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1980 Ford Bronco Prerunner - Beauty And The Bronco

Catching Air
Jeremy Sundt | Writer
Posted November 24, 2008
Photographers: Randall Jachmann

Miggies Motorsports' Monster PreRunner

Mike Jakobson's $100,000-dollar Ford Bronco prerunner is a priceless asset to the Miggie Motorsports off-road race team. Some people may wonder why a race team might need such a high-dollar prerunner. The answer is that in today's highly competitive sport of desert racing, races can be won or lost months before the green flag drops. Race preparation is a key ingredient to a winning race team. That means details, details, and more details.

For example, before every race, teams usually strip and x-ray every moving part on the race car and rebuild the engine and transmission completely. Another aspect of race preparation has nothing to do with the race car, but instead to do with familiarizing the driver and crew with the area of the event. Although this is not a necessity, it can give a driver a huge advantage on race day. For this reason, many off-road race teams own a different type of off-road vehicle than a race truck. These prerunners tend to be more versatile than a race truck. It is important that a prerunner be tough enough to handle any amount of abuse any race truck can handle, but also be somewhat street-legal to get on and off asphalt whenever necessary. Unlike a race truck, it needs to be equipped with everything ranging from a virtual workshop in tools to many of the comforts of home. A prerunner could best be compared to a military vehicle being sent on missions of unknown length and unknown difficulty. Lastly and most importantly, unlike a race car, a prerunner needs to hold more people than just one driver. This way, the drivers can compare notes, racing lines, and most importantly, have a good time together.

Veteran off-road racer Mike Jakobson knew all of this when he acquired his '80 Bronco prerunner. Mike and his team Miggie Motorsports have campaigned a Class 5 unlimited Baja Bug race car in the SCORE Desert Series since the early 1990s. Mike actually bought the Ford completely fabricated. The person who owned it previously had it custom-built by Unique Metal Products. Although topnotch fabrication was used throughout the entire truck, when Mike bought it, it was in poor shape and it was running on only seven cylinders and damaged shocks. Mike and his crew had their work cut out for them.

The sad Bronco was like a worn out malnourished racehorse. It was time for the Miggie Motorsports team to put all of its knowledge to work. It began the overhaul with the idea that the tired Bronco needed to be tough enough to win the Baja 2000, but also look good enough to win the Indy 4x4 Jamboree in the same weekend.

Unique Metal Products, originally commissioned to build the truck, used incredible craftsmanship throughout. It created this Ford prerunner from the ground up. Originally, it was an '80 four-wheel-drive Bronco, then the front clip from a '90 Bronco was grafted onto it. From this point, the truck was converted into a custom two-wheel-drive desert predator. The rollcage combines 4130 chrome-moly with TIG-welded joints to give a smooth look to the interior. A 4130 I-beam suspension system was fabricated up front. This was combined with a Tommy Lee power steering assembly. The rear suspension consists of a four-link suspension design complete with an antisway bar that was customized to fit under the flared stock rear fenders. Two King shocks - one coil and one position-sensitive - were allocated to each wheel. When the front of the Bronco was finished, it had a total of 18 inches of travel and in the rear a total of 24 inches. A Ford 9-inch rearend was put in place of the stock rearend, and this stallion was on its way.

When Mike stripped the truck, he sent the engine to his builder at Rev Power. They turned the stock 351 Cleveland into a 420hp 410. The revamped powerplant would now be carbureted by a Holley 750 and connected to an Edelbrock intake manifold, while the custom UMP air cleaner and induction system were used. Of course, custom headers were built specifically for this truck and attached to the Flowmaster exhaust, which exits in front of the rear tires. The newfound power was bolted to a Mogi C6 transmission. Once installed, this truck was ready to rock.

Stopping on a dime is no problem for this fast Ford. The Bronco uses Wilwood four-wheel disc brakes. The pedals and master cylinder are from CNC. Mounted on the dash is a front-to-rear brake bias adjuster. With just a turn of a knob, the driver can adjust the brakes to work more in the front or rear. The high-quality brake components get extra stopping power from a Hydro boost system.

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