Classic vehicles are not just relics of history. Restoration processes available for many classic vehicles have made them usable and efficient even in the modern era. The Ford Bronco is one of the classic vehicles most restored. The first Ford Bronco was introduced in 1965 and the model has kept waxing stronger, yet many car lovers cannot keep their hands off the classic versions.

You can carry out vehicle restoration by yourself or have a professional company handle the process for you. Top firms involved in Ford Bronco restoration include Gateway Bronco, Velocity Restorations, Classic Ford Broncos, and so on.

Restomod vs Restoration

Restoration is simply the refurbishing of a vehicle. The aim of the restoration of a classic vehicle is to bring it back (or close enough) to its original state. That requires the use of original (or at least, mostly original) parts so that when the restoration is finished, the vehicle’s condition is just the same as it was when originally produced.

The restomod process is not concerned about bringing the vehicle to its pristine condition. Its aim is to ‘upgrade’ the classic vehicle by incorporating modern replacement parts and technology in order to enhance the performance. Usually, though, the classic look is preserved at least, in part.

Ford Bronco 1980. Image is provided by ford.com

Comparing both restoration and restomod, both have their own pros and cons. It is harder to find original replacement parts to perform restoration, though such vehicles are usually priced higher at auctions. On the other hand, restomod vehicles have less value but better performance. The purpose is all that matters.

Bronco Engine Options

The first Ford Bronco, launched in August 1965 used an inline-six engine with a 170-cubic-inch capacity. In 1966, in addition to the standard option, there was an additional option for a V8 engine with a 289-cubic-inch capacity. In 1969, the capacity of the V8 engine was expanded to 302 cu. Later, in 1973, the I6 engine option was expanded to 200cu. Up till 1977 when the first generation of the Ford Bronco ended, those were the only two engine options available.

The I6 engine option was eliminated in the second generation, which lasted only two years (1978 and 1979). Instead of one I6 engine and another V8 engine, there were two V8 engines, though with different capacities, 352 and 402 cu respectively. In 1980, the I6 engine was reintroduced as the standard option. And from then until 1986 (the third generation), the only other option was a V8 engine with a 302cu capacity.

Ford Bronco 1984. Image is provided by ford.com

From the fourth generation of Ford Bronco (1987 – 1991), there were three engine options: one I6 engine and two V8 engines. The V8 engines had a 5-liter and 5.8-liter capacity respectively. These options continued in the fifth generation until 1994, when the I6 engine option was eliminated.

Ford Bronco 1988. Photo provided by ford.com

From then, there have been only two V8 engine options till 2020. However, the newly-released 2021 Ford Bronco heralds the sixth generation of the car model, and for the first time, the Bronco does not come with any V8 option. It does not have an I6 option either. Instead, the standard engine is an I4 engine with an option for a V6 engine.

Classic Ford Bronco Restoration Process

Transmission Replacement or Repair

The first-generation Ford Broncos featured a three-speed, column shifted manual transmission because the manufacturers needed to keep costs low. It was not until 1973 that a three-speed automatic transmission option was introduced in response to market demand.

Three-speed transmission is quite durable. However, if your Ford Bronco was produced earlier than 1973, you might consider swapping the manual transmission to the automatic one. In general, if you plan to drive your Bronco frequently, replacing the transmission is always a better choice than simply repairing broken parts. You get modern features, including more horsepower for more efficient driving.

Drum or Disc Brake

Ford Broncos had only drum brakes until the 1976 model, which was the first to have front disk brakes. Drum brakes are far less durable and less safe than disk brakes. Therefore, if your Bronco has drum brakes, plan to replace them with disk brakes at the front.

Ford Bronco 1976. Image is provided by ford.com

Electrical System

Before working on your Bronco, particularly the electrical parts, it is advisable to disconnect the battery to avoid electrocution or explosion. Likewise, carefully route and label all the electrical wires in order to save yourself trouble during the inspection/restoration process.

Classic Broncos would almost always have electrical issues. Sometimes, a simple inspection and replacement of the battery would do. Make sure you check cables, fuses, and bulbs for any faults, subsequently replacing damaged parts. Even if all parts are functioning normally, you should still clean the dust off all the electrical components.

EXTERIOR

Rust Removal

Years of dust and water build-up cause rust on parts of the vehicle frame and the undercarriage. Given that most classic Broncos (and even modern ones) were very outdoorsy vehicles driven off-road, they are very susceptible to dust and rust. Minor rusts can be simply sanded away, or you may need a pressure washer. The latter particularly helps you clean the insides of the hollow frame that may be difficult to reach.

You should never paint over rust. If you do, you would notice an ugly bubble effect on the vehicle’s surface. After painting, make sure you apply an anti-rust coating to avoid future build-up of rust.

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Painting

As mentioned already, only paint when you have eliminated all the rust on the vehicle. For the best display, use a paint that matches the Bronco’s original color. But you can also refresh the look with a different hue as well.

Unless you only need to touch up small sections of the vehicle, it is always advisable to let a professional handle the paintwork. Without professional equipment, it is very likely that the paintwork comes out subpar.

INTERIOR

Seat Upholstery

Upholstering your seats comes in the final stages of the restoration. Classic Broncos of the 60s had poor upholstering that made the seats crack and rip open. Depending on the condition of the seats, you might have to replace the seats completely, or perhaps just the upholstery.

Ford Broncos from 1960s. Photo provided by ford.com

Dash/Steering Wheel Evaluation

The 1973 Ford Bronco was the first version of the vehicle model to feature power steering. Earlier models released before then used manual steering. In any case, the usual recommendation is to replace the steering wheel

Conclusion

The cost of restoring a classic Bronco depends on various factors such as whether you are restoring it by yourself or giving it to a professional, as well as the condition of the Bronco prior to restoration. The average classic Bronco would cost you between $15,000 to $30,000 if you are doing the restoration by yourself. It may cost up to $50,000 if you are outsourcing the restoration and the vehicle is in a fair condition.

The most desirable Ford Bronco 1983
The most desirable Ford Bronco 1983. Image provided by ford,com

The best way to restore a classic Bronco is in stages, beginning with a full vehicle inspection. The intricacies of restoration are entirely up to your taste and needs. Although, you would definitely need to replace parts that have fallen into disrepair. There is no single best year Bronco to buy per se. However, first-generation Bronco models (1965 – 1977) are the most desirable in the market. Hence, they are also the highest valued. The 1983 Ford Bronco also features at the top of the list of the most desirable Bronco models. The average worth of a 1983 Ford Bronco is 9,300$.

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