Ford Crawler Everyone Can Appreciate

by Kevin McNulty photography KEVIN MCNULTY

e really admire guys like Wayne Sanders, guys who go four-wheeling with some buddies a few times and then they're hooked for life. This '74 Ford Bronco is the fruition of Wayne's quest for the perfect family adventure vehicle. It's actually his second early Ford Bronco in just a few years. He restored the first Bronco so nicely that he just couldn't bring himself to beat it up on the trail. He sold it and started another Bronco build, and he went from beauty to functionality.

Some guys just have a knack for building 4x4s. However, we haven't met too many enthusiasts like Wayne who build incredibly functional rigs the first few years they get into off-roading. Many guys take their rig to a shop to have it built, but not Wayne. He had to do it himself. He tore into the old Bronco. The wheelbase was stretched for better stability, and a potent 5.0L Mustang engine was dropped in, increasing the powerband and bumping up the rig's capabilities on- and off-highway. After all the late nights in the garage, Wayne's ingenuity got him a rig that dominates the trails, impressed his friends in his local four-wheel-drive club, and got us to say, "Hey, that's a pretty cool rig."

IThis Bronco went from a mild trail rig to an articulating beast in a short time. In fact, when we found Wayne on the trail, he had just finished the last of a few major modifications, like the installation of the FOA 18-inch-travel coilover shocks and the suspension modifications. Wayne's really handy with a welder and tube bender. He did all the tube work, including the rollcage and front and rear bumpers. A salvaged and rebuilt Dana 60 axle was dropped in the front and fitted with 5.38 gears, disc brakes, a custom high-steer setup, and a Detroit Locker for dependable traction.

2 The suspension was designed for maximum articulation—the custom front radius arms and rear four-link give the Bronco the ability to crawl over the toughest obstacles that might be thrown underneath it. The factory wheelbase of 92 inches was stretched to 107 inches, giving the rig more stability on and off the highway.

3 A 14-bolt was installed in the rear of the vehicle because these axles are easy to work on, parts are plentiful, and they are extremely reliable and strong. It contains a 5.38 gearset and a spool for unquestion able traction. Driveshafts take a beating, so Wayne had Tom Woods Drive Shafts build the front driveshaft, and the rear he picked up from Pro Shaft.

4 You can hear the rumble of Wayne's Bronco mile away. This isn't as impressive as the fact that the swapped '91 Ford H.O. Mustang engine cranks out 225 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. The 5.0L engine definitely gets the 38-inch Super Swamper Boggers moving when they need to.

5 This is the kind of simplicity we like on an interior. We don't need to worry about getting it muddy or dusty; nothing can really get ruined or broken. At the end of a long trail run the rig can simply be hosed out. Cool.

"Some rigs are shop-built, but not Wayne's—he had to build it himself"

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