No Reserve Survivor: 1978 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT

When Ford released its 2nd Generation Bronco in 1978, it subscribed to the “bigger is better” school of thinking. Compared to its predecessor, its new offering was longer, wider, taller, heavier, and came equipped with bigger engines. Naturally, a buying public embracing smaller and more economical vehicles steered clear of this new model. Right? Er, wrong. Where Ford struggled to sell 14,546 examples of the ’77 Bronco, they had no problems finding 77,917 buyers for their new model in 1978. Our feature Bronco Ranger XLT is one of those vehicles. It is an original survivor that would benefit from some restoration work. However, it is mechanically sound and comes with solid bones. It also offers the possibility of being an effective tow vehicle for the right buyer. Located in York, Nebraska, the owner has listed this giant for sale here on eBay. Bidding has soared rapidly to $6,300 in this No Reserve auction.

The Bronco is finished in what would have been an attractive combination of Ember with a Cream top. The paint shows its age, and I suspect that the buyer will treat the vehicle to a cosmetic refresh. The panels have accumulated a few dings and dents over the years, but none of these are likely to cause potential owners to suffer any nightmares. They could all be addressed without the need to resort to panel replacement. There is some rust to contend with, but once again, it seems to be quite limited. It has emerged in the lower rear quarter panels, but some simple patches should see the problems consigned to the pages of history. It appears that the original owner may have had the Bronco undercoated because while there is a dusting of surface corrosion in a few spots, the floors and frame seem to have avoided any penetrating rust. The tinted glass appears to be in good order, while the trim is acceptable for a driver-quality classic. Someone has added aftermarket wheels with bigger tires, and these should help the Bronco’s cause when it faces rugged terrain. The final piece of the puzzle is the inclusion of a tow hitch. A healthy V8 under the hood that features some factory upgrades should help the vehicle perform admirably as a tow vehicle.

Lifting the hood reveals that this Bronco features a 351M V8, a three-speed automatic transmission, a dual-range transfer case, power steering, and power brakes. This vehicle rolled off the line at the height of The Malaise Era, so the 156hp produced by that V8 comes as no surprise. However, this engine’s ace was the torque that it churned out. With 262 ft/lbs available below 2,000rpm, this was an engine that didn’t have to be worked particularly hard to produce respectable performance levels. That low-end torque is also why the Bronco made such an effective tow vehicle. This one takes that to a higher level because the original owner ordered the 6,000lb factory Tow Pack. This brought a heavier radiator and engine oil cooler, along with a heavy-duty battery and alternator. For potential buyers, the news on the drivetrain front seems to be nothing but positive. The owner says that the V8 starts at the first turn of the key, it doesn’t produce any smoke or odd noises, and there is no evidence of fluid leaks. It appears that if a buyer wants to drive this Bronco as-is and perform the restoration work as time and circumstances allow, that would be a viable option.

It seems that this Bronco’s primary needs are all cosmetic, and this is as relevant to the interior as it is to the exterior. The big-ticket items that will eventually require attention include the seat upholstery and the carpet. There is a tired and worn air about these items, and replacing them would lift the overall presentation of the interior. The factory radio is missing from the dash, and judging by the hole, I wouldn’t mind betting that it made way for a CD player at some point. There is nothing there now, so the buyer can decide what will fill that gap. The remaining trim is in good order, and there are no significant problems with the dash or pad. The original owner ordered the Ranger with air conditioning, and this continues to blow cold. It is also equipped with a functioning cruise control, a tilt wheel, and a rear power window that can benefit from some assistance when it is being raised. Getting this working properly could entail some basic maintenance and lubrication, and that would be my first port of call on that front. Once again, this is an area of the Bronco that is serviceable, so any issues could be addressed as time and circumstances allow.

In today’s classic market, the 1978 Bronco Ranger XLT is a strong performer. Values continue to grow at an impressive rate, and good examples don’t tend to remain available for long. Spotless examples can easily fetch $30,000 or more, while the right vehicle with the most desirable combination of options can push close to $50,000. This Bronco seems to need little, and depending on where the bidding lands, it could become a spotless vehicle for far less than $30,000. That raises an interesting train of thought for potential buyers to consider. For the price of a tidy 1978 Bronco Ranger, they could also park a new Bronco in their driveway. However, at $30,000, this would be an entry-level offering. It would undoubtedly come equipped with all of the creature comforts that we see on our feature vehicle, plus a few more bells and whistles as well. On the face of it, that makes the new Bronco look quite tempting. It is when you dig deeper that the story potentially changes. The ’78 Bronco has been increasing in value steadily in recent years, and that trend shows no signs of changing. That means that it is possible that our feature vehicle could be worth significantly more in five years than it is now. Flip the coin, and it is safe to say that if the shiny new toy follows standard market trends, its value will have plummeted by around 40% in the same period. Hmm, new or old? That seems like a no-brainer to me. What about you?


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  1. greg

    The rf fender has been at least painted and does not line up to good. Besides that looks like it could clean up well

    Like 1
  2. chrlsful

    spec 1 yr only ’79 w/slider window in back?
    Would like it w/400 – lrgest production ‘square motor’ just doa cam change for more grins…

  3. MTborst

    Chrisful , take that 351M and do a crane RV cam , offset the crank with a 4⁰ advance keyway and drop a 450 mechanical 4v on top ! I did that with my 79 F250 with 4,10 axle and increased highway miles to 15 mpg from 10-11 . And a his power increase

  4. Miminite

    I like these “big” Broncos, but dang, just can’t pay what the going price is anymore. This is bid to $6800 as of this post and it’s basically a used, needs work, vehicle.

    Of course, I’d rather have the unicorn version with the big six 300 and a granny low 4 sp manual. They did make them that way, but try and find one.

    • MTBorst

      Miminite , go by a new one. Yeah, this one is going for what it went for new. Looks pretty clean inside. It has cancer on the bottom left rear quarter and some on the right wheelwell. I know a good body man that could fix them both in a day. As for the 300 six forget it. Had one in that F250 above I talked about. 4.10 rear end and it would barely pull the hills in Canada around lake superior. And only got 9 mpg ! Had the granny stick too !

      • Miminite

        I understand, new ones are expensive but so are Toyota Corollas these days. As to Broncos, these are more affordable than the early ones which are priced to the moon.

        The big six doesn’t have fans among everyone, but I’ve had several of them. They can be improved power wise easily and were great low reving truck motors when set up right and IMO just what something like this could use.

        Note the 351M “Mutt” motor in this one is no prize either, but not much was in this era. Yes, they can be improved like anything else, but for me would still prefer that six with some mods.

        You ought to get this thing, have your buddy do the body work in a day, and enjoy it. With this being a great deal and all, you’d have plenty of room to make it like you want, or just leave it alone. Post pics please!

        As always, YMMV, IMHO, etc…

        Like 1
  5. MTBorst

    Actually I have a neighbor who has a gmc jimmy , 89 in really good shape. Need a fender bump and Trans fixed. No rust, I live in Wyoming and prefer western state vehicles. Yes, the old style broncos are in big demand but I see prices sleekly coming down. Some guy wants 34k for a 60 something out here but they’ll never get it. It’s ruff, beside barett- jackson auctions just ran one thru that was all Cleese up except engine compartment (that was ok and it ran good) outside and int nice. $34k sold !

    Like 1
  6. Johnny

    Nice old bronco,but not worth the asking price,but some dummy–just like on Barret Jackson–might get burnt. If you ever go their. You better look unde the vehicles–some are shined over junkers and NOT what you think they are. If this price was $4,000 lower. It would be more reasonable. I have 2 78,s-one a ranger and one a custom

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