The Rarity of a True 1966 Ford Bronco Roadster
By Jeff Leslie
Photography by Jeff Leslie & Janet Werner
Most people don’t know the rarity of a true Bronco Roadster. Most of the roadster styled Broncos that you see are cloned from Bronco wagons (VIN U15) and Bronco half cabs (VIN U14). A true Roadster (VIN U13) model was only made the first three years (1966-1968) of the ‘66-‘77 first generation Early Broncos. The Roadsters only totaled 5,000 units out of the production run of 225,000+ of all ‘66-‘77 Early Broncos. By best estimates of the Bronco gurus figure there are less then 150 left today and with only 100 registered. Out of the 100, there is only 10-15 that are original or restored back to original like condition.
All of the numbers match on my original 67,000 mile Roadster. The only real aftermarket body parts to speak of are the hood and the front fenders. Even so, they are the exact reproduction OEM parts and do not compromise the appearance of the vehicle in any way. Also, I had to replace the driver side kick up panel and there is metal repair around driver’s side fresh box open on the cowl. With both repairs, the painter and I took great care to make them unnoticeable. The body was painted just as it would have been done on the Ford assembly line. All the body pieces were painted separately from the tub for correct overspray and the underside was left with the original primer, then hand assembled. The body was painted using a base coat/clean coat system. The color, Caribbean turquoise, is correct for the year and model. The seats have new foam and covers and are the original one-year-only ’66 silver. The back seat has (’66 only) NOS black arm rests. These NOS armrests are so rare that no one in the Bronco community has even seen them before! Also equally as rare is the NOS steering wheel this Roadster has. The truck also has one of two known NOS (’66 only) rubber floor mat and one known NOS (’66 only) rubber transfer case shift boot! The dash board and dash pad are ’66-’67 only but only in ’66 was it painted poly gray to match the silver upholstery.
In regards to the history of this Bronco, I know of only the last 30 years. Unfortunately the 1965-1966 Ford trucks and 1966 Broncos original build record and order information were destroyed in a fire at Ford’s Rotunda building. So, there is no way to find any info on the ‘66 Bronco except by speaking to the original owner. What I do know is that this Roadster is a Houston DSO coded truck. I spoke to a lady named Bertha, who was the last known registered owner from 1983. She got the truck from her father in-law and they used it for a hunting truck on leased property in the Houston area. Bertha and her husband Bill sold the truck to a friend who never registered it. From there, the Roadster was bought and sold a few times without a title and used only for off-road purposes. I bought the Bronco from a guy up in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area for parts only and with no title. After seeing the truck and learning about the rarity of the U13 models and how few of them survived, I decided to rebuild this Roadster instead of parting it out. I had my sister in Texas do an exhaustive TEX-DOT VIN search to find the last known registered owner. By Texas law, Bertha was the only person who could file for a reissued Texas title. The only way I could get a clear title was through her. After an extensive search, I found her and contacted her explaining I had her old Bronco and I was in the process of restoring it. After a couple of days of sending a letter she called me by phone. She was more than happy to go through the hassles to get me a new Texas title so her old Bronco could live once again.
Here is a list of 1966 Factory Ford Bronco options. This Roadster has almost every one except the ones noted: Chrome horn ring, Cigar-cigarette lighter (does not have), Heater & Defroster – Fresh Air, RH Outside rear view mirror, Fender mounted (does not have), Manual AM radio & antenna, Protective dash speaker grille cover, LH or LH & RH bucket seats, Bench type rear seat, ICC lamp flashers, Padded black dash pad, Padded LH & RH sun visors, Front & rear chrome channel bumpers, Front bumper guards, Bright-metal taillight bezels, Skid plates (under fuel tank and transfer case), Inside tailgate or bulkhead mounted spare tire carrier, Body side accent paint stripes (does not have), Rocker panel racing stripes, Rocker panel molding (does not have), Bright-metal 15″ only wheel covers (with 15″ wheels only), High flotation tires (9.5 X 15 4 ply), Auxiliary 12 gallon fuel tank, Extra 6 blade cooling fan (only seen on Houston DSO coded Broncos) very rare!
