First Drive: Bulletproof’s Boxy SUV Restomods Are Right here to Give Basic Broncos a Run for Your Cash – Robb Report

By | June 8, 2022

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The Volkswagen Group not too long ago revealed plans to construct a brand new all-electric SUV that revives the Scout nameplate for the trendy period. Information of this induced an instantaneous uproar amongst followers of the unique who doubt that boxy idea sketches can ever hope to stay as much as the burly machines made by Worldwide Harvester. Amid the din emerged apt comparisons to Ford utilizing the Mustang moniker on a four-door electrical crossover—a play that clearly capitalized on the unique pony automobile’s recognition, as does Volkswagen Group recycling the title of one of many world’s first true SUVs.

At the moment, most authentic Worldwide Scouts profit from growing values as collectors hunt for traditional utility automobiles not named Bronco or K5 Blazer. In the meantime, a brand new crop of restoration homes more and more prize the Scout as a basis for tasks that marry potent efficiency with the trendy creature comforts that purchasers have come to anticipate. Bulletproof Restorations is among the many frontrunners on this class, dropping any variety of Normal Motors small-block engines and fashionable automated transmissions into revitalized chassis, then putting in all of the requisite inside and exterior particulars to justify worth tags that begin close to $150,000.
Bulletproof founder Jake Barba considers his firm one thing of a semi-retirement mission. After paying one other store to revive a Scout he purchased on a budget a few decade in the past—another, on the time, to paying already inflated Bronco values—the outcome turned out so shoddy that Barba ended up taking over the job himself. The story then weaves by Los Angeles–based mostly Worldwide Scout group meets, organized on social media, to fixing up different botched restorations for associates and, ultimately, formally launching Bulletproof in 2019.

A Scout restomod from Bulletproof Restorations.  Bulletproof Restorations

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Rebuilt however not rethought, Bulletproof’s reimagined Scout nonetheless employs an authentic Worldwide Harvester field body—albeit with any rust considerations ameliorated earlier than the mechanical work commences. Barba makes use of his personal 1975 instance as a each day driver across the Metropolis of Angels, however for purchasers who ask him to supply and construct a brand new truck, he runs them by their meant use circumstances earlier than suggesting a brand new power-train configuration. Will they largely use their Scout as an city commuter, trip cruiser—conscripted for towing—or off-road explorer?

The naturally aspirated 5.3-liter V-8 in Barba’s private Scout—sporting the favored grille from 1972—routes energy to the rear or all 4 wheels by GM’s common 4L80E automated. He really prefers to work with the extra strong 6L80E, although, which even allowed for tiptronic sequential shifting in a single particular mission. The mill’s prodigious low-end grunt exhibits up with even the slightest contact of throttle. Flooring the pedal, nonetheless, handily chirps the rear wheels due to a Positraction limited-slip differential housed in a beefed-up Ford 9-inch rear finish.
Bulletproof’s vehicles far eclipse the unique Scout’s manufacturing unit specs. The Ford 9-inch pairs with a Dana 44 axle up entrance, on this case outfitted with an e-locker and manually locking hubs from Warn. Hiding behind the forged-aluminum Titan7 wheels (which Barba wanted to have constructed particularly for Bulletproof to suit the Scout’s hub bore), are hydroboost-assisted brakes that substitute the unique vacuum setup and, regardless of nonetheless utilizing drums on the rear, slam his Scout’s BFGoodrich mud-terrains to a cease with ease.
Pricing for one among Bulletproof’s reimagined Scouts begins at near $150,000.  Bulletproof Restorations
Painstaking consideration to element is paid by Barba and crew in relation to the drive expertise elicited from the steering and brakes, provided that Bulletproof purchasers may be extra accustomed to fashionable tremendous SUVs full with totally unbiased suspension, ABS and driver aids like lane departure help. However the whole level right here is the radically retro really feel of a Scout restomod’s strong axles and leaf springs in any respect 4 corners.
That borderline oversquare chassis and taut suspension setup create a time warp behind the thin-rimmed steering wheel (now power-assisted to make metropolis driving way more nice). After hopping out of recent SUVS, supercars or, equally probably, air-cooled Porsches reimagined by the likes of Singer, Bulletproof prospects are enamored by the truth that their Scouts nonetheless induce the speedy sense of rugged functionality tied to Worldwide Harvester’s utilitarian legacy.

That echo from the previous shines by mechanically, however most of Bulletproof’s tidier particulars trace on the buyer base’s priorities. Alcantara utilized by Ferrari pairs with Porsche’s Pepita (suppose houndstooth) for the sprint and seats, respectively, whereas hand-stitched leather-based adorns the ground from pedal field to cargo mat. And the headlight lenses function almost invisible etching that reads “Bulletproof.”
Craftsmanship obvious solely to the discerning eye performs an enormous function in Barba’s imaginative and prescient. A contemporary sound system is sequestered behind vintage-style controls. Air con that blows ice chilly is, in fact, a should. These reenvisioned Scouts are equally at house jouncing over velocity bumps, burbling previous espresso outlets or hustling by the canyons of Malibu—even when most will probably by no means see a rutted path once more.
In our tester, Alcantara utilized by Ferrari pairs with Porsche’s Pepita for the sprint and seats, respectively.  Michael Van Runkle
Barba will fortunately add something and the whole lot that his purchasers request, with some builds escalating previous the $200,000 determine. But he all the time prioritizes discovering outdated vehicles in the very best situation attainable to scale back the necessity for rust remediation earlier than the true enjoyable begins. About half of his prospects request to have their very own Scouts revamped, which provides people who do an opportunity to extra totally expertise the Bulletproof transformation.
For many purchasers, a Scout restomod represents only one six-figure basic in a set, so Bulletproof additionally works on their air-cooled Porsches and basic Corvettes, gives area for hand-detailing G-Wagens and has even brokered offers for extra fashionable rarities, together with a Ferrari LaFerrari and a few new Ford Bronco DR manufacturing unit racers. However till Volkswagen’s new EV hits the scene and ratchets up consciousness for the Worldwide Scout, it’s a protected guess that anybody pulling as much as a neighborhood Automobiles and Espresso in a Bulletproof construct will all the time flip the extra educated heads sooner than any by-now-ubiquitous Bronco or K5 Blazer.
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