When I drove a first-generation Ford Bronco, the last thing I wanted while motoring about in the tin-box SUV was more power. It had plenty of giddy-up with the factory 105-hp inline-six, and I could only imagine one optioned with the 200-hp 289-cubic-inch V-8.
Jay Leno and I appear to disagree on the appropriate power level for an early-model Bronco but, listening to his GT500-swapped version run wild, I’m now questioning my stance.
To make one thing clear: the truck in Leno’s garage is not the first restomodded 1966–77 Bronco. Not even close. Folks have been shoving giant doses of horsepower and luxury into this refrigerator-sized SUV for decades. In fact, based on the “before” photos of Jay’s project, his was already extensively modified.
Jay got the truck as a joke from Craig Ferguson, at the time, a fellow late-night TV host. The joke was on Ferguson, though, because soon after he dumped the dilapidated project on Jay, Bronco values skyrocketed. Leno knew he’d love to do something with the truck, but he could only have so many projects running at once, so he shoved the faded red truck into a corner of his shop. Then Ford came knocking and said it would like to help.
Ford took Jay’s Bronco and set about building a SEMA truck—except there would be no Bluetooth-powered driveshafts here. Instead, Ford’s team shoved the 760-hp mill from the latest Mustang GT500 under the Bronco’s hood. Sound pretty straightforward? Think again. There is currently no way to purchase that 5.2-liter V-8 without buying a GT500, so this engine swap isn’t feasible for most. That’s not the only remarkable mechanical achievement in this build, either. Ford’s crew fitted a manual transmission to the GT500’s mill—even though the engine was exclusively designed for the Mustang’s dual-clutch automatic. Hats off.
The finished product is borderline absurd. Fit and finish is markedly better than the original, and the noise from the supercharger is otherworldly. Hearing the haunting wail as the blue Bronco lifts its nose and surges down the highway is something to behold. Best of all, the relatively stock appearance makes it a true sleeper.
I stand by my statement: This is probably too much power for the Bronco’s chassis. However, I can’t help but agree with Jay that this restomod would certainly be an absolute blast to drive.