An Illinois Company is Building Brand New Ford-Licensed First-Gen Broncos

All photos from Gateway Bronco
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Everyone’s excited about the upcoming 2020 Ford Bronco, in part, because of what the nameplate means to American culture: adventure, ruggedness, and fun. It was the first-gen model that created this meaning, so it’s cool that one Illinois company is now building those old Broncos from the ground up as a Ford-licensed product. But they’re not cheap.

A company out of Illinois, Gateway Bronco has been finding pristine early Broncos and restomodding them for a couple of years now, getting its start in 2016. Recently, the outfit that “reimagines” Broncos announced that it’s the first builder officially licensed from Ford to create first-gen Ford Broncos from scratch, and also the first certified to recondition used Broncos according to Ford standards.

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CEO and President Seth Burgett told me over the phone that his company offers three main types of Bronco builds: originals that have been restored, new bodies on original frames with VINs and titles, and new Broncos from the ground up including both a new frame and body.

The company describes the new Ford agreement in a press release, saying Gateway will build 1966 to 1977 Broncos thanks to the “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015,” a program that makes it easier for low-volume manufacturers to get past safety and emissions barriers-to-entry. One way that the Act does this is that it allows low-volume automakers to “install engines from vehicles that have been issued certificates of conformity.”

And on that front, Gateway Bronco says it’s using 5.0-liter Coyotes as its primary power plants, with plenty of bolt-on options, like twin turbos, a Borla fuel injection system, or even a Shelby supercharger.

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Burgett told me Gateway gets its body panels from supplier Wild horse 4x4, who sources the sheetmetal from a distributor somewhere, going on to say Gateway adds structural enhancements throughout. Here’s what he told me about the new bodies’ fitment:

We have pulled data from so many untouched, original paint Broncos with original production markings still intact that we have developed our own database of dimensions and a process to ensure the integrity of our gaps and fitment every time. We have applied modern manufacturing techniques in the USA to assemble our bodies which has gained the attention of Ford and in part, enabled our bodies to be Officially Licensed Ford Product.

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The frame, Burgett told me, comes from a subcontractor, and either comes to Gateway’s Illinois facility complete, or as just the rails. That frame can be modified, Burgett told me, to facilitate either a solid front axle or an independent suspension setup.

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Gateway’s website shows three main models ranging in price from $120,000 to $180,000, and offering both automatic or manual options, and warranties as long as five years.

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I don’t know much about Gateway as a company, but I do know that the Broncos in these pictures look lovely, and if they’ve got Ford’s stamp of approval and a warranty, that also sounds lovely, even if the price tag doesn’t.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio