50k Mile Survivor: 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT

If Ford ever had any doubts that it was making the right move by introducing a 2nd Generation Bronco in 1978, then they only needed to look at the sales figures to realize that they had backed a real winner. In 1978, Bronco sales had easily exceeded the previous 4-years of the older generation…combined. The 1979 model year brought even greater success, and our feature Bronco Ranger XLT comes from that banner year. It has belonged to the same family since new and is in exceptional condition for its age. The Bronco is located in West Linn, Oregon, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Strong bidding has pushed the price along to $25,000, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Bronco is a stunning looking vehicle, and there is no doubt that it would attract plenty of attention wherever it goes. It has belonged to the same family since new, and it recently underwent a repaint in its original Raven Black. The owner goes to some pain to emphasize that this repaint was performed to the highest standards and that there is no Bondo or rust anywhere in the vehicle. They supply an impressive selection of photos in their listing (you will find a small sample below), and these show that the underside of the vehicle appears to be very solid and very clean. There is so much to like about the vehicle, and the incredible gloss of the paint is nicely complemented by chrome that looks to be clean and free of any significant flaws. The lift-off fiberglass top also seems to be in good order, while the glass, including the power rear window, appears to be free of noticeable chips or scratches.

The Bronco’s interior has its good and its bad points, but for me, the good most definitely outweighs the bad. Tackling the negatives first, the cover on the top of the dash does hide a multitude of sins…or more accurately, cracks. The vehicle has spent the majority of its life in California, and while that climate might be renowned for being beneficial when it comes to the long-term preservation of steel in classic vehicles, it can exact a heavy toll on plastic. The dash pad has multiple cracks, and I believe that these are beyond repair. Replacement would seem to be the best long-term option, but in the short term, the cover should keep things looking tidy. The carpet, especially in the front, is starting to look tired and worn. Still, it is the original carpet in a 41-year-old 4×4, so it would probably be unrealistic to expect it to be perfect. It is serviceable as it is, but given how nicely the rest of the interior presents, it would be very tempting to replace it. Speaking of nice presentation, the upholstery on the seats, the door trims, and the headliner, all look to be in very impressive condition. There is little to be seen in the way of faults, and the next owner would be able to take the vehicle anywhere with their head held high. The Ranger has been fitted with an AM/FM radio/cassette player, while the air conditioning has recently been upgraded to R134 refrigerant, and is said to blow ice cold.

The primary purpose of the Bronco is to allow its occupants to get out into the wilderness in style, ease, and comfort. With this in mind, this vehicle comes equipped with a 402ci V8 engine that produces 156hp, a C6 automatic transmission that sends power to either two or all four wheels via a dual-range transfer case, along with power steering and power brakes. The owner claims that the Ford has covered a genuine 50,000 miles, and while it isn’t crystal clear in the listing, it does appear as though he may well have evidence to verify the claim. He does say that the vehicle has been properly maintained and that not only does the transmission shift smoothly, but that the Bronco does drive nicely. It also features many recently fitted new items, including tires, a battery, and an exhaust.

In a 12-year production run, Ford managed to sell 225,585 examples of the 1st Generation Bronco. The 2nd Generation only remained in production for 2-years, and in that time, Ford sold 181,955 vehicles. That it was a sales success was no doubt, and given the fact that Ford had managed to develop it by utilizing a significant number of components from the F-100 pickup, this meant that the Bronco was developed and produced for relative peanuts…in automotive terms. The very nature of their designed purpose means that the vast majority of Broncos of this age have led pretty hard lives, and are either full of dings and dents or riddled with rust. This example has avoided this fate, and when you look the whole vehicle over, it’s easy to see why the bidding has been so strong.

