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302/3-Speed: 1971 Ford Bronco

In the 50-years that it has been plying our roads, this Ford Bronco has only had two owners. It has had limited use in the last few years, and it seems to show a lot of potential as a project build. With the values of 1st Generation Broncos continuing to climb at a staggering rate, it also has the potential to represent a decent long-term investment. If you find yourself drawn to this Bronco like a moth to a flame, you will find it located in Bloomfield, New Mexico, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $7,600, but this figure is short of the reserve. The owner also offers a BIN option of $32,000 for those who might want to bypass the auction process.

It seems almost inevitable that when we start looking at 1st Generation Broncos as project builds, the overarching issue that we need to discuss is the presence of rust. This Chrome Yellow example is no exception, but its problems are pretty minor compared to some of the vehicles that we see appearing on our desks here at Barn Finds. There is surface corrosion in various areas around this old Ford, but penetrating rust seems limited to the floors and the almost inevitable area around the front inner fenders. However, replacement steel for these areas is both easy to find and affordable. A complete front floor will cost under $500 to give you some insight, while a rear floor will lighten the wallet by a further $300. Throw in $130 per side for the inner fenders, and this Bronco could be returned to a rust-free state for under $1,100 plus labor. The panels look pretty straight, but the rear wheel arches have been cut to accommodate larger wheels and tires. Once again, shiny new steel is available to reverse this change if the buyer wishes, and this will add a further $65 per side to the tally. The rear bumper is missing, but the exterior appears to be complete. The glass is in good order, and the deeper we delve with the Bronco, the more it is looking like a relatively straightforward proposition for restoration.

When it comes to drivetrain configurations, the original owner chose wisely when they ordered this Bronco. Under the hood, we find a 302ci V8 that is bolted to a 3-speed manual transmission. That V8 should be producing 205hp and an impressive 300 ft/lbs of torque. The Bronco is a vehicle that is more at home on a muddy track than a drag strip, but the ¼ mile ET of 17.1 seconds still looks pretty impressive from a vehicle of this type. However, with all of that torque on hand, this is a Bronco that should be able to climb every mountain and “Ford” every stream (sorry!). If the lack of significant rust problems is one positive that the buyer can take from the vehicle, its mechanical health is another. It has 109,000 miles showing on its odometer, but it has only accumulated around 30,000 since the owner treated the V8 to a rebuild. It last saw the road back in 2019, but it does run and drive well. Its last few years have seen it only emerge from hiding for the deer-hunting season before it was hidden away until the next one. That suggests that no one has tried to wear out this classic and that returning it to a mechanically roadworthy state shouldn’t take much work.

For me, this Bronco’s interior is a genuine surprise. When you consider the vehicle’s age and its recent use as a hunt bus, it is in a pretty respectable state. The dash pad is cracked, and the back seat needs a new cover, but those could potentially be the only items that will require replacement. A new dash pad would cost around $300, while a cover for the back seat in the correct pattern and color can be found for under $110. If those prove to be the only parts required, the interior will eventually cost the buyer more time than money to return to its former glory. If the buyer put some time and effort into restoring the painted surfaces and restretched the covers on the front seats, it would look very presentable without spending a fortune. Any money you can save with any project build is a bonus, so returning this interior to a factory-fresh state may be the least expensive part of this build.

When you look at classic cars, and you start to reflect on the staggering value increases that we see in some of them, it raises the question of whether this sort of growth is sustainable. That is a question that is impossible to answer with complete certainty, and the world is littered with people who have bought a classic when the price has been at its peak with optimism in their hearts. Sadly for some of those individuals, values drop sharply for whatever reason, and they are forced to retain the vehicle in the hope that values will climb once again or face the prospect of losing their shirt when they sell it at its new market value. I can’t say that this will happen with the 1st Generation Bronco, but it could never be ruled out. We’ve seen it with other makes and models, so there probably are very few vehicles that would be classified as immune from this sort of action. Interestingly, this is the second time this vehicle has been listed on eBay in recent weeks. Last time, the owner set the bidding to open at $23,000, but he didn’t receive so much as a nibble. Once fully restored, this Bronco has the potential to command a market value of $60,000 or more. Even at the BIN price, that does leave plenty of room to move on this project. However, that BIN represents a fair chunk of change, so it will be interesting to watch this listing to see if the seller will have better luck than he did last time. What do you think?


  1. GregM

    WTF Seriously? The next time you wanna post 0-60 or 1/4 mile times for a vehicle like this?

    JUST DON’T. No one CARES how fast it is. It was not designed to go FAST.

    Seriously….it’s like posting the towing numbers and GVWR for an NA Miata, FFS…..

    Like 5
  2. Degenerate

    32 grand for a project? I’ll get a brand new one instead

    Like 0
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Why cry? Just read the article, if you don’t like what they say just move on. All information is relevant to some.
    Have a wonderful day, and try not to let small things get you down. Life is short, enjoy it while you can.
    God bless America

    Like 5
  4. Mark

    My grandma and grandpa bought one brand new like this! They wanted the automatic transmission, but that was a special order and took quite a while to get, so Grandpa got one to see exact same color with the three on the tree! This is so Flippin cool!

    Like 1
  5. Joe Bartolotta

    These old Broncs are HOT! Fun 4-wheelin, the prices however are ridiculous, like the salaries of over paid athletes!

    Like 0

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