The Ford Boss Bronco Prototype Was a Bronco Raptor Preview in 1969

Googling issues generally turns up extra than simply search outcomes. Take Wes Eisenschenk’s discovery of an extended misplaced, extremely uncommon 1969 Ford Bronco prototype, which got here up after he plugged the rig’s serial quantity into Google in 2016. As he places it: “There it was, the lacking 1969 Ford Boss Bronco prototype, in an expired eBay itemizing.” The web had dredged up what quantities to a 40 years too early Ford Bronco Raptor ideated on the peak of the muscle-car period.

What Is a Boss Bronco?

A Boss Bronco? Sure, Ford constructed a prototype high-performance Boss Bronco 4×4 in 1969 at its legendary clandestine enterprise Kar-Kraft. The burly SUV featured a blueprinted 1969 Mustang Shelby GT 350 engine, a Hello-Po C4 computerized transmission, and 4.11 limited-slip gears entrance and rear, amongst different really muscular particulars. By some means, the one-of-one Boss Bronco survived underneath the radar for greater than 40 years in implausible unique situation.

Wes, who uncovered the Boss Bronco, is an editor at CarTech, the writer behind the ebook, Kar-Kraft: Race Vehicles, Prototypes and Muscle Vehicles of Ford’s Particular Automobiles Exercise Program,” by Charlie Henry. Analysis for this ebook dredged up the VIN for the Boss Bronco prototype, which was constructed to show the idea of a manufacturing high-performance Bronco for then-Ford president Bunkie Knudsen, who together with his cohort from Basic Motors, Larry Shinoda, was largely answerable for Ford’s unique Boss Mustang program of 1969-1971.

In manufacturing trim, the Bronco’s largest engine in 1969 was a 302. Kar-Kraft put in a warmed-over 351 Windsor. It wasn’t a full Boss V-8, however a efficiency motor from the 1969 Shelby GT 350.

The unique workforce at Kar-Kraft began with a specifically geared up 1969 Bronco Sport, despatched to them immediately from the Ford meeting line. It was geared up with a 302 V-8, 4.11 gears, a limited-slip diff, and—doubtless as no coincidence—it was completed in a rare-for-the-year coat of Empire paint—a shade of yellow that was identified to be Knudsen’s favourite colour. In any case, nothing is sacred when seeking to have a prototype authorized by the Boss’s boss!

To verify this mission—initially known as merely the “Particular Bronco” in inner paperwork—was every part a high-performance Bronco must be, Kar-Kraft referred to as in Invoice Stroppe to supervise the construct. Stroppe, who was working Ford’s off-road racing workforce, definitely had greater than sufficient expertise to know what it might take to construct a righteous Bronco. In any case, he’d fielded a workforce of the issues to Baja off-road victories for Ford.

The Boss Bronco parked exterior Ford Styling in 1969. The Bronco had been repainted years in the past, and present proprietor Colin Comer used this picture when re-applying the hockey-stick stripe and Boss Bronco decals to calculate their appropriate dimensions.

Among the many modifications chosen by the Kar-Kraft workforce and Stroppe for the Particular Bronco (which was quickly re-named the Boss Bronco, ostensibly to tie it in with Ford’s current line of Boss automobiles), was extra horsepower. Out went the 302 V-Eight and in got here a 1969 GT 350 210-S-code 351 four-barrel Windsor motor, though the one offered for the Boss Bronco by Ford was additionally balanced and blueprinted, a lot because the allegedly “bone inventory” engines used for journal highway check automobiles had been stated to be again within the day. The V-Eight exhaled by a real twin exhaust with glasspack mufflers. Backing up this warmed-over 351 Windsor was a customized Kar-Kraft-fabricated adapter that allowed a Hello-Po C4 computerized transmission to be fitted; it might be the primary computerized transmission Ford put in a Bronco.

Stroppe twin shocks had been put in in any respect 4 corners to assist hold the large 15-inch chrome wheels and 10-15LT Gates Commando tires on the bottom when the going bought tough. Inside, a Stroppe padded steering wheel, Stroppe roll bar, and a Mustang shifter for the C4 had been put in, together with customized upholstered panels and aluminum trim to complete the within of the rear quarter-panels and tailgate for a extra upscale look. The rear wheel wells had been lower—sorry, first-gen Bronco followers!—and Stroppe fender flares put in for the wanted tire clearance, a Cougar Eliminator hood scoop bolted on, and eventually, the Boss Mustang-style black hockey-stick stripes with “BOSS BRONCO” lettering had been utilized.

