If you’re a fan of the Baja 1000, this ‘69 Ford Bronco will likely need no introduction. Nicknamed Big Oly, it’s the legendary four-wheeler that Parnelli Jones and Bill Stroppe steered to victory twice in the early ’70s. Now, the desert racer is ready to start a new chapter with one lucky collector.
The retro ride, which will go under the gavel come May 14, started life as a regular Bronco but was punched up for racing by its pioneering drivers. Jones, who won the Indy 500 in ’63, was inspired by the lightweight speedsters of the Indy series and decided to improve upon Big Oly’s aerodynamics and racing prowess. Basically, he made the car faster, stronger and lighter. In doing so, he’s credited with revolutionizing the construction of off-road racers.
For the chassis, the team opted for a custom-built chro-moly space frame and used aluminum and fiberglass throughout to reduce the car’s dry weight to just 2,620 pounds. For context, the estimated curb weight for a regular ‘69 Bronco is 3,420 pounds. This means Big Oly was actually lighter than some small sports cars of the era.
Under the hood, Big Oly is equipped with a Ford Windsor V-8 capable of making 390 horses, along with extreme shock absorbers, a big wing on top, a split windshield to reduce dust in the cockpit and a spool rear end for better traction on the dunes. It also features a distinctive gold, white and black exterior with No. 1 livery and an Olympia Beer logo. (Big Oly was actually named in honor of its sponsorship by Olympia Brewing Company.)
Jones and Stroppe won the storied endurance race with Big Oly in 1971 and 1972, as well as the 1973 Baja 500 and 1973 Mint 400. Since those glory days, the ex-racer has appeared at various motor shows. In fact, Mecum describes it as “the world’s most famous Ford Bronco.”
Big Oly will lead Mecum’s Spring Classic auction in Indianapolis, running from May 14 through 22. While there is no estimate currently listed, the final hammer price is expected to be, well, big. But the lucky bidder will add a true legend to their collection.
Check out more photos of Big Oly below: