Sometimes it can be better to be good than lucky. Fortunately, Troy Fast is both. His 1978 Ford Bronco has been a labor of love. He also has an amazing family that backs him up. Over the years, he has experienced all of the trials and tribulations associated with building and owning an old-school 4×4.
As many may know, these creations can be troublesome. By being good at what he does, and having a bit of luck, we all get to enjoy this awesome ride. Whether you love the older Broncos or prefer the newer ones, there is a lot to appreciate here. What Troy has now, is a masterful creation that is old-school fun, and built to perform.
“This has been a long time in the making,” Troy shares. “Off-roading is our family tradition. We would go to mud bogs and my uncle had 80 acres. Family and friends would go tear around up there. That’s where I learned to wrench on things. My dad also had Broncos. I can remember riding in the backseat out on the dunes of Silver Lake as a kid. At some point, like most, I got busy with life. I got out of the off-road scene for a while.”
“A couple of my friends that I work with, Craig Sharp and Andy Brubaker, started going to the dunes. They would come to work and talk about their off-road adventures. I could not take it anymore and decided that I might want to get back into it. I am so glad I did because our family now goes to the dunes together. It’s an entire family experience.”
After Troy started looking around for a 4×4 rig, he landed on this 1978 Ford Bronco in February of 2011. “It was a real basket case and had a tired old 429 motor in it. The transmission was toast, and it had a Rough Country 4-inch lift. It had 33-inch tires, and it looked okay but was still very rough all around. Slowly, every year I would improve things, making progress here and there. When I would see other people break things, I could learn from that and bolster this thing up. Andy was huge in the progression because he always operates at a different level. I started riding around in his and other people’s trucks. That’s what really started pushing me to do more, and to go faster. Of course, there are the things you have to learn on your own,” Troy explains.
Built For Fun And Speed
The first performance upgrades were an updated Deaver Springs leaf pack and Bilstein shocks. That allowed Troy to go a bit faster. Higher speeds stressed and broke things. Every winter after the off-road season ended, he would take the time to make upgrades to the component failures. “I didn’t build it to be a show truck. It looks good, but if you get up close, you will see it’s not a perfect truck. I didn’t want to feel bad if I scraped it with a tree branch or something,” he admits.
While some purists may not dig a few of his modifications, you cannot argue with the performance of the truck. “If you think back to 2011, the market was very different. I got this back before things went really crazy. These trucks are insanely popular now. I’m sure some people would be upset with some of the things that I did. I don’t feel bad about cutting into it though. It’s always been a Michigan truck and it did have quite a bit of rust. I’ve made it look decent and it performs. That’s really what I try to do. I want it to be reliable. No one wants to be broken in the parking lot,” Troy says.
While going fast is fun, Troy also likes to share his hobby with others. “One of my favorite things to do is give people rides that have never experienced this kind of thrill. We see a lot of people on the dunes renting Jeeps. That’s not even close to what we are doing out here. I love giving rides and seeing the expression on their faces for the first time. I’ve had people scared. I’ve also had people that just laugh. I love sharing that experience with people,” Troy explains.
Heart Of The Beast
The heart of this 1978 Ford Bronco features a 500-horsepower Ford motor. The stock Ford 460 block was zero decked and then bored .030-inches over. It is a total of 466 cubic inches of fun, and Troy utilizes all of them. The engine also features a fully balanced rotating assembly. JE flat-top pistons, and ARP fasteners were used throughout the engine. The 10.25:1 compression ratio keeps things pump- gas friendly. A set of ProComp aluminum head castings were modified and fitted with Manley intake valves.
Exhaust gases are moved through 1.76-inch valves where a set of COMPCams valve springs and retainers have been paired with chromoly pushrods. Harland Sharp 1.73 ratio roller rockers, a COMP Cams roller camshaft, and Howard’s Cams roller lifters round out a few of the upgrades. All of the gases are escorted out via the Mad Dog fender-exit headers with Flowmaster mufflers. Ford Racing valve covers keep everything under wraps.
A Weiand Stealth intake paired with a Demon 750cfm carburetor manages fuel input. An Edelbrock high-flow mechanical fuel pump gets the gas to where it needs to be. Lubrication is handled via a Canton 8-quart racing oil pan and Jon Kaase performance oil pump. An MSD ignition and distributor make sure things get plenty of spark.
