A Little About ProjectBronco.COM
Soon-to-be a Bronco capable of taking on the biggest and most expensive SUVs on the roads today....

Introducing... Project Bronco! -- Code name  Megalodon


I am a true victim of the insatiable American love affair with cars. This Bronco has been with me through many of years of both good times and bad times. She's never let me down, especially when I've needed her the most. We've been through 4 accidents, an uncountable number of police chases (Yes, I was young and stupid once too), too many emergencies to speak of, and We've even been chased by angry, militant Homosexuals at a South Carolina rest stop! (This really happened, no kidding!) I've owned her for almost 13 years, which is longer than most marriages last. All I can say is, if you treat these trucks like a lady, then they will always bring you home. She was built back in the days when your new Ford Truck could actually be your life-long companion. So, as you can see from the second picture, I have A LOT of work to do to bring her back to her former glory.


Why I created ProjectBronco.COM...


Ever since I bought my truck in December, 1987 I have been looking for a place where people who own 78-79 Broncos can find restoration and performance modification information specifically for these trucks. Every now and then 4-Wheeler and Off-Road Magazine would publish a decent article on how to do a few things here and there on one of the 78-79 Broncos. But other than that, that is about all I ever could find. 


And then came the Internet. I thought my prayers would be answered when I fist got online in 1993. However, till this day I have yet to find a site with any decent information specifically for these Broncos! Now that these Broncos are over 20 years old and they have become classics I felt that the need for a 78-79 Bronco site was greater than ever. So, I decided to make one. I wanted to create a place where owners of these trucks could find the info they need and can meet and talk with other 78-79 Bronco owners from all over the world. It seemed to me like almost every other type of car and truck ever made had a page similar to this one that was dedicated solely to them.  Well, now we do too!!!


The Concept of My Project Bronco...


Anyone who has owned, or even driven a 78 or 79 Bronco knows full well the off-road capabilities of these vehicles in stock form. Let's face it, you can not buy a vehicle of any make, model, or year that is equipped from the factory with a better drive train than one of these Broncos. With such bullet proof factory equipment such as a 31 spline 9" rear end, a 30 spline full-floating D44 front end, gear driven NP 205 transfer case, and a C-6 transmission, these vehicles can conquer 99% of any off-road or inclement weather conditions the average owner will ever encounter during a life time! Therefore, any project that would involve modifying one of these Broncos for the specific purpose of making it a better "off-road truck" would only cater to the serious off-road enthusiast. While the 78-79 Bronco is a perfect vehicle for a serious off-road project, I will probably never take my Bronco through the kind of terrain that a stock 78-79 Bronco could not handle. I guess I'm just not brave enough to attempt to drive a daily-driven truck through that kind of terrain. So this project will not focus on making this Bronco a better off-road vehicle, but rather will focus on building a daily driven street SUV that is capable of taking on the biggest and most expensive SUVs on the roads today while attempting to keep the tuck as original as possible. One of the great things about restoring a vehicle this old is that almost every single part on the vehicle needs to be replaced or rebuilt. I plan to replace or rebuild nearly everything on this truck with state-of-the-art equipment that features technology that was either not available or was too expensive to produce in 1979.


The Main Goals for Project Bronco and What I Plan to Do step-by-step.....


Main Goal:


  • To Build a Daily Driven Bronco that is capable of out performing the biggest and most expensive SUVs on the road today, such as the Expedition, Yukon, Durango, Mercedes M-Class, and the BMW X-5, just to name a few.

  • To make the Bronco capable of comfortably towing a 4,000+ lb boat and a 5,000 lb travel trailer for extended long distance trips.

  • To make the Bronco just as comfortable and feature rich as any of the vehicles listed above (This is going to be tough!)


Engine & Transmission




The original 351M that came in this Bronco is a basically well designed engine that I believe can be made to equal or better any engine offered in SUVs today. Although the engine was loaded down with primitive emissions controls and had almost 200,000 miles on it before I started this project, I believed the engine would make an excellent power plant for this project. This engine in particular will feature what I call "the best of both worlds" technology. By this I mean it will have all the "good stuff" that made it's ancestor, the 351 Cleveland, one of the best engines ever built as well as all of the "high tech" stuff that makes today's engines so efficient and powerful. I have just completed the engine project in the Megalodon this past summer. To say the least I am very, very pleased with how this engine has turned out. To see what I have done so far, check out the 351M/400 articles in the Technical Articles Index on this site. 


engine007.jpg (112651 bytes) engine006.jpg (111260 bytes)
Before After




The original C6 transmission, like the engine, should make an excellent base for this project. Although it has nearly 200,000 miles on it, it still shifts great and doesn't leek a drop. The Ford C6 is one of the strongest, if not the strongest automatic transmission ever built. For the exception of the fact that the C6 has no overdrive, it is already a better transmission than anything available today in any vehicle. This, of course, does not mean it can not be improved! For example:

  • A mild "shift kit" would improve ET*** times and slightly improve gas mileage.

