The Truth About Cars » Ford Bronco The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +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 » Ford 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.

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New or Used: Yo Dawg, Listen Up this Time! Tue, 22 May 2012 11:15:10 +0000


Mark writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

Sajeev tried to save me once before but I didn’t listen. Maybe this time I will. Last year, I bought a bomb of a project and he did his best to scare me away. He saw the monstrosity in person. That monster being the 1995 Ford Bronco I bought on a whim. We talked on the phone before I purchased the OJ Bronco. Sajeev told me to avoid it like the plague. Yet, I didn’t listen. I got burned. I owned it for less than 6 months (3 of those months being spent in my garage) before selling it to an offroader in Ohio.

But, now I am in a different situation…

I am back in Canada where gas is significantly more expensive (very unlike cheap Houston Texas gas). My girlfriend and I will be in the market soon for a vehicle and we have the following criteria:

1) Fun to drive: must be a manual, preferably RWD or AWD, and a bit chuckable (not in the “chuck it in the garbage” sense of the Bronco).
2) Practicality: I don’t need a gas guzzler. Something efficient. Two doors are doable. Four doors are better. Wagon or hatch is best. However, it must have enough room for my girlfriend and I, plus two black Labrador mixes (see cute doggy brothers picture).
3) Utility: It needs to be able to tow two motorcycles (~400lbs each) and trailer. Also, we need another room for camping gear, even when the dogs are with us.
4) Realistic: We have finite funds (like most people) so we would definitely be going for something used, under $8000. I couldn’t care less what badge is on the front.


Steve answers:

If you fold down the rear seats, most any modern-day AWD wagon should do the trick.

Subarus tend to be fully priced. A Mazda 6 Mazdaspeed version would be rare and priced too high for your budget. Hondas have stiff price premiums and no real wagons in that price range… at least in the states. Nissan only offers wagon-like SUV’s with AWD, although a Versa hatchback may be just enough to fit the two pooches with the rear seats down.

But that Versa is front wheel drive as well. To be frank, most of what I usually recommend would be front wheel drive because precious few hardcore enthusiasts would ever get the virile satisfaction of actually using the capabilities that come with a good RWD or AWD setup.

This is not an easy deal. You need to figure out whether FWD coupled with a great set of tires can already take care of your sporty needs. If so, let me offer a real dark horse to this race. A 2007 Ford Focus ZXW. Surprisingly chuckable. Great fuel economy. Cheap to maintain. Plus with the seats down in the back, it should be enough to transport the two labs. You should be able to get a very low mileage one and keep it until the Blue Jays win a pennant.

Yes, I am aware that it probably fails the ‘fashion du jour’ test. If you must have AWD and a stick there is always a Subaru Legacy, a Saab 9-3 or a Volvo S60. But I have owned and/or driven all of these cars from the 07′ – 08′ time period and I believe the better bang for the buck can be had with a domestic. Consider the Astra XR AWD as well. Good luck!

Sajeev answers:

Oh man, did I ever try hard to show you the reality of your situation!  Then again, I shoulda known better.  Nobody learns their lesson until they burn their finger on the waffle iron. Many people like the notion of owning a cool old vehicle and think they can make it work, but even I had to give up on that notion and buy a new vehicle to get to work.

I like Steve’s recommendations, except for the towing part.  Then again, you are probably towing 1500lbs or so, and any of these vehicles can make it happen…stopping at highway speeds is another concern.

If you insist on a stick, a Subaru Forester does it all.  Find one with your manual trans, a long service history and scan the forums for potential problems with that particular year and powertrain. Also keep your fingers cross it wasn’t abused.  Not that I’d recommend this option, especially they can be awful thirsty…but it does make sense considering your requirements.

A Focus wagon is great for your budget.  Maybe a Toyota Matrix XRS or a Mazda 6 wagon, too.  None of these are great for towing, but maybe you can overlook that. Just like you and the laughably horrible Bronco I saw many moons ago, you want a vehicle that doesn’t exist at your price range.  Time to make some compromises (fuel economy, manual transmission, budget, tow ratings) and see what you REALLY need in a vehicle.

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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?
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