1969 Ford Bronco - John's Gray Stallion
John Mitchell, a retired septic-tank distributor from Kingman, Arizona, decided to extend his off-road exploration needs by building a '69 Ford Bronco Sport 200 SVD. John and his wife, Vivian, have always been the outdoors-recreational types with all of the essential toys: motorcycles, Artic Cat 4x4 quads, a sand rail, and a Sandpiper trailer to haul them all in. Oh yeah, we can't forget the 37-foot Rinker performance boat for those glassy sunrise and sunset occasions. John can, literally, roll out of his driveway onto the beautiful wide-open Arizona desert terrain-where we photographed John's Bronco-every day.
The Ford Bronco was introduced to the world in August 1965, to compete against Jeep's CJ5 and International Harvester's Scout during the infant age of 4x4 recreational off-roading. The first generation Broncos came with only a saddle and reigns, without power steering or an automatic transmission. Under the hood was a 170ci Falcon inline six-cylinder that produced 105 hp. A three-speed manual transmission with a long-throw steering-column mounted shift lever was the only selector of choice. It's short 92-inch wheelbase made this buckin' Bronco a kick to drive.
On John's Bronco, the factory frame was reinforced and boxed for added rigidity and strength. A Dana 60 differential provides power to the front wheels, while a narrowed and modified F-150 rear end with a Detroit Locker delivers power to the rear wheels. Rancho coil springs and Rancho RS5000 shocks control the bounce up front, while the factory power steering resists bump steer with a Rancho steering dampener. A pair of heavy-duty Atlas leaf springs and Rancho RS5000 shock absorbers support the modified Ford F-150 rearend. A set of four Nitto Mud Grappler Extreme Terrain 35x12R18 tires encase the 18x10-inch Panther EMR 440 polished aluminum wheels. To achieve increased ground and tire clearance, a 4-inch body lift kit was installed. A polished billet gas filler door leads to a custom 12-gallon aluminum fuel cell.
The Ford 351ci Windsor V-8 produces a tame 350 hp. John had the engine block and cylinder heads de-burred, ported, polished, and assembled at Shurway Machine, located in Arizona. The Windsor crankshaft bearing bores were align bored, block cylinders were line bored and honed, and then fitted with a set of 9.1 forged J&E Pistons. A mild Comp Cams camshaft was carefully inserted, along with a set of Comp Cams hydraulic lifters and pushrods. Clevite bearings were used throughout the engine. A K&N air filter was mounted atop an Edelbrock 650cfm carburetor that delivers a constant fuel and air mixture into the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold. An MSD electronic ignition system includes: coil, distributor, and ignition wires. The dominating whine of a Jackson gear drive can be heard over the engine's idle. The entire engine was assembled using ARP Fasteners. The burnt gasses are exhausted by a pair of Hooker shorty headers that flow into a Flow-Tech 3-1/2-inch custom exhaust and mufflers.
A beefed-up '76 C6 automatic transmission was installed with a fresh set of gears, stall converter, and valve body shift kit with an Advanced trans adapter 4x4 kit.
The Bronco was originally purchased in Arizona, and remained in the desert; therefore, there was no rust or major body damage. The entire body prep work, mods, and paint were done at Chris's Auto Body in Kingman, Arizona. Then, the entire body was block sanded to get the Bronco's flat panels and Jeff's Graveyard fiberglass hood perfectly straight and smooth. Chris then applied Dupont Blue Gray Metallic, followed by a thorough color sanding, before he applied multiple coats of clear, which achieved a rich depth in the paint. A set of black K Bar S fiberglass fender flares were applied after the paint had time to dry and cure. The front and rear of the Bronco is protected with Mile Marker pre-runner tubular bumpers. A 9,000 lb Mile Marker electric winch was mounted onto the front bumper. We figured, it was better to be safe than stuck.
The raw interior is strictly off-road. Its dcor does not feature creature comforts or frills. A pair of Beard high-back leather bucket seats, both gray with black inserts, provides comfort and maximum lateral support. Both driver and passenger are secured in their seats with a set of MasterCraft 3-inch three-way lap belts and shoulder harnesses. A 3-inch diameter tubular four-point roll bar allows ample driver and passenger roll-over protection. The Grant leather-covered steering wheel is responsible for the driver's lateral turning inputs. Separating the Beard bucket seats is a K Bar S Tuffy center console, which houses and protects the Clarion CD head unit. A pair of JL Audio 6-1/2-inch speakers allows basic tunes to be heard. Remember, this is an off-road machine.
John's '69 Bronco multi-purpose Arizona desert assault vehicle is the perfect weekend getaway truck and turns heads wherever it rolls.