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Free Wheelin’ 4×4: 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT

1979 Ford Bronco

Admittedly, the wild paint scheme is what caught my eye here. Broncos like this were a pretty common sight where I grew up in Wyoming so it’s hard to get excited about them. After taking a closer look at this one though, I’m pretty excited. This Bronco is well-optioned with the Ranger XLT package, air conditioning, trailer package, and much more! It has a little over 100k on the clock, but it appears to be very clean and the seller mentions some “upgrades”. I’d probably want to tone down the rims and tires a bit, but otherwise this looks like the perfect 4×4 driver!

Cracked Graphics

The more I read about this truck and compare it to the brochure, the more options I find! The seller mentions that it has the “Free Wheeling” package, which could explain the wild graphics. The option was purely cosmetic with multi-colored side panels and different rims and tires. The black and orange over red may not be the most stylish combo, but I like it! The vinyl graphics are starting to crack a little, but I think that just adds to the effect.

Ford 400-2V V8

This optional 400 cubic inch V8 has been upgraded with a new carb, manifold, header, and exhaust. All sensible changes for someone who values drivability over originality. Since this rig was built during an era of power robbing emission control devices, these little upgrades likely released a respectable amount of hidden power. Most of that gain was probably negated by the big mud tires, but that could easily be remedied. Or you could just throw some mudflaps on and complete the look!

XLT Interior

The interior appears to be just as impressive as the exterior. The XLT package brought some nice features. Things like cruise control, tilt steering column, and air conditioning may be common conveniences in today’s SUVs, but that wasn’t always the case. This machine was built to get places and I’m not talking about the mall! While many SUVs are unibody today, this thing rides on a full frame and has a four wheel drive system that was actually useful on rough terrain.

Break That Bronco

Well, after talking myself into this beast, I realized that it’s even right here close to home! It’s located in Caldwell, Idaho and is listed here on eBay where bidding ends on Monday. There’s already a lot of interest in this one so it’s not going to go cheap. Now I understand why though. You just can’t get a new rig like this anymore and old ones in this sort of condition are few and far between. So, what do you guys think – would you like a chance at breaking this Bronco?


  1. Chris in Nashville

    Worth every penny it goes for! Wish I had the cash to be bidding on her!

    Like 2
  2. Chris in Nashville

    Worth every penny it goes for! Wish I had the cash to be bidding on her!

    Although I would have preferred a stick shift mated to that 400ci!

    Like 1
  3. TBall

    Concur with Chris – Idaho just too far away. Extremely difficult to find this vehicle in this condition for that price – were I local, I’d jump on it. And I’ve had that motor (in F150), pretty robust. Nice truck, thanks for sharing.

    Like 2
  4. Cattoo CattooButt Member

    Let ‘er Buck!

    Like 1
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    My brother bought one of the first full-sized Broncos when they first came out in ’78. He loved it and regretted parting with it 5 years later. I had an ’85 and I truly loved it, although I preferred the solid front axle instead of the new, improved ‘bend-in-the-middle’ semi-independent front axle on the ’80 and up models. It turned out to be little trouble at all and I really planned on keeping it but my oldest boy needed transportation so I bought a new 3/4 ton Supercab and turned the Bronco over to him, with it then having over 200K miles on it. He drove it into the ground and finally sold it to pay for an overdue liquor violation. I don’t think I ever forgave him for that. The good news is that it is in the hands of a collector who is fixing it up original. The full-sized Broncos, while being a little tough on gas and somewhat top-heavy, were tough as nails. I’ve seen concepts of another full-sized Bronco and I immediately asked the dealer; ‘where do I sign?’

    Like 1
  6. grant

    Love the truck, don’t like the motor. 400M was a dog. You’d get better power and economy out of a 351. Nice truck though.

    Like 0
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi grant. It’s kind of strange how the 400 was such a boat anchor and the 351 seemed to have considerably more pep. My ’85 had that 351 HO which turned out to be somewhat of a slug till I made some ecologically unapproved mods which made it run very well.

      Like 0
      • IBleedFordBlue

        Imagines the deletion of certain mandated emission equipment.
        Looks the other way….My 84 F150 302 –> 331 Stroker C6 9″ runs circles around any HO, including current regular production ‘Stangs…..not to mention Clevelands, cough…
        The 351 HO was a last ditch effort to retain any semblance of performance by FoMoCo during the dying muscle era. Unless one is willing to drop in a cam, grind valve seats, and loose the cast intake for a ported version with the “proper” CFM carb…efforts are moot.

        Like 1
  7. IBleedFordBlue

    As I comment…..46 bids with current bid @ $20,000.00 with 2 days and 4 hours to go. As far as the 351W is concerned, no better power or MPG as both the 351W and 400M were both severely restricted. The C6 had a lot to do with that. Let’s not forget differential gearing also.
    It’s not always about HP. We tend to forget about Ft.Lbs.Torque.
    I would rather have this horse equipped with the 300 I-6.

    Like 2
  8. JW

    Had a friend in our maintenance dept who bought one of these brand new, this one featured is identical to his. Funny thing he was a real redneck with cars but he took real nice care of that Bronco. Now as far as the 400ci being a boat anchor I bought a new Ford F-150 4×4 stepside with the Midas touch which consisted of fancy interior with cooler between the bucket seats a roll bar with off road lights and 33″ mudders on aluminum rims, I changed the intake and carb to a aluminum intake and Holley double pumper reworked the Dizzy then added headers with a nice set of duals, it woke up the 400 so much I was blowing away Camaros / Mustangs / Firebirds on the way to work at 11pm on the deserted 4 lane on the edge of town.

    Like 2
  9. boxdin

    There was a hot wheel of this truck, we have one.

