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A Restored 1969 Ford Bronco

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A Ford Bronco wasn’t Mark Briscoe’s first vehicle of choice. In fact, Briscoe didn’t even particularly like them: “They’re terrible rust buckets,” he says.

But then a friend of his, former UFC fighter Rich Franklin, brought a 1973 Bronco into Briscoe’s Cleveland-area shop, Liberty Collision Center Inc., and Briscoe unexpectedly fell in love with it.

“I test-drove it, and after that, I kind of got the urge to get one,” he says.

When another customer mentioned he owned six old Broncos in various stages of disrepair and offered to sell Briscoe a 1969 Bronco Sport for $4,000, he decided to take the bait.

The vehicle was completely rusted, came without doors or a top, and was leaking oil from every seal.

“It was a rugged vehicle,” Briscoe says. “It was so bad we probably shouldn’t have driven it home on the road.”

Briscoe has restored more than 10 classic cars in his career, but the Bronco proved a unique challenge: The entire body had to be rebuilt with a combination of new “old stock” Ford parts and new aftermarket panels, all by hand.

With the assistance of his lead technician, a muscle car expert named Shannon Curley, Briscoe started by separating the body and the frame, pulling out the suspension and drivetrain, and assessing all of the structural damage.

They refurbished the frame and used it as a guide as they worked in reverse, first positioning all the floor supports, body braces and body parts, screwing them together, and then fitting the doors and fenders countless times.

“The original body that we took off had been cobbled together,” he says. “So it took a lot of guesswork.”

By the end, the only parts used from the original vehicle were the frame, motor block, dashboard and the 4x4 shift lever.

When it came to the mechanics, Briscoe wanted to keep everything as original as possible.

The team upgraded the parts that were subject to wear and tear, including the suspension and the entire brake system. Briscoe says Broncos are notorious for poor brake systems, so he switched out the original brakes for 1974 Chevy truck front disc brakes.

To top everything off, Briscoe finally had the chance to use an old shaker hood scoop he had acquired more than 15 years ago.

“I always planned on using it,” he says. “We wanted to put a cool hood on the Bronco, so we dragged this thing out of my garage.”

Curley was able to fabricate a new air cleaner setup and install the scoop so it was functional.

While almost all of the work was completed directly in the shop, Briscoe called on McCreadie’s Garage in Trenton, Ohio, to replace the transmission, converting it to an automatic C4. He also outsourced the engine work to Robinson Engine & Fabrication in Middletown, Ohio, which installed a 318ci engine.

Briscoe had originally decided to paint the car orange, but when the suspension kit arrived in a powdered blue package, he opted for a similar shade of blue. Briscoe used PPG paint and opted for a durable Raptor liner protective coating to block out weather and moisture from vulnerable spots on the body tub.

“We did a lot of paintwork to prevent this body from rusting out like the old one,” he says.

Overall, the car took more than 900 hours and $68,000 to build over the course of five months in 2012.

Briscoe now frequently drives the car, which shares his nickname, Shrugz, and he even took it to the 2013 Cavalcade of Customs in Cincinnati, where it won best in class.

“It’s small and simple,” he says. “But it’s got a real good look to it; it gets a lot of attention.”

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