Old Horse, New Gallop
Since the introduction of the Bronco in 1966 the 4x4 stallion has undergone a host of changes and configurations, some of which were good; others, not so much. One modification that got many wild horse gurus talking was the switch in 1980 from the solid front axle to the TTB (twin traction beam) front suspension. The TTB front suspension still utilized a Dana 44 differential, but the then-new independent beams were said to increase the suspension travel and ride quality of the fullsize Ford. While these claims sounded great to your average consumer, for the Bronco purist the complicated IFS in disguise was another step away from the Bronco’s hardcore heritage. Luckily, the TTB Bronco turned out to have more potential than was first thought and eventually gained huge popularity in the high-speed and long-travel world of desert racing.
In the decade since the last fullsize Bronco rolled off the assembly line, both the TTB and solid-axle Bronco platforms have become extremely popular wheeling machines for hardcore thrashers and light weekend wheelers. This is partly due to the fact that many of these old horses can be picked up and modified on the cheap. Take our ’88 Ford Bronco for example. Powered by a torquey 300ci inline-six, mated to a C-6 transmission and a BW1356 transfer case, the TTB Bronco has the makings of a great low-budget wheeler with plenty of room for the family and gear.
Since years of use had taken its toll on the truck’s factory suspension, the decision to upgrade to a better setup was easy. After looking around at the vast aftermarket options we decided on a 6-inch Skyjacker suspension and 35-inch Pro Comp Xtreme Mud Terrain tires. And before you Bronco nuts go crazy and write in to let us know how you can stuff 40s on a fullsize Bronco just by cutting the fenders, know that while inexpensive, this aging Bronco wasn’t quite ready for the hardcore Sawzall treatment.
To install the kit, we enlisted the help of the installation pros at 4Wheel Parts in Raleigh, North Carolina. We’ve been using the Raleigh location for some time now and have had great experiences with 4Wheel’s knowledgeable and helpful crew. One of the best parts about getting work done at 4Wheel is they have locations across American that can service our 4x4 if and when we test the rig a little beyond its limits.
The right tools can make even the toughest job go quickly. Given the amount of rivet removal, cutting, drilling, and general disassembly, installing this 6-inch suspension system in your driveway will most certainly require a more evolved tool set. The 4Wheel Parts crew knocked out the install in great time, but we’d expect to spend a solid weekend installing the kit in our driveway. Using a torch and an air hammer makes removing rivets easy. If you don’t have access to these, you can always grind the rivet heads off or drill and punch them out.
To make sure our Bronco has a sure foot out on the trail, we have equipped it with a set of 15x8 Pro Comp 1028 wheels and wrapped them in 35x12.50 Pro Comp Xtreme Mud Terrains. We’ve had excellent luck and performance with the meaty Xtreme M/Ts over the years. Given the Southeast’s mud-soaked and rocky trails, the lightweight and aggressive tire and wheel combo was the perfect choice for this old horse.