1994 Ford Bronco New engine and transmission

  • 1994 FORD BRONCO
  • 4WD
  • 114,000 MILES

I am looking to make my Bronco into the fastest off road SUV/Truck down from where I am from. I live in an area where there is a lot of competition and I want to be have the best. I was wondering what engines and transmissions would work best together. My brother recently told me about putting in a Ford Raptor Transmission but I also want to have a new engine that would smoke everyone here. Could you help me find a solution to this problem

Do you
have the same problem?
Monday, October 6th, 2014 AT 8:31 PM

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You definitely have the wrong vehicle for that and any attempt to prove me wrong will be a waste of your money. I have a few misguided neighbors who have beefed-up Chevy trucks, and I chuckle every time they leave home because they just make a real lot of noise but a kid on a bicycle could keep up to them.

You also have to consider all the computer controls on your truck. That alone will limit a lot of what you can modify. Ford is famous too for retarding engine ignition timing when an up-shift occurs, even under part throttle, because the transmissions can't handle the torque of full-throttle shifts. I can't speak to aftermarket transmissions designed to fit your application, but typically they are for off-road use only and do not lend themselves to comfortable street-use driving. Whatever you build, of course you want it to be fast, but you also want to be able to take Betty Lou out in comfort.

You also have the miserable twin I-beam front suspension system that only Ford used. No one else was dumb enough to copy it. It's a very strong system which is good for big trucks, but it's a major disaster for alignment and tire wear. Very small changes in ride height result in very big changes in alignment. That causes the tires to scrub going down the road, and that reduces acceleration. A lot of people who don't understand the serious negative ramifications of altering ride height, as in lift kits for trucks and lowering kits for cars, raise their trucks to fit larger wheels and tires. Lawyers and insurance investigators love to find those modifications on YOUR vehicle when it's their client who caused the crash by running the red light. I can go into all the legal reasons you want to maintain proper ride height if you want me to.

Let me make a suggestion that will send you in a completely different direction. You might not want to hear this, but hear me out first. I have a friend with a body shop who specializes in rebuilding smashed less-than-one-year-old Chrysler products, mainly diesel trucks. He has a '99 dually, a 2006 dually with a 6-speed transmission, and a 2012 dually Megacab that he put two frames together to extend it to fit an 8-foot box. All three are "chipped", and all three have no modifications to the engines or transmissions. Only on the '99, he tore up the transmission from the increase in power and dragging around a three-car trailer, so he had the transmission beefed up by a transmission specialty rebuilder. I've driven an older Dodge Viper years ago, and the 2006 feels like it would give it a run for it's money. We trailered a car from Wisconsin to Texas, then brought a paint booth back that was twice as heavy as the car, and averaged 22 miles per gallon unless we ran over 75 mph. We had no trouble passing people when necessary.

With the 2012, he recently hauled a 32 foot goose neck trailer from Texas to Wisconsin to move his sister back here. He built an 8 foot high box and loaded that thing with all her crap, ... Ahh, ... I mean, "stuff"! The trailer was so grossly overloaded that he snapped off all the studs for one pair of wheels. Some guys came out from a company that fixes semi trucks on the side of the road, and they had to go back for more equipment because what they used to lift semi trailers couldn't lift his trailer. He still got 14 mpg gallon with that and could go 70 mph. Now imagine that nightmare with no load. Tire wear is perfect. The brakes, even with a trailer, will shove your nose against the windshield. There are steering issues on the '99 and older Dodge trucks, but those were solved on the newer ones.

He has built about 50 trucks for his neighbors in the area who are farmers. They get a lot of use pulling those huge round hay bales off the fields. One guy regularly pulled 14 bales at one time with his Ford diesel truck, and it did the job but it was working. Those bales he was told are about 1,000 pounds a piece. My friend dragged his trailer off a field with 40 of those bales and no one believed he could do it without getting stuck. Well, he did put it in four-wheel-drive, but it didn't have to struggle to do it. That, and pulling a tree stump everyone thought couldn't be done, has convinced a lot of Ford and Chevy diehards to jump ship. The only disadvantage in my mind is all the computers on all brands of newer vehicles. To add to your enjoyment, Ford and Chevy owners really hate being showed up by anything else, but they're getting used to it.

My point in sharing all this sad story is to hopefully save you the expense and disappointment of trying to modify the wrong vehicle. I've never owned a truck, but I've learned what to watch out for from listening to other people's tales of woe. Understand too that adding a chip to a gas engine won't do much. The only way to get more power is to raise the compression ratio or add more fuel. A chip will send false sensor readings to the Engine Computer to trick it into thinking more fuel is needed in its fuel metering calculation. Of course you need the exactly correct amount of air to go with that extra fuel. You can accomplish exactly the same thing by pushing harder on the accelerator pedal. The chip can also modify ignition timing, but that has already been perfected by the manufacturer to achieve best power, least emissions, and optimum fuel mileage.

Diesel engines are wide-open to air and will gulp in as much as possible. There is no throttle blade, and the tubes to the intercooler and turbocharger are huge. Speed and power are regulated by how much fuel is sprayed in. That is severely curtailed by Dodge but lends itself nicely to modifying with a chip.

The reason you're limited in what you can do with Ford and GM diesels is they already designed their engines for the application, meaning pickup trucks, and the work they were intended to do. They're running close to maximum power already. Ford and GM design and build most of their own parts and they buy relatively little, say 20 percent, from outside parts suppliers. Chrysler commonly buys about 80 percent of their parts from outside vendors. The diesel engines are used in heavy equipment and much larger trucks, but Chrysler detunes them to lower the power for use in their pickup trucks. That's why there is so much to work with when adding a chip. Before you dismiss the possibilities of what you can do with a Dodge diesel, test-drive a used one, then imagine it with a chip that lets it develop about 60 percent more power, and (I'm guesstimating), a 15 percent increase in fuel mileage which is already a real lot better than what any gas engine engine gets in a pickup truck. Be aware though that most of these newer chips include the ability to make adjustments and they display data and fault codes, but if you have a factory overhead trip computer that displays fuel mileage, that number will be wrong. Typically they will show around 28 mpg on the highway but you're really getting around 24 mpg.

If this sounds like something that might interest you, I can get the details about which engines are good and which to avoid, and which aftermarket products are worth the money. I built a bunch of '70s muscle cars including some for the race tracks, but back then we made horsepower from brute strength. Today we finesse it out of little computer-designed engines with computer controls. With most vehicles there are trade-offs. You get more horsepower at the expense reliability, emissions, safety, or fuel mileage.

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Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 AT 1:24 AM

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