Some anniversaries just have to be celebrated, especially milestones like the 40th year of the Early Bronco. The Early Bronco Registry (EBR) is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to any-thing and everything that is Early Bronco. This past May they held a birthday bash for the Bronco in Southern California. Although the organization is dedicated to the Classic or Early Bronco ('66-'77), all types of Broncos were welcome.
Of course, no 4x4-related affair would be complete without trail rides. The plan called for easy, moderate, hard, and extreme trail rides to be run over the three days of the event. Trips took place on trails in Big Bear; at Calico; and in Johnson Valley, home of the Hammer Trails. Of course, we decided to check out the extreme happening on Claw Hammer and Sledgehammer Trails.
For those not familiar with the Hammer Trails, they are strewn with boulders of all sizes and shapes, some as big as the Broncos themselves. When you combine this with vehicles that are relatively stock, the trail gets quite interesting. From the start the trip had Broncos bucking over boulders and creeping past chasms. This was the extreme run of the day and slow going was to be expected. After about five hours of struggling, laughing, rock tossing, and winching in the boulder-strewn canyon, the dedicated group of Bronco owners reached the end. A great evening of camp repairs by both groups was needed before the next day's run.
Some Early Bronco owners sacrifice a little of the traditional look in favor of increased trail capabilities. Dana Verdoorn's '77 classic still has the classic look, but now sports a coilover suspension, a custom cage, a 5.0L EFI engine, an NP435 tranny, and an Atlas transfer case. The front axle is a Dana 60 and the rear is a narrowed 9-inch with 35-spline axles. Detroit Lockers and 5.14 gears are found in both.
Tackling the tough trails was at the top of Gil Escober's list for the weekend. He signed up for all three of the Hammer trails being run for the weekend. His '73 Bronco did well on the trail thanks to the injected 351W engine, C4 tranny, and the Cold Duck-geared Dana 20 transfer case. The stock differentials also benefited from 4.10 gears and Detroit Lockers.
Jerry Hoffmeister's '77 Bronco has been fitted with a '92 Mustang SCFI injected 5.0. The modern motor is mated to a C4 auto and a Cold Duck-geared Dana 20 transfer case. To handle the stress of the 37-inch Goodyear MTRs the Ford sports Warn chromoly axles, CTM U-joints, and an ARB Air Locker up front and a Warn full-floating axle kit and Detroit Locker in the rear. Both axles have 4.10 gears.