There’s been a lot of excitement about the return of the 2021 Ford Bronco. Especially since it received so much inspiration from the 1966-1977 Bronco. What you don’t see people talking about is the 1980-1996 fullsize Bronco’s.
The 1980-1996 Ford Bronco used the Dana 44 Twin Traction Beam (TTB) front axle which has dominated off-road racing because of the amount of wheel travel that it can achieve.
When Kevin Boutwell at Extreme Motorsports in Hillsboro, Oregon gave Rob Graves a ride in his Bronco, they caught a lot of air in the dunes, and Graves was hooked. He decided to purchase a 1983 Ford Bronco and built the “Blue Thunder” Bronco that you see here.
Although it started out as a 1983 model, it was upgraded with 1993 Bronco fiberglass panels from Fiberwerx, and then covered in Toyota Speedway Blue paint.
The 351W V8 was bored and stroked to 434 CID and built by Kenny’s Machine in Molalla, Oregon. It’s Eagle 4.250 forged crank and Probe 10.5:1 cans are balanced and blueprinted, and the ARP studs and Ford Racing main girdle ensure it stays together. An Edelbrock Rollin Thunder cam and Pro-Comp 210cc Manley valves handle the delivery, and the Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap EFI system gets the air and fuel heading in the right direction. Doug Thorley long-tube, large-tube headers and dual 40-Series Flowmaster mufflers give it the thunder. Ignition duty is handled by a MSD Digital 6A ignition. This combination makes an impressive 550 horsepower.
Power is sent to the axles through a C-6 automatic transmission with a 2,500 TCI converter, B&M shift kit, and R Code Servo. The transmission is shifted by a Hurst shifter.
The Bronco achieves pre-runner duties thanks to 17-inches of wheel travel in the front, and 16-inches in the rear. The front wheel travel is achieved by King 14”x2.5” coil-overs on four-inch custom drop brackets. A Superlift Superrunner steering system and Extreme Motorsports custom radius arms complete the setup.
In the rear, 16”x2.5” King Coil-overs’ reservoirs mount to the full roll cage. The rear axle is a trussed Ford 9-inch with Moser billet ends and 4.10 gears. A custom traction bar controls the wheel hop.
The Bronco rides on 37/12.50R17LT BFG MT KM2s wrapped around 17”x9” KMC XD125 Enduro wheels.
The frame rails have been boxed and the rear was notched to provide maximum travel for the rear axle housing.
Three PRP racing seats and Simpson belts keep the driver and occupants secure inside the roll cage.
A 1,200-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with speakers mounted to the top of the roll cage and 9-inch speakers in the doors enables the occupants to hear music over the 550 horsepower V8. An Autometer Phantom gauge cluster helps keep a check on the engine’s vitals.
Grave’s likes to run the Oregon Dunes at night so he added a 42-inch double-row LED light bar and a pair of 3-inch LEDs angling off to the sides to augment the later-style Bronco headlights.
Rob Graves doing exactly what he loves most: hammer down behind the wheel of Blue Thunder, letting it all hang out on the Oregon Dunes.
Click the photos to enlarge.