Talk about an obsession! We all have our own pet projects; cars that we get all crazy about and, well, the cost-to-benefit ratio gets tossed out the window once were knee-deep in it. You end up with cars like the 1969 COPO Camaro on our showroom floor that cost $200,000+ to build but has a sticker of $89,900, or this absolutely jaw-dropping 1966 Ford Bronco Roadster, which is unquestionably the nicest one in the world. Go ahead; ask around, I'll wait.
Seriously, this Bronco has been exhaustively researched, meticulously restored, and filled with the world's greatest collection of NOS Bronco parts, making it so off-the-charts spectacular that there's just no way it will ever be topped again. Hell, I bet the parts don't even exist anymore to build another one like this it uses what might be the very last NOS floor mat in existence (we'll talk more about that in a little bit), and perhaps the last two NOS hubcaps available anywhere. Wow.
And talk about rare! The first generation of the early Bronco was built from 1966-1977, with a total of 225,585 produced. U13 Roadsters like this one were only built in '66, '67, and '68, with a total of only 5000 built over that 3-year production run. According to Bronco experts, there are probably less than 150 in existence today, and only perhaps only 10 or so restored to original condition. This truck is so rare that I'd never even heard of such a vehicle and figured that a Bronco without doors or a roof would have been some aftermarket custom job or something. Guess again this truck is the real deal, 100% as-built by Ford Motor Company.
This truck was discovered in Texas, where it had lived its entire life. When it was found, it was a battered and beaten vehicle that had been modified into an off-road hunting buggy used to ferry hunters into the wilderness (which is cool, because going where other vehicles can't follow is exactly what these early SUVs were designed to do). The owner dragged it home and embarked on an exhaustive 2000+ hour restoration that evolved into an obsessive search for rare NOS Bronco parts to complete it. The owner figures he probably spent another 1000 or so hours just chasing parts and parts vehicles to complete this truck.
So how nice is it? Incredible. Astounding. Gorgeous. Shall I go on? There's no doubt in my mind that this is the nicest Bronco Roadster in the world, and quite possibly the nicest early Bronco of any kind in the world. I don't like to use words like "perfect" and "flawless" in my descriptions because there's always some Internet goofball who will argue semantics with you, but I'm going to use both words in the case of this Bronco. It IS perfect. It IS flawless.
The exterior is the original Caribbean Turquoise, repainted in a 2-stage base/clear paint for a spectacular shine. On the one hand, it really is beautiful, but on the other, it pretty much means this trucks off-roading days are 100% over. No matter, because this is a truck that will win every single show it attends, no questions asked. The body, having spent its life in Texas, was 99% rust-free with only a few patches that I only know about because the owner told me; they're otherwise invisible. The front fenders and hood are new reproduction items, replaced simply because the originals were too bashed and battered to repair, and the repro stuff is exact in every way why not use it? The rest of the body is 100% original Henry steel, restored to a better-than-new standard. Every single nook and cranny was smoothed and sanded before the paint was sprayed, then everything was block sanded for a flawless final finish.
Paint quality in the '60s was nowhere near as good as it is today, and trucks often got haphazard paint application at best from the factory, so seeing this truck in its current condition would probably make some of those factory workers who original built it stare in awe. The trim is all NOS or original stuff restored to new condition these trucks are so rare that there are virtually no reproduction pieces being made for them. The owner reports buying entire parts trucks just to get specific pieces talk about dedication to perfection! Lights, lenses, even the fold-down windshield, are all like new and show very, very well.
Mechanically, this numbers-matching Bronco features the 170 cubic-inch inline six that powered all early Broncos, restored to factory specifications. While its 105 horsepower and 158 pounds of torque seem modest today, remember that this is an extremely lightweight vehicle with 4.10 gears, so performance is lively under all conditions. It was designed to happily crawl over rocks and slog through marshes, so brute horsepower isn't necessary when you have the flexibility of a 2-speed transfer case. The engine is highly detailed in every single way, looking factory fresh from the oil bath air cleaner (which was only on the very early Broncos) to the new single exhaust system. The engine is corporate Ford Blue, with NOS hoses, clamps, and authentic NOS plug wires. The exhaust manifold looks like it has been stored in the desert or something. That's the nicest cast iron casting I've ever seen. The starter and alternator have been rebuilt and feature correct cadmium plating. Heck, even the belts are authentic and correctly-coded pieces. You'll also note the NOS FoMoCo washer fluid bag on the driver's side inner fender, and the reproduction Autolite sta-ful battery on the passenger's side (a show-only NOS battery that has never been filled with acid is also included with the truck). It's incredibly nice in there, and 100% authentic.
