Classics Prototype 1969 Ford Boss Bronco Resurfaces After 40 Years
What It's Like to Drive a Classic Ford Bronco in Manhattan
Many know the Bronco from the ‘trial of the century,’ but enthusiasts know Ford’s off-road icon is worthy…and worth waiting for.But don’t let this distract you from the fact that Ford was building the first iteration of its off-road icon a full year before Orenthal ever played a snap at USC, and it’s still beloved by countless enthusiasts and collectors alike the world over. So much so that arguably no new Ford vehicle has been as eagerly awaited or hotly discussed as the upcoming 2020 Bronco, which might just debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Wes Eisenschenk could hardly believe his eyes when he plugged the serial number into Google in 2016 and found a long missing 1969 Ford prototype.
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"There it was, the missing 1969 Ford Boss Bronco prototype, in an expired eBay listing."
A Boss Bronco? Yes, Ford did build, at its legendary clandestine enterprise Kar-Kraft, a prototype high performance Boss Bronco in 1969. It featured a blueprinted 1969 GT 350 Shelby engine, a Hi-Po C4 automatic, and 4.11 limited slip gears front and rear among other truly muscular details. And it somehow survived under the radar for more than 40 years in fantastic original condition.
Wes is an editor at CarTech, the publisher that recently produced the new book, Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes and Muscle Cars of Ford's Special Vehicles Activity Program, by Charlie Henry. Research for this book dredged up the VIN for the Boss Bronco prototype, which was built to prove the concept of a production high-performance Bronco for then Ford President Bunkie Knudsen, who with his cohort from GM, Larry Shinoda, is largely responsible for Ford's original Boss Mustang program of 1969-1971.
Rare Find 1969 Boss 429 With Only 15,000 Miles!
<p>The more Parker inspected this '69 Boss 429, the more impressed he was with the car's originality.</p>The Boss 302 proved to be too rough for the man in West Virginia, so he gave Rick the phone number of a man named Kenny in Pennsylvania. Kenny had the car at his house and was a neighbor friend of the two brothers that owned the Boss 302. "He did car repairs for them, if that makes sense. That's kind of his connection. He's a good fellow; good on cars. What a nice man, and we started talking cars.
The team at Kar-Kraft started with a specially equipped 1969 Bronco Sport sent to them directly from the Ford assembly line. It was equipped with a 302 V-8, 4.11 gears with limited slip, and—likely as no coincidence—it was finished in the rare Empire paint, a shade of yellow that matched what was known to be Knudsen's favorite color. After all, nothing is sacred when looking to have a prototype approved by the Boss!
To make sure this project, originally referred to as simply the Special Bronco in internal documents, would be everything a high-performance Bronco should be, Kar-Kraft also called in Bill Stroppe to oversee the build effort for this special truck. Stroppe, who was running Ford's off-road racing team, certainly had more than enough experience to know what it would take to build a righteous Bronco after fielding a team of them to victories for Ford.
Among the modifications chosen by the Kar-Kraft team and Stroppe for the Special Bronco, which was soon re-named the Boss Bronco, ostensibly to tie in to Ford's existing line of Boss cars beyond just the obvious homage to Knudsen, was adding more power. This was accomplished by swapping in a 1969 GT 350 210-S-code 351 four-barrel Windsor motor, although the one provided for the Boss Bronco by Ford was also balanced and blueprinted, much as the "bone stock" engines used for magazine road test cars were back in the day. It exhaled through a true dual exhaust with glasspack mufflers. Backing up this warmed over 351W was a custom Kar-Kraft-fabricated adapter that allowed a Hi-Po C4 automatic transmission to be fitted as well, the first automatic transmission installed in a Bronco by Ford.
Shelby GT Prototype To Be Auctioned At Scottsdale
The Carroll Shelby Foundation is to offer a Shelby GT prototype at the Barrett-Jackson sale to raise money for children suffering with life-threatening illnesses.In total only 2,214 GTs were built with 583 convertibles variants made. It came with a 4.6-liter V8 fitted with Ford Racing’s Power Upgrade Package. That boosted power to 315 horsepower (235 kilowatts) with torque increasing to 330 pound-feet (447 Newton-meters).
Stroppe dual shocks were installed at all four corners to help keep the big 15x10-inch chrome wheels and 10-15LT Gates Commando tires on the ground when the going got rough.
Inside, a Stroppe padded steering wheel, Stroppe rollbar, and a Mustang shifter for the C4 were installed, along with custom upholstered panels and aluminum trim to finish the inside of the rear quarter-panels and tailgate for a more upscale look. On the outside the rear wheel wells were cut and Stroppe fender flares installed for the needed tire clearance, a Cougar Eliminator hood scoop bolted on, and finally the black hockey-stick stripes with BOSS BRONCO lettering was applied.
