It’s not often that you meet someone that has kept their first car more than a few years. When an individual keeps his or her first car for more than 20 years, you can be certain it’s a crazy kind of cool. This is the case with Chaz Lightner’s 1966 Ford Bronco. At first glance it definitely has the wow factor with the bright orange paint, but once the engine starts, that’s when things get interesting.
Over the years, it has had a few different engines powering it down the road. Its current setup is a fully built Cummins 4BT turbodiesel engine. The internal engine work was performed by Beck Racing Engines in Phoenix, making it so it could handle high boost pressure without coming apart. Once the long block was complete, Turbo Auto Diesel went to work perfecting the right fuel and air combination. Nowadays, with the turbo matching the fueling upgrades, it now puts down over 400 hp at 60+ psi of boost and will easily melt the rear tires.
The first transmission in the swap was an NV4500, which was later swapped out for an automatic. The current transmission is a fully built assembly and triple disc torque converter from Suncoast and is operated by a PCS transmission controller. On acceleration, the first to second gear shift is very positive and if it’s high in the boost range, it spins the mud-terrains with ease. The rest of the drivetrain is built to handle the torque of the Cummins, with lockers in the front and rear differentials, upgraded axle shafts, and an Atlas II transfer case for low gearing.
The interior is pretty basic but gets the job done with racing seats and a full set of Autometer gauges for monitoring. On the outside, the winch and Hi-Lift jack aren’t just for show; they’ve seen their share of backcountry trails in Arizona and are well-equipped if he gets stuck.
Over the years, the Bronco has had several changes along the way. Not too long ago, the charged air piping was redone to line up with the new Vortech intercooler. It also has air conditioning to keep comfortable, since doors are not an option for this rig. Who knows what’s next – maybe a compound turbo setup?
This little Bronco has a few trophies under its belt for show and shine awards, and they are well-earned. It’s truly a toy that Lightner built very well, and it gets pushed to its limits on the streets and on the trails. Riding in it confirms this as well, by the noise coming from four angry cylinders when the go pedal is smashed, and everyone around it stares in awe from the noise and smoke.