1974 Ford Bronco
For a build like this, we needed two donor vehicles: the classic (1974 Ford Bronco) and the modern (2008 Ford Explorer). We purchased the Bronco for the body. The Explorer was really the heart of the project with 68,600 miles on it. We changed all the fluids, belts, and hoses; upgraded the brakes with new drilled and slotted front and rear rotors and pads; installed new CV axles, new plugs, and air filters; and installed a new MBRP exhaust system (new suspension, wheels/tires, and lights as well).
We kept as much of the functionality offered in the Explorer as we could. The dash and steering wheel functions, four-wheel drive, seating and chassis of the vehicle remained Explorer. We redid the interior with a custom design to blend the new and old. (We documented the build so you can see what went into the integration of these two Fords. It was more than just taking off the Explorer body and putting the Bronco body on the Explorer chassis.)
After a few days of measurement and planning, we started out by cutting away the parts of the Explorer that we were not going to need. What remained was the complete chassis including the frame, suspension, and running gear. On the inside, we kept the floor pan, firewall, dash, steering and pedal assembly, center console, and the front and third row seating. Before we started to fit the Bronco body, we needed to address the differences in the two wheelbases: the Explorer was 32” longer and 2” wider than the Bronco was. The width was resolved with trimming and installing front and rear fender flares. (This also supported the added room we needed to fit 35” tires.)
To address the wheelbase issue, we cut the frame and removed the unneeded inches. Next, we sleeved it and welded it back together. Then we shortened the lines, exhaust, and the rear driveshaft. Additionally, we had to modify the gas tank and move it from the driver’s side of the Explorer to the rear.
It was then time to start fitting the Bronco body. We started with the front cowl and windshield. To get the positioning we were looking for, we needed to cut the Explorer’s dash and reroute the heat and air ducts. After a few days of cutting and plumbing, we had our fixed point from which to build. Things under the hood fit but had to be repositioned a bit. We trimmed the inner fenders and built new inner fenders that we integrated with the Explorer’s chassis. Then we re-mounted the under- the-hood components along the new inner fender wells.
Although we tried to keep the Bronco look and feel as close to stock as possible, we liked the fact that the Explorer has front and rear independent suspension. However, we didn’t want to see the I/S as that would clearly show that this was not a traditional Bronco. We fabricated frame mounts and purchased custom Jeep XJ front and rear bumpers that would help obscure the axles. We finished the front end with a custom-built skid plate and a S/B 9.5K synthetic rope winch, providing an integrated look with the front grill. We then turned our attention to the engine compartment. We fabricated panels and purchased an engine dress up kit that helped complete the finished look and feel for which we were looking. We feel that this new Bronco/Explorer should be as comfortable on the inside as possible. That’s why it was out with the old and in with the new including seats, door panels, headliner, floor mats and seat belt upgrades. Unlike the early broncos, we wanted to create a high end fit and finish with the comfort to drive on a long trip and use as a daily driver. All panels were sound dampened and covered with custom-made panels. The hardtop had a custom headliner and the wiper assembly was concealed. All new rubber weather stripping was installed on all windows and doors, as well as new felt for the door windows. We replaced all the glass and removed the vent windows on the doors with a single piece of glass. Once it was completely dry fit, it was time to disassemble and send out for paint and interior. We had the paint and bodywork completed in pieces rather than assembled. This allowed us to paint all surfaces and reassemble with rubber gaskets and seals where required. The rear bumper was equipped with a multi-use swing out spare tire carrier. In addition to the full-size spare wheel and tire, we added a high lift jack and a five gallon Gerry can.