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						Bronco 000006
If this '66 Ford Bronco Could Talk...

Ford Bronco prototype owned by Carroll Shelby

This 1966 Ford Bronco half-cab is reported to be one of the very first Bronco prototypes, but that's not all... its previous owner just happened to be Carroll Shelby. Ford experts say Shelby was either given or purchased the Bronco prototype from Ford in 1965 with serial number UF4S732000. Yes, those three trailing zeros are significant, but maybe even more significant is Shelby's attachment to the half-cab.

Just as you might expect Carroll Shelby to do, he pried the inline six cylinder that came in the little 4x4 out and popped in one of his very own hi-po 289 V8 engines. He didn't stop there, also cutting the fenders to accommodate larger tires. Both of those modifications would normally diminish the value of a classic Bronco, especially one adorned with 000 in the serial number, but this is no ordinary Bronco.

Shelby shipped the red Bronco with a white top down to Texas where he used it for work around his ranch until 1978. That's when Vinnie Yukubanski, the partner at the local Ford dealership in Alpine, Texas, convinced Carroll it was time to upgrade the old Ford and sold him a brand new Bronco. Yukubanski decided to purchase the old ranch-beater from Shelby for himself for the grand sum of $100 –  only because he thought it was "a cool truck." At the time the Bronco's significance was, well, insignificant. So Vinnie decided to paint the Bronco blue to match his Ford pick-up and even installed a new interior.

Yakubankski's mechanic pointed out that the 000 serial number was possibly very unique and perhaps Vinnie should investigate. An interesting Internet search result reveals Vinnie posted his Bronco, complete with VIN, to the ClassicBroncos.com message board several years ago. The moderator points out that UF4S732000 "doesn't look like a real VIN #" but did correctly point out that the vintage Bronco did originally come with an inline six cylinder. Now, some 40 years later, Broncos have become highly collectible. Pair that collectability with a prototype serial number and Carroll Shelby's name, and you've got a winning lottery ticket in your barn.

Bronco 000 7

Yakubanski decided to reach out to Seth Burgett of Gateway Bronco in Hamel, Illinois with his possible treasure. He sent Burgett a text stating "First Bronco, are you interested?" Of course, Burgett was, and immediately did some follow-up detective work and eventually secured the Bronco for an undisclosed amount. Gateway intends on restoring the Bronco back to its original red color and condition – just as it would have looked back when it was traversing the roads on Shelby's ranch. Once completed, Burgett intends on displaying the vehicle to promote Gateway Bronco and eventually work with Yakubanski on a book and a possible documentary.

Photos: Gateway Bronco and Fox News

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