It’s never uncommon to see amazing vehicles at any off-road event, but occasionally, one stops you in your tracks and says, “I’m special.” That was the case for this Chrome Yellow 1970 Bronco I came across at this year’s Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari.
Staged at the end of a long line of display booths, the bright yellow paint and highly recognizable front end peeked out from the row of lifted trucks and Jeeps. Sitting in the bright desert sun with a small mallet propping up the hood, it offered showgoers just a peek of the 5.0-liter V8 underneath. As I got closer, it was easy to tell that while it remained recognizable to its Ford roots, almost every inch of the truck had been touched during the build process.
Everything about this rig just felt right and I had to know more about it. So it wasn’t long till I headed up to the display table of the Webshop Manager booth and met the founder, Dana Nevins, to get some more info.
Background Of The Build
Dana was happy to share his and the Bronco’s story, which was a collaboration of his off-road roots and industry friends. “It’s a really great way to show off the brands I work with,” Dana said about the truck in its current form.
Cutting his teeth in the off-road industry with Bronco Graveyard, Dana was partial to the Blue Oval when he started looking at a truck to take mud-bogging back in the late ’90s. After a little hunting, he came across the perfect foundation to satisfy his off-road itch. The Bronco was originally purchased in Michigan for a whopping $1,500 and it was right at home in the backwood trails of Dana’s home state. After a major rollover spurred the need for upgrades and body repair, the truck started to take shape towards what it is today.
As it sits, the Bronco is a wonderfully balanced truck capable of going anywhere and keeping the passengers comfortable enough to want to keep going. Too often with collaborative builds, it feels like a bunch of random parts thrown together, but not with this Bronco. Every choice complements the rig and adds value to its weekend adventures.
Years later, the truck and Dana found their way to the next chapter of in their off-road adventure – the deserts of Southern California. The truck slowly morphed into what it is today, and unlike other show builds, the Bronco was pieced together as needs arose.
The current body of the truck started with a rust-free donor sourced from Nebraska. That tub was cleaned up and received its Mustang-inspired color treatment to keep things in the Ford family. According to Dana, the truck contains parts from a variety of model years, one of which is the ’66 turn signals. The roadster body is topped with a Complete Offroad cage and ProtoFab bumpers, all powder-coated in a matte black finish.
Keeping the trail lit at night is a set of Bronco Graveyard LED headlights. Supporting those headlights with some extra illumination are an assortment of Lazer Star products. A 52-inch light bar sits atop the cage, while four spotlights mounted to the front bumper ensure plenty of visibility. Rock lights provide some additional off-highway support for when day turns to night. Buggy Whip finishes off the lighted touches with a pair of LED safety flags.
Power is supplied by a Summit Racing 302 cubic-inch V8 that Dana sourced and assembled with help from Keith Black Pistons. Helping generate over 400 horsepower are Edelbrock Performer RPM heads and a Performer RPM intake manifold that were specked by the tuner JBA Speedshop out of San Diego, California. A Holley 670 Street Avenger handles the inbound air and fuel load to keep the engine fed and L&L headers get those hot exhaust gases back out of the engine bay.
Having a chance to ride along as we found a better spot for photos than a crowded expo gave me the chance to really get a feel for that power. With proper gearing for what the truck is built for, it’s not a race truck, but has plenty of punch and torque to move across any terrain. The other benefit to that fully built engine is the truck’s amazing sound. Instantly on startup, the Ford growls to life and only gets better as it gets to open up.
Out For A Spin
Getting all that pony car power to the ground required some upgrades as well. The power gets pushed through a custom C4 transmission, built by Dana on its way to the to the custom upgraded two-stick transfer case. Wild Horses Driveshafts then distributes the power to the diffs. Up front, a ’76 Dana 44 housing with 4.56:1 gears puts power to the ground. Out back, a ’77 model does the same. Eaton comes through with E-lockers to keep all the corners moving forward.
Coming to the suspension, it’s easy to see this truck doesn’t just rely on bolt-on parts to get the job done. Auto Fab was a major contributor to keeping this truck rolling over anything that gets in its way. Custom detachable shock hoops house King 2.5-inch dual bypass shocks and custom-mounted King bumps. Auto Fab also came through with adjustable spring mounts for the Deaver springs. A set of Rancho radius arms has been modified to hold it all together.
Keeping the wheels pointed in the right direction was another collaboration, this time between BC Broncos providing the tie rods and Bronco Graveyard providing a pitman arm. When it comes to the squishy parts, Energy Suspension keeps things flexible with polyurethane bushings throughout the suspension and steering systems.
Atturo Trail Blade Boss tires make the final connection between truck and trail. 37s are the size of choice offering a great compromise between size and drivability. All that rubber is wrapped around a set of black beadlock Raceline wheels complementing the matte black body accents perfectly.
Riding in the Bronco, the suspension is surprisingly soft. Turning off the paved road, there was hardly a difference to the smooth feel of the truck. Gliding over bumps revealed how this truck has again been purpose-built and tuned for what it was intended to do, provide a comfortable and stable platform for long desert crawls.
While roadsters have always been fairly bleak on the interior amenities, this Bronco offers just enough touches to match the rest of build level, striking a wonderful balance between comfort and function. Corbeau A4s finished in multi-tone micro-suede provide comfortable and secure seats for the front passengers. Meanwhile, PRP four-point harness keep every one firmly planted. A set of rear-facing buckets give some extra room in the back, offering passengers a view of the trail behind.
On the controls side, AutoMeter gauges give the driver a readout of all the vitals. Dana fabricated a tilt column to aid in steering wheel placement. Nearby, a B&M shifter handles the link between the driver and drivetrain.
Overall, this truck is so much more than a show truck bolted together from a manufactures catalog of parts. From the drivetrain’s ideal balance to the robust suspension, the Bronco is a testament to what a good vision and forethought can do for a build. Even though the story of this truck may be a long one and contain many stops along the way, where it is today fits perfectly for the desert trails of its current home.