4 Tips To Understanding The Axles on an Early Ford Bronco

When it comes to classic vehicles, the early Ford Bronco stands out as an iconic off-road SUV and you know it’s one of our favorites!

But one of the things that DIY builders and restorers need to understand about this classic vehicle is the axles on an Early Ford Bronco. 

Let’s get into the details of the stock front and rear Bronco axles, gear ratios, and other essential information.

Early Ford Bronco Axles Built In-House at Kincer Chassis

What type of axles were on a classic Bronco? 

The early Ford Broncos were equipped with two main types of front axles: the Dana 30 and Dana 44.

4 Tips To Get To Know The Early Ford Bronco Axles More

1. Know the Types of Axles Used
2. Understand the Gear Ratios
3. Consider Upgrades and Customization
4. Do Regular Inspection and Maintenance

Get To Know The Early Ford Bronco Axles More

Early Ford Bronco Front Axle Identification

Dana 30

Years Used: 1966-1971

Identification: The Dana 30 can be identified by its closed-knuckle design and smaller differential housing.

Strength: While suitable for lighter off-road use, it’s considered less robust than the Dana 44.

Dana 44

Years Used: 1971-1977

Identification: The Dana 44 features an open-knuckle design and a larger differential housing. It’s often considered the stronger option.

Strength: Known for its durability, the Dana 44 is a preferred choice for those looking to tackle more challenging terrains.

What are the differences between Knuckles in Axles on an Early Ford Bronco?

Knuckles, often referred to as steering knuckles, are vital components in a vehicle’s front suspension system. They connect the wheel hub and bearings to the suspension components, allowing the wheels to pivot and steer. The differences in knuckles can be found in their design, materials, and applications. Here the variations in Knuckles are compared:

Open-Knuckle vs. Closed-Knuckle Design

Open-Knuckle Design

  • Visibility: The U-joint and axle shaft are visible and exposed.
  • Weight: Generally lighter than closed-knuckle designs.
  • Maintenance: Easier to service due to accessibility.
  • Performance: Often considered to provide better steering and handling.
  • Application: Common in modern vehicles and off-road applications.

Closed-Knuckle Design

  • Visibility: The U-joint and axle shaft are enclosed and not visible.
  • Weight: Typically heavier.
  • Maintenance: More challenging to service due to the enclosed design.
  • Performance: This may have limitations in steering angles and flexibility.
  • Application: Found in older vehicles and some heavy-duty applications.
Upgrades and Modifications to Classic Bronco Axles

Upgrades and Modifications to Bronco Axles

For those looking to upgrade or enhance their early Bronco’s off-road capabilities, upgrading the front axle might be a consideration. Options include aftermarket parts and complete assemblies designed to provide better strength and performance.  If you have a Dana 30 front end, a common upgrade is a Dana 44 from a later Bronco, as it is a direct, bolt-in swap.  

Best Rear Axle for Early Broncos?

When it comes to rear axles on an early Ford Bronco, every early Bronco came with a Ford 9-inch.  This name comes from the 9-inch outside diameter of the ring gear.  This axle came in many medium-duty Ford trucks and is considered to be very optimized from a strength to weight aspect.

Strength and Versatility: Known for its robustness, the Ford 9-inch axles offer various gearing options and are highly customizable.

Aftermarket Support: There are a number of aftermarket parts available, which makes it easier to find and tailor them to your specific needs.  This axle is used heavily in offroad, custom aftermarket, and drag racing applications, so they can be optimized for any application.

Gear Ratio of the 1st Generation 1966 Bronco

The 1966 Bronco came with different gear ratio options, including:

Standard Ratio: 3.50:1

Optional Ratios: 4.11:1 and 4.57:1

These ratios played a crucial role in the Bronco’s off-road capabilities, allowing for a balance between speed and torque.

As you enter the world of Broncos, you will probably hear a lot of talk about “regearing”.  This refers to changing out the ring and pinion gears in the axles.  This is necessary mainly for changes in tire size, as it will keep your engine in its optimal RPM range at all speeds.  If your Bronco is improperly geared, it will either struggle to get going at low speeds, or your engine will be screaming from high RPM at highway speeds.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance on Your Axles

Axles are subject to wear and tear, especially if used in demanding conditions. Regular inspection and maintenance are vital:

  • Check for Leaks: Regularly inspect seals and gaskets for leaks.
  • Monitor Alignment and Balance: Misalignment can lead to uneven wear and handling issues.
  • Lubricate Properly: Use the correct lubricants to ensure smooth operation.
  • Listen:  The first sign of an issue with axle internals is a grinding or clunking sound.  If one has developed, listen to it, as it will inevitably lead to catastrophic axle failure.

