wanted to build a safari type of vehicle that could do it all. It had to go fast in the desert, but still retain the 4WD system and take him anywhere he needed.
Aaron found the Bronco on Craigslist and thought it was just going to be a normal deal. “I bought it off of a guy going through a divorce,” Aaron explained. “He snuck into his wife’s house, opened the garage, pulled it out, I gave him cash, and I left.” Aaron clarified that he legally owns it and everything was legitimate, but he has no idea what happened with the divorced couple after he purchased the Bronco.
The first thing Aaron did after purchasing the Bronco was take it to Richer Racing in Oceanside, CA for suspension modifications. He basically took it to them, told them his plans for the truck, and it snowballed from there.
The front suspension consists of custom-made, one-piece I-beam radius arms that are 4.5 inches wider per side than stock. The front suspension utilizes uniballs and heim joints. “I usually work on it in the dead of summer because that’s when we don’t use it,” said Aaron.
The steering system uses a single swing system with all heim joints, which is a fairly popular setup on I-beam prerunner style trucks. Surprisingly, the stock steering box is still in place and is still holding up.
The rear suspension uses Deaver Link Killer suspension which can theoretically pull 20 inches of travel from those leaf springs. Along with the Deaver springs are Fox bypass shocks and a massive c-notch in the frame to allow for an impressive 10 inches of up travel. The axle is a Ford 9-inch that has been widened by three inches per side. The rear axle also uses Camburg 35-spline hubs for extra strength. “One of the best things I did was do the rear end. That rear end is beefy,” boasted Aaron
The 351W under the hood is more or less stock. Aaron added smog-legal JBA headers, a simple RPM exhaust, and a UMP intake. The engine has never been rebuilt and has 130,000 miles on it. “It’s a pig, but it’s the best a 351W is going to do for me,” said Aaron. More power is almost always better, and Aaron plans on rebuilding the engine in the future with Edelbrock heads and a Holley EFI kit. “I like that Holley EFI kit, it comes with the cool iPad style dash. I want that. Gets rid of the gauges,” he explained
Behind the engine is an E4OD transmission that has been rebuilt using 1996 Ford F-250 internals. The internals are made of steel instead of aluminum. There’s also a Punisher valve body. “It’s pretty much bulletproof for an E4OD, which many people laugh at because there is no such thing as a bulletproof E4OD, but it’s super-reliable,” said Aaron. Behind the transmission are driveshafts which were custom-made by Oceanside Driveline.
The brakes have been upgraded from the stock 12-inch units to 13-inch Wilwood units. The rear is no longer drum, thanks to this upgrade. Those big brakes are necessary to stop the big 37-inch BFG A/T2 tires, which are mounted to 17×9 Method wheels. “I’ve got a good friend who works at Discount Tire and if you show up on the right day with cash, then they’ll give you a good deal,” said Aaron.
The front and rear bumpers were custom-made by Richer Racing. “That was part of the package,” explained Aaron. “Basically, bumper to bumper from the frame rails down, they did everything for me.” Of course, the bumper has a big skid plate on it, and on top of the bumper is an off-brand LED light bar.
Aaron’s friend, J. Rossi, was the one who built the roof rack. It was designed for multiple purposes. If he’s down in Baja, the roof rack is used for carrying surfboards, and if he’s out racing, it’s used for gasoline and gear. On the roof rack is another light bar.
Although the truck doesn’t have a roll cage in it right now, Aaron recognizes that it’s a safety feature he should add as soon as possible. “I’m torn, because I would like to upgrade the engine and go faster, but you need the safety and with the kids, it’ll probably be a roll cage first,” he said. “I really like the Solo Motorsports cage. It comes on a pallet and each piece is already cut. It’s a good platform to build your own cage off of.”
The interior doesn’t really have any big modifications. It has some simple off-road seats up front and a simple racing wheel. When asked what his favorite part of his truck was, Aaron replied: “It’s a Ford, I’m a Ford guy through and through.” Aaron was slightly bummed that he was the only Bronco at the Jump Champs event this year, but he was happy to be at the event.
We look forward to seeing Aaron put a more powerful engine and a roll cage in his Bronco. Those are the only modifications holding it back from being an absolute monster in the desert. From prerunning to daily driving, Aaron’s Bronco is ready to do it all.