1986 Bronco and Bronco II SpecsLast Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
The 1986 Bronco marked the end of the third generation, which started in 1980. During this generation, Ford introduced the Bronco II and widened the Bronco’s already significant appeal.
The third-gen Bronco (and first-gen Bronco II) established the Bronco as we remember it today. In its third generation, the Bronco struck a balance between the small first-gen and large second-gen Broncos.
The specs and features of the 1986 Bronco and Bronco II help shed light on why these vehicles remain so popular.
1986 Bronco and Bronco II Engine Specifications
In 1986, the Ford Bronco had three engine options. The 4.9L inline-six served as the base engine through the Bronco’s entire third generation. Carrying over from 1984 was a “high-output” 5.8L Windsor V8 engine. 1986 had one new Bronco engine. A 5.0L V8 that featured electronic fuel injection rather than a carburetor. This replaced the non-high-output 5.8L Windsor.
The differences between EFI and carburetors are even easier to see in the Bronco II. For 1986, the Bronco II’s 2.8L V6 was replaced with a 2.9L V6. The displacements were similar, the engine configuration was the same, but the horsepower saw a major boost. With no other changes, the Bronco II went from 115 horsepower to 140.
|4.6L I6||120 hp @ 3,400 RPM||223 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM||Base Bronco Engine|
|5.0L V8||199 hp @ 4,200 RPM||270 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM||EFI Bronco Engine|
|5.8L V8||210 hp @ 3,600 RPM||330 lb-ft @ 2,600 RPM||Only Available in Broncos w/Automatic Transmissions|
|2.9L V6||140 hp @ 4,600 RPM||160 lb-ft @ 2,600 RPM||Bronco II EFI|
1986 Bronco and Bronco II Transmission Specifications
In 1985, Ford introduced new transmissions for the Bronco and Bronco II. Broncos with an automatic transmission had an AOD transmission. This Ford automatic transmission had an overdrive gear, then a new-ish feature. The Bronco II gained a similar automatic transmission. The Bronco and Bronco II had both used the C6, but the Bronco II didn’t upgrade to the AOD. Instead, the Bronco II received the lighter-duty A4LD.
An overdrive option was also introduced for manual transmissions at the same time. Though the Bronco II had a five-speed manual option, the Bronco did not.
Transmission swaps for Broncos from this era are common. But there aren’t many, if any, transmissions that are simple bolt-in replacements. This makes transmission swapping more difficult. Most agree it’s worth the time investment though.
Transmission technology advanced quickly between the mid-’80s and early ‘90s. Upgrading to a ‘90s transmission offers significant improvements in synchronization and durability.
|Transmission||Transmission Code||First Gear||Second Gear||Third Gear||Fourth Gear||Fifth gear||Notes|
|AOD||T||2.40||1.47||1.00||0.67||N/A||Bronco Automatic Option|
|NP-435||A||6.69||3.34||1.79||1.00||N/A||Bronco 4-Speed Manual|
|T-18||F or P||6.32||3.03||1.41||1.00||N/A||Bronco 4-Speed Manual|
|T170-RTS 4OD||3.25||1.92||1.00||0.78||N/A||Bronco 4-Speed w/Overdrive|
|Toyo Koygo||5||3.96||2.08||1.39||1.00||0.84||Bronco II 5-Speed|
|FM145||D||3.769||2.210||1.516||1.00||0.81||Bronco II 5-Speed Manual|
|A4LD||T||2.47||1.47||1.00||0.75||N/A||Bronco II Automatic|
1986 Bronco and Bronco II Axle and Transfer Case Specifications
Both the Bronco and Bronco II are competent off-roaders. Neither compares to modern off-road vehicles like the JL Wrangler. But in their day, they stood up against the XJ Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee.
Larger tires and a lift improve the off-roading angles of either vehicle. The Bronco II’s top-heavy tendencies mean modifications should be limited though. Top-heavy vehicles roll easily, so it’s best to keep the center of gravity low.
|Specification||1986 Bronco II||1986 Bronco|
|Approach Angle||29.3 Degrees||34.1 Degrees|
|Departure Angle||24.7 Degrees||20.6 Degrees|
|Ground Clearance||9.3 inches||9.1 inches|
|Breakover Angle||24.1 Degrees||20.2 Degrees|
Bronco and Bronco II Transfer Cases
For a transfer case, the 1986 Ford Bronco had a New Process 208 (NP208). This was a cast aluminum chain-driven transfer case. This is a good transfer case, but for serious off-roaders, the slip yoke becomes the weak point of the entire drivetrain. Slip yoke deletes have become a popular modification for this reason.
The Bronco II’s transfer case was a chain-driven Borg-Warner 1350 (BW1350). 1986 was the first year that the BW1350 transfer case was available in both a manual and an electric shift version. Perhaps learning that early adapters are rarely rewarded, it’s very hard to find a Bronco II with the electronic shift transfer case variant. This was also a slip yoke drivetrain, and it is likewise frequently modified to be a fixed yoke.
1986 was the first year for a rear-wheel drive Bronco II option. Offering the Bronco II in both a 2WD and 4WD version allowed it to directly compete with Chevy’s S10 Blazer.
The Bronco IIs with rear-wheel drive have one confusing feature. They have a transfer case. But the case is empty and useless. Some theorize that this was done to lower the Bronco II’s center of gravity, but that’s never been confirmed.
Bronco and Bronco II Axles
The Bronco had a twin-traction-beam Dana 44 front axle. This axle design was used on Broncos and F-150s from 1980-1996. The steering knuckles connected to the axle in a way that was meant to offer greater wheel travel than a standard solid front axle.
