1973 Ford Bronco Built to Crawl

    Historic Horse

    Ali MansourPhotographer, Writer

    When it comes to a coveted four-wheel drive, the 1966-1977 Ford Bronco may be one of the most cherished Blue Ovals. With Ford slated to bring the Bronco namesake back in 2020, we know we’re not the only ones hoping to see a strong resemblance to the early Bronco platform. Out of production for over 40 years, a first-generation Bronco on the road is an increasingly rare sight. Spotting one on the trail is even more surprising.

    We bumped into John Sims while at The Flats Offroad Park in Marion, North Carolina. There, we got to ogle the Easley, South Carolina, wheeler’s 1973 Ford Bronco. While you’d be hard pressed to find a single panel on the Bronco that hasn’t incurred some sort of trail “love,” the classic styling of the rig is recognizable from a football field away. Having owned the Bronco for a little over two years, Sims gives much of the build credit to Steve Sharp and Gordon Bailie. An active wheeler, Sims uses his Ford to hit many of the Bronco-specific events and trails in the southeast.

    Aside from the frame and body, there isn’t much original Bronco left, but the parts that were swapped in have helped create an incredibly competent crawler. From a low-buck V-8 swap from a Ford Explorer to the super-high-clearance TrueHi9 third members, this build is an excellent example of dollar-smart upgrades. Sure, some purists may cringe at the sight of wrinkled sheetmetal, but we love that this classic 4x4 is still running free on the trails, not tucked away in some barn for preservation.

    Tech Specifications

    1973 Ford Bronco
    >Drivetrain
    Engine: 302ci Ford V-8
    Transmision: TH700-R4
    Transfer Case: Atlas II, 5.0:1
    Axles: Ruffstuff Specialties axlehousing, TrueHi9 third member, Detroit Locker, RCV Performance axleshafts, 4.88 gears (front and rear)
    >Suspension
    Springs & Such: Custom 3-link with track bar front and rear, 12-inch-travel shocks from ORI Struts
    Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 BFG Krawler (Red Label) on 17x10 MRW double-beadlocks
    Steering: PSC Motorsports Full-Hydro, Reid Racing steering knuckles
    Other Stuff: 15-gallon RCI fuel cell, Corbeau seats, Warn 8274 winch, Bailie Bilt bumpers, Wilwood four-piston calipers