Will the automobile industry ever match the glory it achieved in
the 1950s and 1960s? A hallmark of an industrial powerhouse that's
spawned legendary designers, groomed global leaders and literally
driven innovation, the 'Golden Age' was an excellent time to be a
car enthusiast. Consumers were enamored with the latest and
greatest cars, and virtually every manufacturer, from Ferrari to
Hudson, was busy winning on Sunday and selling on Monday. It seems
only fitting that, along with celebrated personalities and
modern-era dynasties, this period gave rise to some of the coolest
collector cars ever created. In addition to being the oldest
restored Bronco in existence, this Heavy Duty ute is a heavily
optioned corporate car that, unlike most of its first-hour peers,
is largely original and exceptionally correct. And if you're in the
market for a pedigreed collectible that backs an incredible story
with timeless looks and impressive attention to detail, you're
reading about your next classic!
A HISTORY OF FIRSTS
You might be wondering what's so special about this Bronco. Well,
Let's begin with a little Ford history. Like most OEM
manufacturers, Ford is constantly chasing efficiency. In addition
to building multiple products off the same assembly line, the
company's engineers are forever tweaking factory techniques to
create better products, quicker. Back in August of 1966, the
company's Michigan Truck Plant was tasked with building the first
Bronco while continuing to crank out well-established models like
the F100 and F250. And that's where this historic U15 enters the
picture. Assembled during the first hour of Bronco production, it's
both unique and exclusive in character and execution.
Bronco number 51 is currently the seventh oldest Bronco in
existence and, currently, the oldest restored Bronco on the planet.
Now, you might be asking how the seventh oldest Bronco in existence
is numbered 51. Easy - as stated, the Michigan Truck Plant produced
a variety of models, and most historians believe the facility's
truck VINs were intermingled and not necessarily sequential. That
means Bronco 51 was likely the 51st unit of combined F100, Bronco
and F250 production logged during the first hour of August 11th,
1965. Hardcore Bronco enthusiasts will know that the 1966 model
year was unique in that Ford was very much fine-tuning the model,
especially in its first three months. Because Bronco number 51 has
been so well preserved, it's an exceptionally correct classic that
still retains unique production quirks that, on most of its kin,
have been either eliminated by modern restoration or lost to the
trails of time.
That brings us to the truck's specific purpose. In addition to
being the seventh oldest Bronco in existence, the oldest restored
Bronco in existence and probably the most correct early Bronco in
existence, it's also the earliest known U152 Heavy Duty Bronco in
existence. That's right, all six of this Ford's predecessors are
light duty U150 models with less kit, and that cool distinction was
the restorer's first clue to this classic's initial mission.
Manufactured under a DSO 89 Transportation Services code, wording
that might be quite familiar to Mustang enthusiasts, the restorer
initially thought the truck was sold to some sort of fleet.
However, given that this Bronco was, and still is, a highly
optioned example of a basic ute, that just didn't set well with
him. After more research, it was discovered that most DSO 89 builds
were either given to Ford executives or used as marketing vehicles.
So, there you have it: this Heavy Duty Bronco was likely
manufactured as a factory showpiece that was paraded around by Ford
Motor Company brass.
When the restorer found this Roadster on Craigslist back in 2010,
it had been sitting for close to 30 years. A cherished member of
its first buyer's family, the truck had been parked when the
family's patriarch fell too ill to continue driving it. The
restorer, an extremely dedicated Bronco enthusiast, knew he'd found
something really special. He'd restored plenty of Broncos, but he
knew this unique rig would be next level. Over the course of five
years, he conducted a frame-off, concours restoration that was, at
times, very extreme. How extreme you ask? Well, let's just say he
bought multiple complete 1966 Bronco donors simply for the purpose
of cherry picking one or two parts off each truck. That said, this
was a very clean, largely original U15 full-top ute when the
restoration started, which is undoubtedly why it retains so much of
its early-build character. Created by the Budd Company for Ford
Motor Company, the truck's solid profile is mostly original,
lending its correct Caribbean Turquoise two-stage seasoned retro
flare. And that appropriately '60s flash looks great under correct,
optional rocker panel stripes.
In addition to those aptly named stripes, this Ford was assembled
with an interesting array of notable aesthetics, some optioned and
some unique to early-build Broncos. At the front of the truck, an
early-build 'eyebrow grille' hangs crisp parking lamps and old
school halogen headlights above an optional, 1966-exclusive bumper
that features optional guards. Behind that grille, a sculpted hood,
complete with optional windshield washers, flows to a hinged
windscreen, which hangs an early-build mirror behind polished
wipers. Original Carlite greenhouse glass, which casts reflections
in optional chrome mirrors, caps original handles, simple "Bronco"
scripts and a color-keyed fuel cap. And at the back of the truck, a
1966-exclusive lift gate shades 1966-exclusive taillights that,
complete with optional bezels, illuminate an optional,
ORIGINAL AND ONLY
As most Ford historians probably know, Dearborn kicked off Bronco
production with a 170 cubic inch inline 6-cylinder. The 289 that is
often retrofitted to these trucks wasn't technically on the option
sheet until about halfway through the 1966 model year. So, the
completely rebuilt and carefully detailed mill you see in this
roadster's super clean engine bay is both correct and original.
Designed from the ground up to be a tough-as-nails workhorse and,
serving as primary Bronco power for almost a decade, the
Thriftpower Six is a favorite among vintage truck fans because of
its simple design, adequate power and excellent durability. And, in
the name of authenticity, pretty much everything on this ute's 170
has been returned to intentional, factory-spec simplicity. At the
top of the engine, a 1966-exclusive oil-bath air cleaner caps a
requisite Ford carburetor. Note the correct, optional 'Houston DSO'
six-blade pulley fan. Both the truck's alternator and starter are
original units that have been professionally rebuilt. And there's
even a super rare, 1966-exclusive metal fresh air box.
A BRONCO'S BRONCO
Believed to be the oldest U152 Heavy Duty Bronco in existence, this
Ford's been Built Ford Tough literally from hour one of day one!
Power meets the pavement through an original 3-speed which, like
the truck's Thriftpower Six, was the only kit Ford offered at the
Bronco's launch. That drivetrain powers an optional 9-inch axle
that, included with the factory's Heavy Duty hardware, is correctly
rebuilt with an optional limited-slip differential and optional
4.11 gears. That drivetrain rolls in a correct Heavy Duty
suspension, which combines correct, optional skid plates with
original Heavy Duty leafs that have been professionally re-arched.
Stops are provided by a quartet of manual drums which, you guessed
it, includes correct Heavy Duty units out back. An aluminized,
single-pipe exhaus...for more information please contact the