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1967 Ford Bronco Sport/Utility Service Truck

Posted in Features on May 26, 2017
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For those of you not old enough to have experienced everyday car life in the 1960s, it was the day of the full-service gas station. You pulled up for gas and not only got your tank filled by a crew-cutted kid in a uniform, but also your front and rear glass were made spotless (often your mirrors and headlights as well). Plus, you got an underhood check and many times your tire pressures were updated. You didn’t lift a finger except to proffer the $5 needed to fill your tank with “the good stuff.”

Seems like there was a “Marty” at every gas station—a trustworthy guy with a red rag in his pocket who seemed to know it all and could fix anything on four wheels. If the pump-jockey saw a bad fan belt, Marty usually had time to slip on a new one for you. All the corner gas stations had service bays and that’s where you went to get maintenance work and most small repairs done. The station owner was often at his desk in the office and loved to chew the fat with his customer as they waited, tell tales of his World War II exploits and listen to some of yours. It was a friendly, slower-paced time with much more human interaction.

Is it 1967 or 2017? Don Peroni (right) recreates a vintage service call to aid a fellow Bronco owner, in this case played by Bobby Tennell and his 1966 U14 pickup. The 1960s was an era when cars and trucks, even good ones, commonly had troubles. Batteries and tires weren’t as good as today, points-type ignition systems could be unexpectedly troublesome, and carbureted engines could be flooded. Sometimes you had to walk a ways to find a phone booth, too.

When the Ford Bronco debuted for 1966, it helped speed the light four-wheel drive market evolution from primarily commercial to recreational. The 4x4 evolved into something that could be driven daily as a combination second car and recreational vehicle, but that didn’t end their commercial use. The Ford Bronco pickup made a great service truck for the typical corner station, especially in rural areas or snow country. It was compact but could unstick that Ford Galaxy in the snowbank with ease. It was burly enough to mount a light wrecker for bringing Marty the no-starts from the nearby neighborhoods. It had a big enough bed to make parts runs or haul the station trash. It was civilized enough to schlep customers home when they dropped their cars off. You could hang a snowplow on it and keep the station lot clear, and maybe earn a few extra bucks by plowing parking lots at night. The Bronco was a horse that could earn its keep in a variety of ways!

This 1967 U14 pickup was built as a plain Jane with few options. From the factory, it got a 289 V8, 4.11 gears with a rear limited-slip, heater, AM radio, and a hand throttle. To help it play the role of a service truck, Peroni added a few dealer-installed accessories including a Koenig 8,000 pound PTO winch, 16-inch rims with 7.50-16 Super Traxion bias ply mudders from Coker, a roof spotlight, a ball hitch, and a passenger side bed step. Plus the Nichols graphics. The Amoco logo was one seen from about 1970 to about 2002.

The Bronco you see here was built to celebrate the good old days of the neighborhood full-service gas station and one specific station in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania. In 1925, young Kenyon Nicholl opened what was at the time one of only four dedicated gas stations in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In those early days, drivers often bought their gas from a local hardware or general store, but Amoco was the company that innovated the drive through gas station. Kenyon jumped onto that bandwagon and stayed there for more than 50 years. That station finally closed in 1977 and Kenyon passed away in 1987 but it’s hard to find an old family in that small town with some member that didn’t work for Nicholls at some point. In his honor, Don and Drew Peroni built a tribute Bronco not only for Kenyon, but also for all those all-but-forgotten corner gas station operators from back in the day.

If you are wondering why a guy named Peroni is so involved with the Nicholl family, it’s because he married into it. Don married Kenyon’s daughter Luanne, who spent a fair bit of her youth in that station. Now she can relive those years by driving the service Bronco Don built for her. To answer the inevitable question, no, Kenyon never had a Bronco service truck, but this Harbor Blue halfcab represents what it might have looked like if he did. Don and his son Drew run a small Bronco restoration business out of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as making reproduction Bronco striping and decal kits. They are working word of mouth and staying low profile, but this restoration highlights their talents. You can track them down at the Classic Broncos forum (www.classicbroncos.com) using “Broncitis.”

