When we finally met up with Chris Towry at Katemcy Rocks, Texas, to do some four-wheeling, we'd already heard a lot about his custom-built '72 Bronco Sport. What we didn't know was that this was his third Bronco project vehicle. Chris originally started out with a very nice '76 EB that eventually got so banged up running trails with the Lone Star Early Bronco club that he decided to build a trail rig that would hold up to the kind of 'wheeling he enjoys most - rockcrawling.
So, Chris bid farewell to the '76 and picked up a vintage '70 Bronco. He knew he wanted a Dana 60 up front, so he contacted Tim Haight at Bronco Alley to see if he'd build it. Well, it wasn't long before Tim was trying to convince Chris to narrow his Bronco; Tim had already narrowed his own rig and liked the way it performed on the trail. Chris went out to California to take a look at the narrowed '72 Sport and wound up buying it.
Fortunately, the rig was pretty much driveable when he bought it in December 2001, minus the front axle and the front suspension links. It had been narrowed 7 inches at the body and 13 inches at the grille, and the wheelbase was stretched from the stock 92 inches to 99 inches. This unique setup also does away with the typical fenders that are so notable on the Bronco, and incorporates a "humpless" look. According to Chris, this modification makes a huge difference on the trail as far as clearance and visibility go. For added clearance, he also had the rear corners shaved.
With the help of local Bronco expert Lee Novikoff, Chris started in on the rest of the project. The sturdy Ford 9-inch was retained in back and outfitted with a Detroit Locker, 5.13 gears, and 35-spline full-floating axles with disc brakes. Up front, a Dana 60 complete with Wilwood disc brakes replaced the smaller Dana 44.
Squeezed into the narrowed body is a '91 5.0L Mustang engine that is joined by a custom Ron Davis aluminum radiator with shrouded electric fans. Dual batteries were moved out of the engine compartment and placed under the passenger seat. Feeding the 5.0L is a custom stainless-steel fuel tank with an internal fuel pump. Transferring power to the wheels is a 700R4 automatic transmission backed up by an Atlas transfer case. Braking power is provided by a Ford F-150 gearbox with hydraulic assist by Tom Lee, and a hydro boost pump with individual pedals for the brake steering system. Sitting at the corners are 38x15.5-inch Swamper radials mounted on 15x10-inch Champion bead locks.
With the addition of a custom four-link suspension with King coilovers, custom front and rear bumpers, and a very cool toolbox built into the floor on the passenger side, this impressive little Bronco was ready to hit the trails. Chris' first test was in Moab, where the Bronco lived up to all his expectations. Barney, as Chris' friends have affectionately named the purple Sport, is perfectly at home among the granite boulders that Chris likes to play on, and it has seen heavy action in Clayton, Katemcy Rocks, and Cibolo Creek, all names that are synonymous with rockcrawling.
|Vehicle:||’72 Bronco Sport|
|Engine:||’91 5.0L Mustang V-8|
|Frontend:||Dana 60, Detroit Locker|
|Rearend:||Ford 9-inch, |
|Suspension:||Custom four-link, |
|Wheels/tires:||15x10-inch Champion |