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Historians have often pointed out the many parallels between Henry Ford and Soichiro Honda. Both came from rural areas but developed fascinations with motorized vehicles early on. Both overcame numerous setbacks on the way to establishing automotive powerhouses relatively late in their lives, career-wise. And both saw their success not so much by building on what others had accomplished rather by laying the groundwork themselves and focusing primarily on the engineering aspects of their businesses. But that’s not to cast Honda as merely the Japanese Henry Ford (as People magazine described him in 1980); as we see in this documentary of the inventor, engineer, racer, and founder of what is now the seventh largest automaker in the world.

[Editor’s Note: Photochopper Michael Sharp, whose work we’ve featured here before, thought he’d take a crack at a car currently for sale on Hemmings.com as part of our regular How I’d Build It series.]

Celebrities and actors driving customized cars is not a recent occurrence. Clark Gable once had his Duesenberg mildly customized. What if one of his fellow actors decided to do the same, but with a much different car? It’s possible that one of Gable’s peers, maybe Katharine Hepburn or Joseph Cotton, would have wanted something a little less conspicuous and more agile than a Duesey.

This 1939 LaSalle 50 Convertible Coupe makes for a perfect starting point. It may have been known as a lower-priced Cadillac, but General Motors didn’t cut corners with styling by Harley Earl. It’s too large to be made into a true sports car, but it could certainly be made a lot sportier.

1939 LaSalle 50 convertible coupe front seat

The front bench seat’s really all you need anyway, right?

I’d start with shortening it by removing the rear seat area, all sheet metal, and moving the rear fenders forward to just behind the doors. The windshield would be chopped several inches. The headlights and side hood vents would be eliminated by our next modification: sectioning the body 8 to 10 inches, which makes our subject much more alluring.

To avoid a pancaked look after the sectioning, I’d also narrow the body significantly. There’s no need for bumpers because it’ll be driven to movie premieres and the best restaurants, and will cruise through the Hollywood hills, not in commuter traffic. New headlights would be hidden in the fenders ala Cord, turn signals are behind the grill vents, the taillights are cut down, and rear fender skirts complete the extensive metalwork.

photoshopped 1939 LaSalle 50

Image by Michael Sharp

The frame would be modified to lower our looker several inches with z-cuts front and back. It already has an x-member, which would have to be narrowed and retained to keep the rigidity a convertible needs. Rear axle and front center link would need to be narrowed, and the other stock suspension pieces would be retained. A Cadillac V-8 engine was standard equipment, and if I were building this when the car was new, I would keep the drivetrain stock; with several hundreds of pounds of metal removed, it’ll be a lot quicker and still as reliable as a Cadillac.

If I were building it today, I’d have a new frame fabricated. I’d prefer to keep things GM, but a Corvette independent rear setup might not be wide enough, so a multilink IRS would be installed with an IFS kit up front. No bags, it’ll be built with the right static stance. An LS engine with 350 horsepower and a 6L80-E trans would be sufficient to move our new classic custom, and would be compatible with modern electronic controls. I can see Emma Stone or John David Washington behind the wheel, entrusting it with the lucky valet at Grauman’s.

Do you think it’s sufficiently sporty and suitable for celebrity sighting now? Let me know how you’d build something similar in the comments below and in the meantime check out other LaSalles for sale on Hemmings.com.

1. News came down this week that Steven Spielberg will direct or produce a Bullitt re-make with Bradley Cooper – a guy who has made a lot of money playing a talking raccoon – in the lead. We’ve seen plenty of speculation regarding how prominent the new film will feature a certain green Mustang and a certain hubcap-tossing car chase, but we’re just left wondering how the Steve McQueen original has gone 55 years without a remake.

Italian

2. Plenty of American coach builders got their start building hot rods and customs, so it’s intriguing to see somebody from the coach building mecca of Italy building an American-style custom out of a 1949 Cadillac.

Olympia Beer Charger at Le Mans

3. Speaking of American cars mixing with European car culture, Driven to Write recently took a look at the story of the Olympia Beer Charger that Hershel McGriff entered in the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans. (via)

1973 gas shortage

4. Last month, Jil McIntosh selected seven days that changed automotive history. Not in a “Henry Ford was born on this day” way, more in a “Yom Kippur War started on October 6, leading to fuel shortages, leading Detroit to start to rethink auto design” way. We could probably add a few to this list, so include your suggestions below.

