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'69 Ford Bronco

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Cole Quinnell
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The exterior was freshened and modernized by applying forest green with white accents to the sheetmetal. The custom front bumper and brushguard with tow hooks provide an excellent location for the four auxiliary lights, and the rear bumper with a 2-inch receiver was custom-built by Just 4 Fun Motorsports in Orem, Utah. The swing-away tire carrier holds a fullsize spare. The exterior was freshened and modernized by applying forest green with white accents to the sheetmetal. The custom front bumper and brushguard with tow hooks provide an excellent location for the four auxiliary lights, and the rear bumper with a 2-inch receiver was custom-built by Just 4 Fun Motorsports in Orem, Utah. The swing-away tire carrier holds a fullsize spare.
A stock 302 pumps out plenty of power to get these relatively lightweight Broncos moving, but the engine in this particular Bronco was pretty tired. Recognizing the importance of not messing with a good thing, Chris Holley rebuilt the motor using stock parts instead of spending a wad of cash on aftermarket goodies. The only aftermarket items he chose to add were headers, which he connected to a dual exhaust system. Chris also installed a new 23-gallon gas tank to increase the amount of time he can ’wheel before he has to head back to town for a fill-up. A stock 302 pumps out plenty of power to get these relatively lightweight Broncos moving, but the engine in this particular Bronco was pretty tired. Recognizing the importance of not messing with a good thing, Chris Holley rebuilt the motor using stock parts instead of spending a wad of cash on aftermarket goodies. The only aftermarket items he chose to add were headers, which he connected to a dual exhaust system. Chris also installed a new 23-gallon gas tank to increase the amount of time he can ’wheel before he has to head back to town for a fill-up.
The interior benefited from several improvements. Chris lined the driver and passenger floorboards with diamond-plate, making the floorboards stronger and more rugged-looking, while cleaning is done easily with a hose. The seats were donated from a Mitsubishi and re-covered in gray fabric. The center console is a handy homemade item that was padded and covered to match the seats. Perhaps the best feature of all is the Smittybilt six-point rollcage installed to vastly improve the safety of everyone inside. The interior benefited from several improvements. Chris lined the driver and passenger floorboards with diamond-plate, making the floorboards stronger and more rugged-looking, while cleaning is done easily with a hose. The seats were donated from a Mitsubishi and re-covered in gray fabric. The center console is a handy homemade item that was padded and covered to match the seats. Perhaps the best feature of all is the Smittybilt six-point rollcage installed to vastly improve the safety of everyone inside.
In addition to the drag-link adjustments, Chris swapped in power steering from a ’77 Bronco. The original system is considered by many to be substandard and weak. Notice that the   7-degree bushings cause the axlehousing to tilt upward slightly, which corrects the driveline angle to compensate for the lift. It appears as though Chris is losing an outer axle seal, judging from the drool on the driver-side tire. In addition to the drag-link adjustments, Chris swapped in power steering from a ’77 Bronco. The original system is considered by many to be substandard and weak. Notice that the 7-degree bushings cause the axlehousing to tilt upward slightly, which corrects the driveline angle to compensate for the lift. It appears as though Chris is losing an outer axle seal, judging from the drool on the driver-side tire.
The interior benefited from several improvements. Chris lined the driver and passenger floorboards with diamond-plate, making the floorboards stronger and more rugged-looking, while cleaning is done easily with a hose. The seats were donated from a Mitsubishi and re-covered in gray fabric. The center console is a handy homemade item that was padded and covered to match the seats. Perhaps the best feature of all is the Smittybilt six-point rollcage installed to vastly improve the safety of everyone inside. The interior benefited from several improvements. Chris lined the driver and passenger floorboards with diamond-plate, making the floorboards stronger and more rugged-looking, while cleaning is done easily with a hose. The seats were donated from a Mitsubishi and re-covered in gray fabric. The center console is a handy homemade item that was padded and covered to match the seats. Perhaps the best feature of all is the Smittybilt six-point rollcage installed to vastly improve the safety of everyone inside.
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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 it’s 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.

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