|A Little About ProjectBronco.COM|
|Soon-to-be a Bronco capable of taking on the biggest and most expensive SUVs on the roads today....|
Introducing... Project Bronco! -- Code name Megalodon
I am a true victim of the insatiable American love affair with cars. This Bronco has been with me through many of years of both good times and bad times. She's never let me down, especially when I've needed her the most. We've been through 4 accidents, an uncountable number of police chases (Yes, I was young and stupid once too), too many emergencies to speak of, and We've even been chased by angry, militant Homosexuals at a South Carolina rest stop! (This really happened, no kidding!) I've owned her for almost 13 years, which is longer than most marriages last. All I can say is, if you treat these trucks like a lady, then they will always bring you home. She was built back in the days when your new Ford Truck could actually be your life-long companion. So, as you can see from the second picture, I have A LOT of work to do to bring her back to her former glory.
Why I created ProjectBronco.COM...
Ever since I bought my truck in December, 1987 I have been looking for a place where people who own 78-79 Broncos can find restoration and performance modification information specifically for these trucks. Every now and then 4-Wheeler and Off-Road Magazine would publish a decent article on how to do a few things here and there on one of the 78-79 Broncos. But other than that, that is about all I ever could find.
And then came the Internet. I thought my prayers would be answered when I fist got online in 1993. However, till this day I have yet to find a site with any decent information specifically for these Broncos! Now that these Broncos are over 20 years old and they have become classics I felt that the need for a 78-79 Bronco site was greater than ever. So, I decided to make one. I wanted to create a place where owners of these trucks could find the info they need and can meet and talk with other 78-79 Bronco owners from all over the world. It seemed to me like almost every other type of car and truck ever made had a page similar to this one that was dedicated solely to them. Well, now we do too!!!
The Concept of My Project Bronco...
Anyone who has owned, or even driven a 78 or 79 Bronco knows full well the off-road capabilities of these vehicles in stock form. Let's face it, you can not buy a vehicle of any make, model, or year that is equipped from the factory with a better drive train than one of these Broncos. With such bullet proof factory equipment such as a 31 spline 9" rear end, a 30 spline full-floating D44 front end, gear driven NP 205 transfer case, and a C-6 transmission, these vehicles can conquer 99% of any off-road or inclement weather conditions the average owner will ever encounter during a life time! Therefore, any project that would involve modifying one of these Broncos for the specific purpose of making it a better "off-road truck" would only cater to the serious off-road enthusiast. While the 78-79 Bronco is a perfect vehicle for a serious off-road project, I will probably never take my Bronco through the kind of terrain that a stock 78-79 Bronco could not handle. I guess I'm just not brave enough to attempt to drive a daily-driven truck through that kind of terrain. So this project will not focus on making this Bronco a better off-road vehicle, but rather will focus on building a daily driven street SUV that is capable of taking on the biggest and most expensive SUVs on the roads today while attempting to keep the tuck as original as possible. One of the great things about restoring a vehicle this old is that almost every single part on the vehicle needs to be replaced or rebuilt. I plan to replace or rebuild nearly everything on this truck with state-of-the-art equipment that features technology that was either not available or was too expensive to produce in 1979.
The Main Goals for Project Bronco and What I Plan to Do step-by-step.....
Engine & Transmission
The original 351M that came in this Bronco is a basically well designed engine that I believe can be made to equal or better any engine offered in SUVs today. Although the engine was loaded down with primitive emissions controls and had almost 200,000 miles on it before I started this project, I believed the engine would make an excellent power plant for this project. This engine in particular will feature what I call "the best of both worlds" technology. By this I mean it will have all the "good stuff" that made it's ancestor, the 351 Cleveland, one of the best engines ever built as well as all of the "high tech" stuff that makes today's engines so efficient and powerful. I have just completed the engine project in the Megalodon this past summer. To say the least I am very, very pleased with how this engine has turned out. To see what I have done so far, check out the 351M/400 articles in the Technical Articles Index on this site.
The original C6 transmission, like the engine, should make an excellent base for this project. Although it has nearly 200,000 miles on it, it still shifts great and doesn't leek a drop. The Ford C6 is one of the strongest, if not the strongest automatic transmission ever built. For the exception of the fact that the C6 has no overdrive, it is already a better transmission than anything available today in any vehicle. This, of course, does not mean it can not be improved! For example:
One of the first things most people do with their Broncos is install a lift kit. A lift kit can be a rewarding upgrade with many, many benefits if done properly. However, lifting Megalodon would go against this project's goals . The stock 78-79 Bronco suspension can safely handle 32x11.50 tires on 15x8 to 15x10 inch rims. The stock height of this Bronco should be just fine. Remember, the main goal of this project is not to build a off-road truck, but to build a truck that has a smooth ride and great handling so it can compete with modern SUVs. These Broncos have a relatively smooth ride and decent handling characteristics in stock form. However, many suspension improvements have been developed since 1979 that could greatly increase it's handling and ride quality characteristics. For example;
So you may still be asking yourself, "If he plans on installing all this great suspension stuff, why doesn't he just buy a complete lift kit package? Well, that's a good question. So, consider the disadvantages of lifting one of these tucks;
Giving all of these disadvantages, it would not be practical to lift my Bronco since it is primarily driven on the street and I need the maximum highway performance I can possibly squeeze out it so it can compete with modern SUVs. However, Just to be fair to all of you out there who have lifted your Broncos, A properly installed lift kit of no more than 3" that features polyurethane bushings will not really hurt the highway performance of one of these trucks. In fact, in some cases you can actually improve it's handling if the right sizes tires (Like 33" or 35" tires on 15x10 rims) are installed to offset the increased center of gravity. Also, if your Bronco is mainly driven off-road and you do not depend on it for daily transportation, then by all means lift it to the moon! One day I will probably buy anther Bronco specifically For Off Road Driving, and I will more than likely install a lift kit on it.