Turn And Burn
Behind the motor resides a Broader Performance built C6 transmission. It features a manual valve body and a 3,000 rpm stall convertor. A custom-fabricated crossmember with urethane mounts keeps the transmission in place. Upgrades also include a B&M extra-capacity aluminum pan, B&M Pro-Stick shifter, and Derale fluid cooler with SPAL electric fan. Behind that, a stock NP205 transfer case is located with a urethane mount. To keep everything turning, Troy enlisted the help of Martin Spring and Driveline in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They fabricated custom-length driveshafts to accommodate the extra suspension travel the big Bronco is sporting.
Considering the primary use of the truck, we asked about the choice to retain four-wheel drive. Many trucks that primarily see use in the sand go to two-wheel drive. This opens up additional options for longer travel suspension set-ups. “It’s a 1978 Ford Bronco and Broncos are four-wheel drive,” Troy states flatly.
Speaking of travel, the Bronco stretches 15 inches in the rear and 14.5 inches in the front. Not bad for a big guy. In the rear resides a trussed Ford 9-inch housing with the ever-important disc brake conversion. If you want to go fast you have to be able to stop fast. A full spool can be found in the pumpkin thanks to the Motive ring gear and pinion. The axle ratio is 4:10 and the stock 31-spline axles remain in place. Suspending the Bronco is accomplished with a set of Fox 3-inch quad bypass shocks. They are teamed up with a custom set of Deaver leaf springs. The springs are located on custom-fabricated extended rear shackles.
In the front of this 1978 Ford lives a custom-built and trussed Dana 44 housing. Troy spent a lot of time completing the truss himself. It houses a Detroit TrueTrac differential that leads out to RCV Performance axle shafts. The front also features modified West Coast Broncos radius arms and mounts. Sharp eyes will see the King 2.5-inch coilovers and triple bypass shocks handling the hits up front. Fox 2-inch bump stops are on standby for when things get a little rough. Maintenance is easy due to the custom-built removable shock hoops and cross brace. A signal of the forethought Troy put into each element of his Bronco.
Belly Of The Beast
Inside you will find a six-point roll cage for safety. After all, with age comes a cage. Corbeau BAJA XP off-road suspension seats keep both driver and passengers comfy. The seats have also been fitted with five-point harnesses from RJS. Safety second is not Troy’s mantra. As a result, any riders can easily find Dueling Designs’ quick-release fire extinguisher mounts with extinguishers within easy reach. A rear-view camera system has also been installed. “It’s a safety feature. It can stay on full-time if desired. That way I can keep an eye on traffic behind me that I otherwise might not be able to see,” Troy explains.
Keeping It Cool
An aluminum radiator from Jeff’s Bronco Graveyard helps keep things at the right temp. A custom-made two-piece aluminum fan shroud from Great Lakes Metal Works has also been added for easier access to the engine. Off Road Xtreme appreciates Troy’s creative custom work-a-round to think smarter not harder.
This 1978 Ford Bronco boasts fiberglass fenders and quarter panels from Autofab. A set of Raceline bead lock wheels make sure low pressure on the dunes is no big deal. They are wrapped with 35-inch General Grabber tires in the front. Troy chose a set of 35-inch Super Swamper Boggers that have been cut and optimized for the sand in the rear. The front of the Bronco features a custom-fabricated front bumper by Troy.
There is a set of HELLA seven-inch LED lights that take care of illumination on night runs. Under the hood, an Optima red top battery powers it all. Recovery is handled with the floor jack skid plate from TT-Motorsports. It is located in place by a custom-made quick-release floor jack mount. None other than Troy himself created the mount for the jack.
While some may have never considered Michigan to be an off-road destination, we assure you it is. Michigan has everything from sand dunes to wooded trails and even mountains in the Upper Peninsula. The best part of Michigan may just be the community though. We think Troy frames up the off-road scene nicely:
The off-road community here in Michigan is amazing. I have learned so much from the community here. There are no secrets. Everyone helps each other. There is just an amazing amount of good people out here. The quality of the builds up here is amazing. It has improved incredibly over the last few years and the community is growing.
Troy Fast’s 1978 Ford Old School Bronco Is Built For Speed And Fun