The Perfect Restoration
Sometimes there is a blurry line between needs and wants. Years ago, early on in the process of conceiving and developing Division Road we determined we wanted a company car, which obviously had to be collectible and a real vintage that fit in with the brand and who we are. Once the groundwork had been laid for the brand, the hunt began. As minor car enthusiasts there were a number of collectible vehicles that were mulled over. Functionally speaking, we had to consider the fact that we’re in Seattle with fairly bad roads and pot holes that can be tire-deep, along with some drivers, ahem, that bump and hit vehicles with little regard, not to mention the key necessity of being visible considering our rainy and gray weather. So quickly it was decided that, honoring our identity of rough & refined, a beastly 4x4 was required and within that category it made sense to go American, thus through much research and deliberations one model stood out as a clear choice: an early Ford Bronco.
The simplicity, overall excellent design, rugged nature and reflection of Americana made it a perfect fit for Division Road. We have had a fascination with these vehicles for some time, especially the lifted uncut Broncos or LUBR’s that are of course difficult to find with little rust or that still have some original nature to them. Now all we had to do was find a good one: we knew this was not going to be an easy task. From the days of early production, a big portion of the history of these vehicles was off-roading and the path often progressed direct from assembly line to dealer floor to a garage to be cut, lifted, modified, and off-road-readied. Obviously it would be difficult to find one that was fairly stock, conditionally good and mechanically aimed as a primarily city driver. One thing to note about many older collector cars, furthermore, is that they were, to a degree, hand-built and no two are created precisely equal. So finding the perfect match of a more original version that would last a long time in its second or third life journey as the Division Road truck became somewhat of a challenge.
Through much research, long hours reading through forums and a turn of events we stumbled upon Bronco Hut, an organization that specializes in complete restorations of ONLY early Broncos, based outside of Castle Rock, Colorado. Dana, the co-owner of Bronco Hut, actually was checking out another vehicle for me in Denver and during the diagnosis call he started to talk about this one that he had recently found in Wyoming with no rust in great condition that was truly all original and drove like a new champ. Hearing the manner in which he, as an expert of this model, was speaking about this vehicle we knew it was something that should be considered, thus the queries began. Come to find out it was the elusive “single owner vehicle” from a woman who bought it off the showroom floor and passed away having owned it for 40 years. It was garage-kept and had seen neither modification nor gravel – it sounded like something that doesn’t exist. To say the least, the specs and quality level were legit and upon seeing photos a plane flight to Denver was immediately booked.
The skies were clear, snow on the ground, freezing conditions, and yet we motored forth on our quest. In the midst of the Denver winter it was perfect weather to see a classic automobile, and especially a four-wheel drive. We quickly understood that this was not the only Bronco owned by Dana and Melissa of Bronco Hut, in fact they have 70, yes seven-zero: these fine people live and breathe early Broncos. Some are parts vehicles and others are intended for full Restorations and each one has its own story to tell. After taking a tour of the shop and seeing some phenomenal off-body works in progress and some fully completed projects, during which our eyes were wide with awe and appreciation, we drove over to the property where this particular Bronco was hiding. On this estate where the sprawling Colorado wilderness houses a Bronco graveyard wrought with whispers of reincarnation, we got our first glimpse of General Joe. We knew ahead of time that this was an unmodified completely stock 1974 uncut Bronco in a copper color so atypical and true we couldn’t have asked for anything better, replete with a Ranger Trim Package and all the options like power steering, power brakes, and even dealer additions of air conditioning and heating. What we didn’t know was that this was a complete time capsule. The engine bay was original yet in well-maintained condition. The interior seats appeared as if no one had even sat in them for over 40 years; the dashboard appeared almost new and un-cracked; the window shades were like new, and it even had its original spare tire cover that looked factory fresh. Things like this, while cosmetic, are the bits and pieces that need paying attention to when stepping up in purchase price on a more “stock” and unrestored vehicle. The doors lined up, hood closed perfectly, and all the waterproofing was in great shape. The keys even had the original dealer tags attached.
So we jumped in, threw it in to four-wheel-drive with some reacquainting to the old J-shift, and then dropped it into second and sped down the road going 60 on the freshly iced streets of rural Castle Rock. Everything about this vehicle, from the coincidence of connecting to Bronco Hut to the exact match of a car we could only dream of finding, said that this vehicle had found Division Road and not the other way around. Yes, we played it cool during the test drive and viewing and while talking to Dana until the last possible moment before needing to leave on our flight; in our minds however, the deal was done. There were some small revisions that seemed necessary for Bronco Hut to do before it was shipped to Seattle; nothing drastic though, as the preservation of the original stock nature of this Bronco is paramount. So a Bronco Hut custom exhaust system and a slight 2.5” lift kit would make this the perfect palette upon which to start applying Division Road touches. While the work was being done in a full and bustling shop we waited for the snow to thaw and the transport lanes to become safe and passable. As spring arrived we got the call from Melissa of Bronco Hut saying the vehicle was ready and the shipper was leaving in a week.
General Joe has arrived in Seattle and gradually is becoming acquainted with its new surroundings and city life like a bucking Bronco in a concrete jungle. The quest for the right Division Road vehicle was far more than we had expected to undertake, but is a major success in finding a treasure to conclude the first leg of the expedition. The next stage was to thoroughly scrutinize the vehicle mechanically as it had, in reality, sat around for some time even though that's not evident by looking at it. After some mechanical regeneration by wrench and grease and minor enhancements to give it an improved stance, performance, and sound, without altering the original nature, we were pleased to conclude this phase of the journey. We are poised to embark on the final stage of applying the finishing aesthetic and design touches on this amazing piece of history that in so doing, will make it a true Division Road vehicle. Stay tuned for more updates as we document the journey.