By Laura Zielinski
“Dad? Do you have a second to talk? My Jeep won’t start – yeah, the red one. I have accessories, so it’s not the battery, and I heard the fuel pump hum … maybe the starter?”
Conversations like these happened regularly over the years. Despite my age of independence – and his mechanical dislike for the Jeeps my brother and I kept acquiring over the years – he has never failed to hold troubleshooting sessions with me. And usually, my call to AAA was followed up with a phone back from him saying I could have it towed to his garage.
Tire patching, tool rental, a spare part that fits, oil top-offs, and even a rebuilt transmission are services he provides to his kids without asking – and that he simply won’t accept payment for doing.
I love my dad for many reasons, and the car knowledge he has shared with me and his constant rush to assist are two of them. No matter how old I get, what I need, or when it is, he’s there, showing me care through it and giving me an opportunity to spend more time with him, learning about him as an adult.
Dads with vehicle abilities are no more valuable than those without mechanics in their blood, however, these practical aspects of fatherhood certainly produce a tie that binds … and in the cases of some daughters and sons, a career, and in nearly all of us, a lifelong love and common ground. I shared more of my history once before; I think of pro driver Shelby Hall, Bronco Nation teammates, and definitely, many of you.
Upon my prompt, Bronco Nation member Norderwurm talked about how life was influenced by Dad and vehicle.
“In 1983, my dad bought his first Bronco. I was 7, and it seemed like the biggest truck ever made, even bigger than the late 70s blazer he traded in (typical Chevy, the rockers were already rusting out). It was metallic charcoal, with the 300cu straight six. It became the vehicle of all my young adventures. Trips to the lake, towing our boat. Road trips through the Ozarks to visit my mother’s family. I spent so much time bouncing along on the back seat on our way to some place for the summer. And during duck season, Dad would head out with our trusty Labrador, and come back with mud halfway up the doors and mud over every surface on the inside from an overly energetic muddy dog.
It felt like that Bronco would last forever, but in 1991, he traded it in FOR AN EVEN BETTER BRONCO! A cherry red and tan top Eddie Bauer Bronco with the 5.8L V8. Our first trip less than month after getting it was cross country to go backpacking at the Boy Scout ranch in Philmont, NM. We averaged 90mph on the way there, and it just ate up the miles (and yes, my dad did get a speeding ticket). I learned to drive on that rig. And whenever we had German foreign exchange students over, they were fascinated by it, this big, capable slab if Detroit steel. They would always beg to drive it and were always surprised at the power and size. It was a staple of my teen years, and to this day believe its size and toughness saved my life when I was struck by a drunk driver.
When it finally came time to trade it in, Ford was no longer making Broncos. My Dad went with the 2-door Explorer Sport, but it just wasn’t the same, cramped and with an underpowered V6.
Back in March, my father suffered a massive stroke. Sitting by his bedside, he encouraged me to order the new Bronco, which I had been debating. I put my order in for Rapid Red, as a homage to his Eddie Bauer model. Now that he’s recovering, I hope we can get together and take the new Bronco over some of the old trips we used to make. Broncos were a backdrop to large portions of my youth, and I look forward to having another Bronco to add to the family story.”
Dads, grandfathers, uncles, and all father figures: Thank you for sharing what you know, how to do it, and the things that thrill your soul.
Join us tonight at 5 p.m. EST for the premiere of a special Bronco movie produced by Detroit-natives MODI Video and with the Early Bronco-sourcing services of one of our very own BN dads.