- A few months ago a car we built was featured at the big #SEMA show in Las Vegas, the initials stand for Specialty Equipment Market Association, and it’s the biggest automotive trade show in the world. It’s held over four days and it takes that long to see it all. Taking up over a million square feet of floor space, it features over 4400 exhibitors and 1500 display vehicles as well as representatives from more than 140 countries.
SEMA does not open to the public. Its primary function is to help small automotive businesses and manufacturers. You have to be in the trade to gain entry, that said, over 150,000 people showed up this year, those of you who think our hobby is dying, think again.
SEMA also works hard in the legal field to protect the rights of individuals who modify, or just work on, their own vehicles. I don’t know how it is in other countries but, in the United States, in many communities it is now illegal to work on your own car in your own garage, even with the door shut. Many homeowners’ associations have passed by-laws making it illegal to own and keep at home anything more than just basic hand tools. Screwdrivers, hammers and suchlike are ok; welding equipment, lathes and so on are not.
On the last day of my late night television show, as I pulled in to work for the last time, I noticed someone had dumped a rather sad-looking #1968-Ford-Bronco in my parking space. On the windscreen was a note from my good friend and fellow late-night TV host, Craig Ferguson, the note said, ‘Dear Jay, please accept this POS [Piece of Shit], the starter motor’s fucked and the electrics are crap. It will keep you busy if you get bored. You’ll be missed. Don’t be a stranger. Your friend, Craig Ferguson.’ the Bronco sat in my garage for a good four years before I could figure out what to do with it. That’s when I decided to call my friend Mike Spagnola. Mike oversees the SEMA product development centre as well as the SEMA garage. He put me in touch with two women.
The first was Sherry Kollien, whose area is strategy and planning. When you’re dealing with major manufacturers, you want to make sure the people supplying the parts have the proper licensing agreements in place. Use one unapproved part and you’ve seen your last #SEMA-show .
The other was Teresa Contreras from LGE-CTS Motorsports, the award-winning women-owned restoration shop. I met with her to discuss what we wanted to do. My goal was to keep the Bronco as stock as possible and to upgrade the brakes, the suspension and powertrain as best we could.
Starting with the powertrain, which I wanted to be all-Ford, I contacted Dave Pericak. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Dave was the driving force behind the Le Mans-winning Ford GT in 2016. Dave also oversees icon cars like the Mustang GT, the Shelby, the Bronco and the #Ford-GT . We chose a 5.2-litre #Shelby-GT-V8 rated at 760bhp, the most powerful street engine Ford had ever produced. It was designed to be hooked up to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and nothing else.
'IN MANY PLACES IN THE USA IT'S ILLEGAL TO WORK ON YOUR CAR IN YOUR OWN GARAGE, EVEN WITH THE DOOR SHUT'
So Jack Silver and Jeff Kaufmann at Silver Sport Transmission adapted a TR-4050 five-speed manual and the heavy-duty four-wheel-drive components to go with it. We knew the original chassis would never handle the torque and horsepower the Shelby V8 was putting out, so we contacted Thomas Kincer of Kincer Chassis, the company has built custom chassis for Broncos for 20 years, is licensed by Ford and was able to incorporate all our components into the custom Kincer frame, so this thing wouldn’t twist itself into a pretzel as soon as you put the power down.
I then went to my old friends at Wilwood Brakes, who made up the four-wheel discs to make sure it stopped as well as it ran. Dennis Carpenter #Ford Restoration Parts supplied any body panels we needed.
This project showed how quickly things come together when all the suppliers and builders know and trust one another. Normally it takes us about a year to complete a project like this, this one was done in four months because we didn’t have to check that each component would do its job properly. How many restorations have been ruined because the guy building the engine didn’t know the guy grinding the cams, and when the engine didn’t run properly they all blamed each other?
The cool part was that Ford was looking over our shoulders during the whole build, making sure everything was up to spec, and the really cool part is that I now have a brand new #1968-Ford-Bronco that looks totally stock, the tricky part is that I now have 52-year-old, 760bhp, short-wheelbase, high-centre-of-gravity monster that can beat a Hellcat. I’m just glad I’m not 16 any more.