5. Finally, Technology Connections recently made a video in defense of sealed-beam headlamps. Or, more accurately, in defense of the reasoning behind making sealed-beam headlamps the default headlamp style in the United States for decades.

In their day, the motorcars of the Franklin Automobile Company appealed to independent thinkers and people who valued clever engineering backed by quality construction. These Franklins were both expensive and unconventional, two traits that kept them out of the mainstream. Even after the company bowed to pressure and fitted its cars with ordinary-looking hoods and grilles, they didn’t turn heads in standard form. Our feature car was literally designed, from the start, to make a statement.

Color shot of the dash, steering wheel, seats and interior of a 1931 Franklin Airman

Photo by Richard Lentinello

While this automaker’s trademark air-cooled engine design meant a traditional front-mounted radiator was unnecessary, the unique trimmings of a radiator’s attendant grille were a key factor of how cars—especially those from prestige marques—were identified. The adoption of water-cooled design traits in 1925, courtesy of renowned stylist J. Frank de Causse, gave Franklins a new level of respectability, and by the start of the next decade, the firm’s three model lines could be had in a wide range of open and closed body styles commissioned from prominent American coachbuilders like Brunn, Dietrich, Locke, and Willoughby.

Pennsylvania’s venerable Derham Body Co. was tasked with the design and construction the “Sportsman’s Coupé” body gracing our feature 1931 Series 15 Airman De Luxe Model 153. Like the 1937 Delage (Classic Import Profile) in this issue, the Franklin was expressly built for display, and it graced the 1931 New York Automobile Salon held in December 1930.

Color closeup of the lighter and ashtray in a 1931 Franklin Airman

Photo by Richard Lentinello

The Sportsman’s Coupé, which Franklin also called a Victoria Brougham, rode on a 132-inch wheelbase chassis with full-elliptic springs front and rear. Damping was via Houdaille lever-arm shocks, and 14-inch Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes sat behind 19-inch wire wheels. Providing motivation was a Stromberg-carbureted OHV inline-six engine with individually cast, finned cylinders that collectively displaced 274-cu.in.; it sent 100 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque to the wheels through a Warner four-speed transmission, spiral bevel differential, and semi-floating drive axles.

But it was the rakish styling of the ash-framed aluminum body that stood apart. In an early 1970s letter to the car’s longtime caretaker, automotive historian Walter Gosden, designer Enos Derham wrote about its identifying numbers, “Your Franklin is without doubt the one we built for the 1930-’31 Salon. The figure #1 following the 842 signifies that it is the first body built in the 842 series of our production, in this case a series of 3, the first one a show car. It was completed by us and shipped by rail to Syracuse, where it was mounted on the chassis before going to N.Y.”

Color closeup of the engine bay in a 1931 Franklin Airman

Photo by Richard Lentinello

The only components of the low-slung two-door shared with standard 1931 Franklins were its Walker Body Co.-built clamshell fenders, headlamps, grille, and dashboard. While the car now wears the color scheme first suggested by Derham, Franklin factory workers originally painted it a combination of dark blue, lighter blue, and medium tan. This Sportsman’s Coupé’s first owner bought it in spring 1931 for a bargain $4,800—a contemporary Ford Model A De Luxe Coupe cost $520—and it had two more owners before Gosden’s purchase. Our feature Franklin now belongs to H.H. Franklin Club president Bob Cornman, who continues to show, drive, and enjoy it.

Color closeup of the valve sleeves in a 1931 Franklin Airman

Photo by Richard Lentinello

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: OHV inline-six, 274.2-cu.in.

Bore x stroke: 3.50 x 4.75 inches

Horsepower: 100 at 3,100 rpm

Torque: 182 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm

Transmission: Four-speed manual

Suspension: Tubular axle, full-elliptic leaf spring front; live axle with full-elliptic leaf spring rear

Brakes: Four-wheel drums

Wheelbase: 132 inches

Curb weight: 4,850 pounds

List price, new: $5,977.25 FOB Syracuse, New York

Color closeup of the spare and trunk area of a 1931 Franklin Airman

Photo by Richard Lentinello

Over the years, off-road capable SUVs and trucks have become complex machines. From electronic differentials and transfer cases to full-time all-wheel drive systems that are easy to operate but difficult to understand, these new 4x4s are supposed to be better in every way, but are they?

On this episode of the Hemmings Hot Rod BBQ Podcast, Mike Musto sits down with Ryan Douthit and Nick Cappetto of Drivings Sports TV, two guys who make a living reviewing OEM off-roaders, to see if newer is actually better, or if the older analog systems from yesteryear are the way to go.

