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An Homage to the Legend – The Big Oly Still Influences Generations

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The Oly pays tribute to the most famous Bronco that changed off-roading forever.

BUILD SNAPSHOT

Buck’N Bronco / Kirk Stricker

HIGHLIGHTS

The Big Oly inspired custom paint from Colorpoint in Henderson, NV

Custom billet wheels from Colorado Custom

Custom Katzkin leather interior

KC 50″ Gravity Pro6 LED 8-Light Curved Light Bar System

DV8 Front & Rear Bumpers, Skid Plates

Sponsored

If you’re a Bronco enthusiast and haven’t heard of Bill Stroppe, it’s time to get acquainted. This build an homage to Stroppe’s celebrated Bronco that changed off-road racing forever, and the owner behind this modern throwback has shared a similar path as the legendary builder of the original.

The Life of Bill Stroppe

Born in 1919, Bill Stroppe grew up in an entrepreneurial family in California. At ten years of age, he began wrenching on his family’s milk delivery trucks and dismantling cars in the family wrecking yard soon after. By the time he was 14, Stroppe was running his own service station.

Bill Stroppe bw

In 1942, after WWII broke out, Stroppe stepped up to the call of duty and served his country as an Aircraft Mechanist Mate for the Navy— making significant mechanical contributions to the Naval war effort, which earned him a Presidential Citation.

Back home, Stroppe fed his entrepreneurial spirit and love for mechanics by reworking a Ford engine to win the Henry Ford Memorial Regatta boat race in 1947. Impressing the Ford engineers in attendance who had trouble getting that six-cylinder engine past 4,500 rpms, Henry Ford II offered Bill Stroppe a job at Ford in Detroit. Stroppe declined and countered by offering to open a west coast racing operation for Ford. A deal was made, and Stroppe, although choppy at times, would find great success building race cars throughout his partnership with Ford.

The Big Oly

In August of 1965, Ford released the Bronco. They sent a couple of Broncos to Stroppe in California for testing. He was impressed with the capability of the Bronco and the challenge of off-road racing. In 1967, Stroppe raced the Bronco in the inaugural Mexican 1000 (now called Baja 1000) but lost to Rod Hall after helping him get out of a hole, which Stroppe himself subsequently got stuck in after Rod took off. The experience gave Stroppe numerous ideas on how to improve off-road vehicles and make a better Bronco.

While Stroppe had ideas for the ultimate off-road racer, he needed a driver. After teasing Parnelli Jones , the world-famous Indy-car champion (who we just lost last week, sadly), that he couldn’t handle off-road racing, Jones intended to prove Stroppe wrong and joined the team. After Jones tried his hand at off-road racing, he too had some ideas on how to improve the ride. Together, they started to work on a new vehicle. In 1970, the Big Oly was born.

12Oly

The Big Oly was named after its main sponsor, Olympia Beer. However, it wasn’t quite like the stock Bronco that Rod Hall won with. The Big Oly featured a lot of custom fabrication: a chromoly tube chassis, fiberglass skins, and high-performance aftermarket parts. It made do with a 350-400 hp from its 351 Windsor V8 engine and a C6 3-speed automatic transmission. Since Jones came from Indy racing, it was only fitting they put an airfoil up top to keep it on the ground at high speeds. Lastly, unlike most off-road racers at the time, The Big Oly was only two-wheel drive.

The Big Oly
David Newhardt, Mecum

In its four short years of racing, Jones and Stroppe made a name for themselves and their Bronco by winning numerous titles, including back-to-back wins at the Mexican 1000. Their 1971 win of the Baja 1000 saw them leading from start to finish and setting a new course record. The Big Oly became the blueprint for modern trophy trucks.

The Big Oly2

Honoring the Big Oly

Kirk Stricker also came from a blue-collar, entrepreneurial family. His grandfather owned a trucking company and a salvage yard. That’s where Kirk fell in love with his grandpa’s 1968 Bronco and Ford Mustangs. By age 13, Kirk built his first car with his grandpa— a ’66 Mustang.

kirk marine

At 18, Kirk also joined the call, enlisted in the Marines, and was deployed to Iraq. He spent 27 years in the military, working as an agent in counterintelligence, Abrams tank driver and UH60 Blackhawk Helicopter pilot where he received the ultimate lesson in off-roading.

