For the Loyalist: 1992 Ford Bronco Centurion Classic

Back in the days before Expeditions and (shudder) Excursions, what was a Ford loyalist in the market for a Suburban equivalent to do? The fiscally prudent answer would be to suck it up and buy the dang Suburban already, but for the diehard with cash to spare in the late ’80s and early ’90s, there was an alternative: the Centurion Classic. An elegantly simple hybrid of a crew-cab F150 or F350 and a Bronco, the Centurion Classic practically demands some kind of large, anti-Chevy sticker on the back window, but it did cleverly recognize that, with International out of the Travelall game by the ’80s, Chevrolet and GMC were going unchallenged in a small but lucrative market segment. Ford finally caught up with the Expedition in 1997, rendering the Centurion an interesting and rare coachbuilt modern classic. This ’92 is available on eBay out of Wixom, Michigan, with a $15,900 asking price—seems reasonable to me.

Back in the early ’90s, the mother of one of my brother’s friends drove a Centurion, also in what we’ll retroactively dub “A.C. Cowling White” (actually Colonial White), but the pre-1991 version with the more squared-off mug. This was my brother’s rich friend—there was also a Mercedes 280CE in their garage, and their house had a second story—and even in my youth I knew to be suitably impressed by this custom rig. Theirs even had a cushy leather interior.

This one’s more modestly upholstered in cloth, but that may be to its benefit 25 years on—this hardy fabric has worn well, while leather might have cracked and dried out by now if not properly cared for. The 140-inch wheelbase—shortened from the crew cab truck’s 168, but still eight and a half inches longer than a ’92 Suburban’s—gives ample room for three rows of seats and plenty of cargo space to spare. Although built to be a workhorse, the clean condition of the interior, and the modest 115,000-mile odometer reading, suggest that this truck has hardly been abused.

Although the F350-based Centurions came with over seven liters of diesel or gas power, this F150-based truck sports a 5.8-liter V8. Mated to a four-speed automatic and driving all four wheels, the engine is said to perform “flawlessly.” I should point out that, while it can boast a 33-cubic centimeter displacement advantage over the ’92 Suburban’s 5.7-liter V8, the Ford’s archaic Windsor 351 is down 10 horses (200 to 210) on its rival, with torque a wash at 300 lb-ft for either. Weight will be a crucial factor, then, and with a standard Bronco already about as heavy as the Suburban, well, don’t count on your Ford loyalty to win you any drag races.

Still, image counts for at least as much as performance in this vehicle category, and the Centurion cuts a more striking figure than any garden-variety Suburban thanks to its rarity and uniqueness. This ’92 has held up well—even the crucial areas where the frame rails were shortened and welded still look good—and would fit right into the collection of any diehard Ford truck loyalist.

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Comments

  1. Steve65

    The fiscally prudent thing to do now would be to buy one of the dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of comparable condition Expeditions available for 1/3 the price. This is collectible car pricing for something that’s special only because it was expensive well in excess of its performance, due to its hand-built origin. Now, as then, there’s no logical case for it. Even less so now since there’s a factory-built example in the same branding. Textbook case of how “rare” sometimes just means “justifiably unpopular”.

    • Sean Green

      So untrue, justifiably popular , my first car was a 1940 packard their slogan was ” Ask the man who owns one” well I own a 1995 c150 and you couldn’t get give me enough for it. So ask the man who owns one, great trucks.

      1
  2. half cab

    That’s a big Bronco!

  3. DB

    I worked at a Ford dealer and looked at one in for service. I think the part of the vin that denotes body type is U14, later denoting Expedition, unless I have this confused with another conversion type vehicle I saw while employed there.

  4. jw454

    Nice but, already gone.

  5. Troy s

    From the outside it just looks like a big full-size 4 door truck with a camper shell. I always liked these years of Ford trucks, they used to be everywhere on the roads, but I never noticed one of these, wasn’t looking really. The 351 fuel injected V8 makes decent power, if not a little stale on the top end, but it’s not a race truck, and they are thirsty. Interesting, but not a whole bunch.

    • DB

      This one makes a total of 4 that I have seen.

  6. Enesset

    2 years ago or so I bought my 1992 F350 diesel 4×4 Centurion. 98k miles. Paid $15k and have spent another $6k plus on a laundry list of items from it sitting so long.

    The older diesels are important for those of us in California that don’t want to monkey w smog (1996 and older diesel exempt).

    Wife and mother in law don’t like how bouncy it is but try and haul wife, mother in law, 2 babies, 2 dogs and a ton of luggage with anything else “smog exempt” and the list is short…..

    2 New Years ago I was down in LA and took 8 adults, one child to the rose parade plus our gear…

  7. Todd Zuercher

    What exactly is ‘archaic’ about a ’92 351W compared to a ’92 350?

  8. howard maryles

    Needs outside woodgrain an front bench seats!

    • Enesset

      Oh it is definitely a family truckster!

      Mine is the 7.3L IDI and has an aftermarket turbo with 5psi of boost and it’s nice but not as effortless as my friends powerstrokes.

  9. Enesset

    There are a few weirdos out there with big Broncos and Little Broncos!

    • Classix Steel

      The lil broncos are bringing big And look great

  10. Rob

    I remember seeing quite a few of these on the dealer lots back in the late 80s as a kid. I had a 96 XL Bronco with the 5.0 and a 5 speed. I do miss that rig.

