SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal Issue - Feb 2017

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 51 of 90

FAB-ULOUS BRONCO Troy Johnson Of The Fab School Builds A 1974 Ford Bronco For His Daughter By Dan Sanchez Photos by ICON Media It’s easy to see why Fab School founder and off-road industry leader Troy Johnson, is very proud of his daughter Aubree. Johnson offered her the pick of any vehicle for her 16th birthday, and with her father’s background working for racing legends such as Walker Evans, Curt LeDuc, and others, she chose a legendary off-road vehicle; a Ford Bronco. Johnson has built and prepped vehicle chassis for all types of racing, especially in Baja, but he’s also an off-road industry leader who has spawned expert fabricators that have gone on to work for many SCORE and other off-road racing teams. With that kind of background, one might imagine that the 1974 Ford Bronco Johnson found for his daughter would be built ready to take on the SCORE Baja 1000. Instead, Johnson knew that this particular vehicle already has a rich history of Baja racing, and decided it would best be built as a restoration, with some modern upgrades that would be an example of the vehicle that conquered the Baja peninsula. Keeping The Heart Of The Bronco Johnson began the Bronco build by completely tearing down the vehicle and repaired, replaced, and fabricated components to slowly bring it back to its former glory. One of the first steps was to rebuild the Ford 302 cubic inch small block, utilizing a combination of factory and aftermarket upgrades. While the engine’s internals were rebuilt to stock specifications, Johnson realized that an old two-barrel carburetor and a points-style ignition system isn’t up to modern standards and reliability. He switched the factory intake system with an aluminum Edelbrock intake and MSD Atomic fuel injection that would provide much more reliability and add some power to the engine. Johnson also utilized an MSD electronic distributor and Blaster coil to provide accurate ignition timing. The engine’s exhaust consists of a set of OE cast iron manifolds but the rest of the exhaust tubing was fabricated by Johnson, which routes to a high-flow muffler and out of a single tailpipe behind the passenger-side rear tire. The use of modern fuel injection also required the addition of necessary components, such as an electric fuel pump, filter, and oxygen sensor. These were artfully added by Johnson with details that include a fuel pump bracket that features the Ford Bronco logo laser cut into it, and mounted to the incredibly clean and black painted chassis. Tough Drivetrain Needs Nothing Else ’74 Broncos came with a C4 automatic transmission, so Johnson had it rebuilt and reused it in his build, as well as the vehicle’s original drivetrain. This included rebuilding the Ford Dana 20 transfer case, Ford 9-inch rear axle, and Dana 44 front axle complete with drum brakes and locking hubs. Not wanting to change too much on the Bronco, Johnson also left the factory suspension unaltered, utilizing the vehicle’s original radius arms, coils, and leaf springs, but upgrading the shocks to a set of Fox Racing 2.0 shocks in front, and Fox 2.0 shocks with external bypass at the rear. The shocks work well in both highway and off-road conditions, especially since they are combined with a set of BFGoodrich All-Terrain Radial T/A 30x9.5x15 tires mounted to a set of factory 15x5.5-inch steel wheels and original Bronco hubcaps. Original Body And Interior…Mostly With a rolling chassis and drivetrain completely re-built and upgraded, Johnson moved onto the task of working on the Bronco’s body and interior. McComas Auto Body in Hemet, California worked on making sure all of the Bronco’s body panels were perfectly straight and rust-free before they were painted Boxwood green, an original Ford factory color, and Ivory white. Since the factory original bumpers weren’t available, Johnson used a set of Wild Horses reproduction front chromed bumpers with chromed bumperettes. All of the other exterior trim, rubber, and badges on the Bronco are either original or reproduction components to keep the vehicle looking as if it just rolled out of the showroom floor. Inside the Bronco’s cab, Johnson didn’t like the factory roll bar design, so he created a better version that tucks nicely against the removable top and provides more room for rear passengers. Afterward, the Bronco was sent to Raul’s Upholstery in Ontario, California, where the factory vinyl upholstery was added to the front bucket and rear bench seating. The original door panels were also added to finish off the vehicle’s OE appearance, but some modern upgrades were added to the interior that provides some extra conveniences. One of the first is the aftermarket air conditioning system that provides much-needed comfort during normal Southern California driving conditions. Johnson also added a Retro Sound audio system that has the appearance of an original in-dash radio but features Bluetooth™ and USB connectivity. Looking around the interior, you will find an amplifier mounted under the seat, a small microphone for taking calls tucked up near the windshield pillar, a USB port on the ashtray door, and speakers mounted on the interior side panels. Some Reminders From Dad Perhaps one of the Bronco’s best interior details, however, is Aubree’s name that forms the trim across the dashboard, and a laser etched emblem on the door that is a constant reminder from dad. It reads, “Kids in the backseat cause accidents. Accidents in the backseat cause kids.” While most early Broncos are valuable vehicles that have a history rooted in off-road racing, it’s nice to know that this particular one was built by experienced hands that also has roots in off-road racing. Hopefully, anyone who sees this Bronco will be able to acknowledge the long and legendary history of the Bronco and be inspired to embrace and become a part of off-road racing history. SJ Specifications Vehicle: 1974 Ford Bronco Engine: 302 CID V8 Engine Mods: MSD Fuel Injection, MSD Ignition System Transmission: Ford C4 three-speed automatic Transfer Case: Dana 20 Front Axle: Dana 44 – Factory drum brakes Rear Axle: Ford 9-inch – Factory drum brakes Wheels: Ford Bronco 15x5.5 Tires: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A 30x9.5x15 Shocks: Fox Racing 2.0 front, 2.0 external bypass rear

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