This Bronco Don’t Buck
It must have been three years ago when my friend Jake Povey showed me a photo of a fullsize Bronco being hucked through the air. Photos usually make jumps look smaller, and this looked huge. The usual gamut of questions followed: Whose Bronco is that? Do you know him? Does he live around here? Is it feature worthy? The answers to all of my questions came from Twisted Metal Works in Reno, Nevada, where Ryan Brown has worked as a fabricator for the last nine years.
To end up with a vehicle this nice you either need deep pockets or mad skills. The days of getting a home equity loan and buying a six-figure prerunner are a distant memory, so Ryan had to build his ‘91 Bronco the old fashioned way. In fact, he is so meticulous and it took him so long to complete his labor of love that I started to wonder if the Bronc Ness Monster really existed, or if that original photo I had seen was just a Photoshopped ruse. Looking up “Ryan Brown Bronco” on Snopes didn’t yield any results, and one day I finally got a phone call from Ryan. “The Bronco is ready” was all he said. After many long nights at Twisted Metal Works it was finally ready for the camera.
When I hopped in to the Bronco to scout out photo locations Ryan already had his five-point harnesses cinched down, so I knew he was ready for business. I secured my camera bag to the third MasterCraft 3G seat in the back and then tightened my own Crow harnesses as the 351W roared to life. The sweet “clack, clack” of bypass tubes filled my ears as we floated over whoops like they weren’t even there. The test loop we were on is like Ryan’s backyard; he tunes his shocks here and knows every turn. Ryan stomped the gas and hucked the truck through the air, just like in that blurry photo I had seen years before. “Mind letting me out and doing that again?” I asked into the PCI headset. Ryan obliged, and we had ourselves a feature shot!
The Bronco is a perfect example of what you can achieve with some hard work on an average guy’s budget. The factory 351W was left relatively stock for reliability, and feeds power to an E40D that Ryan rows with an Art Carr shifter. From there the factory BW1356 transfer case splits power to the Dana 44 Twin Traction Beam (TTB) front end and swapped in rear Ford 9-inch. The front uses Ryan-built 4.5-inch extended beams filled with CTM chromoly axles, an open differential, and 4.88 gears while the rear has been fortified with Schreiner Enterprises full floating hubs and 35-spline axle shafts connected to a Detroit Locker and 4.86 gears. Lubelocker gaskets front and rear make for easy maintenance, and Ryan laid down miles of TIG welds on both housings to add enough trussing to ensure that they never bend when the 35-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/As return from orbit. The tires are steered by a complete Lee Manufacturing steering system that includes a reworked Ford box, custom stroke ram, and modified Saginaw pump plumbed with hydraulic lines sourced right down the street from Twisted Metal Works at Reno Hydraulic and Rebuild.