Proper care of your axles will prolong their life and help you maintain the performance and safety of your Early Bronco.

With options like the Dana 30, Dana 44, and Ford 9-inch axles, there’s a wealth of possibilities to explore and tailor to individual needs and preferences. Whether you’ve been a part of the Bronco community for years or you’re just starting your journey, Kincer Chassis is here to assist with all your early Bronco needs. It can get confusing, frustrating, and downright hard to figure out when you don’t spend all your time thinking about Bronco things and that’s why we’re always at the ready. 

We listen to your story, figure out all the ways you want to use your Classic Bronco and then help you figure out all the right pieces to the rest of this puzzle to fit your needs.

Kincer Chassis Early Bronco Coil-Over Rolling Chassis

Kincer Chassis Early Bronco Coil-Over Rolling Chassis

At Kincer Chassis, we take pride in offering the best solutions for restoring and upgrading your early Ford Bronco. Our Early Bronco Coil-Over Rolling Chassis is a prime example of our commitment to quality and performance.

Features and Benefits of Our Rolling Chassis with Disc Brakes

Customizable: Our rolling chassis is designed to be a direct fit for 1st Generation 1966-1977 Broncos, and it can be customized to meet your specific needs.

Coil-Over Suspension: Featuring a coil-over system, our chassis provides improved ride quality and handling, ensuring a smooth and comfortable driving experience.

High-Quality Axles: Our axle housings are built in-house, and the axle assembly is also done in-house, using the highest-end components of the industry. Our chassis comes with the following options:

Front Axle: Our custom 9-44 Hybrid Axle.  This uses a 9” center section and gear set, as it is much stronger than Dana 44 gears, and the assembly is more streamlined due to the construction style.  The Ford 9-inch was only offered as a rear axle, but since we build our axles in-house, we are able to use Dana 44 knuckles and hubs, like an original Bronco.  This allows the use of off-the-shelf hub and brake components.

Rear Axle: Ford 9-inch, known for its robustness and versatility. Various upgrades are available.

Disk Brakes and Steering: Our chassis includes power steering and power disc brakes, enhancing control and safety.

Engine and Transmission Mounts: We offer various engine and transmission mounts to accommodate different setups, providing flexibility for your restoration or modification project.

What if I want a stronger axle?

The key benefit of the Ford 9-inch is the aftermarket support.  Upgrades for strength, such as larger diameter gear sets and 35 spline axles are available, which will take as much power as you can throw at them.  There are heavier-duty knuckle and hub options, as well as thicker-walled axle tubes.  For offroad ability, several locker options are available, which ensure all 4 wheels can get the power to the ground.  Contact us for more information.

Why Choose Kincer Chassis and Their Upgraded Axles on An Early Ford Bronco

Why Choose Kincer Chassis?

Our complete Early Bronco Coil-Over Rolling Chassis is more than just a foundation for your classic Bronco; it’s a testament to our dedication to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction. By choosing a Kincer Chassis, you’re investing in:

Expertise: With years of experience, we understand the unique needs of early Bronco drivers.  We started in the offroad industry and have broken everything that can be broken.  This gives us the knowledge to guide upgrades toward a specific goal or driving style.

Quality Craftsmanship: Our rolling chassis is built with precision and careful attention to detail, making it a product that stands the test of time. We want you to be able to pass this down for generations!

Personalized Solutions: We work closely with you to provide tailored solutions that align with your vision and requirements. It’s important to us that you can drive your Bronco whenever you want and you don’t have to worry about something going wrong.


Whether you’re restoring a classic or building a custom early Bronco, Kincer Chassis’ Early Bronco Coil-Over Rolling Chassis offers a solid foundation with the quality and features you want and need in your Vintage Bronco. If you’re in the middle of the build process or you already have your Bronco up and running, send us a photo! We’d love to see it!

With our top-notch axles, suspension, and customizable options, you can start creating the Bronco of your dreams today. No reason to wait, get out and live your adventure!

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