Built To Honor a Fallen Hero
RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina is really well known in the automotive industry for building and restoring some of the coolest vehicles around and this year, they are debuting a few vehicles at the RKM Collector Car Auction as well as the Charlotte International Auto Show. One of the vehicles they will be debuting is a 1991 Ford Bronco that was built to honor a fallen soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect his brothers in arms.
US Navy SEAL Chief Adam Brown’s story was chronicled in the New York Times bestselling book “FEARLESS,” by Eric Blehm. Chief Brown was killed in action in Komar Province, Afghanistan on March 17, 2010 while bravely serving his country. He died placing himself in the line of fire to protect his unit, an action that saved the lives of several of his men. The 12-year US Navy veteran was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his heroism. He is survived by his wife and two children.
“When I first heard of Chief Brown’s incredible bravery, I was moved by his sacrifice,” said Rob Kauffman, Owner and Chairman, RK Motors, LLC. “While his service as a Navy SEAL was admirable, his battle to overcome personal demons to reach the U.S. military’s top tier was inspiring. We felt compelled to help rebuild Chief Brown’s Bronco as a tribute to him and his family. It was just the right thing to do.”
Chief Brown’s wife bought the truck for him, which he loved driving around in. Although his overseas tours made it difficult to maintain, he loved getting behind the wheel of it. Chief Brown’s friends as well as a few sponsors came together to build the ultimate Bronco for his family as a symbol of Chief Brown’s life, and so Project Fearless began.
“The initial goal was to simply restore the truck,” said Darell Johnston, RK Fabrication and Team Leader for the Bronco Project. “But as we got to know the Brown family, their vision to make the truck something much greater, much like Chief Brown lived his life, took the build in a new direction. So we stripped it down to the frame and methodically began building the ultimate go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle. It’s a true reflection on the man we’re honoring.”
RK Motors began the renovation by yanking out the Bronco’s old tired V-8 engine to make room for a new 5.0L Coyote Aluminator engine that pumps out over 400 horsepower. A Rockland Star Transzilla T56 six-speed manual transmission mated to an NP241 GM transfer case with a slip yoke eliminator sends all the power to the wheels to get the Bronco moving faster than it ever did before. A Centerforce dual friction clutch ensures that none of the power is wasted. The Ford 8.8 rear features Yukon 31-spline differential while the Twin Traction Beam Dana 44 front was stuffed with a Detroit Locker with 4:56 gears.
The Bronco was lifted with a heavy duty BDS lift kit to get some decent ground clearance underneath. A set of Warn locking hubs replaced the Bronco’s old automatic hubs while a Power Slot brake system gets everything slowed down in a hurry if need be.
Since a set of 18x12-inch Fuel Off-Road wheels wrapped in 38x15.5R18 Nitto Mud Grappler were destined to be the new rolling stock on the Bronco, a custom one-piece flip-forward fiberglass front-end as well as set of much wider fiberglass quarter panels were shoehorned in place. The goal for the Bronco was to perform better than it ever did but also look good while doing it. No surprise then that the whole truck was painted in a flat Desert Tan finish.
A set of custom bumpers as well as a Warn M12000 winch and LED lighting give the Bronco added protection for any occasion while some custom Ammo Storage boxes allow all the recovery gear to be stored safely away from the elements in bad weather.
The inside of the Bronco looks just as good as the outside does thanks to a set of Corbeau seats, custom panels, and even a hand fabricated dash. LED accent lighting as well as an awesome set of Classic Instruments aviation-style gauges gives the Bronco a cool military feel while a Vintage Air climate control system keeps the cabin nice and cool. A Kenwood touchscreen stereo sends the tunes to Alpine speakers while a subwoofer that is paired to a 5-channel amplifier ensure the bass can adequately bump. There’s no denying the utilitarian military feel to this Bronco.
The Bronco was part of a “Give Forward” campaign where the public donated $65,319,660, while RKMC and other corporate sponsors including 5-Hour Energy, RoushYates, BDS Suspension and ESAB provided parts, services and additional funds for Project Fearless. The 1991 Bronco was recently completed at RK Motors Performance Center in Mooresville, NC where it was unveiled to Chief Brown’s family.
This tribute truck for a fallen hero will be displayed to the public for the first time this weekend at the RKM Collector Car Auction, from October 31 through November 3 in the Charlotte Convention Center as well as the Charlotte International Auto Show.