Major Rust Issues: 1974 Ford Bronco Explorer

The Explorer Pack brought a few creature comforts to the 1974 Ford Bronco, and this particular 1974 model has been owned by the same person for 41-years. He is now too old to drive, so the time has come for the Bronco to head off to greener pastures. It is located in Belmont, Mississippi, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Bronco has reached $10,100, and with the reserve now met, it looks like those greener pastures aren’t that far away.

The Bronco is finished in Viking Red, which was only offered on the Bronco Explorer for the 1974 model year. It also wears all of the “bling” that was a distinctive part of the Explorer option, including the body moldings, chrome bumpers, and the wheel covers. From here the news heads downhill in a hurry, and the owner is quite candid about this. The Bronco has rust issues, and they are pretty bad. There is rust in the floors, the door frames, footwells, and inner fenders. All of that is in addition to what can be seen on the outside of the body. However, the frame looks really good, so there is hope for the poor old Bronco.

As part of the Explorer pack, the Bronco comes equipped with the 302ci V8 engine, automatic transmission, and power steering. Once again, the news here is both good and bad. The engine is said to be nice and strong, with the Bronco running and driving nicely. The transmission does have an issue, which the owner describes as a massive fluid leak. He says that the vehicle drives fine if you keep the fluid up to it, but if it is as massive as he seems to indicate, then it will need to be attended to sooner rather than later.

Also part of the Explorer pack was the distinctive seat upholstery, matching carpet, and the Explorer badge on the dash. All of these items are still present, although the carpet has most definitely seen better days. The seat upholstery, especially on the rear seat, looks to be pretty reasonable, and apart from an aftermarket radio/cassette player, the dash seems to be original and unmodified. The dash pad is looking a bit warped, but the door trims are really bad. They have the sort of warped look that suggests that they have been quite wet at some point, and maybe this also accounts for the rust that we see throughout the vehicle.

By 1974, the Ford Bronco had established itself strongly in the off-road market, and that particular year saw 25,824 vehicles sold. This marked the most successful year for the Bronco to that point, and of that total, 3,163 people chose to equip their Bronco with the Explorer option. Today, the 1st generation Bronco is enjoying a rise in popularity, and unmolested and unmodified examples are highly sought. This one meets those criteria, but it also represents a major restoration project. Is it a project that you are willing to take on?


  1. CapNemo CapNemo

    The door panels need replacing also.

    Like 3
  2. art

    Wonder if that Bronco was in a flood in Mississippi?
    Severe water damaged door panels suggest more than age.
    If it is ever restored, it should look sharp in that color. Lots of $$$ to be spent here.

    Like 8
  3. Dan

    I’m inclined to agree with Art. This poor old Bronco is flood-damaged. Probably worth restoring, especially if quality replacement body tubs are available.

    Like 2
    • whmracer99

      Agree with the flood idea. If you look carefully at the the photos where you can see the bottom of the doors, kick panels, etc., this thing will take a ton of work or a new tub (as suggested below). You look at it and think “no f– in way I’d touch that” and then you look at what they are selling for and think “well maybe……”.

  4. Todd Zuercher

    The carpet was added later – Explorers came with color-keyed vinyl floor mats. The red for this truck is unobtanium these days, as are the red door panels. The 302, power steering, and automatic were regular options and not part of the Explorer package. The tub on this thing is shot – I’d replace it with one of the repops available today which would be easier, and possibly cheaper than panel replacement on this one. Explorers can be real hard to return to OEM perfection because they used so many one-off parts.

    Like 1
  5. Rustytech Member

    The rust you can see is a concern, but the rust you can’t see is scary! Still, with the $$$$$ these are bringing at today’s auctions it may be worth a total restore for someone with the skills and ambition to handle it.

    Like 1
  6. streamliner

    Is anyone else getting really tired of seeing the ever-increasing values for these Broncos? (most recent trendy-overly-expensive common collector vehicle) They are as rare as a Corvette, Camaro, Mustang of same vintage. A real favorite of flippers who see green no matter how shot. This latest example reminds me of the trend spanning the past decade where tired, clapped out, rusty-crusty 23-window VW buses (or lesser window buses that can be converted to appear to be rare 23 window buses) with asking prices of $30,000. for unrestored, and up to $150,000 restored. Submitted here is the latest rusted-out, tired 1966-1977 Bronco. Bidding is currently at $11,500. A careful study of the pics shows a vehicle that still presents somewhat well from a distance, while squinting. (stand back 30 ft. or more to be fooled) Now look at it from 3 ft away. Wow. If this were any other make and model, it would be a parts car. I don’t get it. Take this Bronco apart, and you’ve got a big, expensive rusted mess. This will require an extensive re-fabrication of body and framework. Would you really want to buy this once restored?

    Like 4
    • Rosco

      Have to agree. This is a rusty, already over priced mess. Seller says it’s a survivor, which I guess is correct, but it didn’t survive well. If you can do all the work yourself you might be ok, otherwise look out!

      Like 1
  7. jim mindy

    These rust out in the best of conditions. The frame supporting the door hinges can be completely gone. However, after market parts are available and they are bringing really big and unreasonable money now. I rolled one in 1971, took two weeks to get it out. It’s OK, it was my demonstrator.

  8. Arthell64 Member

    I thought all first gen bronco’s had major rust issues.

    Like 1
  9. jim mindy

    They do. It was designed to be a farm truck not a recreational vehicle.

    Like 1
  10. Del

    These are popular. Hagerty says 26 grand in Fair condition.

    Some one that can work metal will grab it and restore. Thats a rare package

    Like 1
  11. Richard Gugenberger

    I have seen my Dad drag home Broncos in worst shape than this and repair the rust and have a very roadworthy reliable vehicle . not the worst one out there , will command a good price now and once repaired !!

    Like 1
  12. TimM

    I have a 73 with the explorer package same color same motor and transmission!!! The bad thing about the explorer is they came with carpet!! It kept the floor from drying out and rusted the floor boards!!! I pulled my carpet years ago and put new floors in and never put the carpet back!! Rubber mats work fine!!!

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