A mundane Bronco on the outside, a hot-rod under the skin

With a modern Ford Bronco just around the corner, TV personality and car collector Jay Leno gave new life to a first-generation Bronco Wagon with help from Ford Performance and various aftermarket tuning shops. Shown to the public at the 2019 SEMA Show, this Bronco retains the looks of the original SUV, but it features modern underpinnings with a supercharged V-8 built by Ford Performance. The story behind the vehicle is quite interesting, as it was left for Jay Leno as a joke by fellow TV host Craig Ferguson. Leno kept the vehicle in his garage unrestored until he decided that it deserves a new life.

Various companies and shops contributed to the project, starting with Ford Performance, FoMoCo’s very own performance division. Kincer Chassis, Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, SEMA Garage, and LGE-CTS Motorsports.

  • 1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage
  • Year:
    1968
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1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Exterior

  • Looks just like the original Bronco
  • Brand-new paint
  • Two-tone color scheme
  • Perfectly restored
1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Exterior
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Jay Leno’s Bronco looks like a standard 1968 model on the outside. I’m guessing Leno wanted to keep the exterior as close to the original and it turns out that Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, SEMA Garage, and LGE-CTS Motorsports did a great job. While Dennis Carpenter provided the body panels, SEMA Garage handled the computer-aided design and 3D printing, while LGE-CTS Motorsports revived the body with custom mods and paints.

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The exterior is actually a bit dull overall, as the truck is painted in a very dark shade of blue, while the roof, the front grille, and the wheels are white. Ford offered nicer color combinations back in the day and I think this SUV deserves a brighter body paint.

But what matters here the most is that this Bronco looks just as if it left the factory 51 years ago.

The badges and the chrome parts are as shiny as they get, while the body panels look crisp and clean. A solid restoration project so far.

1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Interior

  • Retails the original Bronco layout
  • Fine leather upholstery
  • Saddle brown seats and door panels
  • Dakota Digital gauges
  • Sony audio system
1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Interior
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The interior also retains the simple, no-nonsense layout of the original Bronco, but things have been spiced up with genuine Eagle Ottawa leather with custom perforation.

Installed by Rogelio’s Upholstery, the high-end hide adorns the upper section of the dashboard, the seats, and the door panels. The leather is colored saddle brown, so it adds a touch of elegance to the interior. Only two modern features set it apart from the original Bronco, the Dakota Digital gauges and the Sony audio system with Scosche upgrades.

1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Drivetrain

  • Supercharged 5.2-liter V-8
  • In excess of 500 horsepower
  • 5-speed Tremec gearbox
  • Brand-new chassis
  • New transfer case
  • Borla mufflers
  • Race-spec suspension
  • High-performance brakes
1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Drivetrain
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Given the large displacement and the supercharger, this Bronco should hit the ground with more than 500 horsepower.

While the exterior and the cabin are pretty much stock, everything under the skin is modern. This Bronco rides on a modern chassis from Kincer Chassis and features a supercharged, 5.2-liter V-8 engine built by Ford Performance. The engine mates to a five-speed sports transmission from Tremec, fitted with Quickdraw bellhousing and STX shifter assembly. Upgrades also include

  • Anew transfer case
  • A custom airbox
  • A custom exhaust
  • A stainless-steel gas tank
  • Cooling systems by Brice Thomas
  • Borla mufflers
  • Aeromotive fuel filter
  • Stage 8 header bolts
1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Drivetrain
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Full Throttle Kustomz Performance tuning round off the bespoke drivetrain.

So how powerful is this thing? Sadly, Ford has yet to unveil output figures. However, given the large displacement and the supercharger, it’s safe to assume that this Bronco hits the ground with well in excess of 500 horsepower.

An SUV with so much oomph might seem difficult to drive, especially when you floor it, but Ford and Kincer made sure that it’s stable through massive chassis upgrades, including:

  • Fox 2.0 race-inspired coilover shocks
  • Fox 2.0 race-inspired steering stabilizer
  • Carolina Driveline driveshafts
  • Dutchman Motorsports axle shafts
  • Flaming River steering column

Stopping power comes from Wilwood disc brakes and a matching master cylinder. Overall, this Bronco should be nimble enough for a few fast laps on the Nurburgring.

