There comes a time in a collector's life when acquiring may become less important than parting with your things, and relax into your twilight. For retired EOG Resources president, Gary Thomas, that time has mostly come for him. That's the reason that this low-mileage 1982 Ford Bronco is going up for sale along with much of his vast collection of classic and modern Fords.
If you've perused the 2022 Mecum Kissimmee Auction, you've no doubt seen the "Gary Thomas Collection" and wondered just what makes this fella special. Turns out there are a couple of things that you may know directly and indirectly about him. Thomas spent years working with various petroleum energy companies like Unocal and Apache. By 2015, he had become president of EOG Resources (an oil exploration and production company) where he retired in 2018 after 33 years with the company.
Within that timeframe, Thomas also became an avid Ford collector, amassing everything from classic and rare Mustangs to 1932 Fords and even a few Shelby Cobras. One of those Cobras ended up being used in the 2019 film, "Ford vs. Ferrari. " His collection doesn't ignore Ford's trucks, as it includes a 1956 F-100, a fifth-generation 1996 Bronco, a first-year F-150 SVT Lightning, and this very low-mileage 1982 Ford Bronco.
The 1980-1986 Bronco was the third generation of the breed but only the second generation of the full-size, F-150-based Broncos that was closed out in 1996. This year addressed many of the issues owners of the 1977-1979 Broncos experienced during its first shared-chassis era. Early third-generation Broncos weren't without their issues, however. Fortunately, by 1982 those issues were resolved and brought about the second most favorite body style of the Bronco to date.
This generation was the first to use Ford's most recent front truck suspension development, the Twin-Traction Beam (TTB). While many will still call it the "Twin-I Beam" of F-series of yore, the two suspension systems are different. First, the TTB uses ball joints rather than kingpins on the steering axis. Secondly, it was Ford's first use of an independent suspension system for a 4WD vehicle, with Dana Corporation building them in the Dana 44 version for full-size trucks, the Dana 28 and 35 for their smaller trucks and SUVs, and the Dana 50 for their larger trucks such as the F-350. This was also the final generation of full-size Ford trucks to use the legendary Ford 9-inch rear axle, as it was fully phased out for the 8.8 inch rear axle—which was introduced in 1983—by the end of 1986.
The 1982 Bronco is also special as it was the first year of the 351 cu in (5.8-liter) Windsor V-8, which replaced the Ford 400 cu in block-based 351 cu in (5.8 liter) 351M V-8. It was also the first year Bronco to use the Ford AOD four-speed automatic transmission along with the heavy-duty C6 three-speed automatic. This was also the first year that the "Custom" base and "Ranger XLT" trims were dropped and simplified to Bronco, Bronco XLS, and Bronco XLT trims until 1986 introduced the Bronco Eddie Bauer.
This 1982 Bronco was not originally owned by Gary Thomas, but instead owned by his college roommate and sold originally by Dub Richardson Ford in Oklahoma City. Says so on the included original window sticker that comes along with it. You'll also get the original factory build sheet and owner's manual of this third-gen Bronco. Even after Thomas' ownership, the Bronco only has 3,506 miles on the odometer and was stored in an airplane hanger for most of its life, never seeing ice or snow. It's also only seen regular maintenance thanks to its limited use, making this Bronco an unrestored original model.
Which, from a certain point of view, is unfortunate as this Bronco was made for off-roading. Packed under the hood is the 5.8-liter 351 Windsor V-8 and C6 automatic transmission tied to its BW1345 transfer case. Its TTB axles are automatically locked by its original Warn manufactured front hubs. These are unique—and normally replaced by manual locking hubs—by being activated by the difference in torque between the left and right wheels rather than a vacuum lockup. This is supposed to work to keep the optional equipment 15x6 forged aluminum and machined 10-hole wheels wrapped in its factory optional P235/75R15 Goodyear Wrangler Radials in constant traction. It also features front and rear stabilizer bars, power steering, power brakes, and factory skid plates that again show that this SUV was ready to go out for adventures.
While not the classic two-tone most are familiar with, this 1982 body is done in Ford's Victoria Tu-Tone in Dark Brown Metallic as its main color and Wimbledon White as its second body color on the hood, top of the front fenders, cab top, and the entire lower portion of the body. The Dark Brown Metallic removable rear roof and Wimbledon White front section are each flanked by a split pinstripe kit in Chamois. The chrome bumpers are matched by chrome and black vinyl body protection running down the sides of the Broncos immaculate body while the spare tire in the swing-away tire carrier uses a black vinyl cover with "Ford Bronco" and its emblematic symbol of the bucking horse are painted in white.
The interior is done in a special Nutmeg-toned vinyl with patterned cloth inserts on its bucket front seats and flip-fold removable rear bench seat. The Sports Instrumentation cluster is special in that it features a 6,000 rpm tachometer as well as an ammeter, oil pressure gauge, and trip odometer. Finally, it's optional convenience features include air conditioning, a cigar lighter and AM/FM stereo.
Thanks to the revival of the Bronco name, all versions are set to become more collectible and, thus, more expensive as time rolls on. Mecum expects this third generation to roll off the block from the $50,000 to $80,000 range. A look into the Hagerty valuation says that a concours-level 1982 Bronco goes for a median of $31,600 and has been at this level since late winter of 2021, while even "Good" valuation Broncos have been on a steady incline in prices since the same time period.
We don't think this expectation isn't too far off the charts with its low mileage, interesting features, and previous ownership. This Gary Thomas-owned Bronco and the rest of his collection will be part of the Mecum Kissimmee Auction that takes place January 6-16, 2022.
© 2021 MotorTrend | MOTOR TREND GROUP, LLC.