Home » Mr. Jones And Me: 1969 Ford Bronco vs 1970 Ford Mustang

Mr. Jones And Me: 1969 Ford Bronco vs 1970 Ford Mustang

Sbsd 6 10 2024
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Good morning! I’m writing to you from the brand-new east coast headquarters of Shitbox Showdown, Inc., and today we’re paying tribute to one of the greats who passed away last week: Rufus “Parnelli” Jones. Cars associated with Parnelli Jones and his racing legacy are well outside of our price range, of course, so we’ve stretched the budget a bit today. We’re looking at, I don’t want to say “lesser,” but plainer examples of such vehicles.

Last week, while we were making our final transcontinental drive, my better half was choosing the cars, and by the overall reaction, she did pretty well. So on Friday we pitted the week’s champions against each other, and that dirt-cheap Yukon simply ran away with the vote. My favorite, the stepside Chevy, was a distant second, leaving the poor Bronco and Odyssey minivan as also-rans.

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Having someone else pick the cars was a very strange experience. In a couple of cases, like that Honda Pilot, for example, I honestly didn’t know what to say, other than, “Yep, that’s a car, and it’s for sale.” But it was an intriguing enough experience that I think I’ll have other Special Guest Car-Choosers in the future. I’m not sure who, or how it will work, but stay tuned.

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When I was a kid, we visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and took the museum tour. My dad took great delight in pointing out to me the cars of all of his favorite drivers: Jim Clark, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti … and Parnelli Jones. He showed me the difference between Jones’s 1963 and Foyt’s 1964 cars, with the engine in front of the driver’s compartment, and Clark’s 1965 winner, when the engine moved behind the driver. He told me all about how Jones had moved on from Indy to off-road and Trans Am racing, and about the Trans Am race he’d attended at Road America in Wisconsin years earlier. My Pinewood Derby car that year wore the yellow and black livery and number 15 of Parnelli Jones’s Trans Am Ford Mustang.

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Since both my dad and now Parnelli Jones are gone, it only seems fitting that I do a little tribute. Today’s cars are well outside our normal price range, and they’re not what anyone would consider shitboxes, but there’s no rule saying we can’t look at some nice cars once in a while. Let’s check them out.

1969 Ford Bronco half cab – $34,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 170 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: Buffalo, NY

Odometer reading: 100,000 miles

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Operational status: Runs and drives great

The story goes that Bill Stroppe, Parnelli Jones’s co-driver, grew tired of telling Jones to go easier on their off-road racing Ford Bronco, which Jones kept breaking. Enter Big Oly, the legendary racing Bronco that has about as much in common with our featured car as a bowl of Cap’n Crunch does with a nutritious breakfast. But there’s only one Big Oly, and while first-generation Bronco values have skyrocketed in recent years, they’re still purchaseable by mere mortals.

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This is a fairly basic Bronco, with a six-cylinder engine and a three-speed stick. This is the “Thriftpower” inline six from the Falcon, not the larger truck six that would evolve into the legendary 300, but it’s still built like a tank and tuned for low-revving torque, perfect for a little off-roader like a Bronco. This truck is pretty close to stock, but the front brakes have been updated to discs, with power assist – a smart upgrade to any vehicle this age. Stopping is important.

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It also looks like the original column-mounted shifter has been ditched in favor of a Hurst floor shifter. The gun rack in the back window is probably aftermarket as well, but I bet it’s been in there from the beginning. Personally, I’d probably take it out; I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. The rest of the interior looks nice, though it’s hard to say how much of it is original.

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The half-cab pickup body style is a rarity, and I don’t know enough about the Bronco market to know whether that’s a plus or a minus when it comes to value. It’s a cute little sucker, though, and just like the full-length roof versions, the top and doors are removable. It’s clean and shiny, but not entirely rust-free; there’s a little bit of rust starting to show in the seams of the floor. Still, considering it’s in upstate New York, it’s in pretty amazing shape.

