Have you heard the news? Ford is bringing the iconic Bronco back for the 2020 model year. Rumor has it, the legendary off-roader will boast a modernized nod to the boxy charm of the original Bronco that debuted in the late 1960s. A Jeep Wrangler fighter is the loose plan—a trail capable overlander right off the showroom floor. Sounds intriguing.

But.

Then there’s this beautiful machine. The original 1966 Bronco Roadster, square of face, round of headlights, absent of doors. Icon, a Los Angeles-based 4×4 restoration company, builds out older model rigs with new motors and transmissions, modern suspension systems, better brakes, some interior amenities too—basically, they remove the headache of nursing a vintage off-roader through its senior citizen years by keeping the body and the soul but modernizing everything else.

And what they’ve done with this Bronco is about as cool as it gets. The Roadster dispensed with unnecessary bits for off-roading adventure like doors, a roof, radio, or heaters. There aren’t a ton of these around anymore, and when the Icon team found one for sale, with just the right patina of sun-faded paint and rust splotches, they jumped at it. Icon’s “Derelict” program redoes the innards of old vehicles, but leaves the body alone, to show off the age, and this Bronco was the ideal model.

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The truck had been owned by the same family who drove it off the lot brand new in 1966. They’d passed it down through the decades, but in recent years it wasn’t being driven. They reached out to Icon to see if they were interested in working their magic. The Icon team bought it after seeing one photo. They kept as much as they could from the original rig. When Icon found out the first owner had scribbled all the maintenance details in the wheel well, they didn’t have the heart to remove it, for example.

They didn’t mess with the outside, but they absolutely went to town underneath.

The original probably came with an inline six-cylinder, cranking out less horsepower than today’s Honda Fit hatchback. This Icon rebuild, though, boasts a 5.0 V-8 that today’s Mustang GTs run, putting out 420 ponies. The not-messing-around suspension rides on a Dana 60 rear and Dana 44 front axles. Icon put a 5-speed manual gearbox in this thing, thankfully. Both differentials have lockers, and the whole thing comes to a stop thanks to big Brembo brakes.

But that’s all just the details. The real story here is that they’ve managed to take a weathered, 50-year-old rig and strip out all the stuff that makes owning and driving one a chore. All the dents and scratches and flecks of rust are still there, but there’s no crossing fingers and hoping when the ignition key is turned. No worries that the brakes will fail picking down a rutted fire road. No sniffing the air for a failing clutch.

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Just the joy and toughness of one of the best off-roaders of all time, with none of the hassle.

This is of course, a one-off. Word is, it’s already spoken for by a buyer who truly appreciates the history and the project and has the bank for it. But Icon’s business is buying up old vehicles and restoring them to respectability—this is certainly not the first Bronco they’ve built. Price is different for each project, and whatever this one ending up selling for is unknown.

The truck ended up looking so cool, they took it out to a desert and ran it with some wild horses (Bronco—get it?) and took promotional shots of the rig cruising around with the herd.

If you’re deep of pocket enough to be tempted, Icon builds old Broncos and old FJs too. But few as cool as this.

Photos: Icon