The Bronco II’s front axle was a Dana 28. The rear axle for the Bronco II was a Ford 7.5” while the Bronco had a Ford 8.8” While many swap the 8.8” out for a 9” rear axle, there’s nothing objectively wrong with the 8.8”. Regearing is an alternative to a full axle-swap and may be all you need to get to your goals.
|Spec||1986 Bronco||1986 Bronco II 4WD||1986 Bronco II 2WD|
|Front Axle Rating||3,550 Pounds
Optional 3,800 Pounds
|2,750 Pounds||2,500 Pounds|
|Rear Axle Rating||3,750 Pounds||2,640 Pounds||2,640 Pounds|
|Differential||Optional Limited Slip Differential||Optional Limited Slip Differential||Optional Limited Slip Differential|
|Transfer Case||New Process 208 (NP208)||Borg Warner 1350
Optional Electronic Shifting
1986 Bronco and Bronco II Appearance Changes
There weren’t any real physical changes for the Bronco or Bronco II between 1985 and 1986. It was the last year of a generation, and much like a Senior during spring semester, Ford didn’t want anything to change. The following year the Bronco and F-150 had a refresh. The Bronco II wouldn’t be updated until 1988, along with the Ford Ranger.
The physical attributes of the Bronco and Bronco II were dependent on their pickup truck bases. They shared the name Bronco though, and Ford kept that clear through options and styling.
The Ford Bronco and Bronco II shared available optional trim packages. Though these had little to no impact on performance, they did offer a variety of comfort features. They also helped Ford preserve the feel of the Bronco, which was always intended to be the Ford Mustang’s off-roading stablemate.
The XLT Bronco trim package included bright accents, a ton of interior lighting, and more comfortable bucket seats. It also included a chrome bumper, chrome grille insert, and swing-away mirrors.
1986 was the second year of the much-desired Eddie Bauer trim. This included everything from the XLT package plus additional features. The Eddie Bauer package was designed to be the most luxurious available at the time. In addition to a special paint scheme, the Eddie Bauer package also included special all-cloth upholstery. Some of the “features” for the Eddie Bauer package did betray that it was associated with a clothing manufacturer though. It included a garment and equipment bag, for example.
|Dimension||1986 Bronco||1986 Bronco II|
|Height||74 Inches||70.4 Inches|
|Width||77.2 Inches||68 Inches|
|Length||177.7 Inches||161.8 Inches|
|Wheelbase||104 Inches||94 Inches|
|Curb Weight||4,374 Pounds||3,385 Pounds|
|Front Headroom||41.1 Inches||39.5 Inches|
|Front Legroom||41 Inches||43.9 Inches|
|Rear Headroom||39.2 Inches||38.9 Inches|
The dimensions of the Bronco and Bronco II remained the same as the previous year’s. The only notable difference was that the Bronco II had a greater range of curb weights. The rear-wheel drive version was noticeably lighter.
The dimension differences between the Bronco and Bronco II were significant. This almost certainly played a part in the popularity of the Bronco II. Though they offered many of the same conveniences, the Bronco II had a tighter turning radius. The Bronco II also benefited from slightly better front legroom, making it a pleasant daily driver for tall people.
1986 Bronco and Bronco II Price and Production Numbers
Offering a 2WD Bronco II allowed Ford to offer the Bronco II at a significantly lower price point. Most of the Bronco II’s sold in 1986 were 4WD and came with a manual transmission.
The 1986 Bronco and Bronco II represent one of the best years for Bronco sales, and they’re both relatively easy to find used. Though the 1990 Bronco II has better specifications, it’s easier to find a 1986 Bronco II in good condition.
|Specification||1986 Bronco||1986 Bronco II 4WD/2WD|
|Price Adj. for Inflation||$30,168||$27,144/$24,260|
Finding a 1986 Bronco or Bronco II in good condition can still be a challenge. Most of the people who were lucky enough to buy these vehicles during production drove them hundreds of thousands of miles and have long since retired their bones to the scrapyard.
Most modifications for Broncos and Bronco IIs involve correcting some of the weaker stock mechanical components.
1986 Bronco II Modifications
The 1986 Bronco II suffered from frequent cracks to the cylinder heads. Replacing the cylinder heads in advance is a good way to preserve the engine for longer. If it’s too late for that, then a full engine swap would be a great way to get a Bronco II running again. While some might suggest a horsepower monster like a Coyote, a smaller LS engine would be an easy swap.
Most Bronco IIs came with manual transmissions. While the TK5 manual transmission is solid, the same can’t be said for the automatic transmission. The A4LD was a short-lived transmission for a variety of reasons. Mostly, it existed in an uncomfortable middle ground between C6 transmissions and modern overdrive equipped transmissions. Replacing it with either an older transmission or a more modern one is a good idea.
1986 Bronco Modifications
The AOD transmission was significantly better than the A4LD used in the Bronco II, but it still needs some care after all this time. Replacing the valve body with one intended for performance is an easy way to keep your transmission in good condition.
Basic restoration work, like replacing your shifter or worn out seats, is also critical on any late ‘80s vehicle. The current issues may be minor, so addressing them before they worsen should be easy.
1986 Bronco and Bronco II
The 1986 Bronco and Bronco II are some of the most popular, both at the time they were produced and now. By creating two off-roaders, Ford was able to contend with both the Wrangler XJ as well as the Cherokee.
Image Credit: Creative Commons, Ford