‘Nasty’ 1969 Ford Bronco Hillclimber Returns After 40-Year Slumber

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1969 Ford Bronco "The Nasty One" hillclimber.

The ‘Nasty One’ is ready for its 21st-century comeback. 

It goes without saying that Ford has a legendary racing reputation. From the Le Mans-winning GT40s to championship-winning NASCAR stockers to countless drag strip heroes across the country. But with a few exceptions, Ford’s racing prowess doesn’t really extend to its truck division. That’s why we love this 1969 Ford Bronco. First profiled by Ford Performance’s Enthusiast blog, this truck was an unbeatable hillclimb champ in the late ’70s. Today, its original owner and his grandson are restoring it back to racing spec.

On the surface, it seems like an unlikely pairing. Ford employee Jim Rainero’s 302 cubic inch-powered Bronco spent the first five years of its life as his plow truck. And when most people think hillclimbs, they picture small, lightweight buggies scrambling up the British countryside. But in the mid-’70s, Jim began converting the truck into a hillclimber, with beefy tires, a fiberglass hood scoop, a roll cage, and lightweight bumpers. By 1978, the Bronco, dubbed “The Nasty One” was unbeatable.

Flying High in the ’70s

1969 Ford Bronco "The Nasty One" hillclimber.

“My peers were calling me The King,” Jim says. “You know, Elvis Presley may be the King of Rock and Roll, but I was The King of hill-climbing. I was either going to kick your ass or die hard racing you.” Other racers would bring cocky new drivers to Jim, who would dutifully annihilate them up a hill. In its heyday, The Nasty One was scrambling up muddy 300-foot embankments at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. In our professional opinion, that’s nuts.

By 1978, The Nasty One was on the cover of Ford World, the Blue Oval’s employee newspaper. But by the end of the year, Rainero put the truck away in his garage and retired from hillclimbing. It sat there for 40 years.

 

Today, his grandson Jonny Bostwick is a Bronco fanatic too. With his grandfather’s help, he’s bringing the truck back to its former glory. It’s an amazing time capsule, with too-cool hand-painted graphics and other irreplaceable period details. “Everything to me is valuable – every little detail I can keep is worthwhile,” Bostwick says. Their goal is to get the truck back into fighting shape for the 2019 Woodward Dream Cruise. From there, they hope to enter it in historic races.

1969 Ford Bronco "The Nasty One" hillclimber.

“This is my dream — to tell my grandfather’s story through this Bronco,” Bostwick says. “How I got involved in Ford and into race cars and into building classic cars was all because of this man right here. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be who I am today.” Decades after being crowned The King, Rainero is still humble about the truck. After decades of working on some of the hottest cars Ford ever made, he wanted something nice for himself. “I’m going to build me something that goes fast,” he said over 40 years ago. With a little elbow grease, we’ve got a feeling he and his grandson will have something fast on their hands very soon.

1969 Ford Bronco "The Nasty One" hillclimber.

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