Final Thoughts

1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage Exterior
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As a famous car collector, Jay Leno owns vehicles that most of us don’t even get to see in real life. But he also owns a bunch of mundane cars that still roam the streets a few decades later. The 1968 Bronco isn’t exactly common nowadays, but it’s among the popular nameplates that you can still buy and restore for decent prices. Like many other common vehicles he owns, this Bronco was brought back to life the cool restomod way. It looks just like the original car, but it’s a supercharged hot-rod under the skin. It’s a fate many vintage cars should have nowadays.

  • Leave it
    • No performance figures
    • Is it actually stable at high speeds?
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

In terms of gag gifts, it was a good one – perfect, in fact, for a classic car enthusiast. Now years later, it will finally get the attention it deserves.

The 1968 Ford Bronco wagon was left for Jay Leno as a joke, arranged by fellow late-night TV host Craig Ferguson to be parked in Leno’s spot on the eve of his last taping. Ferguson was unaware of the iconic status of the Bronco – and had no idea how highly sought after these models are. But long-time car collector Leno knew. He happily accepted the gift which ended up sitting in his garage unrestored until recently.

A project years in the making, the announcement of the new Bronco spurred many discussions when anyone from Ford would visit Leno’s garage. The effort to restore the vehicle finally materialized early this year with Ford Performance and SEMA Garage leading a collaborative team to give it new life.

The upfitted and newly restored 1968 Bronco will be on display at the 2019 SEMA show.

Ford Performance worked with some of the industry’s restoration all-stars to bring that Bronco back to its former glory – and then some. The Bronco has been outfitted with the heart of the all-new Mustang Shelby GT500, the most-powerful street legal Ford ever.

Ford Performance engaged the expertise of noted Bronco licensee Kincer Chassis to help restore the vehicle – Kincer built the chassis and installed the powertrain, including the aforementioned Ford Performance 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine.

Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts provided body panels, while SEMA Garage contributed its technical expertise in computer-aided design, 3D printing and calibration work. LGE-CTS Motorsports, the award-winning and women-owned shop, revived the body with new sheet metal, custom body mods, paint, and final assembly.

“Bronco was an iconic vehicle that was many things to many people,” said Leno, now host of Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC. “The Bronco was bought to use on the farm or to take your date to the prom and was comfortable in any of these environments. The idea of having a classic Bronco upgraded with modern handling, performance and braking really makes it the best of both worlds.”

The 1968 Bronco wagon will be seen on an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC and will be showcased in detail on Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube.

A stellar team of outfitters and tuners incorporated all of these custom pieces into restoring Leno’s 1968 Ford Bronco:

Powertrain

Ford Performance 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine
TR-4050 5-speed Silver Sport transmission by TREMEC, with Quickdraw bellhousing and STX shifter assembly
Heavy-duty 4WD drivetrain
Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case
Specialty components by Krawlers Edge, including custom airbox, exhaust fabrication, stainless-steel gas tank and coolant package
Radiator and supercharger cooler by Brice Thomas
Borla mufflers
Vibrant Performance exhaust components, hoses and fittings
Aeromotive fuel filter
II Much fuel vent
Engine oil cooler by Derale Performance
Stage 8 locking header bolts
Lifeline Batteries
Full Throttle Kustomz Performance tuning and diagnostics

Chassis

Kincer Chassis Adventure Series coil-over chassis
Wilwood disc brakes and master cylinders
Fox 2.0 factory race series coil-over shocks and steering stabilizer
John’s Industries third members with Eaton Detroit Truetrac differentials and gearing
Carolina Driveline driveshafts
Dutchman Motorsports axle shafts
Flaming River steering column
Tuff Stuff power steering pump
Warn locking hubs
Gaskets by Lube Locker
BrakeQuip brake lines
Axle seals by Seals-It
Painless Performance Products wiring harness

Wheels and tires

18 x 9-inch John R steel wheels by Detroit Steel Wheels
Rugged Trail T/A 275/65-18 tires by BFGoodrich

Exterior

Installation of new sheet metal, custom body modification and final assembly by LGE-CTS Motorsports
Custom "Tonight Blue" Envirobase paint supplied by PPG Industries, applied by LGE-CTS Motorsports
Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts body panels, trim and accessories
AMP Research side step
STRATASYS 3-D printed grille insert molded into Dennis Carpenter sheet metal grille by LGE-CTS Motorsports
Kaseser Air Compressors

Interior

Sony audio with Scosche enhancements
Eagle Ottawa genuine leather with custom perforation installed by Rogelio’s Upholstery
Dakota Digital gauges

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

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