An Immaculate Red Bronco
David Kaffka has always believed that real four-wheel rigs are built, not bought. He also believes that when you hit the trail, your rig should look as good as it performs. That being said, we couldn't help but take notice of his bright-red Bronco when we ran into him on the Rubicon. From its humble assembly-line beginnings in 1970, this classic equestrian is anything but stock. David's vintage rig looked more like it just rolled out of the we-build-trick-rigs plant. We'll just say that it sent us back to the first day out with our own pride and joy, the days before dents, rust, and oil leaks. This bucking Bronco is immaculate and detailed from the tailpipe to air cleaner, and we thought you'd want to check it out, too.
Knowing that a reliable rig needs a reliable mill, the original 302 V-8 was completely overhauled and fit with OEM components. To enhance low-end torque and overall horsepower, rockers are now motivated by a Ford Motorsports RV cam, while an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold distributes fuel from an Autolite 2100 four-barrel carburetor and K&N air filter. A four-core aluminum radiator keeps things in an acceptable temperature range, and spent gases exit smoothly via a set of Hooker headers and dual Hooker mufflers. A 12-circuit wiring harness from Painless Wiring maintains continuity between electrical components, and a pair of Optima Red Top batteries brings everything to life. Before installation, the inner fenderwells were permanently removed and the engine compartment was painted to match the exterior.
Not being a slush box kind of guy, David needed to enhance Low-range gearing while keeping a manual in place, and the solution came from Advance Adapters. The original three-on-the-tree was tossed out and replaced with the cogs of an NP435 tranny four-speed and Centerforce clutch. The original Dana 20 transfer case was also rebuilt and dropped in place.
Since reliability and availability of spare parts are important, the axles were lifted off a late-'70s F-150, and after a few modifications, were installed at full width. The front high-pinion Dana 44 was fit with a Detroit Locker, 4.56 gears, and disc brakes. Out back, the 9-inch donor axle received a Currie high-pinion differential, also with a Detroit Locker, 4.56s, and the original 31-spline axles.
David approached the suspension with hard-core 'wheeling and articulation in mind. Built on the OEM boxed frame, a three-link system fabricated from 1-1/2-inch 4130 chrome-moly controls front-axle placement. To further enhance strength, the lower arms were sleeved with scheduled 80 pipe. Lateral positioning is managed via a chrome-moly track bar, and the entire ensemble is mounted with Johnny Joints and Teflon-lined rod ends. Levitation is accomplished via 5-1/2-inch Wild Horses coil springs, while damping duties are left to a pair of 13-1/2-inch Rancho 9000 shocks. The rear setup also incorporates a three-link system, with sleeved lower links and a differential-mounted wishbone center-link. Where the Bronco's suspension differs is in the implementation of super-flexy National leaf springs mounted on dual shackles and a buggy leaf. To limit binding at the shackles during extreme articulation, the leaf springs attach to the axle with articulating swivel mounts.