  • A transmission cooler would extend it's life, especially when towing heavy loads.

  • There is a company (Gear Vendors) that makes an overdrive unit for the 78-79 Bronco that bolts on to the NP 205 transfer case. It's very expensive (apx. $3,000.00), but wouldn't this make one heck of a project?! Normally I would never consider spending this much on a project like this, but I believe that if this vehicle is going to compete with modern SUVs on their own turf (i.e. the highway) then an overdrive in this Bronco is an absolute must.

  • Another alternative to the Gear Vendors overdrive unit would be to swap in a newer HD overdrive transmission. I'm not sure if this would work without performing SERIOUS modifications to the vehicle. I have always wondered if one of the new HD Ford overdrive transmissions from a 4x4 460 F-250 would fit in a 78-79 Bronco. It will be something to look into a couple a years down the road when I have enough money to do it, but for now, I will stick with the C6.




One of the first things most people do with their Broncos is install a lift kit. A lift kit can be a rewarding upgrade with many, many benefits if done properly. However, lifting Megalodon would go against this project's goals . The stock 78-79 Bronco suspension can safely handle 32x11.50 tires on 15x8 to 15x10 inch rims. The stock height of this Bronco should be just fine. Remember, the main goal of this project is not to build a off-road truck, but to build a truck that has a smooth ride and great handling so it can compete with modern SUVs. These Broncos have a relatively smooth ride and decent handling characteristics in stock form. However, many suspension improvements have been developed since 1979 that could greatly increase it's handling and ride quality characteristics. For example;


  • Variable rate coil springs which give a very smooth ride under normal highway driving conditions yet stiffen up when cornering or carrying heavy loads.

  • Polyurethane bushings for the front and rear that include a 2 degree offset "C" bushings that corrects a factory flaw in the suspension design.

  • Multi-stage shock absorbers which, like variable rate coil springs, give a very soft ride under normal driving condition but stiffen up when cornering or breaking.

  • Aluminum Alloy Rims to reduce unsprung weight and to increase breaking efficiency.

  • MUCH better radial tires than were available in 1979.


So you may still be asking yourself, "If he plans on installing all this great suspension stuff, why doesn't he just buy a complete lift kit package? Well, that's a good question. So, consider the disadvantages of lifting one of these tucks;


  • Increased drive shaft angles can hurt horse power and gas mileage. Now, you don't want some "Soccer Mom" in a new SUV blowing the doors off of your Bronco at a stop light do you?

  • Increased center of gravity can make the vehicle unstable and can increase the possibility of a roll over with an improperly installed lift kit.

  • Ride quality will suffer severely if the lift is not done properly. I've heard of lift kits that were so stiff that just hitting a curve could flip the vehicle!

  • Increased wind resistance will further hurt gas mileage at highway speeds.

  • Most lift kits "level out" these Broncos (i.e. raise the front more so than the rear) to make it look good and to give the front end an increased angle of approach when driving off road. This condition will cause a Bronco to "squat" at highway speeds lifting the front end even further in the air and forcing more air under the vehicle further hurting gas mileage and handling characteristics.

  • If a larger set of tires are installed with the lift (i.e. 33x12.50 or larger) breaking efficiency will decrease and rolling resistance will increase, again further hurting gas mileage and can even increase the chance of an accident if the breaks are not beefed up to handle the larger tires.

  • Chances are your Bronco will no longer fit in your garage.

  • It is illegal to lift a vehicle in most states. 


Giving all of these disadvantages, it would not be practical to lift my Bronco since it is primarily driven on the street and I need the maximum highway performance I can possibly squeeze out it so it can compete with modern SUVs. However, Just to be fair to all of you out there who have lifted your Broncos, A properly installed lift kit of no more than 3" that features polyurethane bushings will not really hurt the highway performance of one of these trucks. In fact, in some cases you can actually improve it's handling if the right sizes tires (Like 33" or 35" tires on 15x10 rims) are installed to offset the increased center of gravity. Also, if your Bronco is mainly driven off-road and you do not depend on it for daily transportation, then by all means lift it to the moon! One day I will probably buy anther Bronco specifically For Off Road Driving, and I will more than likely install a lift kit on it.




