In the fall of 2019, my husband Chris, who I call “C”, and I were so excited to be able to acquire a gem – a 1975 Ford Bronco Wagon with a Ranger Package. This vehicle had always been loved by the original owners, and we sure do love the original owners, Mrs. Sandra and Mr. Travis. They are family friends that C and I have known for the decades we’ve been married, and C even knew them (and the Bronco) as a kid. It was even the first vehicle with a three speed on the column, or a “three on the tree”, that he ever drove.
As much as it was loved, though, it was in need of some pretty intense restoration. With it needing extensive body work and a total engine rebuild, C knew it would be tedious and estimated that at the casual, weekend pace he’d have to take, it would be about a two-year process. So, we immediately dove in to the restoration of what I’ve now named “The 1G” – but more on the name and restoration later.
November 2019 – The day we picked up the Bronco. Mrs. Sandra had a
snapshot of the Bronco in its younger days. So neat to be able to see this picture!
First, a little background on this particular Bronco and what makes it so special to us…
C has told me a story about Mr. Travis letting him first drive the Bronco. I should mention that in Mississippi we sometimes like to have our kids call adults by their first names and add “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, or “Miss” – it’s a way to address adults with whom they are very familiar without being so formal.
Mr. Travis was a close neighbor and very patient and laid-back – just an all-around cool guy to know. C was about 11, I think, and was riding in the Bronco with Mr. Travis one day on their way to do some task – maybe to cut wood or something – and Mr. Travis stopped the Bronco to ask C if he wanted to drive.
Of course, C was up for it, but realized he needed a little direction since the three speed on the column was a different feel than a four speed on the floor. Being 11 in Mississippi and already knowing how to drive a standard shift really shouldn’t seem that odd, right? In his patient and relaxed way, Mr. Travis explained the pattern of the gears, and that it wasn’t much different than what C was used to.
It didn’t take long, and C was feeling comfortable with this three speed on the column – and it’s like riding a bike…once you know how it’s a life-long skill and not something you just forget.
How great that Mr. Travis was so patient and let C drive that day. It’s a great memory C will never forget.
Through the years, Mr. Travis and his wife, Mrs. Sandra, always had the Bronco, and C would always mention to him, “Mr. Travis, if y’all ever sell the Bronco, please let me have first shot.”
Mr. Travis passed away in early 2019. He lived a good, long life, and he is missed by so many – a large family and so many friends. Anyone who knew Mr. Travis loved him. Like I said, he was just an all-around cool guy to know.
And his wife, Mrs. Sandra, is just as all-around cool as Mr. Travis was. I mean, really. So friendly and kind and she has the best taste in all of the South, I think. She is one of the group of my mother-in-law’s friends who hosted my wedding shower in the summer of 1994 at her beautiful home. I, to this day, think of those ladies when I use the gift they gave me – the pots and pans set I still use today.
So, one day in the fall of 2019, C and I were able to go look at the Bronco with the notion that we would love to buy it if Mrs. Sandra was wishing to sell. She and C talked it over, and she told us she’d be back in touch.
After a few days, Mrs. Sandra and C talked again and finalized a price. We immediately made plans to head up with the trailer to haul it home that very week. It was an emotional decision, I know, because selling something that was so loved by Mr. Travis added another difficult dimension to the life she was going on to lead after his death. She’s such a precious person, and we assured her the Bronco was in good hands. Mrs. Sandra said she was glad to know we would be restoring the Bronco and that she knew where it would be.
We intend on having the Bronco be a part of our family for a long time after we finish the restoration. C even told Mrs. Sandra we could bring it to family weddings if anyone wanted to use it because of the nostalgia and sentimentality.
It’s obvious why we have some sentimental attachment to this particular Bronco. Meaningful people and memories are attached to this particular Bronco.
Back in 2019, I made a promise to C and to Mrs. Sandra that I would document the restoration process with photos and blog posts. Except, I had no blog at that point! This year, I’ve been in the process of re-branding my business and getting all of my work “stuff” under one umbrella. In all of that planning, I thought it would be perfect to integrate posts about neat art jobs I’m doing with posts about neat things C and I have going on….and now, here it is June of 2021, and I’m just beginning the process of writing about the restoration.
“Better late than never” is the attitude I am choosing to have. I’m actually surprising C with this post as his Father’s Day gift from me – a good, mental deadline that helped me accomplish the task of getting the documentation rolling.
And, C has the Bronco in, almost literally, a million pieces now. But, the engine is fully rebuilt to its stock specifications, and the front-end is partially re-built. I’ve been keeping Mrs. Sandra posted as we work on different aspects, and she loves to hear about whatever we are doing.
As we’ve been taking photos along the way, I have become super interested in the history of the Ford Bronco. So much so, when a 1995 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer edition more-or-less fell in our laps last month, it became my main ride – and I love it. In reading about Broncos, I learned that (until 2021) there have been five generations of the Ford Bronco. Our 1975 Bronco is one of the First Generation Broncos, and the 1995 is one of the Fifth Generation. This new information settled in with me, and I couldn’t help but to nickname the Broncos the “The 1G” and “The 5G”…and those names have stuck.
So this post is Part 1, a launching point for future posts where I’ll need much more input from C for details on all the ins and outs of the process. Stay tuned!
Happy Father’s Day, C! I love you for so many reasons above and beyond your being able to do just about anything.
And, Mrs. Sandra, thank you for trusting us to restore this particular – this extra-special – Bronco. We love you!
Everyday is a celebration,