Old 1978 Ford Bronco With The Top Off – Off Road Build + Model Specs

Old 1978 Ford Bronco With The Top Off
Lifted Old school Full Size Bronco
Matte Green Olive Drab Ford Bronco with an open top
Lifted 1978 Ford Bronco on offroad wheels
Ford Bronco 2 Spare Tire Holder +3
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As an Offroadium writer, I’m always fascinated by customized vintage 4×4 builds. One recent project that caught my attention is a fully modded 1978 Ford Bronco with the top off, an icon of old-school off-road ruggedness. When these trucks rolled off Ford’s assembly line over 40 years ago, they represented the pinnacle of capability and style in the 4×4 world. Now with modern upgrades and restomod touches, this 2nd Gen FSB delivers that ideal blend of heritage and 4×4-performance.

In this post, I’ll outline the creation of this badass build and cover the key specifications of the 1978 model based on the original sales brochure. In the process we’ll find out why vintage full-size rigs like this continue to rule in the 4×4 scene.

Key Takeaways

  1. The 1978 Bronco had improvements over earlier models like a larger V8 engine, revised styling, and front disc brakes, while retaining core ruggedness and off-road DNA.
  2. Finding and purchasing a vintage Bronco in good condition is challenging due to high demand, but rewarding for a restoration project.
  3. Driving a Bronco with the top off provides an incredible sense of freedom and adventure, enhancing the vintage experience.

Driving Experience With The Top Off

Driving a Bronco with no top is an experience every enthusiast should have. The open rear cabin provides an incredible sense of freedom and adventure, that’s why Ford has brought it back for the new model.

You feel intricately connected to the outdoors. The wind rushing by and ability to quickly scan mountain trails or desert landscapes enhances the sensation of being one with nature. It’s much more raw and visceral than driving an enclosed SUV.

Olive Green 78 Ford Bronco with custom roll bar

1978 Ford Bronco Build

With the second generation full-size Broncos becoming more difficult to find and prices climbing higher for good examples, locating one for your own off-road restoration project is no easy task these days. As one of the most iconic and capable off-road SUVs Ford ever produced, the desirability and demand for these rugged trucks has skyrocketed among 4×4 enthusiasts and collectors.

Finding an affordable example in restorable condition takes diligence, patience, and persistence. But the reward is huge – restoring a classic 1970s-era model to its former rough-and-ready glory opens the door to vintage four-wheeling adventures and pride in giving new life to a highly sought after off-road icon.

Goals for the Off-Road Build

The owner envisioned a period-correct restomod enhancing the Bronco’s off-road talents while retaining a classic rugged vibe:

  • Increase ground clearance and suspension articulation
  • Improve approach/departure angles for steep obstacles
  • Upgrade chassis and drivetrain components for durability
  • Add skid plates, bumpers, lift kit and larger tires
  • Keep vintage look with minimal exterior changes

Modifications Made for Off-Roading

  • Fuel Custom Wheels 20″ – Increased diameter allows fitment of larger tires
  • 35″ off-road tires – All-terrain treads provide traction in mud/dirt
  • Wide fender flares – Allow larger tire clearance without rubbing
  • Steel front bumper with hoop and winch – Protection and self-recovery
  • Rear steel bumper with swing-out tire carrier – Rear protection and accessibility
  • 6″ suspension lift kit – Fox shocks and springs increase ground clearance and articulation
1978 Ford Bronco Front Fenders with Flares and 35 inch tires
1978 FORD Bronco on 20" fuel rims and 35 inch off road tires

Keeping the Classic Style

Certain details were retained or added to maintain the iconic vintage aesthetic:

  • The original-style headlights
  • Stock body with clean lines, sans unnecessary add-ons
  • Olive drab wrap invoking military heritage
  • Blacked-out exterior parts instead of chrome
  • Custom roll bar behind the rear seat
  • New marker lights and side mirrors keeping original shapes

The final result pays homage to the timeless full size Bronco styling that makes these trucks so beloved. The meaty tires and custom bumpers provide just enough modern edge.

Model History & Specs

The first-generation Ford Bronco was produced from 1966 to 1977 over six model years. The original model was designed to compete against other compact SUVs like the Jeep CJ-5 and International Scout.

Ford referred to it as a “sports utility vehicle” and emphasized its off-road capabilities, ruggedness and versatility. Key features included:

  • Short 92-inch wheelbase for great maneuverability
  • Removable hard top
  • Heavy-duty suspension and brakes
  • Available V8 engine with plenty of torque

The first prototypes were built in 1963 using Ford’s compact Ford Falcon platform. The design evolved over the next few years before full production began in mid-1965.