1970 Ford Mustang – $22,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 200 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed manual, RWD

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Location: Beverly Hills, CA

Odometer reading: 30,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

If there’s any era of motorsports that I’m disappointed that I missed out on, it’s the Trans Am races of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Watching Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds, Challengers, Barracudas, and Javelins battle it out on road courses must have been an amazing sight. With strict limits on engine displacement, Trans Am cars offered an alternative to the ever-expanding big block engines in muscle cars; you could get your 1970 Mustang with a big honkin’ 429 cubic inch V8, for drag racing, or a high-revving 302 V8 for tearing up the track like Parnelli Jones. Or, for the more mild-mannered set, a nice sedate inline six, like this one has.

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There were actually two sizes of six-cylinder engine offered in the 1970 Mustang: 200 or 250 cubic inches. The seller doesn’t specify which one this is, but considering the bare-bones spec of the rest of the car, I’m guessing it’s a 200. It’s backed by a three-speed manual with a factory floor shift; a column shift was antithetical to the Mustang’s sporty mission, and even Ford understood that. This is a one-owner car with only 30,000 pampered miles on it; as you’d guess, it runs like a top.

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This thing is so basic it doesn’t even have a radio. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t have many miles; who wants to drive long distances with only the drone of a six-cylinder to keep them company? But the fact that it has remained radio-less speaks to its originality. Those pea-green vinyl seats look exactly like they would have in 1970.

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This era of Mustang styling is the beginning of the end for the original lightweight first-generation. It’s nowhere near as bloated and heavy as the 1971-73 cars, but it’s quite a lot bulkier than the early cars. It looks more muscular, however, even in notchback form like this, with basic dog-dish hubcaps. The paint is original and not particularly shiny, but just try finding another base-model Mustang this clean.

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I hope you enjoyed this little step outside our normal fare, and if not, thanks for humoring me, and we’ll get back to the true shitboxes tomorrow. For now, though, you have a choice. You can Walter Mitty your way around town looking like Parnelli Jones in one of two six-cylinder Fords: a Bronco, or a Mustang. Which will it be?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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86-GL
86-GL
12 days ago

Hahah the interior of that Mustang is fucking awful- WTF is that tombstone-looking console / hood that surrounds the passengers knees? Wow, that a terrible and depressing place to spend time. I can’t imagine buying the Mustang unless you have a deep personal nostalgia for that exact model/colour, and are hell bent on reliving the past. There are still a lot of boomers out there, but jeeze idk.

The Bronco on the other hand, is automotive charm personified. This is the sort of vehicle that turns heads regardless of culture, age, gender, etc. Roll up in front of a school yard, country club, punk rock venue, university, knitting store, mosque- you name it, people will be stoked.

I’m not sure how the Mustang is winning this, you folks are nuts. Sure it’s cheaper than the Bronco, but it’s basically money wasted. The only thing propping up the *asking price* is the low milage- Drive it regularly, and you’ve just lost 10k. Who wants to go through that, babying what is frankly an undesirable car? The Bronco on the other hand, is probably appreciating even if it deteriorates a little bit from use. Drive it, enjoy it- You still have a desirable asset.

Last edited 12 days ago by 86-GL
Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
12 days ago

“who wants to drive long distances with only the drone of a six-cylinder to keep them company?”
Uhh…David Tracy?
I voted Mustang since I knew someone who had one of this gen and would cruise around in it…also despite them both being Fix Or Repair Daily’s, I still like the Mustang better…especially since I like the Blazers way better than Broncos

JDE
JDE
13 days ago

The Bronco is far more desirable even with that drivetrain, but I would still go mustang in this case. I would even probably leave the 6 just add a sniper Fuel injection for drivability ease.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
13 days ago

Surprisingly, you could get a column shift on a Camaro through at least 1970.

between these two, the Mustang is the easy choice for me. My grandparents had a ’70 convertible in dark green over white. If I had $34k to spend, I’d spend the leftover $12k to put a V8 in it.

