A Good Idea
Old Broncos are cool. We met the owner of this ’66 Ford Bronco, firefighter John Sullivan, at this year’s King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, California, and he told us how his bright red Bronco came to be in its current form.
“I bought this Bronco for $2,200 in 2005. It was primer yellow and had spent the last four years on the Mendocino coast, just sitting. The tub was in good shape (i.e., no rust), but the rest of the Bronco was a ‘started but not finished’ project. At least one year of the build was spent removing or fixing the previous [owner’s] attempts at ‘customizing,’ including, but not limited to, the wiring harness, front suspension, steering, engine cage, and rollcage. With a loose plan, lots of hours in the garage, and a tight budget (ha, my wife wishes!), my Bronco has become a capable trail rig, a source of pride, and lots of fun for my whole family,” Sullivan says.
As is typical in the wheeling world, the building and modifying is never done, and Sullivan has more ideas for his Bronco. For now though, he says his immediate plans include “getting out and enjoying it.” We think that’s a good idea.
Under the hood is a 5.0L V-8. Its long list of mods includes a Melling high-volume oil pump; HEI ignition; Edelbrock Performer intake; 670 cfm Holley Truck Avenger carburetor; shorty headers; and 2½-inch exhaust with Flowmaster muffler. Voltage comes from a Deka battery and GM one-wire alternator. The V-8 is kept cool via a Summit Racing aluminum radiator and Spal fan. Power is sent through a C4 automatic transmission that has a B&M shift kit and Derale external cooler with electric fan. A Dana 20 with a TeraFlex Low20 3.15:1 low-range gear kit (a Christmas present from his wife) sends the power to the axles via a pair of custom driveshafts.
Sullivan painted the rig himself, in his garage, in a “custom Visqueen downdraft spray booth.” He says the center of the hood is painted flat black to “hide the dents that are visible from the driver seat.” The custom bumpers are made from 0.120-inch-wall, 4x2-inch box steel. The stinger bar is made from 0.120-inch-wall, 1½-inch-diameter tubing and it ties into the engine cage made from the same material. The custom rock sliders are made from 0.250-inch-wall, 4x2 box steel. A 2-inch body lift helps make room for the 39.5-inch Super Swamper IROK tires (which were a birthday present from his wife) mounted on Kick Ass Offroad 12-bolt Hummer beadlock wheels. Trail lighting is provided by the stock headlights and four 55-watt tractor lights.
A purpose-built dash holds oil pressure and coolant temperature gauges; a Painless switch panel; and a pair of speakers. Other interior mods include a Grant steering wheel; Corbeau Baja seats; Crow Enterprises safety belts; and a custom homemade console. In lieu of carpet, the body tub has been coated with bedliner material.
Protecting Sullivan and his family is a six-point rollcage that’s made from 0.120-inch-wall, 1½-inch-diameter tubing.
Up front is a high-pinion Dana 60 axle with 4.11:1 gears. The suspension is comprised of a custom three-link setup with 2.5-inch King remote-reservoir coilovers. The links are made from 0.500-inch-wall, 2-inch-diameter tubing and they’re fitted with 1-inch QA1 rod ends. The steering system includes a Howe power steering pump, external reservoir, and cooler as well as a converted ’78 Ford steering box.
Out back is a Dana 70 axle with “Miller locked” spiders, and like the front, it has 4.11:1 gears. The suspension is a simple leaf-spring setup consisting of James Duff springs and shocks. Not visible is the Northwest Metal Products 23-gallon fuel tank that feeds the 5.0L engine.
Owner/Hometown: John Sullivan/Healdsburg, California
Vehicle/Model: ’66 Ford Bronco
Estimated value: $20,000
Type: Ford 5.0L V-8
Aspiration: 670 cfm Holley Truck Avenger
Output, hp/torque (estimated): N/A
Transmission: C4, Derale cooler w/fan, Lokar shifter
Transfer Case(s): Dana 20 wTeraFlex Low20 3.15:1 low-range kit
Front: Three-link, King 2.5 remote-reservoir coilovers
Rear: James Duff leaf springs and shocks
Front: High-pinion Dana 60/open
Rear: Dana 70/welded
Ring and pinion: 4.88:1
Wheels: 16.5x9.0 12-bolt Hummer beadlocks
Tires: 39.5x13.50-16.5LT Super Swamper IROK