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The Hands of Adversity

Driver Side View
Gary Blount | Writer
Posted February 16, 2006

Finish and Fitment of the Homegrown Bronco

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What is living? Being a functional being in society is what's expected of an individual, but working to sustain an existence is only one part of all the elements needed to support life. Things that develop passion are essential in character development, and character is what keeps us from being emotionally stagnant. An identity that is your own is formed from your characteristics. The things that you like or dislike will pave the way to your identity, and your identity will set you on a path to passion. Something you love to do, something that drives how hard you work, what you argue over, and what you brag about may seem relatively insignificant, but it paints the picture of who you are. For some, this identity comes in the form of off-roading.

In the Feb. '05 issue of OFF-ROAD, we started a journey with Frank Sperling who set out to revamp the mojo of his '67 Bronco. This first segment entailed fitting an old frame with a new suspension, powdercoating, and assembly of a rolling chassis. The second part in that series ran in April '05 and entailed cleaning, prepping, and painting the tub and all of the refreshed parts. We had every intention of running the final segment shortly after to conclude our Bronco coverage, but little did we know what the hands of adversity would dish out over these last few months.

With all his attention drawn to the Bronco, Franko (Frank + Bronco = Franko) strived to finish his Blue Oval so we could capture its debut with the camera's eye. We gathered up our gear, loaded up our rigs, and headed out to see the miles of rolling fine granules known as the Imperial Sand Dunes. The cold air blew through our jackets as the wide-open Hedman headers put to rest the tranquility of that early Saturday morning, yet there was something amiss. Franko tapped on the glass of the oil pressure gauge, paused for a moment, then nodded and crept off to allow the engine to heat-soak a bit before finding out what his revamped Bronco could do.

The throttle on the Bronco came back to an idle, and once again Franko tapped the oil pressure gauge. It was then that we knew something was wrong; he threw up his hands and shut the motor off. The engine was making 25 psi of oil pressure when we left camp, and now it was making less than 15 psi. In sheer disappointment, Franko towed his new toy home. It seems that sand (imagine that) somehow got into the engine and destroyed every sealing surface beyond reconditioning. Need we mention that this engine had been to Glamis sand dunes a number of times over the past nine years and had seen better days? This time, a call was made to Summit Racing for TrickFlow heads, an SVO block, JE Pistons, Comp Cams, and a plethora of other awesome parts to match a 570hp build that hit the June '05 pages of Sport Truck, and yes, that little stroker combo is impressive!

We had previously mentioned to Franko that the clean little pony looked odd with huge square holes where the doors were, and that some door inserts would bring a good finish to his build. Not two weeks went by and we received an e-mail from our old friend showing sanding and smoothing of a seamless Bronco body from tip to tip. He had the fenders, door inserts, and rear fender flares fused and smoothed for what was truly a killer look. Now some might say that a true off-road vehicle doesn't care about paint and body because it's just going to get destroyed anyway. We've also heard the argument that running around with a winch cable and hook in your hand isn't off-roading either. Of course, there's also, "If it's not doing 100 mph through the desert, it's not real off-roading." We've heard just about enough sniveling over what is and what isn't off-roading. The truth is, if it's not on-road, it's off-road.

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