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice unit! It would look great at my place. My brother had a ’78 model which he loved everything about except the fuel economy. We tweaked it until we got it steered toward the mid-teens but it was never as good as my ’85 model. That 400 might be a good pulling engine but it sure doesn’t rate well in fuel economy. I cannot understand the merits of converting an R-12 A-C system to 134. I’ve seen lots of them done and they’re never the same whereas I’ve worked with the R12 substitute which has worked just fine, even uses the original refrigerant oil. IMHO, you’re much better off using the substitute and leave 134 for the newer stuff…

    Like 7
    • jerry z

      Do they still produce R-12 refridgerant? I’m guessing the reserve is $25K since it is net met at $24,999.99!

      Like 1
    • Dave

      I’ve bought the A.C. conversion kits at the parts store and they work well *as long as you follow the instructions*.

      Like 1
    • Brent

      A person could be like the old framer I knew and used propane in his slow leaking trucks a/c. It was spooky as hell to me but come to find out R290 (209??) is a commercial propane refrigerant. This kid would never use it!!!
      I’ve always done r12 to 134 convert myself. Done a many and everyone was happy. If the system needs r12 then it has a leak that won’t heal it’s self. If the system is old enough to use r12 you need to replace the dyer anyway. Why not change compressor oil and convert to 134? I use a variable orifice valve and 80% of the r12 charge and they work great.
      I can play freeze out in my 91 ranger on a 100 degree day.
      However if you got a really old system with a needle type valve your screwed.

      Like 3
  2. chrlsful

    1 of my fav lookin vehicles is the ’73/9 F250 4 WD short box step side. This is close. The 400 is the largest production square motor, this has the slide rear windows, glass top, C-6. Grill, rear views, wheel changes to personalize it some, but it fits the bill in my mind. (After a yr drivin may B fitech, sniper or mega squrit?).

    Like 1
  3. gerry Member

    Nice rig,
    Have to agree with Geomechs there’s is no advantage to putting R134 in an older system in most cases it doesn’t work as efficiently, Especially if all they did was change the fittings but neglected the drier and o-rings etc…. They would be better off if keeping the York compressor to use the R12 substitute.
    If they were to upgrade to Sanden style compressor and put in a new drier and the green O-rings and seals it would them perform better with R134

    Like 3
  4. redwagon

    They look so goofy now with the tiny tires. What we get used to I guess.

    These were once so ubiquitous on the road that I didn’t realize there was a generation before them. O, and the generation before this one rusted really quickly. Come to think of it so did this generation!

    Like 2
  5. Karl

    Boy I haven’t seen one of these in a very long time that wasn’t falling apart from rust. In MN and ND there is a lot of salt on the roads and certain vehicles were very vulnerable to the red cancer and these broncos rated pretty high on that list, bodies gave out much sooner than the drive train.

    Like 3
  6. uncle al

    I’d rather get a new one for probably less money….then it would have a warranty and zero percent financing !

    Like 1
  7. Woody

    Great looking Bronco, I have a 400m in my ‘77 Highboy and its only used for yard work and plowing snow,this is the reason for the low mileage and condition of this beautiful survivor Bronco! Also had an ‘85 Bronco with the 351H.O. it was a beast but rough, with the new Broncos on the way I should have held on to it.Got ripped on my wife’s Explorer,might get traded when Ford dealerships open after all this house-arrests we are dealing with lately!

    Like 2
  8. James Turner

    Back in the 90,s I had bought a one owner 1979 Jade green Bronco XLT, I had a rebuilt 351 M engine installed, New paint, Wagon wheel rims with RWL tires etc. pinstriped with gold trim and running boards and rims sprayed gold metallic. One of the nicest old Broncos around. The sad part about these Broncos is, #1. They ride like a brick and no aerodynamics when on interstates. #2. Manuel 4WD hubs, #3. Even my new 351 M was a terrible gas guzzler. That being said, This black Bronco is very nice looking also but I would never have those horrendous outside mirrors on it. I can imagine this 400 C I engine being more of a gas guzzler especially with todays prices. Just saying from experience especially when gas prices were a lot lower back then compared to now.

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