. . . And Why Aren’t There Extra of Them?

Lee Iacocca famously fired Knudsen earlier than a manufacturing Boss Bronco might get off the bottom and dwell as much as its promise. Afterward, stock sheets present Kar-Kraft was purported to crush the one and solely Boss Bronco prototype. By some means, it escaped. Precisely how remains to be unknown, however consultants suspect it was merely offered to an worker when Kar-Kraft was liquidated in late 1970.

Regardless of how the Bronco made it into the wild, Wes was the extraordinarily fortunate soul who discovered the Boss Bronco many years later. The muscle truck had offered exterior of eBay (keep in mind, the itemizing had expired by the point Wes occurred upon it), so Wes searched and located the final word purchaser, a person in Washington State, who agreed to promote the Bronco for a pleasant revenue. Wes then posted an image of the uncommon prototype on an web discussion board in search of additional information on it. That is when Colin Comer noticed it.

Colin owns Colin’s Traditional Vehicles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s additionally a diehard Ford and Shelby authority and collector and has authored quite a few books on the topic. He and Wes had labored collectively at one other publishing firm, which is how they grew to become pals.

“As quickly as I noticed Wes’ put up on the Boss Bronco, I instantly emailed him and stated I needed to have it,” Colin stated. “Being an enormous Ford muscle man, in addition to a long-time early Bronco proprietor, how might I not? I had no thought the Boss Bronco had survived. To me, it is likely one of the final early Broncos. Plus the Kar-Kraft and Stroppe connection is simply so cool. I did not get a lot sleep till I satisfied my buddy Wes to promote it to me! As soon as we arrived at a deal, I needed to promote my Holman-Moody-built 1969 Bronco to assist fund the Boss, however I’ve no regrets.”

Colin was clearly ecstatic to search out himself the proprietor of a major Ford prototype constructed at Kar-Kraft.

“The truck was painted as soon as however in any other case untouched. There may be zero rust anyplace, which may be very uncommon for an early Bronco. It nonetheless has all of its unique finishes beneath. It has the unique Kar-Kraft-installed Mustang shifter for the C4 computerized and the fabricated transmission adaptor they made, and nonetheless had the unique engine with its unique 210-S tag. The whole lot right down to the unique carburetor and unique prototype twin exhaust remains to be on the truck. It reveals 60,000 miles and 47 years of use, however it’s—amazingly—all there. And that is what issues.”

Colin in contrast unique Ford pictures of the truck from Kar-Kraft to search out the SUV’s unique hockey-stick stripe dimensions had been modified barely throughout its repaint, and the Boss Bronco decals had been lengthy gone. Almost certainly, Kar-Kraft pulled these off earlier than promoting the truck to disguise its prototype standing.

Colin calculated the unique stripe dimensions utilizing the 1969 manufacturing unit pictures and by discovering remnants of the originals within the door jambs, then re-sprayed the stripes appropriately. He then had a brand new set of Boss Bronco decals made to return the truck to its unique prototype look. The Boss Bronco, now out of hiding, sees frequent use by Colin, who has already added just a few thousand miles to its odometer. He believes it is a disgrace the Boss Bronco by no means made it to manufacturing, because it “would have been an enormous hit” in 1969, “very like the Ford Raptor is at this time.”

1969 Ford Boss Bronco Specs

  • Owned by: Colin Comer
  • Engine: 290-hp 351-ci 210-S Windsor V-8
  • Transmission: C4 3-speed computerized
  • Axles: Dana 30 entrance, Ford 9-inch rear with 4.11 gears and limited-slip
  • Inside: White vinyl bucket seat
  • Wheels: 15×10 customized
  • Tires: 32×11.50R15LT BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
  • Particular components: Shelby GT 350 210-S engine; C4 transmission with Mustang shifter; particular paint, stripes, and decals; Stroppe roll bar, twin shocks, and fender flares; Cougar Eliminator hood scoop; customized wheels

This story initially appeared in Sizzling Rod in March 2018.

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