The late 1970s saw the arrival of a two-pronged market – the off-roading community who went for vehicles that could satisfy their whims and the average folks who desired a 4×4 with increased suburban functionality. Though late by a few years, the 1977 Ford Bronco perfectly met these customers’ needs. And you will find out just how when you read today’s article.
The 1977 Ford Bronco is an ORV known for its power brakes, 92-inch wheelbase, and 302 CID V8. This 4×4 was driven by Bill Stroppe across the U.S. during “The Great Balloon Chase.” It is the last of the 1st generation Broncos and is recognized as one of the pioneers of the compact SUV segment.
Apart from its involvement in Ford’s grand marketing stint, the 1977 Ford Bronco is also known for its nimbleness, maneuverability, and adeptness as a snow machine. More notably, it is well-remembered for its optional 3-speed C4 automatic and limited number of units. Want to discover more facts about this chromed, iconic four-wheeler? Continue reading today’s guide.
A Catalyst for Reinvention
The 1977 Ford Bronco is the last installment of 1st generation Broncos. It was signed off by Lee Iacocca and initially unveiled in 1966. It is also the last of a series that used a 92-inch wheelbase. Despite being designed as an Off-Road Vehicle or ORV, many enthusiasts now consider these rare 4x4s the progenitor of compact SUVs – a non-existent segment back in the ’60s.
The 1st generation Broncos were Ford’s reply to the Jeep CJ-5, International Scout Harvester, and Toyota Land Cruiser, which were then the top guns of off-roading. The ’77 model, in particular, answered a different challenge that came from the Chevy Blazer.
While earlier models focused on beating the reigning kings of off-road, the 1977 Ford Bronco aimed at enticing the buying public with conveniences like power brakes and power steering.
Ford played catch-up with Chevrolet. They had been flaunting creature comforts for almost a decade and outselling the former 5:1. Although the attempt was unsuccessful from a sales standpoint, it was not futile. If anything, it signaled the firm’s response to the competition’s wake-up call. It is the very reason the ’77 model became highly regarded.
1977 Ford Bronco Specs & Features
The 1977 Ford Bronco is brought to life via a gasoline-fed 4.9-L (302 CID) V8 mill. It has a horsepower of 135 hp (99 kW, 133 hp SAE net) @ 3,400 RPM and torque output of 329.5 Nm (33.6 kgf-m, 243 lb-ft) @ 2,000 RPM.
It has a bore-stroke ratio of 101.6 x 76.2 mm (4.0 x 3.0 inches) and a compression ratio of 8.4:1. This slightly increased from the previous year’s 8.0:1.
Overall, this configuration leads to improved emissions and cooling plus a top speed range of 80–90 mph (128.7–144.8 km/h). That’s not too shabby for a 4×4 that only offered a manual engine option.
Nonetheless, several online sources point to a 4.7-L (286 CID) Inline-6 as the standard offering on all 1st generation Broncos and the more popular but optional C4 3-speed automatic beginning in 1973.
Performance figures also vary, reaching as high as 207.8 hp/205 bhp (152.9 kW) @ 4,600 RPM, 407 Nm (41.5 kgf-m, 300 lb-ft) @ 2,600 RPM, and 97 mph (156 km/h) in some reports. Whether or not these engine options were offered simultaneously is best checked against the owner’s manual for accuracy.
Fuel & Lubrication
The ’77 model received an improved tank capacity of 54.5 L (14.4 USgal) versus the 12.4-USgal fuel tank of earlier models. Fuel variants with a minimum PON 87/RON 91 rating containing no more than <15% MBTE, <5% methanol, or <10% ethanol are permissible, with premium unleaded gasoline preferred.
Requirements for engine oil are 4.75 L (5.0 US quarts, at draining) or 5.7 L (6.0 US quarts, with oil filter change). Conversely, Broncos with an aftermarket oil pan typically have a refill capacity of 1.0 US quart more than stock.
SAE 5W-30 engine oil with a minimum API grade of SJ+ meeting JASO T903 MA standards is required. Other viscosities – such as SAE 10W-30 or 10W-40 – are allowed following ambient temperature.
Note: The 1977 Ford Bronco only had two fuel filler doors located in its quarter panel. An 8.0-USgal auxiliary tank needed to be ordered for both filler doors to work. Otherwise, the front fuel door would be “screwed shut on the backside of the quarter panel.”
The 1977 Ford Bronco retained its manual steering box. It had a quicker steering ratio for “improved ‘close quarter’ maneuverability” from the previous year. It also featured 28-spline axle shafts, a Dana 20 transfer case, Dana 44 front axle, and a heavy-duty 9-inch rear axle housing used only that year.
