Ask any off-road enthusiast who has ever spun a wrench on a 4x4 and he'll tell you that building an off-road vehicle is more than just bolting on parts. Creating a unique wheeling machine takes more than Grade 8 bolts and a credit card. It takes dedication, research, creativity, and above all, time. While a custom 4x creation doesn't necessarily translate into a functional work of art for everyone, there are plenty of self-taught metal magicians that are capable of sculpting amazing homebuilt machines.
A prime example of this is Jon and Rhonda Barricklow's '66 Ford Bronco. Built from the ground up in their home garage, the Barricklows transformed their once rusty hulk of a Bronco wagon into a custom wheeler capable of handling all their off-road needs. Though the Bronco's tall stance was what initially grabbed our attention on the trail, once we edged near we realized that this was not your ordinary resto-mod.
From the 4BT Cummins diesel's turbocharger sticking out of the hood to the practically brand-new Mercedes-Benz 404 Unimog axles, the custom stallion was littered with bulletproof parts and super-trick gadgets.
We had the pleasure of wheeling with Jon over the red rock hills of Moab, Utah, and got to witness firsthand how finely tuned this dark horse is. With a veteran wheeler behind the wheel and seemingly endless gearing options, the metric stallion makes light work of most obstacles in its path. And while Jon wishes the stance of the Bronco could be a little lower, he's very happy with the overall result of his multiyear project. For us, we still can't decided if the old Blue Oval crawler is more buggy or tractor, but either way, we really dig the fresh spin on the classic wagon.
1966 Ford Bronco
Engine: 3.9L Cummins diesel with custom intake tubing, K&N air filter, modified Holset HY-35 turbocharger, 3,200-rpm
governor spring, POD injectors, VE injection pump with reclocked fuel pin, intercooler from '99 Freightliner MT35
Transmission: Ford ZF 5-speed
Transfer case: 5.44:1 4-speed Atlas, JB Fab cable shifters
Front Axle: 404 Unimog, factory Air Locker, 8-lug and disc brake conversion, 7.56 end gear ratio
Rear Axle: 404 Unimog, factory Air Locker, 8-lug and disc brake conversion, electronically controlled cutting brakes, 7.56 end gear ratio
Springs & Such: 3-link with track bar front, triangulated 4-link rear, 16-inch Fox coilovers, Fox nitrogen-charged bumpstops
Tires & Wheels: 39.5x13.50 Iroks on 161/2x93/4 H1 beadlocks
Steering: Custom linkage with hydraulic assist
Other Stuff: Vickers hydraulic pump for power steering and winches, 12K Mile Marker winch in front, 10.5K Mile Marker winch in rear, onboard air, custom slide-out toolboxes, 20-gallon JAZ fuel cell, Auto Meter gauges, Beard seats with Crow 4-point harness, custom tube bed, body shortened 42 inches