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The Ford Bronco has enjoyed a long, successful run with the American public for 30 years. Even as the Bronco is being discontinued this year, the early Broncos are enjoying more popularity than ever. Although early Broncos are trendy these days, many are never taken near the dirt, and it seems as though more and more vintage Broncos are popping up on the streets all the time. Many people, however, are engaging the front axle and actually using their Broncos for what they do best: tackling trails.
One such heavily used vintage Bronco is Chris Holley's 69. Chris lives in Cedar Hills, Utah, only about 200 miles north of Moab, and he built his Bronco to tackle the enormous 4x4 playground and he did it on a budget. Chris's Bronco came from the factory fairly well set up for serious wheeling. A Dana 44 provides power to the front wheels, while a Ford 9-inch brings up the rear. For better traction he installed a Detroit Locker in the 9-inch but left the front diff open. The 302 engine provides plenty of power, and the stock Dana 20 transfer case has an impressive low-range ratio of 2.46:1. The only drivetrain piece Chris felt needed improvement was the transmission, so he swapped in an NP435 for the megalow First-gear ratio of 6.68:1.
With the drivetrain satisfactory, Chris moved on to the suspension, which was lifted 3 inches over stock. Rancho makes the coil springs necessary to achieve the lift, but more adjustments were necessary to make the front suspension and steering work properly. Chris installed a 7-degree bushing kit on the trailing arms to tilt the axlehousing upward, bringing the driveline angle back into proper spec. He also added an adjustable drag link with a drop bracket to bring the steering geometry back to near-stock angles. Since coil springs have no friction, they bounce more than a leaf spring, so Chris installed two Rancho RS5000 shocks at the front wheels to help keep the bounce under control. After the lift was installed, he was able to fit 33x12.50-15 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains on 15x8 aluminum American Racing rims. Immediately after the rims and tires came 4.10 gears in both axles to put the engine's torque curve back where its supposed to be.
Simple, functional, capable. That's the best way to describe this well-built Bronco. Chris has created a great-looking truck that works even better, and he didn't spend a ton of cash doing it.