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1977 Ford Bronco - From Show Pony To Trail Hoss

Posted in Features on January 1, 2010
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Photographers: Bill Moore

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.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow


Vehicle: 1977 Ford Bronco
Owner: Bill Moore
Hometown: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Engine: 302 V-8
Induction: Old-school carburetor
Transmission: C-4 Automatic w/ Trans-Go shift kit
Transfer case: Dana 20 with twin-stick shifter and Tera Low 3.15-to-1 low range gear set
Front end: Dana 44
Rear end: Ford 9-inch
Ring and Pinion: 4.88
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: Spool
Front Suspension: CAGE Off-Road extended radius arms, CAGE 3.5-inch-lift coils and shocks
Rear Suspension: Wild Horses 3.5-inch-lift leaf packs, CAGE shocks
Tires: 37-inch Goodyear MT/R
Wheels: MRW beadlock

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