SEMA News—January 2020

By Fredy Ramirez


SEMA Members Team With WD-40 and SEMA Garage to Raise Money for Charity

SEMA Garage, WD-40 and many others came together in order to create a custom ’66 Ford Bronco that will be auctioned off to benefit Childhelp. The first steps were to remove the body, assess the tired components, then sandblast the frame.

Sometimes people come together for a special cause and create something extraordinary. SEMA Garage, WD-40 and many others in the industry came together in order to create a custom ’66 Ford Bronco that will be auctioned off to benefit Childhelp later in the year. Childhelp is an organization dedicated to closing the cycle of child abuse in the United States by helping victims and those at risk.

For even the most experienced craftsmen, building a vehicle takes time, effort and money. Most of the parts for this vehicle came via donations. All those who worked on the build, which required extensive custom adaptations, donated their time to ensure the creation of a quality vehicle.

The design concept was simple: to keep the classic look and operational simplicity of a ’66 Bronco, but build one that delivers up-to-date driving capabilities and improved off-road utility. The team’s first step was to assess the vehicle’s condition. “We had to strip the entire vehicle down to the frame,” Project Lead Luis Morales said. “We started taking things apart to see what could be salvaged and what needed to be replaced.”

SEMA Garage Engineer Conner Morris (right) and Project Lead Luis Morales worked to shoehorn the 3.5L EcoBoost engine into the Bronco engine bay.

After the assessment stage, the Bronco received a systematic, frame-up makeover from tail to bonnet. Solo Motorsports installed a rollcage and new radius arms developed specifically for the Bronco. While at the paint and body shop, the chassis and all the underpinnings were sandblasted and repainted. LGE-CTS Motorsports painted the body a color reminiscent of WD-40 blue, with PPG Industries providing the paint. The team also added a Rhino Linings flooring liner to create an interior that could be easily cleaned and resist rust and abrasion.

Under the hood lies a 3.5L EcoBoost engine that develops 375 hp and a whopping 470 lb.-ft. of torque.

When the rolling chassis returned to SEMA Garage, the team began to work on the suspension, which employs Skyjacker Suspensions springs and shocks. A set of 4.56-ratio Currie front and rear axles with Yukon Gear and Axle gears provided ideal strength and gearing for off-road use. The rear axle is a Ford 9-in., and the front is a Dana 44; locking hubs are from Warn.

When the newly painted body pieces returned to the SEMA Garage, they were fitted to the chassis. “Joining those things when there had been modifications to each of them independently was challenging,” Morales said, but in the end the Bronco’s clean, purposeful appearance and overall stance was exactly what the build called for.

The custom ’66 Ford Bronco was displayed at the 2019 SEMA Show in the WD-40 booth—the vehicle’s first public appearance.

Next came work on the exterior, with lighting and trim provided by Drake Automotive Group. Lund International donated fender flares, and AMP Research provided powersteps. BCR Custom Wiring installed the wiring.

Under the hood lies a 3.5L EcoBoost engine that develops 375 hp and a whopping 470 lb.-ft. of torque. The EcoBoost is a bigger engine than the inline-six that originally powered the ’66 Bronco. To make the swap work with space at a premium, the team engineered a custom cooling system using Mishimoto components, relocated the Optima battery, and worked with GReddy to install an air-induction system to fit the cramped engine bay.

The Bronco’s interior features Distinctive Industries/Roadwire Interiors panels and upholstery.

With a bigger power unit came a custom driveshaft rated to handle the output. Wilwood installed new brakes and contributed a plan to optimize the rear brake lines. Summit Racing provided an original-spec fuel tank. New wheels from American Racing Wheels and 35-in. tires from Toyo Tires were also added. MagnaFlow dropped by the SEMA Garage to create and install a one-off exhaust system.

The Bronco features a number of one-off parts, many of which were 3-D printed. The center console, the ECU cover and some of the dash covers are 3-D-printed, one-off designs. Two companies, Stratasys and Dinsmore Inc. helped print parts for the Bronco. The interior also features Distinctive Industries/Roadwire Interiors interior panels and upholstery.

The Bronco’s first public appearance came at the SEMA Show in November. The auction has been tentatively scheduled for mid-January.

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