Back home, Kirk followed in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his family while simultaneously feeding his interest in off-roading and automobiles by purchasing a Land Rover repair shop.

Then after reading an article about a Delivery Service Partner Program, Kirk decided to take a chance and start his own logistics business by partnering with Amazon — a decision that would be a “rollercoaster” ride to success.

However, with his new career change, Kirk was missing something. When he stumbled across a kayaking business for sale in Boulder City, NV, he thought it could be a fun business to add to his portfolio and get back into the outdoors. But after making his way to Nevada in his new Ford Bronco, Kirk thought of a brand-new idea that could marry his love for cars and the outdoors.

Buck’ n Bronco

Capitalizing on the vast off-road landscapes in a city that’s constantly turning over millions of tourists from all over the world, Kirk launched Buck’ n Bronco— an off-road company that rents Ford Broncos and provides guided off-road tours throughout Lake Mead National Park & Hoover Dam.

BuckNBronco 1

Buck’n Broncos currently boasts a fleet of 16 Broncos— believed to be the most in the U.S. Broncos in the stable include Badlands, Heritage, Heritage Limited, Outerbanks, Wildtrak, and Everglades.

And of course… “The Oly”.

Kirk has always been a Ford guy since seeing his grandpa’s ’68 Bronco and building his first car, a ’66 Mustang. He now owns several Mustangs and 16 Broncos. As a lifelong Ford fan and the owner of Bronco business, Kirk wanted to honor the history of the brand. There was no better way for him than paying homage to one of the most famous Broncos of all time.

kirk marine2

“Big Oly is the Bronco. It’s the epitome of the brand,” explains Kirk. “Big Oly started the modern trophy truck. This is a tribute to the brand and the team that helped change off-roading forever.”

Kirk was so dedicated to honoring the truck that when he couldn’t find appropriate wheels for his Oly, he designed his own. Not only are they featured on his Oly, but he’s also working with Colorado Custom to manufacture and launch a limited-run collection of wheels for Bronco enthusiasts to purchase.

Kirk and Buck’n Bronco are just getting started. He has big plans and even more ways to pay respect to the Bronco brand. But we’ll leave that for our next Bronco Snapshots feature.

Check out the rest of 2023 Wildtrak Oly build below. Learn more about Buck’n Bronco here.

the big oly3

Body

  • The Big Oly inspired custom paint job from Colorpoint in Henderson, NV
  • ADV Fenders
  • ADV Ram Air Hood
the big oly paint 1
the big oly ram air hood fenders

Wheels/Tires

  • Custom Billet Wheels from Colorado Custom
  • BFG KO2
the big oly wheels tires

Protection

  • DV8 Spec Series Front Bumper
  • DV8 Rear Bumper
  • DV8 Front Skid Plate
  • DV8 Trailing Arm Skid Plate
  • DV8 Spare Tire Guard
  • DV8 Side Steps
the big oly front bumper
the big oly rear bumper

Exterior Accessories

  • KC 50″ Gravity Pro6 LED 8-Light Curved Light Bar System
  • KC Pro6 Ditch Lights
  • BadAss Tents Short Roof Rack
  • 3 gallon fuel/1.5 water container
the big oly KC lights
the big oly roof rack

Interior

  • Custom Katzkin leather interior
  • Goose Gear Stealth Sleep Package
  • Mountains2Metal Rear Cargo MOLLE Panels
  • Mountains2Metal Cargo Tray
  • Mountains2Metal Console panel MOLLE
  • DV8 Tailgate MOLLE panel
  • Midland MXT5757 MicroMobile Two-Way Radio
oly interior 4
oly interior 3
oly interior 2
oly ubb
Connect with Buck’N Bronco / Kirk Stricker
Sponsored

BUILD SNAPSHOT

Buck’N Bronco / Kirk Stricker

HIGHLIGHTS

The Big Oly inspired custom paint from Colorpoint in Henderson, NV

Custom billet wheels from Colorado Custom

Custom Katzkin leather interior

KC 50″ Gravity Pro6 LED 8-Light Curved Light Bar System

DV8 Front & Rear Bumpers, Skid Plates

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