Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? Especially when it’s a plan that was hatched by two innovative hot rod builders – Velocity Restorations and the Roadster Shop. In the case of this amazing ’76 Bronco, the PPG Dream Car from the 2017 Southwest Nationals, that’s exactly what happened.
You see, not only is Velocity Restorations known for its amazing restorations of muscle cars and classic trucks, but the shop also has a penchant for building stunning early Broncos. For those of you not familiar with the early Bronco, these short-wheelbase four-wheel-drive Fords were produced from 1966-1977 and first launched in response to the International Scout, as well as the Jeep CJ5. They were no-frills utilitarian vehicles built to serve, though over the years they did receive power accessory options and a few upgrades. Today, these first-gen Broncos have developed a faithful following and are becoming even more desired by enthusiasts.
The Bronco you see here rolled into Velocity’s shop to undergo a ‘typical’ restoration along with a late-model engine swap. The owner purchased the truck an auction, but once the team at Velocity Restorations started taking it apart they found trouble spots and problems throughout. It was going to need a complete rebuild to make it right.
Right about this time the owners of Velocity and the cast from Roadster Shop were in the midst of a bench racing session during last year’s Goodguys Nashville Nationals. Word of Roadster Shop’s plan for a complete chassis for early Broncos, including an independent front suspension, came up and you can guess what happened next.
The ’76 Bronco was torn down to its bare shell so the Velocity team could work its magic. Modern touches throughout the body include preparing for flush-mounted glass, a shaved tailgate, and factory door hinges being removed in favor of a hidden set. A custom set of billet headlamp and taillight assemblies were designed, along with a pair of fabricated bumpers that tuck in closer to the body and wrap slightly around the corners. There’s even a hidden winch up front that you probably didn’t even notice at first glance.
Once you release the two push-locked hood latches, you’ll see that the engine compartment was also given the treatment of smooth panels and the removal of bumps and barbs. In fact, the only thing mounted to the firewall is a billet master cylinder from Baer, so all of your attention is guided to the Whipple-supercharged 5.0-liter Coyote engine. The cubic inches may match those of the original small block, but the similarity stops there as this combination puts 525 horsepower to the ground. A 6R80 automatic transmission feeds the power down to an Atlas transfer case and finally to a well-prepped Currie 9-inch.
The Roadster Shop chassis is based around laser-cut and contoured main rails with a triangulated trailering arm rear suspension and custom-made A-arms for the IFS. You’re looking at about a foot of travel in the front and 13-inches in the rear, while dual-rate springs optimize the ride quality in conjunction with a set of Fox 2.5-inch twin-tube bypass shocks and coil-overs. The 18-inch American Racing wheels with beadlocks help secure a set of aggressive 35×12.5-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers.
Back up top, once you pull on the paint-matched door handles you’ll see the leather work of Paul Atkins covering the door panels and ProCar seats. The dash was modified with updated switches, Resto-Mod A/C and a Dakota Digital gauge assembly that harkens to the original single-pod factory gauge setup. A Steer Clear offset steering coupler was integrated with an ididit column armed with a shift lever to leave room for the transfer case levers. You barely notice the roll cage tucked up into the corners and over the heads of passengers, not to mention the well-integrated Kicker audio system.
The Bronco received a custom blended green hue from PPG once the Velocity team had the Ford ’76 Bronco panels perfected. The bumpers, doors, flares, beadlocks and even the entire roof were sprayed to match, while a low-key gold highlight stripe, similar to the factory Special Décor stripe kit that was offered the same year, adds a subtle break in the paint theme. Once out in the sun, the color changes in brightness and even sparks into a more brilliant tone at just the right angle.
Velocity Restorations took great care to keep this rig conspicuously Bronco by respectfully crafting subtle upgrades throughout. The long vent windows are absent, but the dual fuel filler caps were retained on the driver side quarter panel (though with a much better fit and cool billet caps). Once you get a look underneath, though, it’s a different story with the modern underpinnings provided by the RS4R IFS chassis.
Like most build projects, the plan for this sought-after early Bronco was easy to put together on paper, but by the time the project started in earnest, Velocity had just 90 days to get it done in order to make its debut at the 2017 SEMA Show as a feature vehicle in the Hot Rod Industry Alliance booth. By pulling together and putting in long hours, the Velocity Restoration team was able to make it happen.
In the sea of hot rods and muscle cars displayed at SEMA, the ’76 Bronco stood out. It was named one of the top 10 4x4s during the SEMA Battle of the Builders, and a couple weeks later it was picked as a PPG Dream Car during the Southwest Nationals, as well as a Top 10 Builder’s Choice ride. It’s great to see a plan exceed its expectations. We can’t wait to see video of this Bronco tackling the sand dunes this summer!