1978 Model Year

Gen 2 also known as Full-Size (FSB)

See Also
Lifted Ford Bronco Wildtrak With Off-road Mods Built by a Jeep Guy

The 1978 model year represented the new 2nd-generation Broncos with a major redesign. It included several notable changes and improvements:

  • All new body style unified with F150 trucks
  • New front grille and headlight design with a rectangular shape
  • Revised interior with new instrumentation
  • Larger standard 5.8L V8 engine producing 161 hp
  • New front disc brakes for better stopping power
  • Enhanced soundproofing for a quieter ride

Despite the updates, the ’78 retained the core ruggedness and off-road DNA of the original model.


  • 5.8L (351 cu in) V8 engine (standard)
  • 6.6L (400 cu in) V8 engine (optional)


  • 4-speed manual transmission (standard)
  • SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission (optional)


  • Part-time 4WD with 2-speed transfer case (standard)
  • Full-time 4WD with automatic transmission (optional)

Suspension and Brakes:

  • Front stabilizer bar, coil springs, and power disc brakes (standard)
  • Optional handling package with quad front shocks, heavy duty rear shocks, and rear stabilizer bar


  • Front bucket seats (standard)
  • Optional front bench seat or rear bench seat


  • Hardtop or fiberglass roof options
  • Power tailgate window, tilt steering wheel, air conditioning (optional)
  • Free Wheeling package with special wheels, striping, and styling


  • Wheelbase: 104 in
  • Length: 180.3 in
  • Width: 79.3 in
  • Ground clearance: 8.1 in (front), 7.8 in (rear)

Key Features

Style2nd generation body-on-frame SUV
DrivetrainRWD standard, 4WD optional with 2-speed transfer case
Engines5.8L V8 (standard), 6.6L V8 (optional)
Transmissions4-speed manual (standard), 3-speed auto (optional)
Dimensions180″ L x 79″ W x 75″ H
Towing Capacity3,750 lbs
Payload Capacity1,000 lbs
Notable FeaturesRemovable hardtop, heavy-duty suspension and brakes, off-road prowess
Custom 1978 Ford Bronco with the top off and spare tire carrier

Why It’s Still A Perfect Off-roader

As an avid off-roader, I’m always looking for a 4×4 with the right blend of capability, durability, and power to handle the toughest terrain. At first glance, the 1978 Ford Bronco catches my eye with its rugged 70-s design and ladder frame chassis designed for strength, but it has much more than that if you dive deeper into the details:

  • Rugged ladder frame chassis – This provides strength and durability for rough terrain. The document mentions the frame rails are extra thick.
  • Good ground clearance – With 8.1 inches of ground clearance in the front and 7.8 inches in the rear (stock), the truck has good capability to clear obstacles and not get hung up.
  • Short overhangs – the 2nd gen has minimal body overhang, which improves approach and departure angles for off-road maneuverability.
  • Part-time 4WD – Having selectable 4WD allows you to engage 4WD when needed off-road, while running in 2WD on pavement.
  • Low-range gearing – The 2-speed transfer case gives you a low range for extra traction and control at slow speeds off-road.
  • Optional handling package – This includes upgrades like a rear stabilizer bar, heavy duty shocks, and quad front shocks to enhance off-road handling and articulation.
  • Big V8 power – The available 400 cubic inch V8 provides strong torque for off-road driving.
  • Top off driving experience and unique design of the late 70s.

For operating over rough terrain, Bronco has an optional handling package. It includes gas-filled quad front shock absorbers, heavy-duty rear shock absorbers and a rear stabilizer bar.

The Original Sales Brochure
Lifted Ford Bronco 1978 with off road mods and fender flares


The 1978 Ford Bronco established itself as a top contender in the off-road SUV market through its rugged construction and impressive capabilities. With a sturdy ladder frame, ample ground clearance, and available big V8 power, it could handle tough terrain and off-road challenges.

This classic 1970s 4×4 continues to be highly coveted today among vintage SUV enthusiasts who appreciate its off-road pedigree. Finding one in good restorable condition takes effort but delivers huge rewards for dedicated fans seeking to revive these icons of four-wheeling history.

View Comments (10)
  • I have the same truck bodywork engine drivetrain suspension done just needs paint either that or its going up for sale do you know what that paint color is exactly I feel it is the perfect color for my truck. thankyou

    • Unfortunately the owner didn’t provide the information on the paint. Just show the photo of this rig at your paint shop, I believe they can select something really close.

    • Unfortunately we don’t have any information on the roll bar, but it looks like Desolate Motorsports Bronco “Sport” Roll Cage. They list it for 80-96, but I think with certain amount of customization you can fit it on earlier models (78-79). I’d recommend checking with the shop.

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