So, grab a beverage or sit back in your favorite easy chair, because the BBQ is about to begin!

Ever lock eyes on someone and, though you’ve never met, you’re sure that you know them from somewhere? Celebrities have stories like this all the time—particularly when they’re mistaken for another celebrity. But it happens to us plebes in the weeds as well. Unsurprisingly, it happens with cars, too. And sometimes it all works out for the best.

Sadly, little is currently known about this ’69 Camaro SS/RS convertible’s former life or owner(s); the only information that’s come to light is that it was built in the Norwood, Ohio, plant in December of ’68, was delivered in or near Memphis, Tennessee, and was owned by a schoolteacher. “Paperwork was lacking,” its restorer, Shaun Price, of Shaun Price Restorations in Gilbert, Arizona, tells us. This may well have been because Shaun’s client, owner Al Serrato of Temecula, California, bought a car that was essentially in pieces— torn down by a previous owner who either misplaced or chucked its records.

Color closeup of the Camaro script on a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible, above head lamp, driver side.

Photo by Jeff Koch

And like that person you feel you know but you can’t remember from where, this Camaro also looked strangely familiar. “We saw the Camaro for sale online in 2011 and ’12; the seller had it up there for months as an unfinished project at an exorbitant price,” Shaun recalls. “It wasn’t abandoned—I think he ran out of money and/or interest, and that was probably the catalyst for sale.” Al and Shaun were interested—a factory red Camaro SS/RS convertible is bound to get the interest of quite a few collectors. But at the $85,000 asking price, it sat. And sat. Every now and again, the price would drop by ten grand. “And one day,” Shaun says, “it disappeared from the site. Either the seller had given up, or it had sold.”

Now, Shaun has a neighbor who occasionally flips cars for fun and profit, so haulers dropping cars off there is never a big deal. “He came over and asked if I’d help the transport driver get the car out—it was just a rolling chassis and had no brakes. We get it out of the transporter and the lightbulb blinks on.” No fair guessing whether it was this very Camaro they’d been watching—it was. “My neighbor bought it in… let’s call it an emotional moment. He’s known for paying too much for things. But Al and I had watched this car for months online, and now it’s here in front of me in my neighbor’s yard. I mean, what are the odds?”

Color closeup of the tail lamp assembly and Camaro script on the trunk of a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS Convertible.

Rally Sport package included unique taillamp lenses with horizontal split and separate reverse lamps.Photo by Jeff Koch

Shaun now had a chance to look first-hand at the car that he was hemming and hawing over previously. “I could see what we had and didn’t have, unlike reading a description in an ad and having to hop on a plane to go look at it. What we saw was a rolling car, fairly complete, but it needed a correct restoration in order to be finished. It had been painted and that’s where it stopped. Everything on it was date-coded correctly. All of the panels had original date-codes stamped when we got them, so everything was in line — nothing we found was a service-replacement item. Anything that had a date on it lined up with the car. The trunk floor was original, but I bet someone put floors in it; I can’t confirm that, though. Whoever did the work on the body and the paint did a nice job.”

It was a Camaro like one Al had been looking for. It was all there, all correct and complete. At Al’s urging, Shaun pulled the trigger. “I told my neighbor, ‘You paid how much? I’ll give you ten percent more right now.’” The deal was done, and they rolled it into Shaun’s workshop across the street. The goal, as it was with all of Al’s cars, was to get it as close to showroom-correct as could be managed.

Color closeup of the hood vents on a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Super Sport package included a special domed hood with chrome inserts.Photo by Jeff Koch

Combining the SS and RS packages got a respectable amount of equipment and trim goodies. The SS included the special hood with simulated air intakes and an insulation pad, the standard grille would be blacked out with most body colors, as would the rocker panels below the moldings; SS emblems would appear on the grille, fenders, and rear panel. The SS also included 14 x 7-inch wheels and F70-14 Wide-Oval tires, and the all-important chrome air cleaner lid for the standard L48-code 300-hp 350 four-barrel engine.

Meanwhile, the Rally Sport option provided the “hideaway” headlamp treatment with an alternate grille design, and the taillamp lenses had a single horizontal split, rather than the standard twin vertical segmentations. Reverse lamps moved down into the rear valence panel on the RS.

Color closeup of the engine bay in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible, 350/300 small-block V-8.

