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This Custom 1974 Half-cab Bronco has Some Serious Kick

Posted in Features on January 13, 2017
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Sometimes trying to scratch the itch to have one’s dream ride get to the point where you lay all the chips on the table and dive in head first takes a little time. It took Mike Johnson nearly 20 years to finally make that move – and he has no regrets.

We wouldn’t either after seeing how the “rotisserie restoration” of his beloved ’74 half-cab Bronco, painted a brilliant Nissan Z Blue, turned out. This classic 4x4 is built for running the Oregon Dunes with a 425hp 408 Windsor stroker for power and a stretched cab for plenty of elbow room.

Running the sand also requires a lot of suspension, which Mike addressed with a Wild Horses’ Rock Crawler 5.5-inch 11-leaf rear springs and a matching BC Broncos coil suspension up front.

Restorations at this level are expensive and time-consuming undertakings. But Mike says he has no regrets: “It’s taken me a couple years to get it done and I have a much lighter wallet,” he said after we had spent the afternoon on the sand. “But I love the way it runs, drives, wheels and looks, and I’ll probably never want to change a thing. Well, maybe….” —DSOR

AT A GLANCE

GENERAL
Vehicle: ’74 Ford Bronco Halfcab
Owner: Mike Johnson
Stomping Grounds: Oregon Dunes
DRIVETRAIN
Engine: Ford TBI 408 Windsor
Transmission: C4
Transfer case: Dana 20/203 w/ doubler kit
Front axle/differential: ¾-ton Dana 44, 4.56 gears, double-trussed, F-150 disc brakes, ARB Air Locker, 31-spline axles, Warn hubs
Rear axle/differential: Ford 9-inch, 4.56 gears, ARB Air locker, Cadillac disc brakes, 31-spline axles
SUSPENSION
Front: 5.5-inch BC Bronco coils, Rancho shocks
Rear: 5.5-inch, 11-leaf Wild Horses Rock Crawler, Rancho shocks
Steering: Tilt Ididit column, 2wd F-150 steering box inside the frame with tie-rod over
TIRES/WHEELS
Tires: 37x14.5R15 Toyo Open Country MTs
Wheels: 15x10 American Racing
MISCELLANEOUS
Interior: Stretched fiberglass halfcab, custom upholstered Corbeau racing seats, polished aluminum tonneau cover
Cool stuff: 20-gallon stainless steel gas tank, stainless steel rocker boxes; enlarged wheel openings, 425hp full-roller crate motor

With 425 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque on call, Mike Johnson never has a problem powering up dunes. For traction he depends on ARB Air Lockers and 37x14.5 Toyo MTs rolling on American Racing 15”x10” wheels. The tonneau cover is polished aluminum.
The 408 Windsor stroker under the fiberglass hood of Mike’s ’74 is a crate motor that replaced the tired 351W had powered his Bronco for some 18 years prior. The stoutly built EFI powerplant makes 425hp and 455 lb-ft of torque.
Mike moved the rear cab wall back to the front of the rear wheelwells to give more legroom. Then he used an Auto Custom Carpets kit and heated Corbeau racing seats to finish off the custom interior.
A blank dash from BC Broncos provided the perfect palette for Mike to arrange the switches and Dolphin electronic gauges to suit his needs. He retained the Bronco’s original Ranger trim badge.
Wild Horses Dana 20/203 transfer case doubler kit lets Mike find the range he needs quickly and smoothly.
The underside of Mike’s rotisserie-restoration included spray-on bedliner on the body pan, stainless exhaust, and painting or powder coating all the other components.
Mike’s Bronco sports a high-pinion Ford 9-inch in the rear with an ARB Air Locker and 4.56 gears. Driveshaft is a custom Tom Woods’ long-travel to go with the halfcab’s Wild Horses’ Rock Crawler 11-leaf 5.5-inch suspension.
Standin’ tall. Custom stainless bumpers and nerf boxes, along with the modified wheel openings, help give Mike Johnson’s ’74 Bronco half-cab the look he’d been wanting for nearly two decades.

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