Joe’s journey with Ford started with a dealership as part of its parts department for over 15 years. To say that he and Kelly love the Blue Oval would be an understatement. That’s why they were first day reservation holders for the Bronco and were willing to be patient to get it delivered. Though, as they were placing their reservation, each of them found a rendering of a 2021 Bronco that they each fell in love with, and when they shared notes, they had found the same image.
That looked much like their end product: a blue and white Deluxe Tu-Tone body, white top, and classic polished aluminum multi-hole wheels. The paint design was also a call back to her father’s 1979 F-350, who had also recently passed away. The only change from their Bronco and her dad’s F-series was the white trim. Her father’s was originally a blue and gray Ford factory two-tone. On February 2, 2022—568 days later—their 2021 arrived and Joe got to work transforming their Sasquatch.
The Bronco was completely stripped down to its bare chassis with both doors, all fenders, and top removed and sent off to Colyn Crighton at Glasslife in Atlanta. Colyn and the Glasslife team handled all the paint, xPel film, and ceramic coating.. Under the chassis, the stock Sasquatch suspension was removed and replaced with King Racing Shocks coilovers. The front upper control arm was replaced with a Baja Kits part that works with the stock Bronco spindle.
The paint is protected by using Xpel Stealth PPF protective film that doesn’t ruin the look of the classic 1970s and 1980s Bronco two tone style and color choice made by Kelly. She’s a gearhead herself and knew what parts and paints she wanted to see. Splitting the Antimatter Blue and Wimbledon White is a light blue pinstripe that recalls old-school factory Ford decal treatment. Even the roll bar was painted in Wimbledon White to match the two-tone design when the top is off.
It’s that top, however, that required a unique step. Rather than use vinyl or even just paint over the glass (which wouldn’t last long), Joe decided to use a piece of carbon fiber panel to close off the front of the top’s glass in the same angled shape as the full-size classic Bronco. This panel was then painted to retain the paint scheme and then bonded on. Why use carbon over metal or some other material?
“It will always look like an add-on part up close,” said Joe, “but I wanted to use a material that would be strong and easy to work with. Raw carbon sheets are cheap enough and readily available.” To Joe, it just didn’t “feel right” to use sheet metal, acrylic or vinyl. “I’m still not 100% loving what we’ve done with the top,” he continued, “but I do believe that it mimics the body style we are after fairly well.”
Another issue Joe ran into was the JcrOffroad Vanguard front bumper and KC HiLites—of which Kelly requested because it would match her initials. While it allows the use of a winch and off-road lights, it did require Joe to relocate the Automatic Cruise Control module and front camera. After those modifications were made, the bumper was painted in gloss black and its hardware along with the black oxide Hammer Built Modular Tailgate Support System hardware were replaced with stainless steel pieces. It gives this Bronco more of that classic feel while giving some contrast to the black.
You’ll notice those KC lights feature the old-school yellow background cover design. Unfortunately, KC doesn’t offer this and Kelly had them custom made as a call back to her teenage years. For that multi-hole aluminum wheel, a set of Method Race Wheels 315 wheels are finished in just a clear coat and wrapped in a set of General Grabber X3 mud tires.
Since most tires don’t come with raised white letter sidewalls, these Grabbers have the smooth red letter with white outline, again bringing out that classic idea of seeing the lettering on a modern, high-grip tire. For a final touch of classic Bronco to this modern one, a 1987-1991 “Bronco” fender emblem was added to the front fenders and really closes out this RetroMod.
The RetroMod Bronco—with the help of dedicated friends—was finished just in time for Bronco Super Celebration East in Townsend, Tennessee, just outside of Pigeon Forge. It’s one of the largest gatherings of Ford Broncos of all types and the RetroMod was a hit, even confusing some people to feel that this really was an older Bronco. That is, until they got up close and personal to realize that it was a 2021 finished like a 1970’s classic.
There are still some additional parts that Joe and Kelly want to install on their Bronco, but are mostly related to the suspension. The great, classic look of the body won’t be touched. Well, at least until there is some unrepairable trail rash. Yep, this Retro-ized Bronco won’t be a trailer queen or hard parker, it’s going to get used just as Ford intended. Out on the trails of the East Coast and Appalachian Mountains, including the ones that Kelly’s father took her on when she was a teenager. We’re sure this RetroMod Bronco would impress him as much as it did us and everyone who’s seen it.
Photos Provided by Joe Charles