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1969 Bronco: Propane-powered Agility

High On Propane: A long-legged, powerful Bronco that loves to run

Bruce W. SmithPhotographer, Writer

When Robert Warke rolls into a station to get fuel, heads turn. His bright yellow ’69 Bronco rumbles like an open-class desert racer at idle and sits atop 42-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs. It’s hard to miss. But what’s a little confusing to first-time observer is he gets it filled at the propane filling station, not at the gas pumps.

That’s because the rumble of the exhaust comes from a 408ci Ford stroker built for circle track racing that Robert converted to run on propane. The engine, which Robert says “turns 6,500 rpm all day,” cranks out north of 500 hp thanks to a heavily modded block and heads stuffed with some of the best racing parts offered for a balanced-and-blueprinted, stroked-out 351. He designed and plumbed the propane fuel system from the dual-chamber 23-gallon tank in the cargo area to the dual Impco 425-cfm carbs sitting atop the Edelbrock high-rise intake feeding the CNC-ported Canfield heads.

Keeping all that power in a rock-solid package so he can run the Oregon Dunes, Moab, Hammers, and challenging trails around the Pacific Northwest, Robert spent an enormous amount of time engineering the rest of the drivetrain and suspension. He rewelded every seam and filled every hole in the chassis, then set out to fabricate radius arms for the front and a four-link rear 5 1/2-inch suspension controlled by a combination of ORI struts and King coils. Underneath the rear ultra-long-travel suspension sits a shaved 14-bolt diff with Chevy 1/2-ton disc brakes, a Detroit Locker, 5.38 gearing, and Artec Industries truss. An ARB Air Locker-equipped Dynatrac ProRock 60 handles the front chores, turned by Artec high-steer arms and PSC Motorsports hydraulic steering.

The interior is just as trick, with keyless ignition, custom Auto Meter Sport Comp gauges, a perfect dash from a ’66 Bronco, custom center switch/gauge panel, remote marine-style wiring and circuit breakers, 1 3/4-inch-diameter cage, and five-point racing harnesses to keep both passenger and driver secure in heated, high-back buckets.

Robert, the owner of CBM (Crazy Bronco Man) Designs, in Oregon City, Oregon, confesses he’s always changing things up on the Bronco he’s owned for 20 years. “I can’t leave certain things alone or just as they are. I want to see how far we can take the Bronco to the extreme, all the while still looking like a vintage Ford Bronco.” We think he’s accomplished that goal.

At A Glance

General
Vehicle: ’69 Ford Bronco
Owner: Robert Warke
Stomping grounds: Oregon City, Oregon
Build time: One year – this time around

Drivetrain
Engine: Ford 408ci V-8 stroker
Transmission: Modified Ford C4
Transfer case(s): Advance Adapters Atlas 2
Low range ratio(s): 3.0:1
Crawl ratio(s): 39.7:1
Front axle/differential: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 5.38 gears/Detroit Locker
Rear axle/differential: Shaved GM 14-bolt, GM 1/2-ton disc brakes, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker

Suspension
Front: 5 1/2-in CBM Designs, CBM radius arms, 14-in ORI struts
Rear: 5 1/2-in CBM Designs four-link, 12-in King coilovers
Steering: PSC Motorsports hydraulic

Tires/Wheels
Tires: 42/14.50R17LT Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
Wheels: Custom 17x9 Fuel Off-Road Anza

Miscellaneous
Lighting: Forward, rear, underbody
Armor: Custom 12-point rollcage, custom rock sliders, custom front bumper, custom brushguard, custom rear bumper, custom belly cradle, custom skidplates
Cool stuff: Modified chassis, custom gauge panel, marine wiring with circuit breakers, custom propane fuel tanks, integrated onboard air, body wrap