Genuine Budd Body: 1966 Ford Bronco

While potential buyers will tend to clamor to get their hands on early examples of the Ford Bronco, this 1966 model could be one of the rarest of its breed. Ford was eager to release the Bronco but didn’t have its tooling completed in time to produce the bodies. Therefore, Budd, the company that built the original Bronco prototype, was contracted to produce the first 200 production Bronco bodies. The owner confirms that the evidence is present to verify this as one of those cars, making it an interesting proposition as a project build. Increasing the attraction further is his decision to offer it for sale with No Reserve. Located in Bogata, Texas, you will find this Bronco listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has worked its way to a mere $2,800, and with No Reserve to consider, a new home for this Bronco is mere days away.

Before I sat down to write this article, I performed a search using the supplied VIN. I was able to determine that this Bronco rolled off the line in August of 1965, which was the first month of vehicle production. That makes it an extremely early example that will attract the attention of many enthusiasts. The owner confirms that the correct characteristics are present to verify that this is a Budd body, which is almost the Holy Grail of 1st Generation Broncos. That being said, it is also a body suffering from all of the rust issues that are typical with these classics. There is plenty of external rust in the lower extremities, extending into the front inner fenders and the floors. Someone has performed the common trick of cutting the wheel openings to accommodate larger wheels, and most of the glass is missing. However, the frame seems to carry nothing but a coating of surface corrosion, and the owner says that there is no evidence that it has ever been bent. Crucially, all of the tags are present, and with replacement steel readily available and affordable, it should be possible for the buyer to whip the bodyshell into shape.

This Bronco is nothing if not consistent because while the interior appears to be largely complete, the buyer will face a complete restoration if the car is to be returned to a factory-fresh state. This is not likely to be a cheap undertaking, but it should be worth the effort and expense when you consider what is on offer here. As well as upholstery, the shopping list will extend to a replacement wheel, lenses for the gauges, and many knobs for various switches and controls. The painted surfaces are all looking tired, and when you combine these facts, getting this interior right will leave little change from $2,500. It’s not all bad news because it is worth remembering that once completed, the refreshed interior should last an easy half-century or more if treated with respect.

We’ve now reached the point with this Bronco where we have to talk about its major shortcoming. When it was new, its drivetrain would have consisted of the 105hp version of the 170ci six-cylinder engine, a 3-speed manual transmission, and a Dana 20 transfer case. This vehicle is a case of “what you see is what you get.” That means that all of the drivetrain components are missing, and the buyer will have to start from square one on that front. That will pose an interesting dilemma for them to consider, and I’m pretty sure that I know which path they would choose. As a genuine blank canvas, they could shoehorn the drivetrain of their choice under the skin, and a V8 could be an option to consider. However, the relative rarity of the bodyshell makes me believe that they will probably search for a drivetrain with the correct date codes to return the Bronco to its original specifications. Unless there is some form of automotive miracle, it can never be a numbers-matching classic. This approach will probably be the best course of action if the buyer wants to seek the best return on their investment.

The classic car world is riddled with “if only” scenarios, and no vehicle demonstrates this better than this 1966 Bronco. If it had retained its original drivetrain, it is a vehicle that could easily command a value well beyond $60,000 if the owner performed the restoration work to a high standard. It can never be numbers-matching, and that will harm its ultimate value. It is conceivable that if the buyer can locate date-correct components, it could still be worth $50,000 or more once complete. Would you follow that path, or would you ignore the relative rarity of the body and slot in a drivetrain of your choosing? That’s a tough call to make.

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Comments

  1. Dan

    I envision this rust-ridden nightmare disappearing behind a closed garage door along side a less rusty specimen and one shiny Bronco emerging with fresh rivets in the VIN tag…

    Like 28
  2. oblvnnwtnjhn

    It’s cool in a sense, but the fact that none of the drive train /engines used are rare coupled with the fact you can buy a reproduction Bronco body. You can build your own and not drink the Kool Aid the other Gen Xrs are.

    Like 4
  3. sir_mike

    If after you replace all the rusty body parts and put running gear in it is it still an original “Budd” other than the VIN tag???

    Like 18
    • AMXBrian

      I would assume this would be a case where they would only replace the rotten metal using a ton of patch panels instead of replacing whole panels.

      Like 6
  4. Todd Zuercher

    Hopefully this has a title and it matches the frame. The rest is a few pieces for parting out and then heading to the scrapper.

    Like 5
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Being unenthusiastic about early Broncos and having restored and rebuilt cars and trucks from the age of 13, I can’t imagine putting my time, money and effort into this one.

    Like 12
  6. Other Bronco + Coyote Please

    now days any running old bronc with a coyote engine bring 60-80s.

    I suggest save your money .

    Like 1
  7. JohnD

    Please stop saying “Holy Grail.”

    Like 10
    • Sam Shive

      holey tail gate …..

      Like 5
    • gaspumpchas

      Yea John this is the holy grail alright. Junk.

      Like 2
  8. bob

    more correctly Holey grail for this one

    Like 13
  9. CCFisher

    This is so hacked up and rusty that there won’t be much of the original Budd body left by the time it’s restored. I think that lessens its provenance.

    As for the drivetrain, Ford did not stamp VINs on engine blocks in 1966, so if an engine is found with date codes a month or two prior to this vehicle’s build date, it will be indistinguishable from the original drivetrain.

    Like 7
  10. MJF

    I wonder how it drives…

    Like 4
    • Mel Benzaquen

      It tracks straight as a trailer!

      Like 3
  11. Jonathan A Green

    It’s George Washington’s axe. The handle’s been replaced a few times, as had the blade, but it’s the genuine article…

    Like 8
  12. Mutt

    Here is the list of reasons why I want this Budd Bronco Body:

    Like 31
  13. wagonerkl

    The concept of “numbers matching” does not apply to Fords. So, as long as the replacement parts are for the correct year, there is no way to know if they are original or not.

    Like 2
    • CATHOUSE

      The concept of “numbers matching” certainly does apply to Fords. I just had to post this the other day on another BF tread but it looks like I need to say it again. Starting during the 1968 model year the federal government mandated that all manufacturers VIN stamp their engines and transmissions. Ford followed those rules so you will find that it is not that hard to figure out if the engine and transmission in a Ford product is the original one for the vehicle. Now please stop spreading this misinformation.

      Like 1
  14. losgatos_dale

    Thats a whole lotta writeup for not a whole lotta Bronco. Run away

    Like 5
  15. Frank

    Anyone who buys this is in for a headache. A big headache!

  16. Jim Dandy

    Okay, I will say it, someone drove the wheels off this car!

    Like 7
  17. RBC

    Ran when parked!

  18. Bill McCoskey

    I suspect the current owner pulled this out of a junkyard, where for 30 years it was picked over like a deer carcass surrounded by vultures. Any serious buyer should make sure the title wsn’t turned in as a scrapped vehicle. Once it’s VIN has been declared scrapped, it can be difficult to get a legal title again. Because let’s face it, a clean VIN is probably the most valuable part of the vehicle.

    “Run the VIN, before ya buy!”

    Like 3
  19. Wick Member

    The description on eBay says no title and sold with a bill of sale. There you have it – just junk.

    Like 3
  20. chrlsful

    mosta what I C means this is Not a budd body (66). But did not click on link, all can B swapped anyway.
    Y there’s even a guy swappin VIN plates outta Amarillo.
    What can U trust now?

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