In the January 2018 issue of Petersen’s 4WOR we introduced you to our infamous, former-magazine project 1969 Ford Bronco. In that article we talked about our general plan to transform the rig from a rusty and neglected rockcrawler into a very capable driver. In order to make that happen we have to tear into it to see what needs to be cleaned, rebuilt, replaced, or melted down into liquid form to be made into soup cans. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, and that’s the plan for this installment of our early Bronco build, the teardown.
All in all, the Bronco is in pretty good shape. A few holes in the floor, a couple rust spots, and a ton of surface rust on just about everything. Here’s hoping that taking things apart to make sure they are good doesn’t expose any horrible secrets hidden underneath what appears to be a fairly nice early Bronco.
Once we get a handle on what can be fixed and what is junk, we can assemble a list of parts that will complement what we still have and rebuild the old 1969 Bronco better than it was before. Follow along to see what we find as this Bronco goes down.
We started the teardown by rolling the nonrunning Bronco into our shop. We pulled the sun-faded urethane fender flares and started removing the front sheetmetal. We will definitely reuse the Protofab front bumper and see if the old Warn winch can be made like new again. The grille is in great shape, but the radiator core support is not.
Unfortunately the front fenders are both full of body filler. The hood is rusty and shows signs of a couple of dents and a little body filler, but we think it’s usable. Luckily, just about any body part for an early Bronco is available as a reproduction part. Our plan is to get a set of new fenders from LMC Truck and install them as things come back together.
With the front fender off, one thing became obvious. This Bronco has nothing left of the inner fenderwells. We aren’t sure what happened to them, but it looks like someone cut them out hastily. We plan on cleaning things up a bit and building some sort of runners to support the fenders and the radiator core support.
Due to its magazine heritage, this vehicle has some cool parts on it. For example, check out this ram-assist-tapped power steering box and James Duff box mount support. We will get these parts rebuilt and use them if at all possible to keep the vintage vibe alive.
Zooming in on the front of the Bronco’s tub gives us a glimpse of what we believe to be the original color. That muted green seems to be below all the other paint. It looks like the Bronco may have been white at some point too. Maybe we will try to go back to this factory green color. You can also see the jagged edges of someone’s trim job and what’s left of where the inner fenderwell mounted to the tub.
The back of the Bronco has had body armor on the driver-side rear corner. Craig Perronne, the former owner, told us that it was hiding some pretty bad body damage. We pulled the armor and were happily surprised to find less damage than we expected. That’s a plus. We think with a little judicial cutting, hammering, and maybe some new sheetmetal we can get this darn close to original shape.
With the tires off it’s a lot easier to get a look at the framerails, which seem to be in good shape, although not perfect. For one, there’s surface rust everywhere. It’s not a structural problem, but it is ugly and will take time to remove. There are several odd bits of steel welded to various parts of the frame and this hole that looks like it was torched into the side of the framerail No, Verne, that’s rust-through—Ed.. We don’t know why, but we will definitely fix that and remove the old bent shock mount and the random bits of steel.
Next, we started contemplating removal of the Ford 302 V-8 engine. Perronne told us long ago that the Bronco’s engine is very “tired,” and we’re betting that letting it sit for most of the past 16 years hasn’t done it any favors. Our plan is to look into rebuilding it or finding a Windsor-based small-block Ford with which to replace it. We pulled the Holley Truck Avenger carb and attached our engine removal plate so we could pull the engine with the engine hoist.
With the engine out of the way, cleaning up the Bronco’s frame and redoing the suspension with our James Duff components will be that much easier. More room will also help us gain access to the few areas of the Bronco’s floor that need attention.
We are not 100 percent sure what is going on here, but what you are looking at, behind the rollcage tie-in) is the seam just below the pedals of the driver-side floorboard. It looks like someone added a piece of metal and some body filler below the floor. It doesn’t look like the floor needs to be cut out and replaced, but we’ll do that if it needs it.
The floor looks pretty good. There is some sort of very abrasive roll-on bedliner that we hope we can restore or patch. The transmission tunnel cover is pretty torn up with different holes for different shifters, but the Bronco came with a new transmission tunnel cover so we should be able to cut this one out and add in the new parts. Otherwise the floor is in pretty good shape despite a few cracks and extra holes drilled in it.
Who is this guy? We don’t know, but he, along with the blue oval, adds character to our old Bronco. We’re glad to have him along for the ride as this project goes from neglected to awesome!