Chevy’s base engine for the Camaro SS was a 10.25:1 compression, four-barrel, 300 gross horsepower, 350-cubic-inch small-block. Plenty were built with “nice car” options like automatic transmission and air conditioning.Photo by Jeff Koch

When the SS and RS packages were combined, the SS emblems bumped out the RS pieces on the grille and tail panel, and the “Rally Sport” badging that would be found on the fenders of a regular Camaro RS (or a Z/28 RS) was also left off in favor of the standard “Camaro” scripts with “SS” emblems beneath, just as they would appear on a non-RS Camaro Super Sport.

This example of the SS/RS was a highly optioned Garnet Red convertible with red interior. Shaun reports, “It has the matching-numbers engine, transmission, and rear. Well, it has the driveline it was born with, anyway. It’s got a 12-bolt 3.55:1 with Posi, because with air and automatic you couldn’t get anything as high as 3.73:1.” Also included were a plethora of options: air conditioning, tilt steering column, a power convertible top, power windows, space-saver spare, Endura front bumper, console, gauges, fiber-optic lamp monitoring, Deluxe interior, whitewall tires (which were a factory upgrade), and… an AM radio.

Color closeup of the Rochester Quadrajet carburetor in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Photo by Jeff Koch

“When you ordered the AM radio, you had the option to order a rear-mounted antenna,” Shaun explains. “The AM/FM radios had a fixed manual antenna on the front fender. That antenna on the rear fender would make the D80 spoiler package unavailable. I mean, it could have had the stereo 8-track, cruise control, and some other foo-foo stuff, but overall it was well-optioned, despite being a base 350-powered car.”

All of this was above and beyond the RS goodies (fender striping, hideaway headlamps with washers, the Style Trim group to add a variety of brightwork and black sills, et al) and what was mandated with the SS package (300-hp 350, floor-shift, Turbo HydraMatic in lieu of Powerglide, power front disc brakes and lots more).

Color image of the interior, dash, seats, floor, steering wheel etc. in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Factory red Comfortweave interior was remade with possibly the last NOS bolt of original fabric from the burned-down factory; there are options galore in here like gauges, tilt wheel, air conditioning, and more.Photo by Jeff Koch

What was missing? “Let’s put it this way: we had parts, it wasn’t missing much, and all of the important stuff was there, but the condition of the parts needed to be updated from what we acquired with the car. The quantity of NOS stuff we had to come up with to finish it was staggering.” Shaun says.

For example? “The dashpad. It needed one, and the air-conditioned cars have a specific dash pad. Lo and behold, I heard about a guy just three miles north of me who bought an NOS dashpad in the late 1970s — and it was still in the original GM box. And it was for an A/C car! Things like that happen occasionally, but it’s not that common. NOS parts are getting ever-more-difficult to find.”

Color closeup of the wheels on a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Photo by Jeff Koch

And the lug nuts! “They’re correct assembly-line lug nuts that were used on those 14-inch SS wheels in 1969 and ’70 only. Those things are unobtainable. We paid $50 for each lug nut — that’s $1,000. For lug nuts! The guy who sold them to us had a few left afterward, and he ended up selling them for $100 apiece,” Shaun notes.

There’s more — even in places you wouldn’t think would matter. “The alignment shims are actually GM assembly-line items. Between the shims and the lug nuts, man, that’ll send you over the edge. We found what was likely the last NOS red Comfortweave material anywhere, in Detroit. The original plant that made it burned down years ago, and reproduction stuff doesn’t have the same pattern. The seatbelt webbing was tough to find NOS, too.”

Color closeup of the fender, side marker and wheel/tire on a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Photo by Jeff Koch

Shaun continues, “Ultimately, every component had to be disassembled and redone, or else replaced. Stuff that the previous owner had done was junk — most of it either didn’t work right or simply hadn’t been addressed. This car was one of those where you had to sit there and go through everything piece by piece for it to work correctly in the end.”

Even the decent paint was given the once-over. “I had to disassemble the car, then painted both underneath and the firewall; the previous painter painted the firewall and chassis the same glossy red as the body, and I had to re-do it the way the factory did it [in black]. I also fixed some body chips and deficiencies along the way. Also, doing the blackout on the rockers, I made sure that it faded with a fuzzy line, like the factory did on the assembly line. I replicated that off an original car too, another Norwood car. We also repainted the hood and decklid thanks to poorly stored parts, where something nicked or chipped the paint.

