Coyote Swapping a Classic BroncoLast Updated August 4, 2019 | Sam Padgett
Let’s face it, classic cars aren’t the pinnacle of performance. Sure, there’s a lot to be said about the feel of an old carburated engine rattling under the hood of a classic car or truck, but in terms of raw reliability, speed, and performance, modern solutions will always win out. That's why swapping an engine like the 5.0L Coyote V8 into a classic Bronco is a fantastic idea: you get the looks and style of a classic truck with the power and functionality of a modern vehicle.
If you aren’t dead set on accurately restoring a classic Ford Bronco, then a new engine would do wonders for its usability. Without the proper modern engine, a first-generation Ford Bronco would struggle to be a daily driver. Thankfully, the Coyote engine is a wonderful candidate for a classic Bronco engine swap. Not only is this engine easy enough to come by, but there’s also plenty of support in the aftermarket community to make it work wonders under the hood of your classic Bronco.
Starting Your Bronco Coyote Swap
Before you even consider a Coyote swap, you ought to have an eligible Bronco to swap it in to. Not every classic Bronco will work well for this project. First off, it’s absolutely imperative to find a Bronco with a solid frame. While this is always the case (you should never gamble on a rusty frame), a Coyote swap puts additional stress on the Bronco’s frame, potentially amplifying any problems that the rust could cause.
Similar to restoring a classic Bronco, performing a Coyote swap can take a good amount of time and money. Estimates from forums put the swap costing anywhere from 15 to 25 thousand dollars. Additionally, this process can take quite a lot of time and effort. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice a good amount of your weekends, a healthy chunk of change, and a large amount of space in your garage (or wherever you prefer to wrench), then you should think twice before attempting this swap.
What You'll Need
First off, you will need a bevy of tools to perform an engine swap. You’ll need everything from ratchets, to a shop crane. Be sure to have to a good space set aside for all of the many parts and tools you will need for this swap. Additionally, a lot of the steps of performing an engine swap may require a helping hand or two, so be sure to dust off your Rolodex before officially deciding to start this project.
Again, it's imperative that you set out a zone for working on this engine swap. The number of parts and tools can quickly get confusing. Also, if you want to install the Coyote engine using the frame off approach, then you will need space for both the frame and the outer body of the Bronco. It’s possible to drop the engine directly into the Bronco, but the frame off approach will make the whole process a bit simpler.
Beyond the tools and setup, there are quite a lot of components that will need to be replaced or upgraded to make your Coyote swapped Bronco a reality. Here is what you will need to be aware of.
First off, you can’t swap in a Coyote engine if you don’t have it to begin with! As opposed to Mustang Coyote swaps, the preferred engine is the one used on the F-150’s. That doesn’t mean that’s the only viable option, it’s just that this engine is more tuned for truck-like applications. Another reason this is a more applicable engine for classic Broncos is that it will ultimately save you some money. While it is a good idea to install stronger driveline components as a part of this swap, the most powerful Coyote engine variants will force you to purchase the most durable components possible.
Part of the magic of the Coyote engine is its modularity. That means that regardless of where you start out, you can swap parts in and out to get the performance you desire. For example, the F-150 variants of the Coyote engine have a milder cam profile that the Mustang ones, so if you want a more muscles Bronco, then all you have to do is install the cams from a Mustang Coyote and there you go! This also means that if something breaks, then there are plenty of places to source replacement parts from as well.
If you are going to go hunting for a Coyote in a junkyard, expect to pay around $2,800-$5,000 for an F-150 Coyote engine and around $5,000-$9,000 for a Mustang sourced one.
In order to get this engine to behave nicely with your Bronco, you will need to purchase the Ford Performance Engine Control Pack. There is a lot of tinkering with electronics and sensors that will need to occur to make this engine swap work, especially since it’s being placed into a relatively low-tech vehicle. Because this control pack and the Coyote engine are designed to be run with a return style fuel system, the Bronco will have to be converted from returnless in order for this motor to run.
The Coyote starter solenoid doesn't clear the frame, so an aftermarket starter needs to be installed in order for the whole package to fit under the hood of a classic Bronco.
When it comes to sourcing a transmission, there are several potential options. Since this process does entail gutting the Bronco’s interior, it’s possible to install either an automatic or manual transmission.
If you plan on using an automatic transmission, then the AOD Ford 4 speeds are what you should be looking for. In particular, the 4r70w transmission is a popular choice, followed by the 6R80 (which needs to be from a 4X4 equipped F-150).
For automatic transmissions, a new shifter might be needed depending on your transmission of choice.
For a manual transmission, the heavy-duty Tremec 5 or 6 speeds are what you should be looking for. There is a bit more variety for manual transmissions. In terms of 5-speed options, there is the TKO and the TR-3550, and with the 6 speeds, there’s the T56 and T6060. That being said, a new clutch and flywheel are an essential upgrade necessary for the Coyote swap as well.
In order to fit everything nicely under the hood of the Bronco, a one-inch lift needs to be applied. That being said, the extra weight of the Coyote will also put a lot of extra strain on the Bronco’s suspension, so this is a good excuse to go ahead and upgrade the suspension all around. That being said, without a lift the valve cover will rub up against the hood and cause a lot of headaches.
Some people who have performed a Coyote swap on a first generation Bronco online have reported that they needed an additional inch of lift or two in order to fully fit the Coyote engine under the hood.
With all the added speed of a Coyote engine, you’ll want to be able to brake as well. The stock drum brakes on a classic Bronco are seriously lacking, especially with a large increase in power. For that reason, a set of disc brakes will give your Bronco the stopping power that it will need.
Here is another rather tricky issue of fitment. Without extensive modification, the Coyote’s exhaust headers will collide with the Bronco’s frame. That means that the only way to get this part to fit in the Bronco is to modify them. There are shops that perform this service, and surely a local shop can help you modify some Coyote exhaust headers for your Bronco.
A new serpentine system is necessary if you plan on installing power steering and an A/C system. Additionally, it’s necessary to make cuts to the frame in order to fit the alternator when using the stock Coyote serpentine system.
Both power steering and A/C aren't purely necessary to get your Bronco running, but they are very important. Unless you want to make every ride an intense, sweat-drenched workout, then installing a serpentine system for the Bronco is a must.
Odds and Ends
The stock Bronco radiator doesn’t play nicely with the Coyote engine either. This is another fitment issue where the angle of one of the Coyote's hoses doesn't match up with the default radiator.
A fractured driveline can put a damper on any day. Especially if you plan on taking your Coyote swapped Bronco off-road, you will really want a drive shaft that can stand up to the abuse. Also, some of the transmissions that work well with the Coyote engine are different sizes, meaning that depending on your choice, you may need a different size driveshaft.
There are a few more fitment concerns with this Coyote swap as well. For one the Coyote oil filter doesn't clear the frame properly, so an angled filter adapter and a filter relocation kit are necessary to fit that properly. While you're at it too, an upgraded air filter is an easy mod to make when swapping in a Coyote engine.
There are a few things to consider at a top level before running into this engine swap. As the list above demonstrates, there are a ton of different parts and systems that need to be upgraded as a part of the Coyote swap. It's important to remember that because you are working on a classic vehicle, this project is half restoration as well.
Keep in mind that the above list may not apply to your project. There is a lot of variation in the condition and the particular set up of first gen Broncos. Regardless of which direction your classic Bronco Coyote swap goes, the parts that you need are here on CJ's.
Sources: Suncruiser Media | Classic Ford Broncos | Hotrod Network | Ford Muscle Image Credit: Ford Muscle | Four Wheeler | Class Ford Broncos
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