A single 14.5-gallon tank, the base painted bumpers, a bed mounted spare all indicate a basic trim-level Bronco. The pickup bulkhead was bolted in, but with the cab top, could be removed to make a wagon or a roadster. This Bronco started off as a U14 pickup. These “U-Numbers” were Ford’s internal designation for the different variations and U13 designated an open-top roadster and U15 a station wagon with a full-length top. The 1967 model year was when the popular Sport Bronco package debuted and the U14 could have had it. It included an Argent (dull silver) grille, chrome bumpers, bumper guards, the “sport” emblem, bright trim around the windows, grille, lights, etc., vinyl door panels and armrests, a bit of bright trim inside, a headliner, pleated seat, and a lighter.

The 1966–77 Ford Bronco was a trendsetter and is one of the most coveted of all the collectible 4x4s. For many years, they were primarily a buildup gig—and a fantastic one—but now uncut Broncos are being restored to factory configuration. Few of them are restored to commercial splendor, making the Peroni Bronco even more fantastic to behold. It was shot at the annual Bronco Super Celebration that takes place in Townsend, Tennessee, usually in April (www.broncodriver.com/index.php/events/bronco-super-celebration).

The Details: 1967 Bronco U14 Sports/Utility Pickup

Owner: Luanne Peroni
Estimated value: $65,000
Engine: 289ci V8, 2-barrel
Power (hp): 200 @ 4,400 (gross)
Torque (lb-ft): 282 @ 2,400
Bore & stroke (in): 4.00 x 2.87
Comp. ratio: 9.3:1
Transmission: 3-speed, Ford, column shift
Transfer case: Dana 20, Ford spec.
Front axle: Dana 30
Rear axle: Ford 9-inch, 2,780 lbs rating
Axle ratio: 4.11:1 (std. 3.50:1
Tires: 7.50–16
Wheelbase (in): 93
GVW (lbs): 3,900
Curb weight (lbs): 3,285
Fuel capacity (gal): 14.5
Min. grd. clearance (in): 8.50
Approach angle (deg): 46
Departure angle (deg): 31.4

This is what a 1967 Bronco 289 engine compartment looked like on the showroom floor. The 289 ci 2-barrel was rated at 200 hp at 4,400 gross, which equated to 150 hp net. Similarly torque was advertised at 282 lbs-ft at 2,400 but was 242 lbs-ft net. That was potent power for a bobtail in those days. The Ford engine line had only recently gotten paper air filters but an old-style oil bath was optional for the Bronco. The Bronco 289 came standard with a 42 amp Autolite alternator standard, but a 55 amp unit was optional. The heavy duty cooling option got you a radiator with 13 fins-per-inch versus the standard 11. The 1967 model year is when Bronco got dual circuit brakes.
Plain and simple! Without the Sport option, you had standard metal door panels, no headliner, a rubber floor mat, the standard Parchment bench seat, and little else. This one was ordered with the optional AM radio and the Peronis added the optional dealer-installed chrome passenger grab bar.
The 8,000 lbs Koenig Iron Works PTO winch kit was a factory authorized, dealer-installed accessory that came painted in the Ford favorite Argent color. It was driven off a PTO adapter on the Dana 20 transfer case. The Ford V8 kit even had a Ford part number, C6TZ-19E536-C. It included all the mounting brackets, PTO, and PTO shaft. It weighed 200 pounds, so Ford recommended the optional heavy duty springs go with it. In the case of the V8, that would be the 1,000 lbs springs (capacity at pad), which equated to a 230 lbs/inch rate (vs the standard 205 lbs/in). The winch carried a generous 150 feet of 5/16-inch wire rope and included a roller fairlead. Ford allotted four hours for installation.
The Bronco version of the Dana Model 20 transfer case was a special order from Ford. The other version of the D20 at that time had a 2.0:1 low range while the Ford unit was 2.46:1. You can see here the Koenig PTO that replaced the transfer case pan.
The Bronco was the first 4x4 to field Dana’s new Model 30 front axle. When the Bronco was originally spec’d in 1964, it was planned to use a Dana 27 closed knuckle axle. When Ford got wind of the beefier Dana 30 shortly thereafter, they wanted in on that action. It’s said Ford was the major motivation behind the open knuckle design, which made it the first 4x4 to have it, and it delivered a much tighter turning radius. The open knuckle axle soon became the industry norm, but the Bronco had it first.

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