Mad Mods Breathe Life Into Old Bronco in New eBay YouTube Series

The new video series from eBay Motors is called Modathon. Yes, it’s a marathon of mods, but it’s a lot more than that. Modathan is a hysterical, grease-covered relay race with wrenches— with one notorious builder handing a vehicle to the next after performing an essential set of modifications.

The first installation sets up the epic evolution of a nicely preserved, arguably classic, but non-functional 4×4. Is it possible to build an epic overlanding machine with a bit of sweat, tears, and a lot of heart—in less than a week? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

The story starts in the middle of Oklahoma with the episode’s chief instigator, Westen Champlin, scoring a clean red and white 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT. It’s a sweet SUV with drivetrain issues that are soon solved.

The project is hauled back to the shop in Winfield, Kan., where the crew performs a spectacular transplant with one of Champlin’s favorite engines and a trailer load of parts from eBay Motors. Video conferencing brings Modathon co-conspirators Grind Hard Plumbing Company and Lacey Blair into the mix.

More Than the Sum of its Parts

1979 ford bronco ranger xlt, Mad Mods Breathe Life Into Old Bronco in New eBay YouTube Series, ClassicCars.com Journal

While a little power might go a long way, too little power can leave you stranded on the trail. The 1979 Ford Bronco Ranger XLT rolled off the assembly line with a 351 cubic-inch V-8 engine producing a pathetic 160 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s clearly not enough juice for a reanimated overlander with high-altitude ambitions.

Dr. Frankenstein’s prescribed therapy? An engine swap, of course.

Champlin’s crew conspired to shoe-horn a 5.9-liter 12-valve Cummins diesel engine between the Bronco’s fenders, adding:

Is one turbo good? Then two turbos is better. The Bronco’s beefy new powerplant soon roars to life.

1979 ford bronco ranger xlt, Mad Mods Breathe Life Into Old Bronco in New eBay YouTube Series, ClassicCars.com Journal

After a mere six days in the shop, the bolts are tightened, a burnout is attempted, and the team packs up the truck. They head to Telluride, Colo. with a GFC Platform RTT 10 rooftop tent installed. Champlin connects with Grind Hard Plumbing at the trailhead, before the adventure literally climbs to new heights.

Imogene Pass or Bust

1979 ford bronco ranger xlt, Mad Mods Breathe Life Into Old Bronco in New eBay YouTube Series, ClassicCars.com Journal

The trail to the top is a risky one-way route. The Bronco slithers up the mountain’s face, its door handles bouncing mere inches from the wall. The tension is understandable—on the other side is a deadly drop.

The ascent is thrillingly captured with prime-time-worthy drone camera work, in-cabin video capture, truck-to-truck footage, and informative graphics. While the quick-cut build earlier in the video will have you leaning forward and hitting the rewind button, the climb will make you lean back and hang on.

When the Bronco reaches its destination at 13,114 feet of elevation, Champlin partakes in a celebration of the mighty feat. If you’re familiar with his appearance in eBay Motors’ Between 2 Rides, you already know what happens.

The setup for the next episode of Modathon previews the Bronco’s second transformation when Idaho’s Grind Hard Plumbing Company preps the suspension to take on the Rubicon’s unforgiving boulders.

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