  11. Classix Steel

    This car is one big gas suck.
    The engine looks fun to work
    on under all the glob of wiring
    With pollution controls .lol

    Fyi: the listing didn’t say how many full baths are on board? I didn’t see the
    kitchen pictures listed either .:-)

    • duaney Member

      The Ford 5.8 is very economical.I have a one ton, long wheelbase flatbed, the most economical truck in this configuration I’ve had. These have port injection by the way, more efficient that throttle body. I’ve worked on Honda’s that had 10 times the pollution, wiring vacuum hose’s than these 5.8’s.

  12. Madmatt

    With this,O.J could have hauled out the victims,
    and driven his whole legal staff to lunch….,
    all while getting 6 mpg.

    2
  13. Joe M

    Never knew these existed. Interesting find, I remember the Centurion being like a half van, half pickup kind of thing.

    • Steve65

      They built those too. Junior semi-tractor for hauling big 5th-wheel travel trailers, and roomier inside than a pickup crew cab.

  14. chad

    “… half van, half pickup…”
    yes, 2 companies made em. This co (Centurion) had two models: 1 w/3 and 1 w/4 ‘cab doors’. (7 or 8 total?)
    With a cummins/allison conversion they could be quite mpg wise (swap out the 460) and versatile.

  15. Steve Yorks

    They built these just up the road from us. Centurion built a lot of interesting vehicles.
    The buildings there are mostly empty now.

  16. Peter

    Wait–Ford offered a “Variable Displacement” engine, in it’s 5.8L (i.e., 351 cu. in.) V-8?

    Because, the writer says:
    “I should point out that, while it can boast a 33-cubic centimeter displacement advantage over the ’92 Suburban’s 5.7-liter V8, the Ford’s archaic Windsor 351 is down 10 horses (200 to 210) on its rival, with torque a wash at 300 lb-ft for either.”

    I’m not understanding how an approx. 1 cu. in. difference (between Chevy’s 5.7L and Ford’s 5.8L) can add up to “…a 33-cubic centimeter displacement advantage….”

    • Todd Zuercher

      I puzzled over that too until I figured that the writer looked up the actual cc displacement of each and calculated the difference. 1 cu in = 16.8 cc (approx) and we all know that manufacturers round off the cubic inch ratings.

      • Peter

        Ah! Cubic CENTIMETER…not cubic INCH, as I MISREAD it.

        My apologies to Nathan Avots-Smith, and thanks to Todd Zuercher!

        My snark clearly indicates the Biblical axiom that “Pride goeth before the fall.”

        Merry Christmas, Everyone!

        1
    • T Mel

      He was just using centimeters to make the difference sound material. But I have a question for Nathan: what the heck is “(shutter) Excursion” supposed to mean? Also ya the Travelall was done “by the 80’s” since it ended in ’75.

      • Peter

        T Mel,

        Well, he succeeded (in making the difference sound material). LOL. Thanks.

        Nice catch on “(shutter) Excursion”–I didn’t notice it, but I assume Nathan originally intended to write “…(shudder) Excursion…”, and then corrected it, after you called it to his attention? (Again, I didn’t notice the word “shutter” earlier, but when I did a search for it, it was gone.)

        Regardless of whether or not the mere existence of a large SUV makes one “shudder” or not (and we all have cars that get under our skin, for various reasons) it’s only good form to acknowledge an editorial correction, especially if it’s one that’s been called to the writer’s attention by a reader.

        I say that NOT as an English major (guilty) but as a lifelong automotive-mag enthusiast, from back in the late ’70’s. One thing the “Letters to the Editors” section was for was for clarifying unclear passages and acknowledging mistakes, a tradition carried on by a large majority of writers today, including some of my favorites, at Hemmings, like Richard Lentinello, Mike McNessor, “Satch” Carleson and I could go on.

        And I would be remiss not to mention the great Peter Eagen, from Cycle and (Road & Track?) fame, whose prose ran the gamut from old, single-engine airplanes, to air cooled Porches, bikes, electric guitars, etc…. (And that’s to say nothing of the great writers who are no longer here, like Gordon “Bax” Baxter, of Flying fame, and jeez, too many to recall, at the moment.)

        I SHUDDER to think of how many great transportion-related writer’s I’ve enjoyed through the decades, and yet, cannot seem to name more of them, at a moment’s notice, now…. Mayhe, if I concentrate, I can make more of an EXCURSION back through the mists of time, and come up with more of the greats who made me LOL before “LOL” was a “thing,” or there was even “…the internets…” (to quote W. Bush) to reach out to, instantly, 24/7/365, where a mere reader could publish THEIR own thoughts, right back at the very writers he or she admired so much.

        Imagine, kids, you’d have to wait a WHOLE MONTH to find out what the editor’s/writer’s response might be (if any, and usually not) to a query like T Mel’s, of writer Nathan….

        Okay, I’ll do it for you: “Hey Mom, did my ‘Car & Driver’ come in the mail today? No? What about Cycleword?”

        Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to All!

  17. Tony

    I remember seeing one of these in Mexico in the 1980’s, but I didn’t know what it was at the time. I just assumed it was a model not sold in the US!

  18. Walt Kulwicki

    I have an original dealer brochure for the winner if they’re interested?

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