Let's face it, factory exhaust systems simply suck. Chances are the original exhaust system needs to replaced anyway. There are many kits available for these Broncos, but they may not be entirely necessary. A nice set of 2 1/4 inch dual exhaust with a nice of set of high flow mufflers, such as Flowmasters, will work just fine. I have already installed a new exhaust system on this Bronco. Here are the details:


  • I decided to keep the original exhaust manifolds instead of aftermarket headers. The original manifolds are very well designed and almost resemble a set of high flow cast iron headers! Aftermarket headers don't do you any good under 5,000 RPM and this engine will probably never be reved over 5,500 RPM. Besides, headers tend to leak, rust very quickly, and don't fit very well.

  • I used "aluminized" exhaust pipes. They are not that much more expensive than conventional exhaust pipes but they will last the life of the vehicle.

  • I wanted to try a set of Flowmasters, but the muffler shop that installed my exhaust system could not get them at the time. Instead they installed a set of Flowpros, which seem to be a fairly decent set of mufflers. However, they are a bit on the loud side, so I may end up replacing them down the road with a nice pair of Flowmasters.

  • I went ahead and forked out for a pair of 3" stainless steel exhaust tips. They sound great and look great too!

  • I had the muffler shop run the exhaust tips out the sides of the Bronco to reduce exhaust fumes filtering backup through the tail gate. DO NOT RUN YOUR EXHAUST TIPS STRAIGHT OUT BEHIND YOUR BRONCO!!! If you do, dangerous carbon monoxide WILL seep into the passenger compartment! I don't need to explain the dangers of breathing carbon monoxide.




Well, like I said before, it has a D44 in the front and a 9" in the back. The original Ford locking hubs work great and the 3.50:1 limited slip gears should be plenty for a street application. I may lower the gear ratio to 4.10:1 after the overdrive unit is installed in the transmission, but until then, I plan absolutely no changes at all. All I need to do is rebuild what is already there!




Can any of you all out there guess what I'm going to say about breaks on a Bronco?

Go ahead, guess.

Ready now?

THEY SUCK!!!!!!! I feel like freek'n Fred Flintstone jamming my feet on the pavement trying to get 5,500 pounds of steel to stop! Folks, I have replaced EVERYTHING and the breaks are no better than when I started. It has new rotors, pads (I tried 3 different kinds), drums, shoes, master cylinder, metal lines, rubber lines, and calipers. The only thing I have not replaced is the power booster and the rear wheel cylinders. I have even bled the entire braking system 3 times and it still didn't help. I don't have a problem with stiff breaks, the power booster works fine. It's just that the damn thing wont stop! 


Many people have written to me explaining that they were having the same problems with their Broncos. All of them have said that installing rear disk breaks on their Broncos has greatly improved the breaking capability of their trucks. Some people have used the rear disks from the late '70s Lincolns and others have installed the Chevrolet rear disk breaking system. As soon as I can round up enough parts to do it I'm going to try one of these rear disk break setups on mine. I will keep you all informed!


Wheels & Tires


Well, the original 15x6" steel rims have to go, and my tires are a joke. So I plan to install a set of factory Ford 15x7.5" aluminum alloy rims from a 1993 F-150 4x4 and a nice set of Michellen 32x11.50 mud & snow or all terrain tires. It is also worth noting that 32x11.50 tires are quite a bit larger than the original L78-15 tires (roughly 30x9.50). Even without a lift I will have to deal with a speedometer that is no longer accurate and a higher final drive ratio. These tires will have a higher rolling resistance and will hurt my gas mileage. But hey, it's a small price to pay for the handling benefits these wide tires will give this truck!




Oh boy. Now here's a project if there ever was one. This Bronco is fully loaded and has about as plush of an interior as you could get on ANY vehicle in 1979. However, 21 years of hot Carolina Summers has all but ruined the entire inside of my Bronco. The dash has more cracks than it has color, the carpet is completely faded and rotted, the seats (which are from an 86 Bronco) are faded, the original center console was destroyed years ago (some one sat on it), the paint on the dash and the doors is completely faded, the stereo speakers are shot, all of the weather striping is as hard as a rock and has mostly disintegrated, and even the glass has so many pits in it it's hard to see out of now. As bad as this sounds, all of these problems are fixable. I plan to replace and/or refurbish the entire interior as well as make some upgrades along the way. Just some of the upgrades I plan to do are:


  • Add more insulation. The Ranger XLT came with factory insulated carpet and insulation in the top, tailgate, and the doors. However, this insulation was quite thin and has mostly rotted away. I plan to install all new insulation as well as plenty of sound-deadening material to keep the interior noise levels as low as possible.

  • Add one of those cool auto-dimming rear view mirrors with a built in temperature gauge and compass.

  • Add window tint to all of the glass in the top. For one thing it looks really cool and in our long, 100+ degree Summers it is desperately needed.

