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1966 Ford Bronco Buggy: Classic Bronco, Modern Twist

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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The term “labor of love” is often used to convey the time, money, and energy that go into building a custom vehicle. While modifying an existing platform can be quite the challenge, creating a vehicle entirely from scratch takes that extra level of skill and dedication. For Karl Bradley, his epitome wheeler was this very custom ’66 Ford Bronco buggy. Though this Blue Oval may look like a classic stallion at first glance, it is light-years ahead of what the factory produced over half a century ago.

The front axle is a blend of Currie Enterprises housing, True Hi9 third member, and custom steering knuckles that are all kept it place by a custom four-link suspension. If the diff cover looks a little beefy for a 9-inch, that’s because it was chopped from the bottom half of a 21⁄2-ton Rockwell axle.

Growing up around Broncos, Karl has a lifetime of Bronco memories, knowledge, and an impressive stable full of well-cared-for and driven Fords. As the owner of a virtually stock and extremely mint Early Bronco half-cab, Karl couldn’t think of destroying it over some boulder-filled trail in the backwoods of his home state of North Carolina. But there was something about the ’66 Bronco that excited and inspired Karl’s inner wheeler. This led Karl to devise a plan to create a modern-day replica of his pristine Early Bronco, only this Carolina blue horse would be trail-bound.

Staying true to the Blue Oval team, Karl placed a built 331ci V-8 under the fiberglass hood. Since the engine is tucked back a good bit, there was enough room to squeeze in a massive Ron Davis radiator and a 9,000-pound Warn winch behind the grille. This adds to the Bronco Buggy’s character, as the front end mirrors the look of the factory ’66 EB (Early Bronco).

To help make his vision a reality, Karl contacted expert fabricator Jason Paule at Twisted Customs. Located halfway across the nation in South Dakota, Paule is well known for his chassis building skills and competitive rockcrawling machines. The idea sounded simple enough. Take one of Paule’s Twisted Customs tube chassis creations and skin it in such a way that the naked eye would take it for a modified ’66 EB. Think sleeper buggy with a helping of classic style.

The result was far from simple. As the buggy began to take shape, attaining the aesthetic goals become time consuming. Though Paule has literality hundreds of hours in the build, the result was well worth the effort. When we got the word that the truck was finished we peeled off to the North Carolina mountains to tag along for its inaugural trail ride. While Karl is currently having Paule create another set of “off-road” skins for the Bronco, the high school science teacher wasn’t afraid to twist it up for us with the classic Bronco Blue body intact. Overall, we we’re extremely impressed at both the craftsmanship and performance of what may be one of the coolest buggies on the planet.

On the right is the stock half cab Early Bronco that set the wheels in motion for the build. It’s truly impressive how similar the modern-day ’66 looks to its classic inspiration. The entire body of the Bronco is all handcrafted fiberglass panels. Though it may look to spec with a ’66 EB, the overall dimensions are unique to the buggy. To keep the Bronco looking proportional, Paule had to be creative with the bodyline spacing and wheelwell openings. There are literally hours upon hours of handcrafted glass work in the one-piece side panels.

Tech Specs
1966 Ford Bronco Buggy
Chassis: Twisted Customs ProMod
Drivetrain
Engine: 331ci small-block Ford blueprinted and balanced, 10:1 compression, 1.6 roller rockers, custom Erson cam, AFR heads, 30-lb injectors
Transmission: C4 with a reverse manual valve body
Transfer case: 4.3:1 Atlas
Front Axle: Currie housing, TrueHi9 third member, Spidertrax drive flanges, custom knuckles with F-450 unit bearings, Detroit Locker, 4.88 gears
Rear Axle: Currie housing, TrueHi9 third member, Detroit Locker, 4.88 gears
Suspension
Springs & Such: Front and rear triangulated 4-links with 2 1/2-inch Fox air shocks, Twisted Customs rear sway bar
Tires & Wheels: 39x13.50 BFG Krawlers on custom 17-inch wheels with internal pneumatic beadlocks
Steering: Fully hydraulic with a double-ended steering ram
Other Stuff: 5.0L Painless Street Rod wiring harness, 15-gallon fuel cell, Walbro fuel pump, Beard seats, Simpson harness, heavily modified Early Bronco bumpers, Warn 9,000XDi winch, 106-inch wheelbase, 80 inches wide, 73 inches tall, 3,680 pounds

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