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A Gateway Bronco Is Vintage Joy Without the Old-Truck Hassle

Want a first-gen Ford Bronco with a modern drivetrain? Gateway Bronco will build you one in six months flat.

© Brian Silvestro

By Chris Perkins, Road & Track

The Ford Bronco is back. Well, we're still waiting for Ford to start building its much-anticipated brand-new 4x4 wearing the Bronco name, but the first-generation truck is more popular than ever. To cater to this newfound enthusiasm, a robust Bronco restomod community has emerged. Gateway Bronco of Hamel, Illinois, is part of that, but unlike a lot of shops, Gateway won't take years upon years to build your vintage off-roader.

Seth Burgett is a lifelong Bronco fan. The founder and former CEO and president of headphone manufacturer Yurbuds, Burgett started looking into buying a restomodded first-gen Bronco after he sold that company to audio giant Harman a few years ago. He called a California builder. "Look, it'll be two years before I can get started. Three years before I can get you a finished vehicle," Burgett recalls them saying. Another builder said it would take more than a year. "It was almost hard to give my money away."

© Brian Silvestro

Burgett didn't want to wait, and he suspected there were a lot of people like him. So while he was on sabbatical after selling Yurbuds, he decided to start his own Bronco business. Gateway Bronco offers something most restomod shops don't—speed. Burgett said Gateway Bronco has a deposit-to-delivery time of approximately six months.

Three basic trim levels are available: the "entry-level" Fuelie starts at $150,000, the Coyote Edition adds another $100,000, and the top-spec, supercharged Modern Day Warrior rings in at $350,000. Burgett was kind enough to bring a Coyote Edition to the R&T office in New York City for a morning spin.

Each Gateway Bronco gets power from a Ford 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, like the one you can get in a brand-new Mustang, with either a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission. Power outputs range from 460 hp to the 700-hp supercharged example Burgett brought out to Road & Track. Thankfully, Gateway also fits these Broncos with Wilwood disc brakes, which are very much appreciated.

© Brian Silvestro

The genius of this drivetrain isn't the sheer power, but the usability. Don't let the classic American V-8 lope throw you—this is a thoroughly modern drivetrain that works just as it would in a Mustang. It feels incredibly muscular, too, though I have to admit that I didn't beat on the thing during my time behind the wheel. There's so much grunt, you never need to wring it out.

Besides that, the driving experience is refreshingly old-school. Modern suspension components do a lot to improve drivability, but at the end of the day, this is still an old off-roader on knobby tires. You have to be aware of that when you’re behind the wheel. But there's a certain joy to the lawn-chair seating position and the incredible view you get sitting at semi-truck height. The thin-rimmed wood steering wheel—the same sort used in a ‘60s Shelby GT350—is wonderfully evocative, too. Power steering means you drive with fingertips, one arm on the window sill, adding little course corrections as needed.

There are some modern conveniences hidden inside. Heated seats are welcome on a cold day with the roof down, and what look like old-fashioned window cranks are actually disguised power-window switches. The brown leather and houndstooth upholstery are sourced from Porsche, and the carpet is high-quality and aesthetically appropriate for a vintage Ford.

© Brian Silvestro

The midnight blue example Burgett let me drive started life as a 1974 model. All that remains from 1974 are the frame, some of the bodywork, and the differential housings. "Everything else on the vehicle is new," Burgett said. "Every nut, bolt, and screw. We don't keep any of those pieces because they're prone to rust, or prone to issues." For all intents and purposes, this Bronco is a brand-new vehicle.

And that's the point. It took me a while to grapple with Gateway Bronco's pricing. A Modern Day Warrior like this goes for McLaren 720S Spider money. But you’re not just getting a worked-over old Ford. Burgett describes Gateway Bronco as a sort of "concierge service," and that's apt. If you've got serious cash, and you want a turnkey Bronco specced exactly how you want, call Seth. Six months later, your truck will show up. The goal is a no-hassle restomod buying experience, and if anything does go wrong, every Gateway Bronco is covered by a three- or five-year unlimited-mile warranty.

I can see the appeal. The Bronco is an undeniably cool vehicle, and Gateway hopes to give customers all the charm and joy of old-truck ownership without the headaches. In that way, Gateway is creating a luxury good out of old Broncos. And like most luxury goods, you'll pay handsomely for one.

See more at: Road & Track

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Autos Magazine: A Gateway Bronco Is Vintage Joy Without the Old-Truck Hassle
A Gateway Bronco Is Vintage Joy Without the Old-Truck Hassle
Want a first-gen Ford Bronco with a modern drivetrain? Gateway Bronco will build you one in six months flat.
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