The steering box pairs with a collapsible steering shaft (a precautionary measure by Ford engineers in case of an unforeseen front-end collision), a modified Panhard bar, and the controversial Haltenberger linkage.
Designed to be more resistant to Ford vehicles’ version of the “death wobble, the latter proved true but only to an extent. Weaknesses of the then newly-introduced inverted-Y steering linkage became apparent when Ford Bronco owners opted for lift kits. They went beyond the 4×4’s stock suspension components and geometry.
Transmission-wise, both automatic and manual options were offered through to 1977. However, the options were not as extensive as those available in the first four years of the 1st generation Broncos. Of the 3-speed transmissions, the optional C4 automatic became more popular. It comprised more than a third of Ford Bronco sales for the said year.
Though stock parts are no longer available, some aftermarket outfitters continue to manufacture new aluminum adapter housing and custom adapter shaft identical to the original assembly.
For reference, stock transmission gear ratios are shown below:
|Transmission Gear Ratio (1st)||2.99 (10.47)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (2nd)||1.46 (5.11)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio (3rd)||1.00 (3.50)|
|Traction: 4WD (Dana 20 transfer case)||2.34:1|
|Final Drive Ratio (Standard, Rear)||3.50|
Other notable changes in the Ford Bronco for 1977 include the introduction of the Ford Duraspark II ignition with its distinct, large-diameter distributor cap. An alternator with a slightly raised output rating of 40 Amp (60 Amp on optional higher-capacity units) serves as the vehicle’s charging system. ACDelco CR43TS 5614029 (05614029) Professional Conventional Spark Plugs (view on Amazon) are guaranteed to fit units with the 3-speed RAT-CT manual transmission.
Meanwhile, the required battery is a 12V 24F format, with assembled dimensions of 273 x 173 x 229 mm (10.75 x 6.81 x 9.00 inches, sans harness and mounting accessories).
You may need a bigger-capacity battery like a 65-group format (and one with a higher CCA rating) if you plan to use a snowplow like WARN 90695 ProVantage Side x Side Straight Plow Blade – 66 inches (view on Amazon) or other 1977 Ford Bronco accessories that use up a lot of power.
Tires & Brakes
1976–1977 production models had factory knobbies consisting of tubeless E78–15 tires mounted on 15×5.5 rims on all fours. These 27-inch tires have a section width of 6.5 inches and a 15-inch wheel diameter. They were also the first to equip F-150-adopted brakes consisting of 11.75-inch front ventilated discs with single-piston calipers and 11-inch rear drums.
The former was bolted onto new steering knuckles with a larger opening accommodating the axle shafts. An 8-inch power brake booster was optional, angled away from the firewall and with a lowered fender well to “allow for clearance for the booster assembly.”
Aside from a modified track bar (best paired with a front sway bar for reduced oversteering), the 1977 Ford Bronco also received increased front coil-spring ratings for its standard and optional offerings. These gave the front end a firmer, stronger feel than previous models, improved cornering, and eliminated bottoming.
Perhaps, the only downside to the suspension setup of the 4×4 was the discontinuation of the limited-slip front axle option that worked well with its 7.9-inch road clearance – a major upset for serious off-roaders.
Dimensions & Capacities
Overall dimensions are either 3,863 x 1,755 x 1,808 mm (152.1 x 69.1 x 71.2 inches) or 3,863 x 1,748 x 1,859 mm (152.1 x 68.8 x 73.2 inches – L x W x H). Variations in width and height are negligible and dependent on the trim selected. Front and rear tracks measure 1,458 mm (57.4 inches ± .34%), while approach, ramp, and departure angles are 40.2°, 28.6°, and 26.9°, respectively.
Depending on package inclusions and towing capacity, the estimated 1977 Ford Bronco weight (curb, unloaded) can range from 1,560 Kg (3,439 lbs.) to 1,615 Kg (3,560 lbs. ± .43%). GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) starts at 4,400 lbs., with optional 4,600-lb and 4,900-lb capacities. Trims with rear seating included require a 4,600-lb GVW at least.
Similarly, units that can accommodate Class 1 trailers and a trailer weight of 2,000 lbs. max would automatically have a 4,900-lb GVW – due to the inclusion of an Extra Cooling radiator, the optional 3-speed C4 automatic transmission, and larger G78-15 tires. Payload capacity is 342 Kg (754 lbs., 800 lbs. in some sources) across all packages.