  • I need to find another center console, however, I have not decided whether or not I want to put an original consol back in it or install an after-market console like one of the Tuffy Security consoles. I may even try to retrofit a newer Bronco console or maybe even an Expedition console. UPDATE -- 12/28/00 - I just bought a new center console from a 2001 Ford Excursion. I'm still not sure if I'm going to use it, but I couldn't pass it up (I bought it for next to nothing). It fits pretty well, but it looks like I may not be able to fold the rear seat down because this console has rear cup holders. It also has a 12V accessory plug and rear radio controls in back of it! If I do use it, I'm going to dye the console red with special dies from SEM products. It will make a great technical article anyway! But for now, I'm going to keep looking.....


EXC_console1.jpg (44623 bytes) EXC_console2.jpg (48319 bytes)


Exterior, Paint & Body


Well, you saw the picture above. Do I have my work cut out for me or what? Much like the interior, 21 years of hot Carolina Summers has baked my paint job to a crisp. To make matters even worse, there are hundreds of little chips and scratches in the paint as a result of many years of four-wheeling in the thick forage of South Carolina. The only plus side to this truck is the fact that there is almost no rust on the truck at all. It may be hot here, but we almost never get any snow and we're over 300 miles from the ocean so we don't have any salt air either. I don't have the patience or the skill to paint a vehicle and make it look good, so I have to find some one else to do it. I have tried to get estimates from paint shops before, but most of them will not touch it. Some of them will take the time to give me an estimate, but all they do is quote a ridiculously high number (like $5,000.00) so they won't have to fool with it. So, again I must rely on my readers to give me some advice as to what to do and who to see. Do any of you out there know of any paint shops in-between Charlotte NC and Atlanta GA who will paint this truck?


And In Conclusion...


Well, all of this stuff is going to take me at least 2 or 3 more years to complete. Some of it I have already completed and I have tons of little things I have done to it already that I still need to put up on this site. So, if you didn't find what you were looking now, keep checking back in the future. As time goes on I plan on publishing other technical articles from other Bronco owners who share their ideas with me. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I would like to buy another 78 or 79 Bronco one day to use as a trail rig. Of course, that project will be documented here at ProjectBronco.COM as well!


But anyway, I want to thank you for stopping by and I sincerely hope you will find something on this site that will help you with your Project Bronco! g


Bronco Specifications


1979 Bronco Ranger XLT  S/N U15HLEF3213



5.8L 2V OHV V8 






C6 Auto


Feb. 1979

Color (I)

Maroon Metallic


3:50 Limited Slip

Ford Plant

Michigan Truck 

Ordering District



Red Knit & Vinyl


Black Fiber


6100 lbs.

Factory Options:

Ranger PKG
Limited Slip
L78-15 BFG All-Terrains
15x6 Wagon Wheel Rims
Flip/Fold Rear Bench
Split Window Fiber Top
Locking Hood Latch
Full Gauge PKG
AM/FM Stereo 

Pulse-Delay Wipers

Cruise Control

CB Radio  (now missing)

HD Suspension

Quad Front Shocks

Folding Side-View Mirrors



Megalodon -- An ancient, giant, predatory shark that inhabited the earth's oceans millions of years ago that has arisen from extension to hunt and destroy the inferior sharks of modern times.


Throughout ProjectBronco.COM you will see the Paul's Product Score Rating system icon on technical articles where aftermarket parts are bought and installed on Megalodon. My rating system ranges from 1 to 10 and is based on many different factors. Below is a list of the rating system numbers and the categories in which products are rated.


Paul's Product Rating System Scores

1 Part was defective or simply would not fit
2 Product does not live up to manufactures claims, required extensive modifications to install, and has poor workmanship.
3 Product does not live up to manufactures claims, was poorly documented, and is generally not worth installing.
4 Product is below average and may be inferior to a factory part or was difficult to install.
5 Product is very average and is no better than a factory part.
6 Product is better than average, but still needs to be refined.
7 Product is good and is worth installing. Could use more documentation and could be easier to install
8 Product works very well but was either a little hard to install or was not properly documented.
9 Product Exceeds all expectations, lives up to manufactures claims, is well documented and is easy to install
10 Product is Perfect 




*EGR -- Exhaust Gas Recirculation. This type of emissions device was never very helpful when it came to reducing emissions. All really does is "recirculate" exhaust gases into the fresh air stream. This, in theory, was supposed to "lean out" the air/fuel mixture during "over rich" conditions. All it really does is hurt horse power 


** See "Should I Keep My 351M/400 or Should I Swap in a 429/460?" for an explanation.


*** ET Times -- basically means "Estimated Time of Arrival" at the end of a 1/4 mile drag strip.