No matter how loyal a gearhead can be to one specific auto manufacturer, they have to check their ego at the door. No matter the brand, every vehicle manufacturer has that one model that made it to icon status. In the world of off-road, the machines that forged the trails in the early days of the sport hold a special place in the hearts of many. Long before the term “SUV” became common, vehicle manufacturers were producing their versions of the utilitarian platform.
Ford’s first entry into this world of station wagon-meets-pickup came in the form of the Bronco. Production began in 1965, introduced to the public in 1966, and ran until 1977, when the second generation Bronco hit the road. The first-generation Bronco, or “Early Bronco,” had a very distinctive body style. The vehicle sported two doors, a square body, a short wheelbase, and several different distinct versions. It was not long after it was introduced that Bill Stroppe built a fleet of Broncos to tackle the wilds of Baja, Mexico.
The first-generation Bronco has become such a classic that clubs have formed entirely around the early Broncos. To that end, there are several aftermarket companies that produce products only for this American icon.
There is a story behind one of these Broncos. And what better place for the story to take place than Pasadena, California, home to one of the more iconic college bowl games.
ABOUT FORD’S FORD
The owner of this particular Early Bronco is Ford Johnson. Yes, you read that right, his name is Ford and he owns a Ford. Ford told me that he felt like he had to go with a blue oval offering to fit his name, so he chose this particular Bronco.
According to Ford, the Bronco was a basket case when he bought it. It had several old layers of paint, mechanical and wiring issues, and an assorted host of issues that had to be sorted out. Ford stated he had saved his money from when he was eight years old and him and his dad spent many hours in the garage to get where the Bronco is now.
Under the Wild Horses fiberglass hood resides the original 289 cubic-inch small block V8. Ford has recently rebuilt the engine and bolted on some aftermarket goodies to improve performance. Included is an Edelbrock Performer Intake Manifold and a MSD Ready to Run Distributor. Foregoing the original carburetor, the 289 uses a FiTech fuel injection system routed from the t25-gallon tank to deliver fuel reliably without the common issues carburetors are known for.
Behind the engine rests a Ford C-4 automatic transmission. The transmission is put into gear using a Hurst floor shifter. A Dana 20 transfer case is mated to the transmission and the case has been twin-sticked.
To soak up the bumps from potholes and whoops, Ford chose to utilize a Wild Horses 3.5-inch lift, while King Shocks control the process. Front shock hoops from Tom’s Bronco Parts have been mounted to attach the front shocks into place.
Grabbing traction whether it be on the pavement or dirt, a set of 33-inch Falken Wildpeak tires are wrapped around a set of 15-inch Pacer wheels. Up front, the wheels and tires are attached to a Dana 30 spinning 3.50:1 gears. Out back, the venerable Ford 9-inch rearend propels the Bronco down the road.
Ford did not stop there, though, when it came to outfitting his classic Ford sport utility. Inside rests a custom dash outfitted with Autometer instruments. A full roll cage has been mounted to protect the occupants in case of inversion. Out front, a set of KC HiLites headlights illuminate the trail or highway ahead. A 15-inch wood steering wheel is attached to an Ididit direct fit tilt steering column. Under the hood, the column attaches to a Ford 4x4x2 power steering box. The box is powered by a power steering pump from a Ford Explorer.
WHERE WILL IT GO FROM HERE?
A lot can be said when an investment is just more than a signature. Bonds are forged when time and sweat is invested in a vehicle. Those bonds grow when it comes to something as special as a first-generation Bronco. When I asked Ford what the future holds for him and his Bronco, he told me the improvements will never end. He did mention upgrading the interior and an upcoming move to Texas. I think the duo will find The Lone Star State very accommodating. If you would like to keep up with the adventures of Ford and his Ford, follow him on Instagram.