Can you bring a wrecked Classic Bronco back to life? Heck yeah, you can! I did it and I’ll tell you how I might have even made it better.
I found BO, short for Big Orange, in 2015 while I was living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I had always wanted an Early Bronco ever since riding in a red 1969 Bronco in high school.
BO came to me with a moderately reliable (throttle body) fuel-injected 351W, AOD, Dana 20, and five miles of red wire in the engine bay.
BO was built for long-haul desert exploration and had a spare everything on board – coils, starters, spark plugs, alternators, and belts (shoved up in the supports of the hood). I bought BO to explore, to learn about Broncos, and meet Bronco people – and we’ve been wildly successful.
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Ford Broncos Bring People Together
BO and I had many fun adventures in New Mexico. We made our own roads through the desert, learned how to tune a dinosaur of a fuel injection system, dodged rain storms, and wrestled with that old Kayline soft top as the weather cooled in the winter.
BO was clearly more than just a Bronco and really became a part of me. When the time came for me to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) away from New Mexico, my heart sank as I left BO in a gravel lot trusting that the transport company would load her up and bring her to me in St. Louis.
In true BO-fashion, BO arrived a few weeks later to St. Louis running and ready to roll! Knowing that BO was secretly not feeling well under the hood, I searched on the Classic Bronco Forums for anyone in St. Louis who might be able to help me fix her up.
A quick search led me to Steve Schmittgens whom I tracked down at his shop nearby one afternoon. I’m not sure Steve knew what to make of me when I arrived – in fact, I am fairly certain he thought I was certifiably crazy…
Bronco People Love To Help Each Other
Fast forward a year and I quickly became Steve’s “favorite” and gained more family than I bargained for! Steve and his sons, Nate and Matt, and the entire Missouri Early Broncos (MOEB) club helped me with so many BO projects over the years while I was in St. Louis.
One morning a valve cover exploded off my engine (if you want to know more about that you’ll have to track me down in person) – what a catastrophe that was at the time!
Steve and Nate pulled the engine and installed a whole new long block for me because, let’s face it, I can do a lot of things but that’s way above my pay grade!
Allison Schmittgens, one of Steve’s daughters, and I remain “Bronco Besties” to this day. Allison is the proud owner of a true 1966 Roadster affectionately known as “Trixi”.
Whether exploring a trail or cruising around Missouri wine country, Trixi and BO are always destined for a good time. Allison met her husband in my Bronco too. Although we gave serious consideration to ejecting him from BO the day they met, we resisted the urge and they are now living happily ever after.
Moving Cities with a Classic Bronco
In 2016, the call came for me to PCS from St. Louis to Charlottesville, Virginia. After a few thousand tears, I left the Schmittgens behind and drove BO 800 miles to my new home in Virginia. BO didn’t skip a beat other than needing her fender flare zip-tied on along the way and an immediate fuel filter change in the hotel parking garage. I lived in a hotel for a while and then in an Airbnb, but I always arranged for BO to have a safe, covered place to rest.
Shortly after arriving in Charlottesville, I decided to be brave and go meet some new Bronco people at a Bronco event outside of Richmond. Not knowing anyone, I showed up in BO and walked around aimlessly hoping someone would be kind to BO and I. The event started at a 4Wheel Parts store and when I went inside I saw a hat with a name on it that I recognized – Hatchett Racing. I walked up to the guy wearing the hat and said “Hey are you Hatchett Racing?!” and he said “No, I just get us lost”……and three years later we were married.
Thomas Kincer was his name and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve both changed each other’s lives. We had a whirlwind romance driving back and forth from Knoxville to Charlottesville for about a year. I worked for the government doing secret squirrel stuff for 15 years, but didn’t hesitate to jump ship and move to Tennessee in 2017!
In 2018 I decided to leave my line of work and join him at Krawlers Edge and Kincer Chassis. In 2019 Thomas and I were married (twice) and in 2021 we welcomed our baby boy, Thomas Gordon Kincer III (aka “T”). A lot has changed in a few short years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the comfort of coming home at the end of the day.
Early Ford Bronco Gets in an Accident
In 2018 while driving between our business locations, BO and I were involved in an accident. A vehicle was stopped across the middle of a blind curve and the safest thing BO and I could do was hit the vehicle dead on. I am so thankful that we did exactly what we did as any other decision would have resulted in BO on her lid or perhaps even me hurt. BO was damaged on the front driver’s side, but BO did exactly what BO was supposed to do and I walked away without a scratch. Needless to say, I was a very very sad girl for a very long time.
I didn’t want to paint BO – I didn’t want anything but for BO to be put back together exactly as BO had been before. Is that crazy coming from the girl who is married to Thomas Kincer? Probably to most people. It’s easy for someone else to say “put a chassis under her!”, “get a new paint job!”, “now’s your chance to…..!” But I didn’t want any of it. To me, changing BO’s outward appearance would rob me of the memories that I had with BO.
Bringing A Wrecked Classic Bronco Back To Life
Some time passed and I convinced Thomas to paint match BO’s fender and agreed to test out the new Freeway Series Chassis to make BO a bit more reliable and easier to handle. I had also fallen in love with the Cummins R2.8 turbo diesel so I threw all caution to the wind and let them go “R&D crazy” with plans for my powertrain.
Well, as you can imagine, paint matching BO’s perfectly desert sun faded patina fender was going to be next to impossible. BO was eventually 100% repainted a custom orange single-stage color that very closely matches her original color. I am still not thrilled about this, but I recognize that I am prolonging BO’s life by having had her painted and I will be thankful in 20 years that I made that decision.
Thanks to Cody Yancey at Addictive Motorsports, BO is now purring down the road with her new R2.8 Cummins turbo diesel, 6R80 transmission, and Atlas transfer case. We enlisted Cody to help us assemble BO and get her back on the road in a timely manner since our busy schedules would have meant an even longer build time.
On the outside, BO retained her original beefy front bumper with a 2-speed winch and we built a rear bumper to match. We found an OE hard top and used that on BO instead of a soft top to help control noise and make driving her a bit more enjoyable. BO’s original louvered hood could not be exactly matched, but we purchased a louver machine and decided to make louvered panels that could be changed out over time.
All of the R2.8 components are Krawlers Edge and the chassis beneath is the Freeway Series coil sprung chassis with Tractive semi-active shocks. Inside, we reused BO’s stock seats and had them reupholstered in leather-look vinyl with Relicate plaid detail.
We could easily write an entire article on our business alone, but that is not what this is about. You can check out the website to learn more about our business if you’re interested or give me a call anytime to talk about BO! We have 50+ amazing team members building world-class chassis and components and hope to enjoy many more years of “going to the shop” together.