Color closeup of the trunk and spare of a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Photo by Jeff Koch

“On the original convertible top rear window, there should be a manufacturer’s logo and a date code that the reproductions don’t have. I found an original-top car, photographed that logo, and had that and the build date reproduced on the rear window,” Shaun says. There are even factory-style markings on the treads of the tires, which you’d think would be the first thing to wear off. Except…

“Al keeps this car in the lobby of his office,” Shaun says of the Camaro that has taken pride of place in its owner’s eyeline. It’s been there since 2014. The good news: this as-new SS/RS ’69 Camaro convertible is being enjoyed, even if it’s not wearing those tire markings off.

Color closeup of the clock in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible

Photo by Jeff Koch

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE

Base price: $2,852

Options on car profiled: Super Sport package, $507; Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, $585; Rally Sport package, $131.65; air conditioning, $376; tilt wheel, $45; power steering, $95; power brakes, $42; whitewall tires, $32; console, $54; AM radio, $61; power windows, $105; front disc brakes, $22; tinted glass, $31; gauges, $90.

ENGINE

Type: Chevrolet “small-block” OHV V-8, cast-iron block and cylinder heads

Displacement: 350 cu.in.

Bore x stroke: 4.00 x 3.48 in

Compression ratio: 10.25:1

Horsepower @ rpm: 300 @ 4,800

Torque @ rpm: 380 lb-ft @ 3,200

Valvetrain: Hydraulic lifters

Main bearings: Five

Fuel system: Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel, mechanical pump

Lubrication system: Pressure, gear-type pump

Electrical system: 12-volt

Exhaust system: Dual exhaust with transverse cross-flow muffler

TRANSMISSION

Type: GM Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 three-speed automatic

Ratios: 1st/2.48 … 2nd/1.48 … 3rd/1.00 … Reverse/2.08

DIFFERENTIAL

Type: Chevrolet 12-bolt housing, Positraction

Ratio: 3.55:1

STEERING

Type: Recirculating ball-nut, semi-reversible with hydraulic power assist

Turns, lock-to-lock: 2.8

Turning circle: 37.5 ft

BRAKES

Type: Hydraulic disc/drum with vacuum power assist

Front: 11-in disc / Rear: 9.5 x 2.0-in drum

SUSPENSION

Front: Independent, unequal length A-arms; coil springs; telescoping shock absorbers; anti-sway bar

Rear: Parallel leaf springs, telescoping shock absorbers

WHEELS & TIRES

Wheels: Styled stamped steel, drop center Front/Rear: 14 x 7 in

Tires: Bias-ply, white-stripe Front/Rear: F70-14

PRODUCTION

Chevrolet produced 16,519 Camaro convertibles for the extended 1969 model year. Chevrolet also produced 37,773 RS and 36,309 SS Camaros for the year, but no records of how many SS/RS cars exist, regardless of body style.

PERFORMANCE

0-60 mph: 6.4 sec

1/4-mile ET: 15 sec @ 93 mph

Color image of a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS convertible parked in the desert, rear 3/4 position.

Photo by Jeff Koch

Hemmings Motor News has long served as the publication for those in the know about the collector car hobby. You see a copy of the latest issue in the barber’s shop, and you know that this guy gets it. And while it doesn’t require a secret handshake to become part of that cadre of in-the-know hobbyists, we are giving you a sneak peek at our Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Let’s start with Black Friday, when you can take $10 off any Make Offer or Traditional Classified ad on Hemmings.com. If you’ve been meaning to sell a car, truck, or motorcycle—maybe to make room in the garage for something else in the new year—snap some pictures, write up a description, and take $10 off your ad by entering the code BLKFRI$10 at checkout. Selling on Hemmings.com works, too, with more than 3,000 vehicles going to new homes over the last year.

Next up, on Cyber Monday you can take 10 percent off any merchandise in the Hemmings store. Yearning to look like the guys in our Sibley shop videos with a Hemmings work shirt? Maybe you just need a ball cap, stocking stuffer, or one of our hot-selling 2023 calendars? Browse the shop, tell the Santa in your household what you’d like, and use the code HEMMINGS22 at checkout. We’re also throwing in free shipping on orders of more than $100.

These deals are only available for a limited time. The Black Friday $10 off deal is only available on Friday, November 25, and the Cyber Monday 10 percent off deal is only available on Monday, November 28, so make your list, check it twice, and get ready for savings.