The finished package was quite impressive. It clearly not only looked the part but performed as well as they hoped their special high-performance Bronco would.
Yet, as good as it was, as luck would have it Lee Iacocca famously fired Knudsen before a production Boss Bronco could get off the ground. Afterwards, inventory sheets show Kar-Kraft was supposed to crush the one and only prototype.
But somehow it escaped. Exactly how is still unknown, but experts suspect it was simply sold to an employee when Kar-Kraft was liquidated in late 1970. But no matter how it made it into the wild, Wes was the extremely lucky soul who found the Boss Bronco many decades later. The muscle truck had sold outside of eBay, so Wes searched and found the ultimate buyer, a man in Washington State, who agreed to sell the Bronco for a nice profit. Wes then posted a picture of the rare prototype on an Internet forum looking for further info on it. And that's when Colin Comer saw it.
Rare Shelby Prototype to hit the Stage at Barrett-Jackson
Next Friday, January 19, 2018, at the 47th annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, this rare 2008 Ford Shelby GT convertible will cross the block as lot #1012. This Shelby GT is not only the prototype for the first Shelby convertible since 1970; it was also driven by Carroll Shelby for promotional purposes in several magazine stories and served duty as a media press car. The Shelby GT will be driven across the Barrett-Jackson stage by Carroll's "The Carroll Shelby Foundation has been helping kids with the race for life since 1991," said Aaron Shelby, Co-President of the Carroll Shelby Foundation. "We're selling the Shelby GT prototype driven by my grandfather to help raise money for the charity that he loved.
Colin owns Colin's Classic Automobiles located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also a diehard Ford and Shelby authority and collector and has authored numerous books on the subject. He and Wes had worked together at another publishing company, which is how they became friends.
"As soon as I saw Wes's post on the Boss Bronco, I immediately emailed him and said I had to have it," Colin said. "Being a huge Ford muscle guy, as well as a long-time early Bronco owner, how could I not? I had no idea the Boss Bronco had survived. To me it is one of the ultimate early Broncos. Plus the Kar-Kraft and Stroppe connection is just so cool. I didn't get much sleep until I convinced my buddy Wes to sell it to me! Once we arrived at a deal, I had to sell my Holman-Moody-built 1969 Bronco to help fund the Boss, but I have no regrets."
Colin was clearly ecstatic to find himself the owner of a significant Ford prototype built at Kar-Kraft.
"The truck was painted once but otherwise untouched. There is zero rust anywhere, which is very rare for an early Bronco. It still has all of its original finishes underneath. It has the original Kar-Kraft-installed Mustang shifter for the C4 automatic and the fabricated transmission adaptor they made, and still had the original engine with its original 210-S tag. Everything down to the original carburetor and original prototype dual exhaust is still on the truck. It shows 60,000 miles and 47 years of use, but it is amazingly all there. And that's what matters."
This Company will Sell You a Brand New 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
A Boss 302 and Mach 1 are also availableClassic Recreations has been building officially licensed Shelby Mustangs for a while, and according to our friends at AUTOMOBILE, they're good. Really good. Recently, CR landed the license to build three more classic Mustangs: the 1969-1970 Boss 302, the 1969-1970 Boss 429, and the 1969-1970 Mach 1. These aren't resto-mods, either. Underneath the vintage sheetmetal, you essentially get a brand new car.
Colin compared original Ford photos of the truck from Kar-Kraft to find the original hockey-stick stripe dimensions had been changed slightly during the repaint, and the Boss Bronco decals were long gone. Most probably Kar-Kraft pulled those off before selling the truck to disguise its prototype status.
Colin calculated the original stripe dimensions using the 1969 factory photos and by finding remnants of the originals in the door jambs, then re-sprayed the stripes correctly. He then had a new set of Boss Bronco decals made to return the truck to its original prototype appearance. The Boss Bronco, now out of hiding, sees frequent use by Colin, who has already added a few thousand miles to its odometer. He believes it's a shame the Boss Bronco never made it to production, as it "would have been a big hit" in 1969, "much like the Ford Raptor is today."
At a Glance
1969 Boss Bronco
Owned by: Colin Comer
Restored by: Unrestored
Engine: 351ci/290hp 210-S Windsor V-8
Transmission: C4 3-speed automatic
Axles: Dana 30 front, Ford 9-inch rear with 4.11 gears and limited slip
Interior: White vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 15x10 custom
Tires: 32x11.50R15LT BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
Special parts: Shelby GT 350 210-S engine; C4 transmission with Mustang shifter; special paint, stripes, and decals; Stroppe rollbar, dual shocks and fender flares; Cougar Eliminator hood scoop; custom wheels
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