Let's face it, factory exhaust systems simply suck. Chances are the original exhaust system needs to replaced anyway. There are many kits available for these Broncos, but they may not be entirely necessary. A nice set of 2 1/4 inch dual exhaust with a nice of set of high flow mufflers, such as Flowmasters, will work just fine. I have already installed a new exhaust system on this Bronco. Here are the details:
Well, like I said before, it has a D44 in the front and a 9" in the back. The original Ford locking hubs work great and the 3.50:1 limited slip gears should be plenty for a street application. I may lower the gear ratio to 4.10:1 after the overdrive unit is installed in the transmission, but until then, I plan absolutely no changes at all. All I need to do is rebuild what is already there!
Can any of you all out there guess what I'm going to say about breaks on a Bronco?
Go ahead, guess.
THEY SUCK!!!!!!! I feel like freek'n Fred Flintstone jamming my feet on the pavement trying to get 5,500 pounds of steel to stop! Folks, I have replaced EVERYTHING and the breaks are no better than when I started. It has new rotors, pads (I tried 3 different kinds), drums, shoes, master cylinder, metal lines, rubber lines, and calipers. The only thing I have not replaced is the power booster and the rear wheel cylinders. I have even bled the entire braking system 3 times and it still didn't help. I don't have a problem with stiff breaks, the power booster works fine. It's just that the damn thing wont stop!
Many people have written to me explaining that they were having the same problems with their Broncos. All of them have said that installing rear disk breaks on their Broncos has greatly improved the breaking capability of their trucks. Some people have used the rear disks from the late '70s Lincolns and others have installed the Chevrolet rear disk breaking system. As soon as I can round up enough parts to do it I'm going to try one of these rear disk break setups on mine. I will keep you all informed!
Wheels & Tires
Well, the original 15x6" steel rims have to go, and my tires are a joke. So I plan to install a set of factory Ford 15x7.5" aluminum alloy rims from a 1993 F-150 4x4 and a nice set of Michellen 32x11.50 mud & snow or all terrain tires. It is also worth noting that 32x11.50 tires are quite a bit larger than the original L78-15 tires (roughly 30x9.50). Even without a lift I will have to deal with a speedometer that is no longer accurate and a higher final drive ratio. These tires will have a higher rolling resistance and will hurt my gas mileage. But hey, it's a small price to pay for the handling benefits these wide tires will give this truck!
Oh boy. Now here's a project if there ever was one. This Bronco is fully loaded and has about as plush of an interior as you could get on ANY vehicle in 1979. However, 21 years of hot Carolina Summers has all but ruined the entire inside of my Bronco. The dash has more cracks than it has color, the carpet is completely faded and rotted, the seats (which are from an 86 Bronco) are faded, the original center console was destroyed years ago (some one sat on it), the paint on the dash and the doors is completely faded, the stereo speakers are shot, all of the weather striping is as hard as a rock and has mostly disintegrated, and even the glass has so many pits in it it's hard to see out of now. As bad as this sounds, all of these problems are fixable. I plan to replace and/or refurbish the entire interior as well as make some upgrades along the way. Just some of the upgrades I plan to do are:
Exterior, Paint & Body
Well, you saw the picture above. Do I have my work cut out for me or what? Much like the interior, 21 years of hot Carolina Summers has baked my paint job to a crisp. To make matters even worse, there are hundreds of little chips and scratches in the paint as a result of many years of four-wheeling in the thick forage of South Carolina. The only plus side to this truck is the fact that there is almost no rust on the truck at all. It may be hot here, but we almost never get any snow and we're over 300 miles from the ocean so we don't have any salt air either. I don't have the patience or the skill to paint a vehicle and make it look good, so I have to find some one else to do it. I have tried to get estimates from paint shops before, but most of them will not touch it. Some of them will take the time to give me an estimate, but all they do is quote a ridiculously high number (like $5,000.00) so they won't have to fool with it. So, again I must rely on my readers to give me some advice as to what to do and who to see. Do any of you out there know of any paint shops in-between Charlotte NC and Atlanta GA who will paint this truck?
And In Conclusion...
Well, all of this stuff is going to take me at least 2 or 3 more years to complete. Some of it I have already completed and I have tons of little things I have done to it already that I still need to put up on this site. So, if you didn't find what you were looking now, keep checking back in the future. As time goes on I plan on publishing other technical articles from other Bronco owners who share their ideas with me. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I would like to buy another 78 or 79 Bronco one day to use as a trail rig. Of course, that project will be documented here at ProjectBronco.COM as well!
But anyway, I want to thank you for stopping by and I sincerely hope you will find something on this site that will help you with your Project Bronco! g
Megalodon -- An ancient, giant, predatory shark that inhabited the earth's oceans millions of years ago that has arisen from extension to hunt and destroy the inferior sharks of modern times.
Throughout ProjectBronco.COM you will see the Paul's Product Score Rating system icon on technical articles where aftermarket parts are bought and installed on Megalodon. My rating system ranges from 1 to 10 and is based on many different factors. Below is a list of the rating system numbers and the categories in which products are rated.
*EGR -- Exhaust Gas Recirculation. This type of emissions device was never very helpful when it came to reducing emissions. All really does is "recirculate" exhaust gases into the fresh air stream. This, in theory, was supposed to "lean out" the air/fuel mixture during "over rich" conditions. All it really does is hurt horse power
** See "Should I Keep My 351M/400 or Should I Swap in a 429/460?" for an explanation.
*** ET Times -- basically means "Estimated Time of Arrival" at the end of a 1/4 mile drag strip.