The engine is backed by a 3-speed manual transmission and that aforementioned 2-speed transfer case, both of which were rebuilt at the time of restoration. The front and rear axles feature 4.10 and 4.11 gears, respectively, which is how 4x4s are supposed to be set up. The Broncos innovative coil spring front suspension, which delivered a much more civilized ride than the leaf-sprung Jeeps and other early 4x4s, has been fully detailed with the correct decals and markings throughout. A new exhaust system gives the lively six cylinder engine the right tone, while a new gas tank hangs underneath. This Bronco also carries the optional 12-gallon auxiliary gas tank, but it is not hooked up since this is a show truck (it can easily be connected and all the correct fittings and hoses are present). This auxiliary tank is authentic to the truck. Some may say that the dual tanks were not introduced until the 289 V8 was available in late '66, but they are simply misinformed. Early factory literature clearly shows dual tanks under a six-cylinder Bronco (it's important to note that the literature was printed prior to the trucks debut in 65). Most importantly, the original dual tanks were found in this truck before it was restored and they were definitely put there on the assembly line. Since we originally featured this amazing Bronco, two more original dual tank survivor U13 Roadsters have popped up, one in Arizona and one in New Mexico. If you were the recipient of bogus conventional knowledge prior to now, consider yourself enlightened!
The brakes have been fully rebuilt, including the original single master cylinder, and all new lines have been installed. The shocks are NOS units, as are the front coil springs. The original 15-inch steel wheels have been refinished and are shod with 7.00-15 DEESTONE tires that still have the nubs on the tread this truck has literally 0 miles since it was completed.
The interior is equally spectacular. The silver upholstery was standard equipment and unique to 1966 Broncos, and in the roadster, a back seat was installed and the spare tire moved to the rear tailgate. The upholstery matches the original stuff exactly. That's a NOS steering wheel, NOS rear armrests (in black, which is incredibly rare), and all the other parts are either perfect originals or restored pieces. The 3-on-the-tree shifter is unique to the early Broncos, and it slides effortlessly through its gears, while the T-handle on the floor controls the transfer case.
Speaking of the floor shifter and NOS parts, you'll note that the bezel for that 1-of-a-kind NOS shift boot has not been screwed to the floor. The restorer just couldn't bear to punch holes in that perfect NOS floor mat, which was probably the last one in the entire universe. Acquired from a fellow Bronco hobbyist who was saving it for his own project, he apparently stored it for years flat and in a dark area to protect it from UV damage. The only other NOS floor mat available was still in its box and was folded in quarters it would probably have cracked when removed from the package. This floor mat was conditioned every few months to keep it from drying out, and eventually the restorer was able to acquire it for more than $1000 when that other hobbyist's project didn't happen. Yes, this truck has a $1000 floor mat, which is why there are no holes punched in it. Have I said "Wow!" too often yet?
This Bronco is also equipped with virtually every option Ford offered on the Bronco, including chrome horn ring, heater and defroster, manual antenna and AM radio, protective dash speaker grille cover, bucket seats, rear bench seat, ICC lamp flashers, padded black dash pad, sun visors, front and rear chrome bumpers, bright metal taillight bezels, skid plates under the fuel tank and transfer case, inside tailgate mounted spare tire, rocker panel racing stripes, 15-inch wheel covers, auxiliary 12-gallon fuel tank, and an ultra-rare 6-blade cooling fan (seen only on Houston DSO-coded Broncos).
Documentation includes a CD-ROM with a video and dozens of restoration photos documenting the entire build start to finish. There are also original 1966 Bronco brochures, Ford truck brochures, the May 1967 issue of "Popular Mechanics" issue featuring the new Bronco, a copy of the February 2010 issue of "Auto/Truck Round-Up Monthly" with a feature story on this Bronco, a copy of the September 1965 issue of "Ford Times" featuring the Bronco, a 1966 Ford Bronco Preliminary Shop Manual, plus a detailed inspection report. There's also a new 2010 calendar where this truck is the September 2010 feature vehicle.
This Bronco is, without any qualifications or disclaimers, a true #1 vehicle. That's incredibly difficult to achieve, and is doubly difficult on a rare piece like this where virtually no reproduction parts are available. This truck is probably the most exhaustively researched and documented early Bronco Roadster in the world, and if you need the very best, there really is only one. You'll never see another one at a show, and the quality of this restoration virtually guarantees a trophy at any show you want to attend, from the Ford Nationals to the giant AACA meet in Hershey, PA each fall. There are no excuses, no disclaimers, and no asterisks with this truck it is, to use a word I hate to utter when describing any vehicle, flawless. Call us today.
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