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1981 Ford Bronco - Big Island Bad Boy

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2001
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Hawaii, known to islanders as the Big Island and to everyone else as the jewel of the South Pacific, is the largest and most varied of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home of the 13,796-foot Mauna Kea volcano—the world’s tallest mountain, when measured from the ocean floor—and is dotted with lush rain forests, arid deserts, and incredible black-sand beaches. It is here that we ventured after receiving a tip about a group of lifted fullsize 4x4s on 40-plus-inch Boggers. We were pleasantly surprised to find Hawaii’s trucks to be as big and diverse as the Big Island itself.

Carlton Shinsato, an executive sous chef from the town of Waikoloa, is definitely an overachiever. Everything he touches is done in grandiose style and the buildup of his 1981 Ford Bronco is no exception. Known simply as “Stumpy,” Carlton’s Bronco started life as a bone-stocker and was built in his two-car garage over a five-and-a-half-year period as a full frame-off restoration.

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To understand Carlton’s obsession for fine detail, check out the engine: a show-quality Ford 466cid V-8 with a slew of modifications. Balanced to damp the vibes, blueprinted, and bored .030 inches over, the big-block has a compression ratio of 10.1:1. Arias pistons topped by ’70 Ford ported-and-polished heads take the heat. The valvetrain features a Comp Cams camshaft (affording .590 inches of lift and a duration of 280 degrees), and Crane roller rockers. Helping this powerhouse to breathe is two Edelbrock 500cfm carbs sitting on top of a Weiand tunnel-ram intake. Nasty fumes are expelled through L&L headers into 2½-inch Flowmaster mufflers with custom pipes. Ignition mods consist of an MSD coil and distributor, NGK spark plugs, and wires by Accel. An Optima battery stays juiced with the help of a Summit alternator. With upgrades like these, it’s no wonder Carlton’s Bronco churns out and estimated 500 horsepower and a growly 500 lb-ft of torque.

All that horsepower is channeled to a Borg-Warner T-18 transmission with an L&L 12-inch clutch and flywheel, while an NP208 transfer case splits the power and sends it via M&S driveshafts to a Ford TTB Dana 44 frontend loaded with 5.13:1 gears and Trac-Lok differential. Power sent out back is handled by a Ford 9-inch axle with a Detroit Locker. This incredible grunt helps turn 42-inch Swampers on 15x12 Alcoa wheels.

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To provide extra ground clearance and plenty of room for those massive meats, Carlton utilized 8-inch Skyjacker powder-coated coils up front and 8-inch skyjacker leaf springs out back. His good friend Don Kawabata, of Pacific Motorsports in Kona, provided the parts and helped with the installation. Two Rancho RS 5000 shocks were bolted to each corner to damp the ride, while any excess steering play is kept in check with the help of dual Rancho chrome steering stabilizers.

But tires, a stout drivetrain, and lots of power are only half the battle when building a show-worthy 4x4. So Carlton enlisted the help of Hank Takaki of Hank’s Autobody, also from the Big Island, for the eye-catching blue spray-job and powder-coated suspension. Inside, he left his Bronc mainly stock with the exception of Auto Meter gauges and a Kenwood stereo system. Window tinting by Pacific Motorsports adds a nice touch and tones down the glare from the South Pacific rays.

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Although Carlton’s done most of the work on this impressive 4x4 himself, he’d like to give special thanks to his island buds Don Kawabata, Earl Matsuyama, Melvin Uechi, and Hank Takaki. He says, “Their help and support were greatly appreciated.” Now, with future plans for a solid-axle swap, BDS blower, and a lot more chrome, Carlton continues to strive for perfection in building the baddest Bronco ever to come from the Big Island.

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