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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thirteenth vehicle - 1985 Ford Bronco II

The thirteenth vehicle I owned was a 1985 Ford Bronco II that I purchased used while I lived in San Diego.  I traded TR-6 number three in for it at a car dealer down inn Mission Valley.

The Bronco II had the same paint scheme as this one, with similar-looking aftermarket wheels.

The engine in the Bronco II was a German made "Cologne" 2.8 liter carbureted V-6 that *always* leaked oil.  It had so many leaks that I didn't bother to change the oil very often.  Instead I bought no-name recycled oil at Wal-Mart, and added a quart every couple of weeks.

Not a very inspired interior, but it works.  It had a discreet little 4x4 lever and manually-locking front hubs.

In spite of the engine bleeding all over the place, I really, really, liked that little truck.  The short wheelbase made it easy to make tight U-turns, and it could go over obstacles that a longer vehicle would get stuck on.  The short wheelbase also meant that it didn't roll toward the front when you caught air in it :)  Instead, after getting air, the little truck landed on all four tires - a nice feature.

I never had any issues getting through deep snow or mud, and it was nice to take out on rough dirt roads or up dry rocky creek-beds.  I never, ever got it sideways on hills though, because it had a pretty narrow profile, and I knew it wouldn't take much tipping to go over onto its side.

Although I had my Bronco II airborne over a hundred times (there was a perfect spot for doing that on the commute home from work), Broncos were known for rolling over during sharp turns.  I never tried a high speed sharp turn in it because the need never arose.  I always braked hard without turning when I needed to avoid hitting something.  I assumed it was more likely to roll than the Corvette.

Wiki says this about the hazard:
There were, however, reports that the Bronco II's suspension contained a design flaw that, when turning, forced the side of the vehicle on the outside of the turn upwards, opposite of what a safe suspension should do. The Bronco II was not only top heavy, but it forced itself over. "In a hard turn, this suspension will cause the front end of the vehicle to rise and the track width to decrease, making the vehicle taller and narrower and elevating the center of gravity."Ford engineers "suggested various changes that would have reduced the chance of rollovers, but these recommendations were ignored by the company." Documented evidence showed that Ford knew about this problem, but found it less expensive to hire a team of lawyers to prepare for the oncoming lawsuits before the vehicle was even released, than to make the investment for a costly redesign.
 I had an issue with the machine overheating the first time I took it out to the desert.  I blew up the coolant system and it took the garage a couple of days to repair it.  Another time the transmission rear seal failed.  I was on the way in to work in the dark, and suddenly the transmission began slipping, I had lost all the oil from the transmission, overheated it, and destroyed it.  I picked up the replacement transmission from a junkyard, and fortunately it worked perfectly.  Other than those two incidents, the machine ran fine for 120k miles and about 10 years.

To be honest, I miss the little Bronco, and have been looking for a clean replacement for it.  Hopefully someone is ready to give one up that has been well taken care of!

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