Hemmings 2023 calendars

Hemmings 2023 calendars

Hemmings pen, tire inflator, and flashlight set

Hemmings flashlight, pressure gauge, and pen set

Hemmings Musclepalooza t-shirt

Ford’s Bronco II isn’t a darling of internet listicles just yet—it’s not one of the “10 4x4s You Should Buy Right Now!”—but its popularity and its value seems to be growing. Prices for Bronco IIs haven’t skyrocketed, however there has been steady, significant appreciation over the last decade. Five years ago, for instance, the average value of a Bronco II was estimated at approximately $7,000, while today that estimate is nearly $14,000. The earliest examples of these compact SUVs are now well over 35 years old, but due to the sheer numbers produced, nice examples can still be found at affordable prices.

At Mecum’s Chicago auction in October, a good-looking ’86 Bronco II Eddie Bauer edition changed hands for $9,800—a solid deal for the buyer and slightly below the $13,383 market average estimated by classic.com as of this writing. Aside from some signs of wear on the cloth upholstery covering the driver’s seat, and some typical aging, the truck’s interior was very presentable and livable. Outside, it wore tan accent stripes over Dark Walnut paint and rolled on the cast aluminum wheels that were included in the Eddie Bauer package.

Standard across the board that year in the Bronco II was the North American-version of the 2.9-liter “Cologne” V-6. These engines (and the earlier 2.8) had a reputation for cracked cylinder heads, but an update rectifying that came in 1989. This can affect the value of earlier Bronco IIs, but there are aftermarket replacement heads available— valvetrain noise is common in these engines as well.

At Mecum’s Harrisburg sale in July, a 1990 Bronco II that looked to be in very good condition inside and out, fetched $15,000— just above the average estimated going rate. Perhaps the higher price paid was due to the later model year and the more desirable updated engine.

Several examples have crossed Hemmings’ auction block recently: a clean-looking 1990 in October 2021 that bid up to $11,800 and didn’t sell; a modified 1988 that is currently listed on HMN.com with the owner accepting offers against on asking price of $23,500; and another modified Bronco II with a four-inch suspension lift and big tires is listed with an asking price of $21,450.

Ford pulled the wraps off its Bronco II in March of 1983 for the 1984 model year. The scaled-down, two-door SUV was greeted with positive reviews and strong sales. By the end of the decade, however, reports of rollover accidents led to dozens of lawsuits. By 1992—two years after the Bronco II was discontinued—Ford was facing nearly $750 million in claims filed by accident victims or their surviving families.

Color bar graph depicting the value of a 1984-'90 Ford Bronco II from 2018 to 2022.

The Bronco II rode on a 94- inch wheelbase and shared its chassis with the Ranger pickup — though the shortest Ranger wheelbase measured 108 inches. For perspective, the Bronco II measured just 1/2-inch longer than the Jeep CJ-7 and it was six inches shorter than the S-10 Blazer.

The four-wheel-drive Bronco II and the new-for-’86 two-wheel-drive version rode on independent front ends with coil springs. The two-wheel-drive used a version of Ford’s Twin I-Beam front end while the 4x4s had Ford’s Twin Traction-Beam. Out back, under all Bronco IIs, was Ford’s 7.5-inch rear axle with leaf springs. Braking was handled by 10.9-inch discs with single-piston calipers in the front and 9-inch drums in the rear.

For 1986, the Bronco II was offered with the new, fuel-injected 2.9-liter 60-degree V-6 that replaced the carbureted 2.8 powering the ’84-’85 trucks. A Mitsubishi four-cylinder diesel was also offered in the Bronco II early on, but proved unpopular.

A five-speed manual transmission was the base offering (a four-speed in 1984) or buyers could opt for an automatic. The three-speed C5 was the first automatic used, but it was replaced by a four-speed box by 1986. New for ’86 was an optional shift-on-the-fly transfer case called Touch Drive that was paired with automatic locking hubs. A manual shift case with lock-in hubs was still standard issue.

The Bronco II received only minor changes for 1987 and ’88, but the front end got a makeover for 1989. In February 1990, Ford pulled the plug on Bronco II production altogether and it was replaced by the Explorer.

Welcome to IROC REHAB, the new series from Hemmings where we take an ailing 1987 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z into our Sibley Garage in Bennington, Vermont, and, with the help of some very special partners, give it a new lease on life.

Thirty-five years ago, the Camaro IROC-Z was one of the most sought-after muscle cars on the road. They combined high style, power, and performance in a package that was difficult to match. However, as time and technology marched on, they became overshadowed by the latest and greatest. Now, in 2022, with new parts and technology available, Hemmings has decided to rehab one of the most iconic muscle cars in history to make it perform better in the twenty-first century.