Home » What It Was Like Driving A $200,000 Ford Bronco Restomod

What It Was Like Driving A $200,000 Ford Bronco Restomod

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It’s Trade-In Tuesday today, and boy do I have an exciting one this time: It’s a restomodded 1968 Ford Bronco with a 465 horsepower 5.0-liter Coyote V8 under the hood feeding a 10-speed automatic. It’s worth over $200,000, and I’m here to tell you if I think it’s actually worth that.

I’m not entirely sure who traded in this Ford Bronco restomodded by Pensacola, Florida-based Velocity Restorations, nor do I know what they traded it in for, but something tells me it wasn’t a Ford Escape.

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Vintage Ford Broncos like this one have become the “it cars” of the über-elite, more so than any new Ferrari or Lamborghini or Porsche. With restomodded versions done up by companies like Icon, Velocity, Highline Classics, and Gateway, standard ’60s-era Broncos have become unobtainium on the used car market. Because when people like LeBron James are driving these machines, that tells you they’re in high demand:

 

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Just look at Classics.com’s absolutely bonkers chart of 1968 Ford Bronco sale prices. Put your cursor in the white and move it left to right; you’ll see that in the last five years, average values went from $39,000 to $65,000! That’s a 67% increase in value over just five years! And I bet these things were selling in the teens not too long before that.

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Of course, even $65,000 is chump change when we’re talking about restomodded classic Broncos. Velocity’s Signature Series Broncos start at $249,900!:

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That gets you a 465 horsepower Coyote V8 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, yielding a claimed 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. But here’s the thing about these Broncos: They’re valuable not just because they look so cool, but also because no two are the same — these are bespoke machines.

The vehicle that I drove was, I think, a “Ranger Edition,” which gives it a white grille, unique graphics, and special interior trim — all for the low, low price of $19,000, or a base-spec Mitsubishi Mirage after taxes and fees.

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There are all sorts of seat options:

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The upgrades are insanely expensive given that you’ve already dropped a quarter mil. You want a hard top? $28,500. A soft top? $1,800. A roll cage? $6,600. A freaking wet sand and polish?! Why am I paying extra for that? And why is it $5,500? Chrome beltline trim is $2,500:

 

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I do think the $4,800 frame seems like a good deal. It’s a custom frame to replace the weak 50 year-old C-channel one that came from the factory:

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As for interior features that you’d expect on pretty much any modern new car? They’re not cheap. Heated seats are $2,200, Apple Carpaly & Android Auto? $2,200. A backup camera is $2,500:

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Here’s a $3,500 “Billet Interior Appearance Package”:

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Velocity has a bunch of Broncos already built, ready to ship. They go for between about $215,000 and $275,000. Here’s a look at a couple:

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My god that’s pricey. Why wasn’t I nervous driving this trade-in? I should have been; here, have a watch:

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The beautiful machine was parked just outside of Galpin Premier, where The Autopian’s sister-company sells Aston Martins, Land Rovers, Jaguars, Lotus cars, and a bunch of other swank-mobiles.

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My first impression was that it is far, far better built than any 1960s-era Ford. The doors latch more solidly, the paint is way nicer, the interior fit and finish are on a different level — it’s a clearly much-improved machine from a stock Bronco from a build-quality standpoint. But then, you’d hope so given the price. Here’s me amazed by how solid that rear tailgate feels when latched:

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Upon entering the Bronco, I noted that the shifter is really, really satisfying to use, and that’s a hard thing to pull off in a column shifter. Column shifters tend to be sloppy, but not this one — it feels almost bolt-action. I haven’t shot a lot of rifles in my day, but I still know that that’s the right description for the Velocity Bronco’s shifter.

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What I’m most impressed by is the fact that Velocity managed to put so many positions in that column-shifter. Bolted to the 5.0-liter is a 10-speed auto, so being able to shift into all 10 of those gears is nice, though first gear requires an almost 180-degree shift, so move your knees out of the way!

Moving on from that previous paragraph, which was entirely BS, I will note that the tuning of both the 5.0 and the 10-speed was sublime, and that’s something I was concerned about. It’s had enough for an OEM to tune its own transmissions properly, so to see Velocity’s team dial this one in was a pleasant surprise. This thing rips, and it that 10-speed feels like it’s doing everything it can to give that five-oh the best chance of putting a giant smile on your face. You press the pedal, the transmission quickly downshifts, and before you know it there’s a lion under your hood and a jetpack on your tailgate.

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I didn’t get to use the four-wheel drive shifters (this thing has a twin-stick Atlas transfer case — top of the line), but look at those nice aluminum knobs — gorgeous. The dash is a little plain (or “understated,” depending upon your perspective), featuring just some basic HVAC knobs, some lighting, and a Bluetooth radio:

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On the left side of the steering column on any old Bronco is the speedometer, which didn’t work on my test drive. That’s just as well, though, since it was such a pain in the arse to look at anyway. Plus, I was focused on other things.

