1969 Ford Boss Bronco Prototype
The 1969 Stroppe/ Kar-Kraft Built "BOSS BRONCO" Prototype:
Bill Stroppe, the head of Ford’s West Coast racing division, was heavily involved with racing the Ford Bronco since its 1966 release. Stroppe Broncos quickly established themselves as the ultimate desert racing vehicles, winning everything from the Mint 400 to the BAJA 1000.
But in 1969 Bill Stroppe had another idea. He wanted to create a production high performance Bronco for Ford, much like Shelby did with the Mustang.
Originally called the “Special Bronco” project it was quickly named the “BOSS BRONCO.” Similar to the production Boss Mustangs, the Boss Bronco name fell right in line with the Boss brand as well as continued Larry Shinoda’s homage to his new “Boss,” Ford President Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, the person that would approve such a project.
Stroppe’s vision for the BOSS BRONCO was, predictably, centered on more power. A 351-4V Windsor and C4 automatic transmission with a floor shifter would accomplish this. The BOSS would also receive his Stroppe roll bar, Stroppe Dual Shocks on all four corners, Stroppe power-steering conversion, rear fender flares, 10” wide chrome wheels, 10-15LT Gates Commando XT tires, and a Cougar Eliminator-sourced hood scoop. Stroppe contacted his friends at Kar-Kraft, Ford’s arms-length R&D and racing skunk works, to discuss building the BOSS BRONCO prototype.
In short order a new 1969 Bronco was delivered to Kar-Kraft from Ford for this purpose. Bill Stroppe arrived in Michigan and, with a team of selected Kar-Kraft mechanics, worked for nine days straight to complete the BOSS BRONCO prototype. The 351 CID engine they installed was a 1969 GT350 “210S” code high-performance unit, fully blueprinted at Kar-Kraft before installation no less. With this engine, 4.11:1 limited slip differentials on both ends, and all the other upgrades they certainly succeeded in making a true high-performance Bronco. But unfortunately Stroppe and his Kar-Kraft team’s efforts were to no avail. In September 1969 “Bunkie” Knudsen, for whom the BOSS BRONCO prototype was built for and whose hands its fate rested in, was famously relieved of his duties at Ford.
At that, the BOSS BRONCO project was done. The one and only prototype, listed on Kar-Kraft’s 1969 inventory sheet as “Non-Resalable” went into storage, destined to be scrapped. But somehow, likely during the liquidation of Kar-Kraft in December 1970, thankfully the BOSS BRONCO Prototype escaped.
After many decades of being presumed dead, in 2016 the BOSS was found by a Kar-Kraft historian when its VIN popped up in DMV records during a transfer in ownership. For 45 years none of its owners had any idea of its importance or that it was one of the most significant Broncos of all.
More amazingly is the fact that the BOSS BRONCO not only somehow survived completely intact but also in remarkable unrestored condition.
The BOSS BRONCO and its story are featured in Charlie Henry's 2019 book entitled: "Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes and Muscle Cars of Ford's Specialty Vehicle Program." The BOSS was also featured in a great story by Todd Zuercher in Bronco Driver Magazine as well as in a dedicated section in his masterful 2019 book entitled "Ford Bronco: A History of Ford's Legendary 4x4."
In 2020 Ford also requested to borrow the Boss Bronco to have on display for their press reveal of the new 2021 Ford Broncos held at the Holly Oaks ORV park in Michigan.
Needless to say we're pretty thrilled to have this Kar-Kraft escapee living in the garage!