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58k Mile 1979 Ford Bronco Free Wheelin’

When Ford developed the marketing literature for the Free Wheelin’ trim package, they focused heavily on using black vehicles. This was for a very sound marketing reason. While other colors were available, black paint showed the distinctive graphics treatment at its best. The graphics on this 1979 Bronco Ranger XLT Free Wheelin’ stand out for an even better reason. This vehicle has just undergone a major restoration, but the owner has now decided to part with it. It is located in Port Charlotte, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has been quite spirited on the Bronco and has pushed the price along to $24,600. This is a No Reserve auction, meaning that a new home is only a few days away for this classic.

The Bronco is a rust-free vehicle and the photos that the owner supplies of its underside confirm this fact. The Ranger has just come off the back of a restoration that has taken 2½ years, and it is no surprise that it presents so well. The Black paint shines perfectly, while the distinctive Free Wheelin’ graphics pop in the light of day. However, it is worth seeing one of these beasts under lights. Those graphics are reflective, and when the light hits them right at night, these babies light up like something out of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind! The panels are as straight as you could ever hope to find, while the trim and chrome appear to be perfect. One notable upgrade has been the fitting of 15×10 Pro Comp wheels. These are wrapped in Cooper Discoverer tires and have managed to take an already flamboyant vehicle to the next level.

By carefully examining all of the photos that the owner supplies, I have managed to find something to fault in this Bronco. The steering wheel is showing a few spots of wear, but it isn’t horrendous. Beyond that, it isn’t easy to find much to criticize. The seats wear new covers, while there is also a new headliner, a new carpet set, new kick panels, new rear trims, and new Deluxe door trims. The seals on the tailgate have been replaced, as have the guides and the rear window. The dash is free from cracks and flaws, and the same is true of the pad. This all combines to have the interior looking as good as new. Life on the road would be pretty pleasant because the Bronco features air conditioning, along with an aftermarket CD player.

The owner supplies no engine photos, but he does supply plenty of information to satisfy our curiosity. There were two engines available for Bronco buyers in 1979. The 402ci V8 was the larger of the two, and that is what we find here. It should be producing 156hp, which would find its way to the road via a 3-speed automatic transmission. Power steering and power brakes would help to make light work of driving duties. While the engine might not produce bundles of power, it does pump out a healthy 277 ft/lbs of torque. Combine this with dual-range 4-wheel-drive capabilities, and this is a vehicle that should be capable of getting its occupants into some pretty inhospitable locations. This numbers-matching V8 has recently been treated to a valve job, a new timing chain, new seals, a new water pump, and a new ignition system. Add in an alternator, an aluminum radiator, and dual electric fans, and this package sounds pretty promising. The owner states that the Bronco runs and drives extremely well. He also claims that it has 58,000 genuine miles on the clock. Given that a massive collection of documentation dating back to day one for this vehicle is included in the sale, I suspect this claim can be confirmed.

The Free Wheelin’ pack brought no performance or luxury improvements to the Bronco, but it was instantly recognizable. It sold in respectable numbers, but the type of life these vehicles typically lived means that finding a tidy example today is becoming increasingly difficult. I wouldn’t class this one as tidy because I believe that immaculate is a more appropriate term. That raises the question of where bidding could potentially go from here. That is a tough call to make, but if it eventually manages to hit $40,000, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. This would suit the sort of person searching for an off-roader that they can drive and enjoy immediately. Whoever buys this ’79 Bronco Free Wheelin’ is going to own a classic that is bound to turn heads wherever it goes.


  1. Todd Zuercher

    Those aren’t Free Wheeling graphics – they’re the Chromatic Stripe package, which was available on both Free Wheeling trucks and non-Free Wheeling trucks. Per the receipt in the Ebay listing, this was originally a brown truck. It’s had some other customization/personalization on it to make it a real nice cruiser, but it won’t command the top $$ that an original black truck would bring. Looks like it’s a real nice driver.

    Like 9
  2. Zapp

    Truck doesn’t have air conditioning, which could be problematic with a black vehicle. Sure, you could take the rear roof off, but that’s not exactly a 2-minute job for one person, and there’d better be a 0% chance of rain when you do.

    Still a nice rig. I’ve always loved the 400 engine. Should be good for decades of fun!

    Like 4
    • Pete

      Zapp- I’m not up on these things but it lists this in the ad:
      Power Options: Power steering, Power Brakes, Air Conditioning
      Does that mean those were available in ’79 but not necessarily installed on this particular Bronco?

      Like 0
      • Todd Zuercher

        Power steering and power brakes were standard in ’79. AC was not.

        Like 0
  3. Neal

    Sweet rig. I’ve always loved these. I was eight or nine when these came out, and they were way cool!
    My family got a Scout instead, and we daily drove that rig through ‘92. If I were a wealthy collector, I’d have one of these in the mix. I would have preferred the brown though.

    Like 1
  4. Cerno

    I remember them totally they did it to pinto wagons and E-150 vans with the silver base and pink and orange stripes and both had a round rear side window so that you could see the cops pull up when you were trying out the back seats !!! Ohh Yaaa anyhow I’ve owned a 78 Ford F-150 Ranger built in Oakville Canada for the last 27 years and she still has her original paint and full decals from birth . This truck has been nothing but a pleasure to own and has been more reliable then anything I’ve ever owned . Hopefully we can rock and roll the same way for the next 3 decades. Built Ford Tuff for sure !!

    Like 3
  5. chrlsful

    glad this 1 has the 400M. Largest production ‘square motor’ made. Few twiks (inc a modern cam) makes it remarkable.

    Like 0

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