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1977 Ford Bronco - From Show Pony To Trail Hoss

Right Front Angle
Kevin Blumer | Writer
Posted January 1, 2010
Photographers: Bill Moore

A Bronco That Looks Good And Works Great

If you can't use it, why own it? We think most show vehicle owners ask themselves this question more often than they'd like to admit. Bill Moore, a fitness trainer from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, knows all about this dilemma.

This isn't the first time a Bill Moore-owned early Bronco has appeared in print. If you've got a stash of Off-Road Magazine issues, check out "Bronc-itis" from June 2006. Bill's last Bronco had real-world capabilities, but the depth of the restoration work meant that the "Bronc-itis" Bronco was a little too pristine for risking dents and scratches. This time around, Bill wanted something he could take into his local Pennsylvania woods and really use.

The Bronco on these pages was found in Texas, and it was already equipped with most of what Bill wanted-a perfect blank canvas. The '77 boasted front disc brakes, a 302 V-8, and a C-4 automatic transmission: sought-after factory features that many early Broncos lack. Even though aesthetics weren't the first priority, it's still clean and far from a rock-rash-infected trail beater.

Competent trail riding always calls for a suspension with superior control and articulation. As such, Bill went for a set of Cage Off-Road extended radius arms up front, which were combined with Cage coils and shocks. Out back, Wild Horses 4x4 leaf springs and Cage shocks fit the bill. Underneath it all, 37-inch Goodyear MT/R tires provide grip and ground clearance.

The powertrain plan was simple. Easy bolt-ons were the order of the day. The 302 still has the stock carburetor attached, but breathes through a K&N filter. The engine exhales through a set of Wild Horses ceramic-coated headers, but everything between the K&N filter and the Wild Horses headers is factory Ford. Downstream from the engine, the factory C-4 was given a Trans-Go shift kit, and the Dana 20 transfer case was upgraded with a twin-stick shifter and a TeraLow low-range kit. That's it.

There's a similar story in the axle department. Up front, the factory Dana 44 already had the disc brakes that '75-and-older Broncos lack. The factory '44 was fitted with 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker. The drum brakes were retained on the 9-inch rear, but a set of 4.88 gears, a spool, and a set of 31-spline axle shafts provide traction and durability superior to the OEM package.

There's more to tell, but we'll save that for the captions. Bill sums up his latest Bronco like this: "It looks good and performs great!" Yes, it's nice to have a show pony, but it's more fun to own a trail hoss.

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