Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A popular used car for sale near you, a black and gold 1980s Ford Bronco II XLS, is driving on a dirt road.

A Tin Lunchbox On Tonka Wheels

Car enthusiasts have a secret – We aren’t always faithful when it comes to the cars we own… It’s true! One could have their dream car sitting in their driveway, and one will still find their fingers creeping towards their laptop. Invariably, under cover of night, with the shades drawn, we all find ourselves typing in the words, each clack of the keyboard falling like a hammer blow as the words fill the search bar, “Used Cars For Sale Near Me.” With a single click, we find ourselves lost in a world of possibilities that, no matter our budget, consume our minds.

Yes, reader, it can be a sickness. For some, they drift from model to model, dancing from brand to brand and through body styles aplenty. Sports cars rub elbows with family sedans, and cargo vans share mental real estate with clapped-out rat rods. For others, they get fixed on one model, looking up endless variations of it, building the perfect one they’ll find one day when they finally have the money. To that end… The Bronco II.

It’s a Jeep or Bust… Right?

The Bronco is a truck that, even with its reintroduction in 2021, seems to have slipped through the cracks of the modern car market. Right now, you can find used Broncos for sale for under $10,000. Now, a classic Jeep YJ goes for about that, and it has a rabid following. However, that’s a small off-roader everyone and their dog and their dog’s squeaky toy knows about, so why not try something different? As someone who has driven a litany of cars in her life, I know a thing or two about comfort.

Classic Jeeps are fun, no doubt, but your back will feel every single bump in the road like someone nailing you with a tack hammer the entire drive. Some folks will say that’s how a classic four by four is supposed to feel and that if you want comfort, you should’ve bought something else. The Bronco II is the counterpoint to that worn-out argument. Even in the basic trim, the cloth seats are welcoming to just about any body shape, being firm and supportive while still soft on the areas you want them to be. The fabric is hardy, too, able to take decades of use, and still clean up nice in the way only 80s cloth seats can.

A dark red 1980s Jeep Wrangler Laredo is parked on snow.

The Stallion’s Pony

The Bronco II was introduced in 1984 with the start of yet another minor gas crunch. Ford was looking to give buyers an alternative to the full-size Bronco that had become, while very popular, not exactly the little backroads burner it used to be. In an effort to get back to their roots somewhat, they took inspiration from those times gone by and brought to the market a new off-roader based on the compact Ranger pickup. It featured a slightly shortened body, with unique wrap-around side windows that curved slightly into the roof to give the cargo area a feeling of openness and allow rear-seat passengers to feel less cramped by the admittedly small dimensions.

It was boxy and tall, giving it a stout, sturdy appearance, while the crisp lines retained an air of class. If the full-size Bronco was captain of the football team, the Bronco II was his little brother. Just as athletic but in a smaller, lighter package. Unlike some of its competitors in the market at the time, the truck had no four-cylinder option. Ford went all-in with the largest V6 offered in the segment, with the most power on tap of any small off-roader. The original 2.8-liter engine was carbureted and suffered some reliability issues as a result. However, from 1986 onwards, the Bronco II could also be had with a 2.9-liter fuel injected engine that made 140 horsepower. That was quite a bit of power on tap for such a small truck and is the option to look for if you find yourself shopping for a used Bronco for sale.

Shifting Gears

When it came to the transmission in the Bronco II, one could have either a three or four-speed automatic or your choice of two different manual transmissions. The base XL model was saddled (horse pun!) with a four-speed manual, but those that got an XLT or Eddie Bauer model would enjoy the much more highway-friendly five-speed. In addition to this, you could choose either a manually shifted transfer case or a shift-on-the-fly electronic system that was housed in a roof console with an oh-so-cool 80s graphic to accompany it, showing you when you were in four-wheel drive.

A blue and white 1987 Ford Bronco II that belongs to the writer is parked in front of a garage.

Ballad Of Barbara

My first (though I certainly hope not last) Bronco II was a heavily worn-out example that was once a farm truck. It was Colonial White and Shadow Blue two-tone, with the XLT package. Being a 1987 model, it featured the 2.9-liter engine, a five-speed manual, and the electronic transfer case option. This truck was used, and I mean USED. This little pony had been ridden hard and flogged like a rented mule for decades. The front bumper had been lost to antiquity, replaced with a winch welded to a thick metal plate that jutted out in front of the grille.

The paint had been blasted off by time spent left out in all kinds of weather, and rust had eaten a hole into one of the sills. The plastic around the steering column was missing, and the horn was replaced with a cheap button screwed into the cracked dash plastic. I had to vacuum a whole playground’s worth of sand from the cargo area when I first got it, and I found the yellowed remains of an off-road park map folded up and left in the passenger seat pocket. The suspension creaked, and the brakes were terrifying. I named her Barbara.

Despite how worn out she was, Barb and I had many adventures over my time with her. The lovely blue cloth interior cleaned up well, and the fake wood dash shined after the years of neglect had been scrubbed away. I ran a construction warehouse at the time, and that little truck carried me all over the place, making deliveries and meeting customers. On highways to rough job sites, she was my constant companion. That little V6 fired up every time, and despite the need for repairs, I always got where I needed to go. Out of all the classics I’ve owned, that’s the one I wished I had never gotten rid of. The title of this article is how I once charitably described her to a friend.

Buying A Memory

Car enthusiasts are a strange breed. We tie so much of our lives into the things we drive that they often stand as markers for the people we were when we had them. I was a young adult trapped in a career I didn’t want at the time I owned my Bronco II. It stood out like a lighthouse shining in a dark, stormy sea. On those nights when I hear the siren call of Craigslist, I, like many others, seek to own a tiny piece of that which got me through the hard times. Buying a used car for sale is far more than just a way to get cheap transportation – it can be a way to find a companion that you will remember for the rest of your life.

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