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Australian Ford Bronco's

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Its the early years of the 21st century and we've taken a day off from pounding the waves off Coral Bay in our Haines fishing boat to soak up the winter sun with the family at the 'Lagoon' - a few kays north of the settlement. The shadows are growing longer and the cool sou'wester has blown all the holidaymakers and their 4X4s back over the sand hills to their rented abodes.


The obstacle in our path was a formidable one - the hordes before having chopped it into a rutted meringue, and two GQ Patrols had put the finishing touches on this mess by winching/snatching/digging and pushing for the best part of an hour. This left me in no doubt that this sandhill would be the big red wagon's toughest challenge yet.


4 adults, 3 kids, all our gear and a 45kg Malamute. Tyres at 17psi, tailgate backed up against another sandhill - our run-up looked way too short for the height of this monster.


Three fingers off the XF steering wheel click from D to 2 then 1- kids hugged tighter, butterflies and a twitchy right foot, it's now or never.


A big boot full on the go-pedal and - my heart sinks. All this load combined with a tall first gear, square-shouldered BFGs, and 3.5 diffs has the motor groaning through its inlet tract and making pitiful progress through the thick powdery sand.


Failure at the first hurdle beckons as the big Ford churns through the sand, engine moaning like a Wookie as I try and think of a plan 'B'.


Just as despair mounts, we smash into the first deep ruts on the run-up path. Strangely this helps as the front wheels grab some air and spin up wildly, allowing those two V-heads to start shifting some inlet charge. Now the wookie has made way for some V8 animal sounds and we're on our way. Reach for that selector - that hasn't really differed from Dad's XY - and grab second gear. We're in the meat of the torque band now and the heavy Geelong-cast crankshaft takes the big ratio jump in its stride and we're making hay as Goliath looms up.


We smash into the base of this behemoth and once again my heart sinks - the speedo and tacho needles plummet towards fail as we splash into the powdery quagmire, foot jammed against the tan carpet, willing the machine on but preparing for failure and the hell of reversing down this treacherous slope.


There's one shot left in the locker and its time to pull the trigger. A vicious wrench of that abused gear stick back to first and the big Cleveland snarls back at me - hope soaring in an instant. Its got a big cat growl and now feels unstoppable.


We thunder up the face - bonnet and blue sky is all we see, tyres clawing at the loose sand, bumps smack the traction beam axles against their rubber stops, but these same long arms give plenty of droop, allowing those chunky T/As to bite into the chest of Goliath, sending rooster tails skywards and propelling us ever forward and closer.


With the mighty 5.8 singing like Robert Plant and the crest within our grasp, it's absolute elation as I have to back off before we grab six feet of air over this mother. In this moment of victory, pumped with adrenaline, this dopey driver manages to sail straight past the turnoff and then plunge down the back slope of the mountain descending to god-knows-where and threatening to wipe out any gains in an instant. “F***en idiot!” I mentally scream at myself, desperately scanning the myriad tracks and hills, looking for an escape route and praying for a get-out-of-jail-free opportunity.


To our left is a narrow track where the quad bikers have been accessing a wide open face of another massive sand dune.
It’s dangerous because it’s going to be a horizontal run across the face with only centrifugal force to hold us up there, but if we make it there is a ridgeline that will get us back on top of Goliath and that turn-off.


A mental image of the Channel 7 chopper - its blades slowly rotating next to a mangled Bronco with a stern faced reporter stating to camera: “Idiot in Bronco injures two families in single car rollover” but I manage extinguish that thought with a savage stamp on that abused throttle pedal.


We're in first gear still and light on our feet as we were descending when the power comes on with that beautiful deep howl. Four wheels start spinning and the big Ford feels wonderfully controllable with a mild powerslide that brings us onto the face with a pace that pins us to the wall like a cyclist in a velodrome. Not a word is spoken. White knuckles abound. And just when the tension is too much, my mate’s 9 year old daughter lets out a staccato giggle that would shame woody woodpecker. The irony of innocence thinking it was all a game releases the tension and gives us much needed relief. The final climb onto the ridge is a doddle and we once again perch proudly atop Goliath, heart thumping in my chest and hands tingling to the fingertips.


There is one more act to this play as I manoeuvre the big bonnet to face west and watch the progress of our friends in their new 80 series GXL.


Was it all a fantasy, and will the flash Toyota with its EFI, DOHC and four valve configuration humiliate the old horse?
Will the long wheelbase and coils all-round sit this brash Oz/American on its rather ample butt?


Alas for the Holden/Toyota fans, the smooth white beast barely made it half way up, despite aired down tyres and driving it like you stole it. A second, third and fourth attempt and finally, with 7 psi barely holding the tyres to the rim beads and the engine screaming for its life, Goliath went down to the last vehicle off the beach as the sun dipped into the Indian ocean.


Over a few Coronas and emperor fillets that night we relived the moment, with my mate still gobsmacked at how “Easy the Bronco walked up the sandhill”.  I assured him that it was balls to the wall but he still shook his head in amazement. He still reminds me to this day and I love it when he does. The Bronco had its quirks, but when it was good, it was very good.


So, a blast from the past and hopefully an insight as to why so many of us had a passion for these beasts and indeed the whole F100, F150/250 bandwagon.


It was probably my favourite car, mainly because it was so far ahead of everything else back in the early 80's. You must remember that 4X4s back then were gutless, lumbering, bone-jarring slugs that were a real chore to drive. The Bronco was the polar opposite - fun, fast, cool and tough. You could chase sports cars through roundabouts and tow big boats. It was technically ahead of the Japanese and didn't break down every week like a Range Rover.


