Sweet Graphics: 1979 Ford Free Wheelin’ Bronco

This 1979 Ford Bronco is a well-worn example of the rare Free Wheelin’ edition, which got some cosmetic upgrades and was offered across the Ford truck lineup from 1977-1981. The Bronco is described as a running/driving example equipped with the four-speed manual and 351M V8. The Bronco will need brake work and rust repair, and you’ll find it here on eBay bidding quite cheaply at under $2,500 with no reserve.

The rust repair is not unlike the work needed on the Barn Finds Exclusive Bronco project I listed on the site a few months ago. The fenders must trap water somehow, perhaps due to the removable hard top. This example still has the remains of the side graphics kit that came standard on the Free Wheelin’ editions, which also got unique interiors and wheels and a blacked-out grill.

The seller says many new parts have been installed to help the engine run reliably, but doesn’t elaborate on which components are new. The engine bay at least looks clean, with no apparent signs of long-term leaks or exposure to dampness. The 351M should be a fairly cheap engine to keep running reliably, along with the stout manual transmission. Brakes are likely weak and in need of a full rebuild.

The interior doesn’t look too bad, and the manual transmission is a welcome feature to have. No photos are included that show the front seats in any detail, but the door panels and rear bench look to be in fine shape. Whether the Free Wheelin’ package adds any real value depends on how badly you want a special edition Bronco, but this one should go cheap enough to be a safe bet for a project either way.


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  1. matthew B steele

    I had 2…78 with 351 auto,79 with 400 and 4 speed.bet you can tell which one was my favorite..79 was a beautiful beast

    Like 1
  2. Gaspumpchas

    These Broncs with the granny 4 speed could pull down a house. Could be a fun project, cheap enough. Guy says it runs and drives. Good luck to the new owner.\

    Like 1
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Lots of work here. But this generation Bronco is popular, and a restored example with the loud graphics would be a hit at the local car show.

  4. Barzini

    So many great decal packages in the 1970s and this is my favorite.

    Like 2
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    This was actually my favorite of the full-sized Broncos. They were about as common out west as flies on a dead horse. By the end of ’78 there must have been a dozen in our town alone. This decal scheme was as popular as the Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am’s were; I actually grew weary of it. I seriously doubt if I would replace it if I were to tackle a project like this; probably just paint it black and enjoy it. Another thing I like about this is the straight front axle. Although I never had any trouble with my own independent front suspension (’85) I saw some showing signs of forthcoming problems. This one will be a full body-off restoration; there will be no doubt about that. Put the body in a rotisserie and give it what it needs. Too bad this one doesn’t have A/C. I sure liked it in mine…

    Like 1
  6. David G

    Love the ’78-’79 Broncos. I have a red/white two tone ’79 with 351M, 4 speed and working factory A/C. Great looks and fun to drive all in one vehicle. Timeless original SUV.

    Like 1
  7. TimM

    77 was the original bronco!! This style came out in 78!! I liked the second gen broncos bigger cab, bigger motors!!

    Like 1
  8. Todd Zuercher

    There weren’t any Free Wheelin’ Broncos in ’77, only 78-81. The vivid stripes on this truck are actually known as “chromatic” stripes and although they’re often associated with the Free Wheelin’ package – they weren’t a part of it. They were optional on Broncos with or without the Free Wheelin’ package.

    @geomechs – I too remember how many 78-79 trucks you’d see on the road. And for good reason, sales of the ’78 model increased a whopping 435% over the ’77 model and the ’79 model sold even more (the only year that Broncos sold over 100k). Ford sold about 75% of the previous 12 years total in 78-79!

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