Broncorama 10 was such a huge event that it started in April and finished in May. O.K., in reality, it was only two days starting with a cruise on Friday, April 30th followed by Broncorama on May 1st. After John, my 16 year old son, got out of school we headed an hour west dodging construction zones and pot holes to find six or seven Early Broncos and three or four Big Broncos parked out back of Jeff’s Bronco Graveyard with their owners nearby checking what was new and what needed to be made new on someone else’s Bronco. John and I quickly said “hello” to some friends including Jack Neiderkorn. Jack had e-mailed me some weeks earlier that his ’71 Baja was done and he would be bringing it. After scanning the lot and not seeing it, I quizzed him as to it’s whereabouts. He led us to an enclosed trailer and let us poke our heads in for a peak. It was kind of like opening a pirate’s treasure chest because the jewel of a truck that was in the trailer is a thing of beauty….more on that later.
Because my Baja is (still) under restoration we needed to catch a ride in someone else’s Bronco. Noticing that most of the seats in the Broncos on the lot were spoken for, I watched as several more Early Broncos rolled in, mostly full. When a nicely lifted baby blue ‘73 pulled in and parked and only a driver got out, I introduced myself and asked if he had room for two. Eric Triebwasser said “sure”, and John and I made a new friend.
Shortly after that about a dozen Early Broncos and six or seven Big Broncos saddled up the pony’s and headed toward Kensington Metropark to enjoy the park’s 1800 acres of woods, lakes and winding roads. Just at the entrance of the park Tim Kubick’s 66-U13 developed a vapor lock problem so we stopped for a minute. This gave me the chance to jump in the open seat of Jeff’s white ‘66 U-13 and let John stretch his legs in the front seat of Eric’s clean machine. We continued into the park and found a somewhat empty parking lot to take some pics and wait while they got a trailer for Tim’s ailing ‘66.
It was hot for April in Michigan at around 80 degrees but that made it perfect for cruising in a topless, doorless Bronco. After swapping stories and taking pics, Tim showed up along with seven or eight more Early Broncos, a couple of Big Broncos and some trucks, so we took some more pics and swapped some more stories. Everyone was getting hungry, so we fired up the steeds and made a too short journey to a different entrance of the park where Baker’s Restaurant is located. Filling the back of the parking lot with Broncos, we also filled the banquet room where we again swapped stories, ate some terrific food and enjoyed a ginger ale or two. Some of the discussion over dinner was whether the cruise was going to be an annual thing. Everyone I heard from said, “absolutely yes!”
Saturday morning thunder storms woke me early and I realized there was no reason to leave for Broncorama in the rain. When we did go, we took John’s ’95 Ranger 4x4 so he could show it off and we could bring back a hood I bought from the Bronco Graveyard. The bad weather had passed and we arrived about 10:30 quickly noticing things were in full swing. We loaded up my hood and started checking the swap meet for anything else we could use when John spotted some tires for the Ranger. We found out what they were asking, pooled our money, realizing it was doable made a deal with just enough cash left for lunch. Before we could eat, we had to find Jack and his Baja. We saw some other friends who quickly asked if we had been inside to see Jack’s truck. When we replied, “no“, they said we had to go right then and see it. Heading inside, there it was in all it’s gleaming glory. A ’71 Bill Stroppe Baja Bronco looking like it was displayed in a Ford dealer showroom. Seven other Broncos were along the wall and behind it, including Jeff’s ’71 Stroppe Baja which is an excellent vehicle in it’s own right. Upon closer inspection, Jack’s truck is better than showroom new. Sitting on an original set of Gates Commando tires and sporting a license plate frame from Hayward Ford, the dealer that sold this truck originally, it looked magnificent! I worked at an award winning restoration shop for a couple of years in the ‘80’s, so I know first hand the time and effort it must have taken to complete this beautiful machine. Hopefully Bronco Driver magazine will take time to fully cover this truck in the future. Heading back outside, we noticed the line stretching outside the office door so we didn’t try to go in there. We then wandered around the rows of Early Broncos parked on the front lawn until the smell of the BBQ grill overpowered us. A pulled pork sandwich for me and an Italian sausage for John along with chips and a pop made for a gourmet feast. Now it was time to head across the street where some nice Big Broncos and Ford Trucks were lined up. A few more pictures later we checked out more swap meet vendors even though we didn’t have any money left. Getting to the end of that parking lot we headed back up the next lot, full of Early Broncos when we met up with our new friend, Eric and his light blue ’73. We took some time to rest and examine his beautiful truck, swap even more stories before moving on to the row of eight U13’s. Except for two turquoise trucks, each was a different color. After drooling over these unique trucks we went back to the Bronco Graveyard office to say “hi” to a couple of sales guys I know only to see the line still out the door. We ended up heading around back where we started and took another complete tour, seeing things we missed on the first pass and wishing we had more cash for the great deals at the swap meet. For John and I, this is where Broncorama had to end because of a previous commitment. When we left, we had a truck bed full of tires, my hood and a new found motivation to work on my Baja. I know we left before the raffle, but I still felt like it had been an excellent day. Every year Broncorama has some surprises and this year it was Jack’s ‘71 Baja.