As the new Bronco finally breaks cover, it’ll probably be joined on- and off-road by some restomodded classic Ford Broncos. As these vintage SUVs’ values continue to rise, quite a few owners are upgrading from the original carbureted engines. Jay Leno put a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 in his ’68 Bronco, and Roush has providing Gateway Broncos with 600-hp powertrains. But there’s also electrification. On top of the modular ‘crate’ EV motors under development, some companies provide turn-key EV conversions. For classic Ford Broncos, that’s California-based Zero Labs.
Zero Labs’ original electric classic Ford Bronco
Next, the Bronco would get new body panels made of carbon-fiber, Hagerty reports, and a brand-new interior with walnut and bamboo trim and leather seats. Top Gear reports vegan-friendly options were also available. The biggest changes, though, were underneath.
Zero Labs’ Broncos would receive adjustable Fox coil-over shocks, an Atlas 2-speed transfer case, and Currie front and rear differentials. The brakes would also be reworked, with Brembo front calipers. And, of course, there was the electric drivetrain.
Instead of the original engine, the Bronco would get a 369-hp, 227 lb-ft electric motor and 70-kWh battery pack. The range was quoted at 190 miles, and it was compatible with Level 2 chargers. But the most interesting part was that the now-electric Ford Bronco retained a manual transmission, and the ability to swap between two-wheel and four-wheel drive.
Note all the past tense. That’s because Zero Labs has now announced an updated and completely revised classic Ford Bronco EV.
The new electric classic Ford Bronco
Like the 1.0-version, Zero Labs’ newest Bronco build has Fox shocks and Brembo brakes. The Bronco EV 2.0 also still has a 70-kWh battery pack and “a more appealing interior than a Rolls-Royce,” according to Top Gear. Now, though, Autoblog reports Zero Labs is starting with a brand-new platform.
Instead of the original build’s solid axles, it has independent front and rear suspension. In place of the transfer case and 4WD system, it’s got a brand-new all-wheel drive system with open differentials. And in place of the original 369-hp motor, Zero Labs’ new Bronco can be ordered with one or two electric motors, each rated at 300 hp. Range is still quoted as 190 miles, but the charging system is now Level 3-compatible for decreased recharge time.
Zero Labs is also providing more customization options. Its first Bronco was only available with a hardtop. Now, though, customers can also get a soft-top or no top at all. And while you can still get one with a carbon-fiber body, Zero Labs will now also offer a steel-bodied version.
The restomodding and EV conversion aren’t exactly cheap. The steel-bodied electric classic Ford Bronco starts at $180,000. The carbon-fiber-bodied one is even more expensive, starting at $240,000. And Zero Labs will only make about 100 examples per year, starting in late 2020.
Based on Roadshow’s EV conversion estimates, and the price history of 1966-1977 Broncos on Bring a Trailer, you might be able to build your own Bronco EV for roughly half that cost. However, there’s another way to look at it.
A carbon-fiber-bodied Dodge Challenger recently sold for $169,995. Meaning, $240k for a carbon-bodied Bronco EV isn’t necessarily unreasonable. And although you could convert a Bronco into an EV on your own, it would take a significant amount of time and effort. Also, you’d still have to factor in the cost of a new AWD system, a new transmission, the Fox shocks, Brembo brakes, and so on.
Looking at it that way, you’d be getting a better-than-new classic SUV that can off-road just as well as a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Range Rover, or Lamborghini Urus with comparable on-road refinement and build quality. And Zero Labs’ electrified Ford Bronco, in dual-motor form, offers similar horsepower without emissions.
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