The Truth About Cars » bronco The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:36:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » bronco Dr. Sajeev Mehta, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bronco Wed, 18 Jul 2012 13:00:56 +0000

“Hey Sajeev, it’s Mark. We’re up in Tomball looking at a ’95 Bronco. We could use some advice.”

Without sarcasm, a laugh, or any explanation, Sajeev replied with one word, “Run.”


Being a Canadian in Texas, where gas and well-used V8 SUVs are cheap, I was inclined to make very questionable choices which went against my ethos as a Canadian. Things like considering getting rid of a perfectly good Ranger and buying a mid-90s Malaise American SUV with unknown lineage. The Ranger, an amazing little truck that conveyed myself, two dogs, two motorcycles, and my other worldly possessions all the way from the east coast of Canada to Houston, had lots of life and could have had air conditioning bolted on to the 3.0L Vulcan V6 for a pitance.

But, sometimes when an idea is stuck in my head, all I need is similarly minded, common sense lacking friends to say “go for it”.

Kevin, a Z-car driving graphic designer who knew just as much about Broncos as I did at the time, drove me up to Tomball to check out what could have passed as an Al Cowlings Signature Edition Bronco. Very 90s, white grille and semi-removable top included. From a distance, it didn’t look all that bad. I thought Sajeev was a nut for telling me to run, yet when we ended the call I felt dejected. Then Kevin passed me his phone to talk to someone on the other end of the line.

“His name is Jim. Super smart guy. Loves Fords. Races Mustangs,” he blurted out while shoving his iPhone in the general direction of my face.

“Hey Jim, this is Kevin’s friend Mark. Tell me what you think of what I am about to get into,” I inquired, after I’d already partially given up on the purchase.

“Without seeing it, I can’t really say, but it’s probably good…”

It’s at this point my brain completely tuned out the rest of what Jim said. He could have warned “good at being a paperweight” or “good for low speed highway chases”. It didn’t matter at that point. I heard “good”. We are going with “good”. I can live with “good”.

The phone is hung up. The owner of the Bronco is met. The SUV is given the once-over test drive and the prospective buyer (me) ignores all the tell-tail signs of this being a disastrous transaction waiting to happen. By the end of the night, I was the proud new owner of a Ford Bronco XLT with a 5.8L V8, but drove home without the multi-ton monstrosity.

The next day, my roommate drove me back up to Tomball to complete the transaction. On arriving to the single family home on a cul-de-sac, his jaw dropped, eyes opened wide, and he uttered, “Oh my, Mark. You can’t be serious.”

To say the drive home was scary is a total understatement. The Bronco at highway speed felt like being attached to a looping roller coaster with bungie cords, my hands grabbing the wheel so hard that Klan members would be jealous of my knuckles. Keeping the aging Ford in its own lane was an exercise in futility. But, at least I had air conditioning…

As soon as my brain recognized the one good thing about the Bronco, my well air conditioned brow felt a massive blast of hot air. This is now officially the worst automotive purchase I have ever made.

After arriving home with the Bronco, it sat in the garage for a total of three months straight, except for a single trip to an auto journo meetup where it became the laughing stock of the evening. “Mark got rid of his crappy truck with no air for another crappy truck with no air,” and “Mark, you need a plate that reads ‘NO AC’ since you don’t have air and you aren’t Al Cowlings,” were the common commets of the evening.

However, almost everyone in my automotive circle of knowledge and skill helped with getting the Bronco back in running order. The V8 I thought I purchased was actually a V7, as one of the cylinders had a serious miss. All brakes and bearings, including the ones in the rear differential, were shot. Kevin, most of all, felt guilty for supporting me in the decision to take it home. Other than myself, he was the one who spent the most time working on it, which I still appreciate to this day. Sajeev, on the other hand, rightly never offered to help. He warned me.

We did get the Bronco into somewhat acceptable condition and I drove it for maybe a total of 500 miles before selling it. After all that work, money, getting gallons to the mile due to a seriously sick 351 powerplant, and other miscellaneous bullshit, I still miss the hell out of that truck. I’d have another one in a heartbeat, too. Maybe I’m cursed with some kind of defeatist mentality.

But, the moral of this story? I should have listened to Sajeev and got out of there quicker than parachute pants entering the 90s. But, if I had listened to him, I would never have developed the relationships with the people who helped me fix that truck, nor would I have learned as much as I did working on it. It’s all about what you want out of a car or truck. I got what I wanted.

After selling the Bronco, I asked Sajeev and Steve for advice on what to buy and followed on one of their suggestions. This time, I couldn’t be happier. More on that another time.

]]> 34
Could This Be The “Press Bronco” From Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas? Tue, 28 Dec 2010 16:00:32 +0000
When Raoul Duke, protagonist of Hunter S. Thompson’s best-known work, goes to cover the story of the ’71 Mint 400 race, he attempts to observe the race from a Ford-owned truck. When I saw this ’72 at a Denver wrecking yard a few days ago, I figured I might be looking at that very same truck!

Of course, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is fiction, but Thompson really did attempt to cover the Mint 400 and he might well have caught a desert ride in a Bronco such as this one.

In Thompson’s words: The Ford Motor Company had come through, as promised, with a “press Bronco” and a driver, but after a few savage runs across the desert—looking for motorcycles and occasionally finding one—I abandoned this vehicle to the photographers and went back to the bar.

It looks like this truck has been sitting outdoors with the windows open for decades and the body is rusted to hell. Probably some decent parts left on it somewhere, though.

Maybe the good ol’ Windsor still runs. You never know, you know?
DOTJ-72BroncoTan-14 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-01 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-02 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-03 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-04 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-05 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-06 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-07 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-08 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-09 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-10 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-11 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-12 DOTJ-72BroncoTan-13 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

]]> 10
Curbside Classic: 1963 IH Scout 80 Sat, 01 May 2010 07:20:51 +0000

The precise evolution of the SUV, like all car genres is debatable, but there’s no question that the International Scout is the critical link between the military Jeep and the modern SUV. It was the first vehicle of the genre to be designed from scratch to meet the anticipated growth in the off-road capable civilian market, and it clearly was the template for its many imitators: Ford Bronco, Range Rover, Chevy Blazer, Dodge Ramcharger, as well as the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero (and others). True to its name, the Scout led the industry into the land of milk and SUV profits, even if it bowed out early.

International Harvester, which was then still a major manufacturer of pickups and utility wagons, took quite a leap of faith when it began the development of the Scout in the late 1950′s. The civilian Jeep actually sold rather poorly in that decade, in part because surplus military Jeeps were available for peanuts. But leap they did, although the project almost died along the way. Early designs were too angular, which rightfully didn’t inspire the execs. When a more rounded design similar to the final version emerged from a late night session, it finally created some enthusiasm.

The body design might have been a bit adventurous compared to the Jeep, but the grille material looks like it was bought at the hardware store. Kids, this is why they call them grilles, although it would surely make a fine and dandy grill.

Originally planned to be made out of molded plastic body components supplied by Goodyear, when that turned out to be too expensive, the design was adapted to steel. A sturdy frame was not outside of International’s expertise, and Dana transfer cases and axles were readily available.

That left the matter of an engine, since IH only built rather large and heavy sixes and V8s. The solution: cut their 304 CID V8 block in half, resulting in a slant four of 152 cubic inches. For a set of detailed pictures go here.

The 2.5 liter Comanche four carried a 93 horsepower rating. It was a rather rough running unit, but that was in character with the rest of the Scout, which despite its more modern body was still a pretty primitive vehicle, especially from today’s vantage point. The four had a good torque curve, which was important for off-roading, and it was as tough as the IH V8 that donated half its block to it. In 1965, there was even a turbocharged version of the four offered, probably for those Colorado high altitude off roaders. Wonder if any survived.

The Scout appeared in late 1960 and came as a mini-pickup version or the utility, with a removable top. All of the first series (80) Scouts came with a fold down windshield. The Scout 800, which appeared in 1965, did away with that, but brought a number of other improvements in comfort and convenience. The 800, built through 1971, also had more engine options on tap: a larger 196 four; AMC-sourced 232 six; and the smallest of the International’s V8s, the 266. The Scout II replaced the 80/800 in 1971, but we’ll save that for another CC.

There’s a surprising number of Scouts on the road here, many in more regular use than this weekend toy, which got rolled (slowly and gently in soft mud) a few years back, without harm to its driver. There’s even Mr. Scout, a repair and restoration shop. Given their simplicity and rugged construction, don’t expect them to disappear anytime too soon.

More new Curbside Classics here

]]> 31