NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart Skips High-Dollar Supercars for Stellar 1979 Ford Bronco
Celebrities usually spring for mega-expensive rides from across the pond, but this piece of Americana is just right.
At present, the Ford Bronco is due to make a return to production later this year barring some kind of industry-wide delay. However, the enthusiast community hasn't stopped talking about the beloved off-roader since Ford quit making it in the late '90s. NASCAR legend Tony Stewart loves Broncos too, except he doesn't suffer from the same limits most of us do when it comes to piddly things like price. Therefore, his 1979 Bronco Ranger XLT with the Free Wheeling graphics package is perfect in almost every way and packs even more cool-factor than other, more extravagant celebrity rides.
When this rig was new, almost everything was colored in such a way as to skirt the line between really cool and visual warfare, so it’s not surprising to see a Ford graphics package that resembles a cross between a sunburst Fender Stratocaster and a mahogany coffee table. It works, in that "I wear a leather jacket with tassels" kind of way, which is totally fine by us.
The Free Wheeling Package, like the one on Stewart’s Bronco, was available on several Ford vehicles including pickup trucks, the Econoline van, and even the Pinto back in the day. There appear to have been a few variations with different colored gradients from one to the next. Though his Bronco actually looks great with the graphics applied over black paint, you could apparently order the package for vehicles with other colors.
Under the hood lies a tried-and-true 400-cubic-inch V-8—a far departure from the 2.3-liter EcoBoost that's expected to underpin the 2021 model. It's simple, easy to work on, and sounds just right as you'd expect.
“The rear roof of the Bronco comes off and, honestly, once the weather gets nice, it’ll probably stay off,” Stewart said. “It’s got captain’s chairs up front, but a big bench seat in the back, and with the roof off, that’ll be awesome. I’ve always thought being able to remove the roof was the coolest thing about these Broncos, and now I’ll get to actually enjoy it.”
It's hard to argue that sentiment, and a vintage Bronco like his is the best thing while we wait on the new model to debut. Since Stewart's got so much free time with the NASCAR season delayed, maybe he'll actually be able to drive the thing. Of course, he's got plenty of other rides vying for his attention.
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