    Like 0

      The Hot Wheels Bronco is of the 1980-1986 body style. Hot Wheels has never offered a 1978-79 style Bronco.

      Like 2
  10. Ben

    Tone down the rims and tires?!?!? They are perfect!!! That is one of the best looking old broncos I have ever seen!!!

    Like 3
    • seth

      I agree on the tires and rims, also worked on Dodge Ramcharger and looked good. On Long Island, NY almost never see one that does not have a tailgate with bottom rot

      Like 1
  11. Jubjub

    I’m an International Scout fan but I love this. The Free Wheelin’ trucks were great. I’d leave it as is but I’d have to source the color coded wagon wheels for when I felt like it. Driving this would be a great ego boost.

    Like 1
  12. Alan (Michigan )

    46 bids, $20K, still going for another 49 hours.

    An interested group of people for this?

    Like 0
  13. bdub

    go see my comment on facebook. this truck had through rust holes 3 weeks ago…


    Like 0
    • Alan (Michigan )

      Leaves me speechless.

      Like 0
    • gerry Member

      Something is fishy has the same VIN as the one Bdub linked to but if they pulled off all of that work in two weeks something is definitely up

      Like 0
    • Rocco

      Somebody put a ton of $$$ in fixing it up.

      Like 0
      • racer99

        Would guess that not that much $$ went into it — fixed the rust and sprayed the bottom below the decals, buff the rest of it, a quick color spray to the textured top, seat covers, shocks, air cleaner and valve covers. The rest is just TLC and elbow grease. Oh, BTW, looks like they resprayed the chassis as well (look at the sway bar arm in the one picture showing the dual shocks — it’s painted half way down). Part of it is just how lousy the presentation was in the initial sale.

        Like 0
    • DanielDC

      Great catch on that bdub. I just went through the pics side by side and you’re right – no doubt that’s the same truck.They put some time and money into that for a quick flip.

      Like 0
      • Alan (Michigan)


        I am really curious what “allmetalclassicsllc” paid the Wyoming seller to let it go. They are in business to make a profit, nothing against that. High bid at the time the auction ended appears to have been $2500. There was obviously a recognized significant upside, which they took advantage of.
        As far as this auction goes, the current two top bidders would not inspire confidence I I were the seller in Idaho. With only 1 feedback between them…..

        From my spot here in Michigan, my only real concern would be for the longevity of the looks people would be paying for here. While the current seller states “The body is straight and rust free.”, no mention is made of the repair methods used to make it look this good in so short a time. It is possible that metal panels were welded in, of course. But it could also easily be a fiberglass and bondo coverup, which will before long show poorly.

        So, which is it? Hard to tell. But if I had done some not easy refinishing, and the result looked this good, I’d probably have some photos of that work as part of the listing. The seller is in the business of buying and selling, and obviously refurbishing is a part of their process. What would tell the tale would be comments by persons who have bought redone rides from AMC in the past, and have had them long enough to get a good perspective on the work done.

        Like 0
  14. Mike H. Mike H

    Gorgeous. I wish it were mine.

    Like 0
  15. DanielDC

    I had a ’79 Bronco XLT, 351M with a manual. One of the few vehicles I’ve sold over the years that I truly miss. It’s the vehicle that I find myself looking for online every so often to buy again. Absolutely loved that truck.

    Like 2
    • Jeff

      I bought a ‘79 Bronco in 1994. My first vehicle. Took it all over SoCal when I was in the Army at Ft. Irwin. New engine, tranny, other stuff. Turned a lot of wrenches in I and learned a lot from it. Sold it in ‘03 for $3,500 after I married and consolidated vehicles.

      I have dreams that I find it again, a little rougher but ‘still the same’ as Bob Seger would say.

      It had character in the 90’s. Today it would be a head turner.

      Like 0
  16. Rancho Bella

    Broncos (78 and 79) are selling well as they were the last solid axle Broncos. Big enough to tow with and room for the family.

    Like 2
  17. Dave

    I had an ’84 351W, similar tire/wheel combo, White w/tan interior. I bought it with 140k and put another 50k+ on it over three years. Loved it, always had the top off and never let me down, it started rusting out fairly severely when I sold it but man, I’d get another one in an instant!

    Like 0
  18. Rob

    How bout that this was revealed to be a rust bucket just sold weeks ago on ebay!!!!

    First I was drooling, now I puked….
    Buyer (Ebayer) Beware.

    Like 0
  19. Kevin Brabank

    This is clearly an example of an ebay polished turd! My guess is the auction is a shame also. Early on it looks like it had real bidders, but it looks like nothing but “shills” since…notice the 0 or 1 feedback – come on!

    This seller should be put out of business in my opinion!

    Like 0
  20. bdub

    my guess is it will go unpaid, and it will be 2nd chance offer to one of the other higher bidders until someone takes it, or it will be relisted in about 3 weeks. I note that I ran another one of his VIN’s he bought another Bronco for $4500, appeared to paint a blue two tone stripe it and flipped it on eBay for over $12k. Dude would be a great stock broker if he picks stocks and can sell at the right time. I also notice that some of his feedback says “made it right”. I take that as he sold a vehicle for 2x what’s it was worth and came off of it.

    Like 0
  21. Mel

    I simply want those Ford car mats …. Any idea where I can get those? Want for my 78..

    Like 0
  22. James Turner

    J W. I seriously doubt you were blowing away the pony cars like you say. In the 1990,s. I had built one of the nicest 1979 Bronco XLT,s around the upper East coast. These full size Broncos had the aerodynamics of a brick wall in the wind. I even fabricated a front air dam below the bumper Lets not forget the full frame weight, Front axle, West coats mirrows hanging out ETC, ETC. ETC.

    Like 0

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