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1972 Ford Bronco - Horse Of A Different Color

Posted in Features on May 1, 2008 Comment (0)
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We respect people who strive to make their vehicles unique: Those who set trends and are not afraid to step out of the box. Although we have seen plenty of innovative Toyota pickups and Suzuki Samurais, not just anyone would enact the above formula to an expensive classic. The fear of depreciation did not stop Neil Schuit and his son, Nate, from applying their distinctive touch, which they call SchuitOverBuilt (SOB), to this '72 Ford Bronco. The changes did not happen overnight. This Bronco has been in the family for 13 years and was Nate's first vehicle in high school. The Bronco was even sold twice during that time, only to find its way back to the Schuits' driveway.

The engine under the hood is a rather common 5.0L V8 from an '89 F-150 fitted with Mustang shorty headers and a harness and ECU from a '91 Lincoln. The engine is fed by a stock Ford fuel pump that is plumbed to the custom SOB fuel cell that sits between the rear framerails. Although the motor is common, almost everything else in front of the firewall is a departure from the norm. The bulky factory inner fenders were rusting away, so the Schuits simply cut them out and replaced them with new 16-gauge sheetmetal.

The repositioned inner fenders allow fitment of a transmission cooler and Optima RedTop battery on the passenger side while an air manifold connected to the Sanderson belt-driven compressor resides on the opposite fender in front of the master cylinder and brake booster. The brake assembly itself is unique, sitting parallel to the framerails instead of at the 45-degree angle common to early Broncos. The Schuits repositioned the booster and master cylinder to the original clutch assembly location. The clutch pedal was then welded to the brake pedal which shares the same pivot point on the firewall.

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0805 4wd 07 z+1972 ford bronco+wheel well
With recently completed paint and bodywork, Neil Schuit is doing his best to ensure that all of the body panels stay straight With recently completed paint and bodywork, Neil Schuit is doing his best to ensure that all of the body panels stay straight
A Toyota steering box is used in conjunction with a Chief 2-inch bore, 8-inch stroke hydraulic ram, and a Saginaw pump. These components turn a 1.5-inch, 0.250-wall drag link and tie rod fitted with 3/4-inch Aurora rod ends. A Toyota steering box is used in conjunction with a Chief 2-inch bore, 8-inch stroke hydraulic ram, and a Saginaw pump. These components turn a 1.5-inch, 0.250-wall drag link and tie rod fitted with 3/4-inch Aurora rod ends.

This was made possible when the stock three-speed manual transmission was replaced with a bulletproof C6. The only issue the Schuits have had is keeping the automatic transmission cool at crawling speeds when traversing the trails around their home of Tijeras, New Mexico. To resolve this issue, a B&M tranny cooler was placed under the hood with a dedicated electric fan and used in conjunction with dual Moroso aluminum coolers mounted along the frame. The C6 routes power to an equally stout NP205 transfer case with custom SOB Heim-joint-equipped twin-stick shifters. The only flaw in this huge gear-driven, cast-iron case is the paltry 1.96:1 Low range. This shortcoming was remedied with the installation of a Klune-V underdrive between the transmission and transfer case.

From there, the power is routed to full-width Dana axles fitted with 4.88 gears, ARB Air Lockers, and SOB diff guards. The front high-pinion Dana 44 uses Warn chrome-moly axleshafts and hubs. Out back, where you would expect to find a Ford 9-inch, there is a Dana 60 full-floater that uses 30-spline axleshafts to stand up to the abuse of 38x12.5-16.5LT Super Swamper TSL/SXs.

The tires are mounted on custom recentered 8-lug Hummer double-beadlock rims. Steering duties are handled by a Toyota steering column and box that work in conjunction with a Saginaw pump and Chief industrial hydraulic ram. Unlike most Saginaw boxes, the Toyota steering box mounts on the outside of the frame to allow more room in the engine bay.

