The popularity of hard-core 4x4 buildups in recent years has brought about some pretty imaginative ways to traverse a trail. One of our favorite trends (one were bound to see more often) is the fullsize shortytake one fullsize truck and hack as much as you can from the overhangs. When built with a hard-core drivetrain, this configuration makes for an extremely nimble vehicle on both the street and the trail.
Kevin Simmons of South Hampton, New Hampshire, is one of the first builders weve seen apply this fullsize shorty-building philosophy to a fullsize Bronco. Kevin chopped 24 inches off the back of his 84 Bronco and a full 10 inches from the front. As one can tell, this makes for near vertical approach and departure angles.
Powering the little beast is a monster 429ci big-block from a 70 Thunderbird. The motor is basically stock with the exception of L&L headers, a four-barrel Motorcraft carb, an MSD distributor, Holley ignition, a K&N filter, and dual Optimas. Now because of the shortened frontend, the stock radiator had to be relocated to the bed, along with the dual batteries. To this mill, Kevin mated a stout T-18 granny-low manual transmission beefed with a Centerforce dual-friction clutch. At the time we shot these photos, the venerable NP 205 served as the splitter, but soon he hopes to have an Offroad Design Doubler (4.00:1 Low range) installed.
Knowing full well big tires were to be a part of this equation, Kevin scavenged some of the drivetrain from a mid-80s F-250. These rigs had the strange-but-strong Dana 50 Twin-Traction beam assembly up front and the monstrous Corporate 10.25-inch axle for rearend duties. The Dana 50 TTB was fitted with 4.10:1 gears and a Lock-Right while the rear received matching gears and a Detroit. The TTB required quite a bit of R&D to work properly. The driver-side beam had to be lengthened 7 inches to match the Broncos frame. And to get the flex he was after, Kevin lengthened the Superlift radius arms 3 inches and modified them to accept rod ends at the frame side. Instead of leaf springs (used on the TTB Dana 50s), Kevin adapted the coil-spring arrangement from the Bronco using 4-inch Skyjacker Softride coils. A Skyjacker drop pitman arm and custom crossover steering using 11/32 DOM tubing handle the side-to-side chores. (Though Kevin has made the best of this TTB setup, he is working on a 35-spline Dana 60 solid-axle swap that should be in place by the time you read this.)
The rearend swap, while easier than the TTB front, still required quite a bit of custom fabrication. For ride quality and articulation, Kevin decided to ditch the leaf springs in favor of a three-link coil-spring suspension. Two main lower links with ¾-inch rod ends combine with a third wishbone link mounted to the top center of the axlehousing and the frame to locate the axle. Custom spring buckets and axle mounts hold 6-inch Skyjacker Softride coils and provide optimum ride quality on the trail.
As one might expect, this Bronco was built with serious four-wheeling in mind, so up front is a stout 12,000-pound Warn. The super-cool minibed holds lots of on-the-trail trickery including a 27-gallon fuel cell fabricated by Kevin, custom toolboxes, and a 12-gallon air tank backed by dual air compressors. Not visible, however, is the newly installed rear-mounted PTO military winch.
This short little beast has certainly been a labor-intensive two-year fabrication fest for Kevin. Originally inspired by his friend Paul Seager and his rig called 4Real, Kevins Bronco buildup features lots of inventive thinking and loads of hard-core parts. With any luck, readers will have voted Kevin into Top Truck Challenge 2000 so we can see firsthand how this creative thinking works in action.