SEMA GALLERY: Elite Broncos’ 1970 Ford Bronco Is a Modern “Big Oly”

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(Photos by Keith Griffin) Elite Broncos has been building first generation Ford Broncos for over 30 years in its San Diego-area shop. John Cole owns the shop and the 1970 Bronco that Painless Performance Products had on its stand at SEMA this year. It’s a more current take on Parnelli Jones’ “Big Oly” Bronco, right down to the license plate.

IMG_0757Elite Broncos is a side venture for Cole, who also owns Elite Auto Services in El Cajon, California. In an article in Dirt Sports magazine, Cole commented, “I was always watching Wide World of Sports as a kid and saw Parnelli Jones racing Broncos and was always intrigued by it. I have been racing for over 30 years now, but it never failed: I would be in the middle of a race and spot a Bronco and would have to drop everything and go check it out.”

Up front, the Bronco gets Fox 2.0 coilovers and 2.0 bypass shocks, both with 12 inches of stroke. Weldtec Designs built shock hoop and radius arms that allow for a long 14 inches of wheel travel.


Leaf springs handle the rear suspension duties. Relocated spring hangers from TLR Fabrication allow for longer Deaver springs. The Fox 2.5 bypass shocks to mount directly on top of the springs. The rear axle housing is a Currie F9, a much stronger upgrade over the original Ford 9-inch.

The engine is a 5.0-liter Ford Cobra V-8 good for about 400hp. Valley Trans provided the modified Ford C4 automatic.


From every angle, it’s reminiscent of the Broncos that guys like Parnelli Jones, Bill Stroppe and James Garner drove in the Baja 1000. We’ll be searching and craigslist for vintage Broncos all day now.


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Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at