James Carson
James Carson
13 days ago

I’m gonna walk away on both these overpriced buggies. Never liked the notch back mustang. Based on my experience, the Bronco will rattle your teeth and bones loose.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
13 days ago

The first car I ever financed was a used 1970 Mustang with the same green interior. See the ashtray under the climate controls? I took it out and slid an FM convertor into the spot. I needed my FM “underground” rock. Mine was a 302 but I would happily keep that straight six in there. There’s something in my eye.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
13 days ago

I’m kinda tired of Broncos by now, and I do like that generation of Mustangs. I would probably swap it for a v8 though, but keep it original other than that.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
13 days ago

I like both, the Bronco is wonderful color, and the Mustang is a rare serving example of the sort of six cylinder stripper normal people bought

Alex Rockey
Alex Rockey
13 days ago

I’d go with the Bronco, since it’s slightly more different than the mu- uh… never mind. I would never spend that much on these ones; not rare collectable versions or those ones made by Icon or such. Furthermore, it’s one thing to have a 3 speed and six in the Bronco, but another thing in a ’70 Mustang.

Baja_Engineer
Baja_Engineer
13 days ago

TBH both are overpriced. And I can make an argument for the Mustang being an engine swap away from being fun and might still have some money left vs going in with the Bronco.
But the Bronco is much rarer and its price will only go up. Patch the floor rust, use it for weekend getaways and sell it 5 yrs later for >$40K. You might even want to fit a 302 along the way…

Fuzz
Fuzz
13 days ago

I’m out. No way am I paying that much money for either of those.

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
13 days ago

I’d normally prefer the green over green, but if that Mustang was white it would be perfect for living out my Mary Richards fantasies.

Mike F.
Mike F.
13 days ago

Both have significant downsides for me (perhaps making this more of a shitbox showdown than the price would indicate). I rarely haul stuff, don’t tow anything, and have no intention of taking up offroading, so I have no use for a truck. (Not that one would use a Bronco like that for anything but cruising, but still.) I don’t mind the styling of Mustangs from that era, but the anemic engine, no sound, and no A/C would mean that it would be driven only in the spring and fall and only for short distances. Since neither car would be driven much and neither is something I’ve ever lusted for, I’ll take the lower-priced Mustang.

LilRedFinesse
LilRedFinesse
13 days ago

Mustang = fastback + v8. I’ll ride the other horse.

Cyko9
Cyko9
13 days ago

The Bronco is too much, but it has broader appeal for future value and the 6 isn’t bad for its intended use. Better stop that rust though. The Ford is nice, I even kinda like the color, but nobody wants an anemic Mustang. For the right buyer, it’s a good car, but that one person must really want a clean version to pay that much.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
13 days ago

Even as one of the few resident defenders of Mustangs nobody likes(tm), I can’t really make the case for this one.

The weight was getting up there (it would get worse) and the base 6cyl is why they had such terrible reputations long after there ceased to be any objective reason.

Best thing I can say is the front end treatment with the slightly inboard headlights is a looker (see my first sentence!)

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
13 days ago

Mustang for me even though it’s overpriced… just not overpriced as bad as that Bronco.

When it comes to driving dynamics, old trucks suck worse than old cars.

And that Bronco is WAAAAY overvalued to me. Oh sure, I understand that compared to the Mustang, there weren’t nearly as many of these 1st gen Broncos produced. So their value is the result of low supply and demand that outstrips that supply.

But it’s still a really shit vehicle for the money.

“Oh but it’s great off road” you might say.

Suure… as if you’re gonna treat this rare/mint condition Bronco as a disposable off-road vehicle.

Riiight.

The Mustang, being substantially cheaper and at least a bit better to drive than an old truck, is a far less shit vehicle for the money.

The only advantage the Bronco has is a higher novelty factor. But that higher novelty factor isn’t worth an extra $12,500 to me.

Plus with the Mustang being far more common, you could actually use it with a whole lot less fear over something happening.

Last edited 13 days ago by Manwich Sandwich
Gubbin
Gubbin
13 days ago

I started out driving old worn-out trucks, which is why the sloppy steering on my current old worn-out Nissan seems perfectly normal to me, but scared the crap out of my mechanic.

Time for ball joints and tie-rods I guess.

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