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1994 Ford Bronco 4x4 Truck - V FOR Versatility

Posted in Features on September 15, 2006 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Brad Crowder

What if you only had one truck? What if that truck had to do it all: commuting, camping, prerunning, and trail riding? What if you didn't have a ton of cash to spend to purchase that truck? If this list of what-ifs describes your situation, we think you should take a good, hard look at an '80-'96 fullsize Ford Bronco.

Even in humble stock trim, the Bronco has a lot to offer. Built on a strong body-on-frame platform, the Bronco has room for five people and cargo space for plenty of gear. The removable hardtop offers occupants shelter from the elements and lockable storage space. Engine choices are solid and proven: Ford's 300ci inline-six, the 302 V8, and the 351 Windsor V8. Transmission choices include the heavy-duty C6 three-speed, the four-speed AOD, and finally, the electronically controlled E4OD four-speed. The Borg-Warner 1356 T-case remained in place throughout the Bronco's 16-year production span. Rear axles include the legendary Ford 9-inch and Ford's 8.8. The Twin-Traction Beam front suspension combines the ruggedness of a solid axle with the superior ride quality of IFS. A high-pinion Dana 44 third member bolts into place on the driver-side traction beam. There's a lot to like.

Lee Hayes wanted a do-it-all truck when he had the opportunity to go prerunning in Baja with famous fast guy, Curt LeDuc. "I had a different truck in mind, but after riding in Curt's Bronco I decided that that was the way to go," Lee offers. "Curt gave me a price and said that he'd have the work done in 90 days. That was all it took."

Lee rounded up a '94 Bronco from a private party, made the purchase, and delivered his new prize to Curt's shop, California Pre-Fun. Ninety days and some cash later, Lee's new Bronco was transformed into the off-road equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. California Pre-Fun's transformation included front and rear long-travel coilover suspensions, a full bumper-to-bumper rollcage, a trio of MasterCraft PreRun seats, and a full-floating Sandy Cone Ford 9-inch rearend. The Dana 44 third member up front was fitted with 4.88 gears and a limited-slip differential, while the 9-inch's Strange nodular-iron third member got a matching ring-and-pinion ratio, forty-spline axleshafts, and a spool.

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The buildup finished off with a color transformation via the talents of George Reiss. Reiss used ultra-tough white and silver hues of Endura epoxy paint. DuPont Kevlar graphics run along the border between the Endura white and silver.

This truck gets driven - hard. "Each year, I go prerunning with Curt for the Baja 1000. We do three preruns. The first is to travel the route and familiarize ourselves with the course in general. The second time, we check out the course and decide which lines are the best. The third and final time, we run the course using the lines we've settled on for race day," Hayes reports.

Between Baja trips, the Bronco does frequent weekend duty at the Ocotillo Wells OHV area and as a chase truck for Fabtech's 1450-class Toyota built and driven by Shawn Giordano.

Lee Hayes works as hard as he plays. He owns A&L Litho, a printing business based in Escondido, California. The company offers prepress services, printing presses for any-size job, and binding and finishing services once the printing is done. Owning a business is not a "spare time" hobby. Business ownership typically requires beyond-overtime hours, cash flow for paying bills, and skilled customer service. What's the reward? "I own my own business so that I can make enough money to go play in the desert."

After crawling under, over, and riding in this off-road multitool, the Bronco's popularity rang loud and clear in our craniums. We gobbled up nasty whoops, sliced through the sand, and generally did our best to defy friction and gravity, and we did it all while the audio system pelted our ears and the air conditioner kept us cool. If you need one truck that can do it all, check out a Bronco. It's one of the most versatile off-road trucks ever made.

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