By Todd Zuercher
If you were around the four-wheel drive world 30-40 years ago, you probably knew of 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers. Along with Dick Cepek, they were one of the largest aftermarket 4×4 parts companies, and if you were a serious enthusiast, you had their catalog handy for dreaming and scheming about what parts you might next be purchasing for your truck or Bronco.
Fast forward to recent times, and the company dropped the “Wholesalers” from the name, simply becoming 4 Wheel Parts (4WP), and they’ve opened many retail stores around the country. Along with opening the retail stores, 4WP has acquired other companies through the years, and built their in-house design, engineering, and fabrication staff to conceive their own product lines.
The 4WP team has applied their vast design talents to many aspects of their 2021 Bronco build, incorporating as many as 30 unique 4WP designs into the new pony. The result is a truck that exudes “go-fast” capability –– along with camping and recovery gear the modern enthusiast wants for their adventure travels at a more sedate pace.
The first parts on this build that catch your eye are the bumpers. The front bumper is a mix of themes; the tubular construction and hoops are reminiscent of “prerunner” trucks while the 8000 lb. Warn VR EVO winch, recovery D-rings, and LED lighting give it great capability for the trails. A 4WP skid plate under the bumper helps give the front end some bash protection. Out back resides another tubular bumper with formed sheet metal inserts, inset LED lighting and Smittybilt D-rings. The beefy custom rear tire carrier relocates the tire mounting location slightly to allow a 37” spare tire to fit properly.
Custom skid plates provide protection to critical points on the underbelly of the truck including the transfer case and rear differential. Side steps bolted to the body ease entry in and out of the vehicle.
In addition to the bumper lighting, 4WP designed billet light mounts for the A-pillar cowl mounts which hold two Rigid lights each. Eight more Rigid small diameter lights are mounted on the radiused tubular light bar on top of the windshield –– tucked in unobtrusively between the 4WP roof rack rails. A Smittybilt Overlander hard shell rooftop tent painted to match the truck rides atop the rack, while a Smittybilt awning is attached to the side.
4WP removed the stock fender lips and installed their “Fender Deletes” to cover the open holes. The aluminum “Deletes” install in the factory holes with no drilling required, and they incorporate hidden rock light mounts.
Inside the truck you’ll find a full complement of Smittybilt adventure gear including winch accessories, recovery gear, camping chairs, a CO2 air tank, trail axe, interior rack, and an Arctic fridge/freezer. Open the tailgate, and a fold-down food prep table awaits your use for helping with making that tasty dinner at the end of the day in camp.
The driver and passenger will really appreciate the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) accessory rail mounted on the dash. This rail, one of the neat items highlighted during the Bronco’s introduction, and manufactured by 4WP, will allow Bronco owners to mount cameras, GPS units, tablets, phones and nearly any other wanted electronic device on the dash for easy access and use, without interfering with the driver’s line of vision.
The 4WP 2021 Bronco breaks new ground with its new suspension system for the trucks. Designed by the 4WP engineering team led by Kris Hernandez, the suspension is truly a system and not just a “lift kit.” It features adjustable coilovers front and rear that offer 1.0-3.5” of lift and increase overall wheel travel by 25% over stock. The monotube gas dampers are 2.5” in diameter, offering greater oil (and thereby cooling) capacity over the OEM units. Up front, the upper control arm is replaced by a tubular steel arm to better control the camber curve of the front wheels as they move through their wheel travel. Rather than relying on uniballs like many competitors’ units, the 4WP arms incorporate a high-angle ball joint designed by Hernandez for long life and quiet operation. In the rear, the lower control arms have been replaced with adjustable forged aluminum modular units incorporating high strength rotational joints. To keep the rear axle centered on the vehicle after the lift, the track bar is also adjustable on-vehicle, which greatly reduces installation and adjustment time. Since the truck rides on 37” BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires, 4WP also reworked the Bronco’s crash bars to allow for needed tire clearance. The tires are mounted on 17×8.5 Method simulated bead lock wheels with +35mm offset.
Visually, the 4WP added in some visual and tactile cues to the Bronco’s heritage that many enthusiasts will note. The black stripes that run the length of the truck’s flanks remind many of the much-loved ‘76-‘77 Bronco Special Décor editions. Additionally, sharp-eyed fans of the truck may note something familiar at the center of the Method wheels –– locking hubs! While the hubs “work,” they’re really for show: sure to bring a knowing smile to the face of any Bronco owner who still thinks the ritual of getting out to lock your hubs before engaging 4WD is requisite for having a “real Bronco.”
4WP has incorporated so many new and exciting parts on this truck. It’s bound to be a hit with Bronco owners everywhere looking to increase the practicality and function of their new 2021 Broncos when they arrive!