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1990 Ford Bronco - Bronco a la Shane

Rock Crawling
Kevin Blumer | Writer
Posted January 11, 2011

Finding Ghost Towns, Mines, And Adventure...In Rapid Succession

You are not what you own. At the same time, what you own is often an outward expression of who you are. Poway, California's Shane Casad is an adventurer and has a '90 fullsize Ford Bronco to match.

"I had a Jeep Cherokee," Shane said. "It worked well, and I took good care of it. The way things have gone for me, whenever I've had a reliable vehicle and I've sold it for something else, I've run into trouble with the new vehicle. I call it 'messing with success.'"

Despite the good run he'd had with the Cherokee, Shane decided to tempt fate anyway. "I decided I wanted something bigger with more interior space. I wanted to be able to sleep inside. I felt like the Bronco would be a solid vehicle and would be perfect for what I like to do," he told us.

Shane's "messing with success" paradigm played out the way he'd feared, as the Bronco needed a new engine not too long after he got the keys. Was it worth it? Even with the hassles, Shane's answer is a resounding "yes."

As mentioned, Shane likes to explore. "I can't stand just sitting in one place," he said. "If a trail has a tough section, that's cool with me, but I'm not one to spend a whole afternoon trying a single set of obstacles. I like to go places." At the top of the "places" list is the Mojave National Preserve, followed closely by Death Valley, the "Old Dale" mining district next to Joshua Tree National Park, and Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Our photo shoot took place during an adventure that threaded its way high up into the Inyo Mountains and down into Death Valley.

This Bronco was built just right for its intended purpose. Many trail-style fullsize Broncos end up with a solid axle up front. Many prerunner-style Broncos end up with girthy track widths. Shane's Bronco has neither. Instead, he's got long-travel front Twin Traction Beam suspension that's still stock width. Why stay stock width? Lonely dirt roads get narrow from time to time, and errant brush always encroaches from the trail's edge. The rear suspension's got a similar story. The stock 8.8 rearend was fitted with 4.56 gears and a Detroit Locker, and sits under a pair of long-travel Deaver leaf springs. All four corners are damped by Bilstein shocks.

The build doesn't end with the suspension. The interior is also part of the master plan. For now, it's largely stock, and that means it's versatile. When the cargo space is cleared there's enough room for sleeping in the back. Nothing beats a fullsize fold-down tailgate when it's time for trailside cooking. There's probably a full rollcage in the future, but it needs to be built in a way that minimally impacts the overall utility. What will that look like? We're as curious as you are.

If you like exploring in a fullsize, it's tough to beat a Bronco for value and function. If you need a rig that can creep along in low range as well as blister the backroads, check out the way Shane built his. If you see Shane in the dirt, you'll have only one problem: trying to keep up.


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