I love old trucks. I also love modern features like cruise control and A/C. My bronco has both.
In 2004 I bought a totaled F-150 and transferred its modern features into my 1978 bronco. That includes the engine, transmission, ESOF transfer case, ABS, A/C, power windows and doors, keyless entry, dash, steering column, stereo and seatbelts. I chose to keep the original axles and manual hubs because, well, it's a bronco.
The swap took about 1.5 years, during which time I posted updates nearly every weekend to my website known as Quint's Bronco Project. It was very popular on forums like ford-trucks.com and FSB. New trucks are prohibitively expensive for most of us, so the idea of saving money by upgrading an old rig is very appealing. Unfortunately my ISP ceased personal websites years ago which ended that public resource.
But now, thanks to the success of Quint BUILDs, there's renewed interest in "old blue" and funds to support a new website. So I'm resurrecting the old pictures and information here for those that want to see it. I'm also going to do a walkaround video of the current status of the bronco because so many are requesting it.
Please be patient as I get this set up. I'm a dad, husband and full-time engineer and those things must take priority. Any bronco-specific videos will be posted to my smaller channel BUILD2 so that's a great place to subscribe for updates.
Brief Project Overview
This is the bronco as I purchased it for $600 back in 2002. The hood and front end were crumpled, U-joints worn out, and the old 400M engine guzzled gas with little power to show for it. The color was okay but those pin stripe stickers HAD to go!
Like a lot of broncos, this one lived a hard life. Fortunately I was no stranger to bondo and sanding so I got to work on the body.
This was my time painting an entire vehicle. I'm not into show cars but I figured if I was going to go through the trouble of painting it, I might as well see how good a job I could do! I went with base coat clear which made me nervous until I shot that first layer of clear coat. Oh man does it bring out the shine!
At this point I relocated to Beaverton, OR to a house with a shop where the bronco would undergo transplant surgery for the next 1.5 years.
Here's the old 400M engine. It got 9 miles per gallon on a good day and never seemed to have enough power.
In my mind the most ridiculous part of the project was replacing the firewall. But I had all these wires and hoses that would need proper holes and boots to go through so why not use the ones from the factory? It was a lot of work but I'm convinced it was the right way to go in order to have all the modern comforts of the newer truck.
I don't imagine many people get to fully disassemble a new truck, but that's what I did next. And as an engineer working in manufacturing it was fascinating to see all the little paint marks and fasteners designed not just to function but to be manufacturable.
It fits! Kinda...
New engine mounts are built, donor firewall is in place and the windshield wiper motor has been relocated to the engine bay, just like the new trucks.
New radiator and fan shroud mounted up.
All the wiring from the donor that had to find its way into the bronco.
Fuel pumps have gotten slightly more complicated since 1978. I elected to install the new fuel pump in the original tank.
The new pump stuck up above the height of the bed which gave me the excuse I needed to put an access port in case I ever have to replace it.
New supports underneath for transmission and exhaust.
Had to trim a lot off the front of the dash, but it eventually fit.
ABS brakes require speed sensors for the wheels. I decided the simplest thing in the short term was to drill vent holes in the rotor surface, then mount the factory sensor in the dust cover to read them. It works pretty well but I'd like to eventually fab a nice trigger wheel and put it inside the hub somewhere.
4wd is great, but limited slip is even better. I went with a True-trac rear end. Cost me $900 including a donor 3rd member from Randy's ring and pinion. Unfortunately I started having issues with it years later (bits of gear teeth in the oil) and swapped back in the original open diff. I need to call up Randy's and ship it up for them to take a look because I miss it when I drive on slick stuff in 2wd.
Power windows are a must in any new vehicle. I don't recommend doing it this way but I snagged the hardware from the donor doors and made it work. I also custom machined new door openers to fit inside the modern arm rests.
There you have it folks. This last picture represents why I drive an old bronco. I grew up as a redneck spending a lot of time in the woods doing what rednecks do. My bronco allows me to keep getting out there, going anywhere I want without much concern that I'm going to break something. And now if I need to defrost the windows or use cruise control I can do it with the push of a button.
There are lots more pictures and stories to tell about the bronco but this will have to do for now. When I get a nice day I'll do a walk-around video, post it on BUILD2 and share it here.
Also a huge thanks to my wife for building this website. She literally did everything, setting up the layout, links and designing/selecting merch. I'm just filling in the pictures and text in any spare second I can find. Hope you like it!