When two great minds meet in the middle, the results can be rather spectacular. Such was the case with this hidden gem of a first-generation Bronco, which was tucked away in the Heatshield Products display at the 2014 SEMA Show. After we picked our jaws up off of the floor, we headed over to have a chat with Nick Ashby and Steve Heyes, the two men that brought their companies together to create an epic Bronco.
“Right from the get-go, we had our work cut out for us,” said Ashby, head of Rockstar Performance Garage, located in Murrieta, California. “We had sixty days to get the truck finished from top to bottom, and it was a complete rust bucket when we first got it,” he joked. “We got under there, turning wrenches, and half of the thing just fell apart.”
About 40 companies teamed up to make the Bronco a success, from the tires to the interior to the engine. We walked along the side of the Bronco, where a graphic decal listed all the parties and their contributions that amounted to this killer restomodded vehicle, codenamed “Malice.”
“ATX dropped a set of 20-inch beadlocks on this thing, and Makita supplied all the power tools that we used to dismantle and reassemble the parts,” said Ashby. “SPIDERWEBSHADE made us the custom Rockstar skins and rooftop, made out of mesh that’s about 80 percent UV-protected.”
Ashby went on to point out the help from Bullet Liner: “After we’d had the truck powder coated, Bullet Liner came in and covered three-quarters of it white, and then the rest of the accessory parts, like the hood and the fender flares, were all done in black to offer a sweet contrast.”
Bulldog LED Lighting supplied all the lights for the Bronco, including the headlight and light bars. For wheels and tires, the crew went with 38-inch Mickey Thompson MTZs, which necessitated the installation of 9-inch fender flares to provide extra coverage.
The drivetrain is an achievement all its own: Ford Racing 363 stroker V8 motor, FAST electronic fuel injection, Remac 4R70W transmission, Atlas II transfer case, and 5.12:1 axles with Detroit Locker differentials in Nitro Gear and Axle nine-inch housings. The full-width axles have 3.5-inch tube diameters with a quarter-inch wall. “We’re about the same width on this ’73 Bronco as a factory Raptor is, about 22 inches over stock,” said Ashby.
Heatshield Products made its claim on the SUV with multiple uses of heat wrap and sound-dampening materials. “They have everything you could possibly think of in this build, from Hot Rod Sleeves for hoses to Lava Wrap for headers to Lava Shield for the muffler, to the Sticky Shield that goes all the way up the firewall to the gas tank in the rear,” said Ashby. “These Broncos are notorious for getting uncomfortably hot even at idle, and we didn’t feel a thing pulling it in here during the show’s setup.”
The suspension is a one-off design from Rock Krawler, utilizing coilovers on all fours, with a three-link setup in the front and dual triangulated four-link setup in the rear. “It’s not too far off of an Ultra4 race car,” commented Ashby. Wilwood brakes–six-piston up front, four-piston out back–give the Bronco plenty of stopping power.
Inside, custom-embroidered Mastercraft seats offer great comfort to passengers, with a Vintage Air air conditioning unit to keep things cool or warm at the proper time and place. There are also Dakota Digital gauges to give a full readout of the Bronco’s status at all times and in perfect clarity.
Steve Heye, vice president of Heatshield Products, was overwhelmed by the way the old Ford turned out. “I was in disbelief when I first laid eyes on this vehicle,” said Heye. “We’ve had great sponsors helping us out along the way, and I think everyone is going to get a kick out of this thing once we take it out on the road.”
Heye confirmed that Malice would be cutting a path across America very soon, as it takes a tour starting in January around some of the off-road world’s major events. To find out more about the Bronco’s maiden voyage around the country, find Heatshield Products on the web or on the phone with the provided contact information below.