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The stock Sanderson A/C compressor has been converted to onboard air. Air is routed to a manifold with two pressure switches. The lower pressure (80 psi) is used to power the ARB Air Lockers, while the higher pressure (105 psi) is used to air up tires and power air tools. The stock Sanderson A/C compressor has been converted to onboard air. Air is routed to a manifold with two pressure switches. The lower pressure (80 psi) is used to power the ARB Air Lockers, while the higher pressure (105 psi) is used to air up tires and power air tools.
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To keep the Swampers in contact with the rocks, a custom coil suspension was designed front and rear using the same link length and geometry for simplicity. Both ends use a radius arm on one side and a single link on the other, with a Panhard bar at each end to control lateral movement. The links are constructed from 1.5-inch, 0.250-wall DOM tubing to resist bending in the rocks and are fitted with 3/4-inch Aurora rod ends. The link suspension works in conjunction with 5-inch Wild Horses coils and 14-inch travel Bilstein 5100 shocks.

The long-arm coil suspension provides plenty of articulation, requiring body modifications to clear the 38-inch-tall Swampers. Instead of body lift spacers, 3-inch raised body mounts were used along with generous fender trimming. The elder Schuit cut the fenders for more clearance and then added 1/2-inch solid rod along the new seam for a finished look. Nelvin's Collision Repair of Moriarty, New Mexico, finished the bodywork and sprayed the Matco Tool Box Blue paint. The interior has not yet been refinished to the same extent as the exterior, but that is not keeping the Schuits off the trail. The basic interior features bucket seats from a Honda Accord, shifters for the C6, Klune-V, and NP205, and a host of Auto Meter gauges in a panel beneath the dash.

A custom SOB cage fabricated from 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall HREW tubing was designed to keep the occupants safe on the trail. More SOB handiwork can be found in the armor that covers the Bronco from front to back. The front bumper was constructed from 2x4, 0.125-wall box tubing and houses a Ramsey REP8000 winch. The bumper is angled at the ends for improved approach angle and doubles as an air tank.

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This Bronco was originally equipped with a manual transmission. The clutch and brake pedals swing on the same pivot point, so they were welded together when the brake booster and master cylinder were offset to the original clutch location. This Bronco was originally equipped with a manual transmission. The clutch and brake pedals swing on the same pivot point, so they were welded together when the brake booster and master cylinder were offset to the original clutch location.
The front axle is a full-width high-pinion Dana 44 out of an '84 F-250. The axle has been fitted with 4.88 gears, an ARB Air Locker, an SOB rock ring, and Warn hubs and chrome-moly axleshafts to stand up to the abuse of 38-inch Super Swampers. The front axle is a full-width high-pinion Dana 44 out of an '84 F-250. The axle has been fitted with 4.88 gears, an ARB Air Locker, an SOB rock ring, and Warn hubs and chrome-moly axleshafts to stand up to the abuse of 38-inch Super Swampers.
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The sliders are 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall HREW tubing skinned with 1/4-inch cold-rolled steel and tie into the frame and the heavily trimmed rocker panels. The rear bumper was constructed out of the same materials as the front bumper and wraps around the rear corners for added protection.

The Schuits' Bronco shows that if you want to be a big dog, you can't just follow the sheep. From the steering to the tube work to the engine bay, this Bronco stands out from the crowd. And using parts like the Sanderson air compressor and Toyota steering column demonstrate that you don't have to spend a fortune to be different, you just have to be willing to take a few risks. After all, isn't that what our hobby is all about?

SPECIFICATIONS
Year/Make/Model: '72 {{{Ford Bronco}}}
Owner/Hometown: Neil Schuit, Tijeras,
New Mexico
Type: {{{Ford}}} 5.0L
Displacement (l.): 5.0
Horsepower (est.): {{{200}}}
Torque (est.): 275
Aspiration: Factory EFI with
Speed Density
Transmission: C6
Transfer Case: Klune-V to NP205
Suspension, Front: Custom radius arms
with Wild Horses coils
and Bilstein shocks
Suspension, Rear: Custom radius arms
with Wild Horses coils
and Bilstein shocks
Front Axle: Dana 44 with ARB
Air Locker
Rear Axle: Dana 60 with ARB
Air Locker
Ring-and-Pinion: 4.88
Wheels: 16.5x8.5 Custom
Recentered {{{Hummer}}}
Beadlocks
Tires: 38x12.5-16.5LT Super
Swamper TSL/SXs
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