Paul Herman likes going fast when he's not at a crawl. You may find him competing in tough truck events or down running on the Baja peninsula, or somewhere between there and the Rubicon winding his way over a rocky trail. As such, this rig was built to perform in several environments.
What you see here is a very custom '72 Bronco that has evolved over many years of upgrades and refinement. Paul and his brother George started wheeling together back in 1980 as fresh transplants to Arizona from Santa Cruz. Mom's '79 Scout served as their gateway to some desert exploring. With this small taste of wheeling, they were hooked, and a long string of 4WD vehicles followed.
After watching the building of the Crazy Horse Bronco on the Trucks! television show, Paul knew he wanted to build a vintage Bronco and set out planning his goal. A short time later, he bought a near-stock, clean '72 and the project began.
Churning big tires through the sand requires a lot of horsepower, and this pony gets about 400 horses from a healthy, stroked 392 V-8. Troy Clark at Modern Auto Repair in Phoenix assembled a go-fast package with tons of torque.
He started with an early-'70s 351W block that was fully reconditioned then fitted with a Scat 4340 forged crankshaft and H-Beam rods to move Mahle forged pistons. Competition Cams roller components handle all the valve movement chores that take place under Airflow Research 185 aluminum heads.
Fuel induction is handled through an Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap manifold fed with a Holley Truck Avenger 650-cfm carb. Twin Holley electric pumps keep the 32-gallon fuel supply steady, and an MSD distributor and ignition components bring fire to the party.
Behind the flywheel, Off-Road Unlimited installed an NV4500 five-speed tranny that powers an Atlas II 4:1-ratio transfer case. This combination provides low gears for the slow stuff and a wide enough set of cogs for rapid-pace play.
After splitting a front Dana 44 in half at a Tough Truck event a few years ago, Paul dropped some coin for a custom Currie 9-inch centersection with thick-walled tubing, Dana 60 knuckles, and 35-spline alloy axles throughout. Out back is a Dana 60 with Wilwood discs and the same 35-spline treatment. Both axles use 4.86 gears, and ARB Air Lockers provide ultimate traction.
A factory power-steering box is supplemented with a hydro-assist ram to keep arm pump down after a long day on the trail. Walker Evans beadlocks are wrapped with 37-inch BFG Krawlers to complete a sturdy drivetrain for its many uses.
Take a peek under the sheetmetal on this rig and you'll drool over some super-sano fabrication done by Rob Bonney at Four Wheelers Supply. The Bronco has a front four-link using James Duff components combined with Rob's work to accommodate King coilovers and King triple-bypass remote-reservoir shocks to yield 14 inches of travel. Air bumps serve as backup to reduce bottoming when the truck comes down to earth a bit too quick.
The rear axle is controlled with a custom four-link using front and rear floating shackles and a pair of thick-but-flexy leaf packs. The tail gets a similar King shock assortment to keep power to the ground and tame the whoops.
The interior is functional yet simple. MasterCraft seats and five-point harnesses provide comfortable and secure seating for four. Everyone rides under a six-point rollcage that's tied into the frame, and there's space for a rear storage box, CO2 Power Tank, cooler, and spare tire. Also, the front shock-mount cage goes over the motor and through the firewall and ties into the cage/frame at multiple points.
Riding in Paul's Bronco, one quickly gains appreciation for the quality of the build on this rig. The engine turns the big tires with ease, and the Ford handles well on the highway. But then jump on the dirt, and the suspension soaks up the terrain effortlessly or negotiates rocks with flexy ease.
Although Paul continues to refine his rig, he may be close to being done... maybe. His goal in the next few years is to actually race in the Baja 1000 with his brother. Come trail or track, this Bronco was built for both.