Ezra Dyer: The Bronco Circle

Illustration by Derek BaconCar and Driver

From the June 2022 issue Car and Driver.

I sold my Bronco. Sorry I didn’t tell you, but vehicles of this caliber rarely change hands in public. Frankly, the idea of ​​an unwashed mob drooling over a single engine like that at Pebble or Amelia disgusts me. So I sold it to my friend Dave. The transaction price remains undisclosed, but it’s an amount Dave’s wife has characterized as “too much” and by me as “Didn’t you spend more than that?”

Dave lives in Massachusetts, and he plans to fly to North Carolina and return home. So a week before the sale, I fixed the things I wanted to fix before trying to drive 800 miles in a 1993 Ford Bronco with the wrong engine. Which is annoying, mostly easy and makes me mad that I don’t do it on my own behalf. The leaky transmission drain plug just needs to be tightened. Replacing the tailgate window motor was more involved, but not a finger-removing ordeal I made. Completion of the job allowed me to reassemble the hard top and has a lockable dry interior (enough).

Dave drove it for 13 hours home without incident, unless you count the long term hearing damage in the “7.3 Power Stroke at 2500 rpm” frequency range. He then immediately started fixing other things I had overlooked. This causes serious mixed emotions—like hearing about your ex getting better than ever after you left. Dave started the windshield washer. He removes the creak from the clutch pedal (which involves removing all the pedals, plus the steering column). He fixed the fuel gauge, which required cutting a hole in the floor to pull the delivery unit out of the tank. Yes, I would never do that. You know, my conflicting desire to ride something so unique but also totally reliable torments me. So I tend to meet the former requirement and then pretend to have met the latter by ignoring the inevitable cascading failure. It’s a hard way to live.

A Big Bend in the Road

But as much as this convoluted fix diminishes my Bronco nostalgia, I still miss it and sometimes question the anti-materialistic drive that prompted me to throw it away. My old ram was fun, but for a warm weather ice cream ride, it pales in comparison to the open-top Bronco. Most things can.

Luckily, through a strange chain of events, I can now satisfy my Bronco cravings by borrowing a key from the 2022 four-door Bronco Black Diamond. It has black steel wheels, 32-inch tires and, best of all, a manual transmission. It belonged to my sister-in-law, and she fell into it by accident. Literally.

Scene: His daughter comes home from college. He asked to bring the family’s new Bronco Sport Big Bend to the store. Ten minutes later, he called to say Big Bend now had a big bend extended by Buick. Luckily, he was fine, but their household was at the Bronco level. Like mine.

Since the price of a used car is a banana, the insurance pays $6000 on top of the MSRP for the wrecked Bronco Sport. This, I’ll point out right away, pushes payouts into actual Bronco territory. And one of our local dealers is respectable enough to sell it with a sticker. It took a few months, but eventually the Big Bend spot in the driveway was filled (and then some) by Black Diamond. I love the Bronco Sport, but as my brother-in-law observed, “The thing next to the original Bronco looks like Danny DeVito next to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twin sisters.”

So, as I once gave manual transmission driving lessons in my Eddie Bauer, now I’m at the Black Diamond—this time for my nephew, so he can drive it. I should be jealous, but I’m glad to have a rig like this again. Old or new, Broncos may be a bit like boats: The best kind is the one your friend has. And now I have two of them.

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