By Ralph Holguin:
So, you just bought a Bronco. It may not be the most perfect Bronco, but it is your Bronco, and it really doesn’t matter, because in the end you’re going to make it perfect.
I want to share a couple of pointers that I believe are very important for restoring or modernizing a vintage bronco.
1. Get to Know Your Vehicle
I like to start with the vehicle in front of me. My inspiration really comes from staring at the canvas. Let me walk you through what that means. I walk around and let the vehicle speak to me. Maybe that sounds a little weird, but I believe there’s something to be said for it. As you walk around, spend time thinking about its history and imagining what kind of stories were made and what kind of stories will be made. Sometimes I think I’d like to meet the past owners and their families to learn more about the memories they made in this Bronco.
The ultimate goal for me is to design something that feels absolutely timeless. I ask myself, “Will I hate this look 20 years from now—or even 5 years from now, for that matter?” Look for a design that will look great forever.
2. Mechanics Matter
I pay special attention to choosing quality engineering when it comes to mechanics. At the end of the day, this is really the most important thing to me—because no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road in a vintage vehicle, even if it is a great looking one. You want to have peace of mind about the dependability of your vehicle mechanics. Breaking down is probably the thing we fear the most when we drive our vintage vehicles, since they are such finicky things.
3. Think About the Big Picture
I like to lay out colors and understand different tones. You can tell me you wanted it in gray, but it doesn’t mean I’m just going to make it gray. Gray might sound right at the beginning, but that does not mean it will at the end. When I think about details like these, I imagine the end result to see what makes sense.
I look at the interior as if I’m designing a beautiful gown or creating a designer jacket. At the end it needs to flow with all the details, while still being durable and feeling and looking like it was tailored to the individual.
I apply the same mindset to wheels and tires. They have to give the Bronco the best stance possible, and the suspension should not be too over-exaggerated. I pay attention to each nut and bolt to make sure that everything looks right and fits properly.
4. Paint a Masterpiece
You want a perfect paint job? Make sure all the metalwork and craftmanship done prior to painting is flawless. Sometimes people call body guys cake decorators because of the amount of body filler they use. It’s important to pay attention to the metalwork so that you allow the metalwork to shape the car, instead of allowing the filler to shape your car. This care will cost more up front, and it will take longer, but for me it is essential, because the paint job will last forever. When someone is investing in their dream, it is imperative to us to deliver something that will stand the test of time.
Here’s the bottom line: do not overlook details. Every detail will matter and deserves attention. Pay attention to every seal, every body panel, every light fixture, and every piece of glass, and in the end, you will have a beautiful Bronco. I sweat every detail because I want to put our customers in dream builds that they will love for a lifetime.
Ralph Holguin is the Chief Creative Director of RMD Garage, which he founded in 1993. Based in Long Beach, CA, RMD Garage provides full dream build and restomod services. Ralph is also the host of Discovery’s Velocity Network show RMD Garage.