I could give you a list as long as your arm of niggles with the Bronco, not the least of which was the crappy budget left to right conversion performed by Ford Australia, but it seems churlish to nit-pick something that was in a class of its own back in the day.
With the imminent arrival of the new Bronco after a 24 year hiatus, I am frankly horrified of what Ford may dish up. The idiotic execution of the Ranger Raptor and Ford completely misunderstanding their customer base has really put a damper on expectations and I can only hope the American influence will put the emphasis on all-round performance - where it should be.





The Ford Bronco was produced from 1966 to 1996, with five distinct generations. Broncos can be divided into two categories: early Broncos (1966–77) and full-size Broncos (1978–96). The Bronco was introduced in 1966 as a competitor to the small four-wheel-drive compact SUVs such as the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout, and built on its own platform.

A major redesign in 1978 moved the Bronco to a larger size, and it was built using a shortened Ford F-Series truck chassis to compete with the similarly adapted Chevrolet K5 Blazer. The full-size Broncos and the successor Expedition were produced at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan. And it was this re-design that would be sold here in Australia.

When the Ford Bronco was released it was priced at A$15,100 - which made it a real alternative to the $18,875 Range Rover, which had pretty much remained unchallenged for nearly a decade. The market segment was actually starting to become crowded – challenging the title of best 4X4 also included the Datsun Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep's Cherokee and, to a lesser extent, the International Scout.

From the ground up, the Australian assembled Bronco had specifications and equipment levels equal to or better than the competition. Only aesthetic areas remained open for criticism which seemed to polarise opinions – some loved it, some hated it. The team here at Unique Cars and Parts fall into the first category, considering it a neat example of U.S. styling that carried with it a continuation of the Ford world-wide grill and headlight treatment seen on all the company's Toyo Kogyo sourced vehicles as well as the European bred Transit and Capri.

The 1981 F Series range of Ford light commercials, of which the Bronco was the flagship, were lighter and more compact than the respective superseded models. But the shedding of weight did not come at the expense of strength and durability - two factors which had helped make the F Series the largest selling vehicle nameplate in the history of either cars or trucks.


Custom and XLT

Two versions were available: the baseline Custom, and the more comfortably equipped Ranger XLT. Both were five seater, two door wagons with part time four wheel drive, four speed transmission and a 4.1 litre six cylinder motor. A 5.8 litre V8 was optional, as was a three speed auto - for the V8 only. Other options included an external spare tyre carrier and an internal roll bar.

Both motors were Australian made, the six being the then latest Alloy Head version fitted to Falcons and derivatives, while the V8 was the tried and proven 351. During development here, the Bronco/F100 program was known as "Ram" internally at Ford. Bronco's unique features lay essentially in the transmission and suspension department. Ford patented a then new and previously unseen independent front suspension system not unlike the well known twin "I" beam set-up fitted to the two wheel drive F Series trucks. This new suspension provided extensive wheel travel and control in both smooth highway and rugged off-road conditions, combined with limited slip differentials and anti-sway bars front and rear, it gave the Bronco a distinct technical advantage over competitors.

Power assisted brakes - disc front, drum rear - and power steering are standard, making the driver's task nice and easy in even the most demanding terrain. Ford were able to reduce the inevitable compromise between load carrying capacity and passenger comfort that was normally associated with commercial derived passenger vehicles. Another problem, again probably only temporary, was that the XD Falcon bucket seats were an inch or two too low for comfortable forward visibility in off-road conditions. They were in fact lower than the bench seat standard in the F100.

On the Road

Nearly all Bronco’s and F100’s road tested by motoring journalists proved to be far better than any had expected – not only in performance but in comfort too. The Alloy-Head Six was a very good performer too – so much so that it made it hard to justify optioning the 351. It was very torquey and quiet, so much so that V8 was really only necessary for those buying the Bronco as a tow vehicle – which in any case would have represented a significant proportion. Ford’s AS2077 fuel economy figures from the time quoted the F100 returning 15 litres per 100 km in the city cycle and 10.6 litres for the country (respectively 18.6 and 26.5 mpg), while the Bronco's AS2077 figures were 17.5 litres per 100 km in the city and 13.0 litres for the country cycle (16.1 and 21.7 mpg). The important thing to remember about AS2077 figures was that it was almost impossible for mere humans to achieve them –so it is wise to assume these as representing the very best obtainable under a velvet foot. It is worth noting that, as a result of the U.S. Government's crackdown on commercial vehicle fuel consumption, Ford had improved the F Series aerodynamics by a massive 13%.

The XLT Bronco sold for $15,900 at release, and it was very much a match for the Range Rover. It was a better tow vehicle when equipped with the 351, and was the equal or better in comfort. Unexpectedly, it was also an accomplished bitumen performer too, with handling better than any of the competition. There was a very good reason why these would become so popular.















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Hard to see in the pictures, but see the twin shock absorbers in the front?

Apparently that was introduced when Broncos were imported to Australia, because they struggled on our gravel roads of the time without the twin shock setup.63cfdd99aa62162e8f80c594bbeafb64.jpg

Sent from my Pixel 7 Pro using Tapatalk

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i didn't read it.. but i searched rust.. no mention of rust.

when the F100 wrecker was in Carrum Downs he had several of them in a line, all rusted beyond saving (in his opinion) 

bloke i worked with 20yrs ago had one that was restored and it was so cool, probably still has it. was red and white 

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16 hours ago, cisco said:

Really good F100 chase clip here. Charles Bronson Mr Majestyk.



In some of the scenes, the F-truck has widened front wheels, but not the rear.

Sounds like a 6cyl too!

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