If you rewind automotive history by 52 years, Carroll Shelby was a busy man. Ford put him in charge of the GT40 program, where he was able to work out the bugs and win LeMans the following year. Dearborn also asked him to build a high performance version of the Mustang. The trials and tribulations of engineering the GT350 Mustang were compounded by the backlog of orders for small-block Cobras along with trying to stuff a 427 big block into a small British sports car.
So Ford decided to give him a gift for all the hard work. Before production began on the Bronco, the test mules were assembled by hand at the prototype plant in Allen Park, Michigan. This is where the final bugs were worked out to get it ready for the assembly line. Prototypes have to be destroyed by law because federal highway administration views them as potentially dangerous.
In August of 1966, the final Bronco prototype was built with a six-cylinder engine and teal green paint. It was used to set up the assembly line
After being on display for a while, Shelby sent it home to Texas. His Christmas Mountain Land & Cattle Ranch sits on the outskirts of Big Bend National Park, and the Bronco was the meanest farm truck west of the Mississippi. After a decade of work, ranch hand Harold Wynn sold it for $100 (minus wheels and tires) to Vinnie Yakubanski, the owner of the local Ford dealer. Vinnie and his family repainted it to original colors and used it as a family adventure machine, knowing the significance of owning Carroll Shelby’s Bronco.
It was stored in their barn until our friend Seth Burgett of Gateway Bronco acquired it in October of 2016. Using the same diligence applied to every Bronco they find, Gateway was able to find receipts and records for the complete history. Even the trim tag signifies it was the final prototype to leave Allen Park. Their business is based on bringing original Broncos into the 21st century, but this one will remain untouched.
Gateway has a collection of 15 Bronco survivors, and this is their centerpiece. We told you the story of their beginning last week, and their new adventure will be unveiled next week. Carroll Shelby was a great friend of
Presented by Gateway Bronco
We build and modernize the Ford Bronco with new Ford Coyote 5.0L engines and 6-speed automatic transmissions, building each truck on Henry Ford’s creation, a modern production line. Gateway Bronco is unique to anyone in the industry, meeting the Certified Reconditioned Vehicle Standards established by Ford Motor Company. Now an Official Ford Licensee