Cars Of A Lifetime: 1985 Ford Bronco II – The Energizer Bronco

The Bronco II is short, as is my story, but it sure lasted us for a good long time. Actually, it’s the story of several owners, me being the final one. Well, not “final” as in the way that more than a few of my cars have ended up. As far as I know, it may still be out there somewhere, still adding to its story.

The little Bronco was owned by our friend Jim, my friend Peter, and then by me. It was the first car I ever saw Peter “drive”, as he had stopped driving sometime in the eighties. That is, until he bought the Bronco from Jim.

Jim is a snowbird, spending his summers in Oregon and driving his RV, pulling a Bronco II,  down to Arizona  in the winter. The Bronco of this post had seen many years of this and many hunting trips in the desert. Jim was good with regular maintenance of his vehicles as well, so it was all one could ask for in a Bronco II. I am not sure what made Peter decide to start driving again. But I think the biggest factor in Peter’s purchase of Jim’s Bronco was that Jim was willing to take payments for it.

This particular Bronco II was a basic model, equipped with the ubiquitous Cologne V6, 5 speed Mazda transmission, and nothing else of any interest whatsoever. The only problems it had was a sagging seat back and a whining 5th gear (due to ball instead of roller bearings used in Mazda transmissions).

I drove Peter to Jim’s house to check out the Bronco. The first thing Jim said to Peter when he got in it to test drive it was “don’t stall it”. Which Peter did, repeatedly. I kept my chuckling reserved, but later on I learned just why he had stalled it over and over. After a very brief jaunt around the block Peter gave Jim some cash and asked me to follow him home as the Bronco had been sitting some time.

Following behind Peter in my car I got a good picture of just why he had stopped driving. His first act of entering the great public thoroughfare of a major road was to cut someone off. Act two was to turn into the turn lane too late, slam on the brakes, and come skidding – nearly sideways – to a halt inches behind some frightened family in a minivan.  But he made it back without hitting anything. Upon exiting his new vehicle he exclaimed, “I think I need to brush up on my driving skills”.

We took many a hunting trip in that Bronco. Most of the time Peter had me drive. I soon discovered why he had stalled it for myself. The torque curve of the Cologne V6 was unsuitable for a truck, and the tall first gear didn’t help matters any. Here is a video of the Bronco showing off it’s weakness.

And a little more fun in the mud

But the Bronco II has a few strengths of it’s own.  For one, it’s the size of a flat fender Jeep but it can actually accommodate four people in relative comfort. And the turning circle is one of the smallest I have ever seen. As well, it can travel down the highway at speed for one’s daily commute, heat, AC and all! There really is no other 4×4 that is so small yet so accommodating. It is like the Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside.

Peter eventually lost his license due to his driving challenged nature. In fact the last time I remember him ever driving was  leaving his apartment, Bronco parallel parked between two cars. It went like this; “Peter, do you want me to drive”? “No, I’m fine”. “OK”… Bump – bump – bump. “You drive”!

After the loss of his driving privilege I bought the Bronco from him.  It served me well for quite some time. But a few things always bugged me about it. The gas mileage was never any greater than nineteen mpg no matter what. I wished that Ford had offered the 2.3 liter four cylinder in it as they did with the Ranger. If they had of, I would be driving a Bronco II now. But strangely they never did. Peter owned it for quite some time and by the time I got it, it was getting a bit long in the tooth. And when I got rid of it, it was beginning to smoke and rattle. But bear in mind, it still had its original engine, no rebuilds, was on its third transmission, but everything else was original.  That’s not bad for a car made in 1985!

The fellow who bought it from me paid me three hundred bucks for it. I think it was worth about that. I don’t know what he planned to do with it, but I really didn’t care. I was done with Bronco IIs and was looking to get into something that was better off road and better on road. But that’s another story.