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1990 Ford Bronco - Bronco a la Shane

Posted in Features on January 11, 2011 Comment (0)
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1990 Ford Bronco - Bronco a la Shane

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."

It's not too tall, and it's not too wide. Even the white paint, which doesn't easily show scratches, is perfectly tailored for exploring ghost towns and brushy backroads.

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.

Although well-graded, the "Yellow Grade" road up to Cerro Gordo ghost town is very steep. Shifting into four-low is a smart move because the gear reduction makes the grade easier on the engine and transmission. On the descent, low range is easier on the brakes. The "Yellow Grade" road (AKA Cerro Gordo Road) was once the only way into and out of Cerro Gordo. Millions of dollars' worth of silver and lead bullion were trekked down this winding route. The road is maintained by Inyo County and is open to the public. There's private land on both sides of the road.

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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SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle: 1990 Ford Bronco
Owner/Hometown: Shane Casad/Poway, CA
Engine: 5.8L (351ci) Ford Windsor V-8
Induction: Stock EFI with K&N filter and intake tube
Transmission: Ford E4OD
Transfer case: Borg-Warner 1356
Front end: Dana 44 Twin Traction Beams
Rear end: Stock Ford 8.8
Ring and Pinion: 4.56 Superior
Front Differential: Eaton Performance Detroit True-Trac
Rear Differential: Eaton Performance Detroit Locker
Rear driveshaft: Custom-built by East County Drive Shaft
using 1350-series U-joints. This rear
driveshaft is capable of greater operating
angles than the stock model, making it
possible to achieve 18 inches of rear
wheel travel with the stock wheelbase.
Front Suspension: Stock Traction Beams, Rancho Twin
Traction Beam dropped pivot brackets,
Southwest Performance radius arms,
Bilstein 9300 Series coilovers with
Bilstein Blackhawk reservoirs, Bilstein
bumpstops, ORW limit straps.
Wheel travel: 18 inches
Rear Suspension: Deaver leaf packs with Baja Bushings,
Southwest Performance shackles,
Southwest Performance shock-mounting
crossmember, 12-inch stroke short-body
Bilstein 9100 Series bypass shocks with
custom valving and custom bypass tube
placement for the fullsize Bronco.
Wheel travel: 18 inches
Tires: 315/75R16 (35-inch) BFG All-Terrain T/A
Wheels/Backspacing: 16x8 Pro Comp Series 1028 simulated beadlocks/4.5 inches

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