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Upgraded V8? 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT

Choosing the right candidate for towing or off-road adventures can be challenging, but sometimes, the right vehicle appears unexpectedly. Such is the case with this 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT. It is a dry-climate classic with no rust issues. Its paint shows its age, but performing a cosmetic refresh wouldn’t be hard for those wishing to lift its presentation. However, that doesn’t need to happen immediately, allowing the new owner to indulge in summer fun. The Bronco is listed here on eBay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bidding sits below the reserve at $4,605, with a BIN option of $14,750.

Ford’s Second Generation Bronco was an interim measure by the company, gracing showroom floors in 1978 and 1979. Ford originally intended a 1974 release, but various factors resulted in significant delays. Development of the Third Generation was almost complete by the time these vehicles hit the market, and common sense suggests that skipping the Second Generation could have been a prudent decision. However, with First Generation sales dropping to an uncomfortable level, the company pressed the button for the Second Generation. It proved a wise move because while 1977 Bronco sales were a mere 14,546 vehicles, the latest model hit 77,917. Ford executives would have smiled at that and may have thrown a party in 1979 when the total rose to 104,038. Suddenly, the Bronco badge was living up to the company’s expectations. The first owner ordered this Ranger in Dark Brown metallic and Light Sand, with no evidence of repairs or restoration. The paint shows deterioration across various surfaces due to exposure to the harsh UV rays of Arizona and Nevada. The panels have minor bumps and bruises, but the dry climate has left the Bronco rust-free. The exterior is clean, and the underside shots show the typical light and dry surface corrosion that accumulates in these regions. The grille is damaged in one spot, but the remaining trim and glass are acceptable for a driver-grade classic. The Bronco rolls on significantly larger wheels and tires, which should improve its already impressive off-road ability.

The exterior paint isn’t the only aspect of this Bronco that has suffered at the hands of the sun because the interior shows evidence of wear and UV damage. The pad is toasted and is beyond the point where a product like Polyvance will address the problem. The carpet is heavily worn, and the seats are beyond their best. A buyer on a tight budget could replace the carpet for $250 and throw covers over the seats and dash. That would hide the worst problems, leaving the interior presentable. Otherwise, the shopping list will include seatcovers, a pad, the carpet, and replacements for a few minor trim pieces. The Bronco originally featured air conditioning, although some engine bay components are AWOL. The factory AM/FM radio is intact, and I can’t spot any aftermarket additions.

Lifting the hood reveals a mystery with this Bronco. Ford offered buyers two V8s from which to choose in 1979. They could opt for the 351M or the 400ci powerplant. However, the seller indicates a 460ci V8 powers this Ranger. That motor wasn’t available in the 1979 Bronco range and was restricted to two-wheel drive F-Series pickups. The range-topping 400 churned out 156hp and 277 ft/lbs of torque. If this is a 460 of 1979 vintage, those figures should climb to 220hp and 357 ft/lbs. That represents a welcome gain for a vehicle tipping the scales at 4,718 lbs and is a common swap as owners seek improved performance. This V8’s power feeds to the road via a three-speed automatic transmission and a dual-range transfer case, with power assistance for the steering and brakes making light work of the driving experience. The seller states the engine recently received a carburetor rebuild, and a new exhaust was fitted. It runs and drives, but the listing suggests it needs minor tweaking and tuning to be genuinely roadworthy.

It would be fair to classify the Second Generation Ford Bronco as a happy accident because ongoing delays almost caused it to remain on the drawing board. Its release repaid Ford’s faith, allowing the badge to achieve the sales volume Ford had initially envisaged. This one shows promise as a project and would be an ideal tow vehicle. The upgraded engine and larger tires would allow it to delve deep into the wilderness, an attractive thought with summer on our doorsteps. The sixteen bids submitted confirm that others feel the same as me, but do you? Will you dream about the possibilities or make them a reality?


  1. Avatar photo Chris Cornetto

    Where an M is an oil pan some mounts and a nice rusty Lincoln will go. I had a have a couple of friends with these and these were a great improvement over the tin can previous units. I personally like these. I have a Blazer but would not shy from this. I know fuelishness but really” who cares” this is not for the beltway battle. Someone is going to get a nice unit to play with and like the Chevrolet trucks of this time. The only real enemy is rust and stupidity.

    Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Keviekev

    Where an M is an oil pan? Huh

    Like 0

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