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Driving through Van Nuys, I can’t say the ride quality was great. With 32-inch mud-terrain tires, a tall stature, a short wheelbase, a leaf-sprung solid rear axle, and a radius-arm front coil-sprung suspension, the Bronco felt solid but definitely agricultural, bouncing me around in my seat as I hit potholes. Still, the steering was nice, the brakes worked well, and the chassis could handle that prodigious power well.

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I find those seats to be the highest of quality (they seemed to squeak a bit, but I get that they need to be water resistant given the rooflessness), but nonetheless, I get why these machines cost so much: They combine beauty with speed and aural excitement. It looks good, it goes fast, and it sounds amazing — a dynamic trio.

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As I drove this Bronco, I couldn’t help musing that, as expensive as this truck is, it also feels like a more authentic version of a vehicle everyone else is trying to emulate. The new Mercedes G-Wagen, the new Jeep Wrangler, the new Ford Bronco — these are all modern machines trying to emulate the images created by their forebears. This 1968 Bronco is the forebear. It’s the real-deal. And with that real-McCoy-ness come plenty of compromises, but they’re all worth it in order to be behind the wheel of the OG that everyone else is trying to live up to.

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Fuel economy is undoubtedly garbage, the ride (as mentioned before) isn’t great, the handling is what you expect of a tall solid axle-equipped SUV on mud-terrains, and honestly, it’s not all that luxurious and could probably get walked off-road by a $50,000 Jeep Wrangler.

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I personally don’t understand the pricing on these Broncos given that you can get a V8 manual-transmission equipped Jeep CJ-7 for under $35,000:

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Image: Bring a Trailer
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Image: Bring a Trailer

Obviously, that AMC 304 is going to be slower than the Coyote Motor, and it’s carbureted, so that’s going to require some maintenance, but hey, here’s a fuel injected CJ-7 with a straight six for just $37 grand:

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Image: Bring A Trailer

So yeah, I personally am not into the whole vintage Bronco thing because I think I get a similar feeling driving around an old CJ, especially if I slap a junkyard LS into it. But this is The Autopian, and we don’t kink shame. If you want to spend a quarter mil on an old Bronco instead of, say, a Ferrari or McLaren, I say go for it.

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Being behind the wheel of a restomodded Bronco like this, you do feel like an absolute badass. It’s one of the coolest looking SUVs on the road, it sounds incredible, and there really aren’t that many out there. It’s a bit primitive, and in terms of actual value-for-money, a modern Ford Bronco Raptor seems to be a much, much better deal, offering way more off-road capability and comfort. But anyone can get a new Bronco Raptor; a bright orange 1968 Bronco with a snarling V8 is just a little more special. And “special” costs money.

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Images: Velocity Restorations/The Autopian/Bring a Trailer

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Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
23 days ago

If you’re driving one of these, you’re driving an absolutely beautiful, well-crafted, and highly executed version of a Bronco – but it’s not a Bronco. The highly uncivilized, harsh, and downright dangerous (by modern standards) part of this vehicle is missing in such an execution, mainly because it is undesirable by those who will purchase it. When I think of the ’76 that I once drove in the late ’80’s I remember the hard and soft tops, the 302 w/thrush exhaust, the cool boxy shape, and how it dealt with everything that was thrown at it. I also remember that side of it that was downright janky…the transfer case that you had to tap the accelorator pedal w/brake on in order to get it into/out of 4WD, the cranky manual hubs that needed to be turned with a channel lock, the running lights that would randomly go off at night, the fact that I told everyone who rode in it to not fasten their lap belts because if it rolled, you’d want to be ejected, not strapped in (no roll bar). I understand why everyone has come to cherish these things, but a lot of their soul is absent when you sanitize them.

Plesiomorphus primitivus
Plesiomorphus primitivus
25 days ago

How is this a Bronco? It’s just a Bronco-shaped custom toy.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
26 days ago

I see a lot of people questioning the value here, or the point of it.
The people who buy these types of cars want exclusivity and personalization. They want to pick the colors, the finishes, the trim etc. They want to feel like they had an input into the creation process, even if in reality it’s at a superficial level. This is why high end OEMs have personalization programs – Porsche PTS one example. Something like two thirds of Rolls Royces sold by the factory are non-standard.
Secondly this sort of thing takes time and money to get right – and that’s what you’re paying for. It’s essentially a body off restoration to a much higher standard than factory, in addition to all the upgraded parts and having the knowledge and experience to make them all work together seamlessly. You can’t just bolt in a load off off the shelf components and hope for the best.
It doesn’t matter it won’t go off road – it’s about having the best Bronco you can buy and not seeing another one the same.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Yes it illustrates the difference between guild level craft work and 60s mass production. For us peons thankfully 2020s mass production (at many brands) is also pretty impressive quality level.

Torque
Torque
22 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Basically Dr. Suess “Stars on Thars”, which is the basic strategy to sell stuff to those with plenty of disposable income.

On the bright side it means a lot of in this case classic Ford Broncos (or at least their bodies) get to live on in pampered air conditioned & hested garages.

Then in 5(yrs or less) when therw is a new / different way for those with means to peacock their wealth with some new car or thing, these nicely restomodded Broncos are sold to less well off enthusiasts.

Sounds like a win to me

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