Here is a list of the unique and rare original parts to a 1966 Bronco that this Roadster has to offer. This is also why the ‘66 model is the hardest of all Broncos to restore. There are very little to no reproduction parts for the 1966. Most of the reproduction parts start with the 1967 Broncos!
‘66 only chrome horn ring, ‘66 only chrome front bumper, ‘66 only chrome guards position, ‘66 only chrome rear bumper, ‘66 only wheel covers, ‘66 only silver upholstery, ‘66 only gray dash, ‘66 only dash knobs, ‘66 only speaker cover, ‘66-‘68 fold down windshield frame catch and hood loop, ‘66-‘67 dash pad “pencil style dash pad”, ‘66 only floor mat (67′s design changed), first three months in ‘66 Roadster’s windshield frame mounted rearview mirror, ‘66-‘67 Roadster’s side mounted fender mirror, ‘66 only Tailgate was different in ’66, first 1/2 year ‘66 Eyebrow grille, ‘66-‘68 Roadster door inserts, first two-plus months in ‘66 drive side metal fresh air box, first-plus month in ‘66 short 9 1/2″ non locking transfer case shift, ‘66 only transfer case shifter boot, first three months in ‘66 brass 90 deg. fill plug on Dana 30 axle, ‘66 only oil bath air cleaner, ‘66 only radiator has fill cap offsets to the diver side, ‘66 only extra 6 blade cooling fan, ‘66 only single reservoir master cylinder, ‘66-‘67 black pull to release seat belts, ‘66 only black rear arm rests, ‘66 only taillights no backup lights, ‘66 and early ‘67 three bolt lock outs for front wheel hubs, ‘66 only rear facing shock position, ‘66 only fill plug position on 9″ rear end.
NOS parts that I used on this Roadster have taken me more then two years of constant searching to find. All were very hard to find and some of them extremely rare! I have about 1000 hours on hunting for parts: Upper radiator hose, Lower radiator hose, Oil breather, Exhaust clamps, Taillight lenses, Gas pedal, Gas pedal chrome trim, Brake pedal pad, clutch pedal pad, Antenna (rarely seen), Radio dash speaker (never seen), Bronco script emblems, Driver side outside mirror head (seen only a few of them—two that sold for $1,000 each), Pair of seat belts, Battery (very rarely seen—no acid in it, perfect for vehicle on display), Autolite Plug wires, Autolite Alternator, Heavy duty front shocks, Heavy duty rear shocks, FoMoCo wash bag, Front spring coils (never seen), Rear gas tank filler neck hose (never seen), Steering wheel (never seen), Rear seat arm rests (black—never seen and/or heard of), Rear hub caps (seen only three or four), Rubber floor mat (one or two known left), Rubber shift boot (one known left).
There might be more that I have forgotten to list but at least you can get an idea of the more prominent parts that I have tracked down over the last two years. This Bronco has the most rare parts ever assembled on any one Bronco!
So, how rare is rare? Out of all of the Barrett-Jackson Auctions, there have been only 12-15 first generation restored Broncos that have sold. Most of them were frame-off restoration “resto mods”, not back to pure original like this one. Some of the high quality restorations went for $40,000 to $49,000 but in no way were they as unique and rare as the Roadster! So, what would a never-seen-before high quality and benchmark setting Roadster at the Barrett-Jackson Auction be worth? Also, there is no car museum in the world that has a Roadster, not even the Henry Ford! There is not a high profiled car collector or celebrity that has one yet! The biggest question is what’s all this worth??? No one really knows, what’s the best of the best 1966 Corvette worth or the best of the best 1966 Mustang? Everyone knows the Corvette and the Mustang should be worth a little more than the Bronco Roadster. But, on the other hand, there is a lot more Vettes and Stangs out there than the true U13 Bronco Roadster! Who would ever know unless it went to auction?
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Originally posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 1:18 pm
Category: Auto Round-Up News