Distinct fuel filler doors and a 92-inch wheelbase are not the only way to spot a 1977 Ford Bronco. Its chassis, for one, is all original and exclusive only to the said production model. Taillights vertically mount to make room for the gas door. Color options are nature-inspired and aplenty, with the Candy Apple Red being the most notable. The 4×4 also has flat glass panels for windows and bumpers made out of C-section.
On the downside, the previously-standard front passenger seat, locking hubs (view on Amazon), and padded dash became optional. Rubber-black floor mats also changed to parchment-colored mats.
1977 Ford Bronco Trim Packages
The 1977 Ford Bronco’s no-nonsense look came in three trims, as well as open-top roadster and two-door configurations. Learn more about these appearance packages in this section:
1977 Ford Bronco Sport:
Many chrome and bright accents are characteristic of this appearance package. These units also feature upgraded door panels and bright windshield and window frames. Consumers can avail of this trim – a sport steering wheel, hardboard headliner, silver grille, and padded dash (among others) – for an extra $432.
1977 Ford Bronco Ranger:
This package is the top-level trim of the ’77 Bronco and had tan, blue, or jade-colored interiors instead of the usual green. For $634, buyers enjoy full carpeting, “color-keyed” door panels/seats, and a radio-delete dash.
Special Décor Group:
Highlighted in Ford’s Free Wheelin’ brochure, this trim is only available on base and Sport packages and shares many details with the latter. Except for Silver Metallic, all exterior body colors are available for this option. The tape stripe running the full length of the 4×4’s body is available in yellow, black, or white (depending on the choice of body color). Black-painted headlight rings, black-and-silver wheel covers, and grille are standard inclusions, while a rocker panel molding is optional.
Although not an official trim offered by Ford, these vehicles are now prized collectibles. Recreational Vehicles Inc. (RVI) created them to commemorate “The Great Balloon Chase.” It was an 18-day adventure led by Bill Stroppe on the ground and with Karl Thomas. They flew a yellow hot-air balloon resembling Ford’s “Better Idea” light bulb across the U.S. These units were sprayed orange with black stripes that set off a radical ’70s vibe.
Rundown of body color options offered by Ford for the ’77 production model (note that this list is non-exhaustive and excludes the 1977 Balloon Chasers):
- Standard Colors – Castillo Red, Bali Blue, Indio Tan, Mecca Gold, Cayan Red, Silver Metallic, Medium Silver Metallic, Vista Orange, Light Blue, Bright Emerald, Light Jade & Medium Copper
- Glamor Colors – Ginger Glow & Medium Green Glow
- Optional Colors – Jade Glow & Dark Cinnamon
1977 Ford Bronco Pricing
The original MSRP for the ’77 Ford Bronco was $5,260, approximately $25,000 if sold brand-new today. This value changed depending on package add-ons, transmission, and trim package selected. Per Nada Guides, resale values can range from $33,300 to $126,000, including Kevin Hart’s custom fire-engine-red 1977 Ford Bronco auctioned off in Barrett-Jackson’s 2019 Las Vegas event.
Thanks to its trim levels, power-assist vacuum booster, and disc brake axles, 14,546 units of the ’77 model were sold (a 10.8% increase compared to sales numbers in 1975). While we can only guess whether or not Ford’s Free Wheelin’ marketing campaign helped attain these results, what is clear is that Sport and Ranger trims drew in almost half of the number of buyers.
Ford is an American automaker headquartered in Michigan. Founded in 1903 by Henry Ford, this world-renowned firm is currently the fifth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world and best known for its 4x4s and equally remarkable luxury brands and subsidiaries.
Since its incorporation in 1903, the 119-year-old powerhouse has been introducing industry-leading concepts – from a streamlined assembly line concept to the 1956 Lifeguard safety package to the production of the 1977 Ford Bronco (among others).
Ford has over 90 facilities and 186,000 employees. It has secured its foothold in multiple automotive industries and carries out its environmental initiatives worldwide.
Conclusion – 1977 Ford Bronco Review
With less than 15,000 sales during its time, the 1977 Ford Bronco is now coveted by many collectors. While it was not the original intention of Ford to have only this number of units sold, the outcome proved extremely advantageous for the American manufacturer. In hindsight, the limited mass production of the Ford Bronco series helped maintain the rarity of the lineup and its iterations.
It may be challenging to obtain a reasonably-priced ’77 model in good condition. You will have to spend a good sum on restoring the vehicle to its former glory or buy one in near-mint condition and with stock hardware at a hefty price. While this may be out of reach for the average recreational off-roader, I am sure a true-blue classic vehicle enthusiast would not mind.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.