Custom Bronco Build Wins Ford Design Award
Kyle Delfel of Del Fab Creates His Own Family Dream Rig
If you would have told Kyle Delfel that he would own a shop (Del Fab), build a badass 2021 SEMA award-winning custom Bronco build, take home the top Ford Design award, and be shot for the cover of Tread all in a single year—he would have just laughed at you. You see, Kyle is about as humble as it comes, surprising from someone oozing with such talent. He had never set out to do any of this—at least not right out of the gate.
The Bronco That Started It All
Let’s rewind back to 2005; Kyle had just turned 16 and was cruising a 1975 Bronco. Like most of us gearheads, from that point forward he went through vehicles kind of like underwear. When he was just 18 years old, Kyle built his first solid-axle swap. His 2004 GMC Denali XL was solid-axle swapped on 40s, and his daily. Back then, he wheeled an 1987 Toyota 4Runner, also solid-axle swapped on 40s, of course.
Back to present time, June 15, 2020. The return of the Bronco was real. Kyle knew he had to have one to commemorate his very first truck. He started cruising through the models, trying to pick the right Bronco to fit his custom build dreams. He stalled out a bit trying to bring to life his childhood memories, though.
With seven variations and all the options, he got overwhelmed and never placed an order. Come June 2021, his local Ford dealership, Bickford Ford in Snohomish, Washington, secretly told Kyle the Ford training Bronco would be parked out back at a certain day and time. He was allowed to sneak back there, lift the car cover, and gawk at the utter beauty. At that point, he was hooked and knew he needed to now own one.
The Search for a Dream Rig
A few weeks later, the dealership received their Mannequin Bronco. So, Kyle convinced his wife—who didn’t like the Broncos at all—to come check it out with him. No surprise, she absolutely fell in love, too. They went home ready to order ‘his and hers’ Broncos since they couldn’t agree on a configuration.
Before he even knew what configuration, color, or anything, he signed up to buy it that day. When he got to the dealership, he found a Cactus Grey, black diamond, 4-door 2.3 automatic, hard top, non- sasquatch Bronco waiting for him in all its glory.
After learning they were going to wait over a year to receive ordered Broncos, Kyle once again started searching every national auto locator hoping that if the mannequins had shipped. He knew somewhere out there a Bronco had shipped that was for sale.
One Sunday night he found a few leads which inevitably turned into a sleepless night, excited to call around first thing in the morning hoping to capture at least one of the elusive Broncos he hunted down. Sadly, nothing panned out as they were early advertisements and could not be sold yet. More and more frustrated, Kyle, and his obsession for needing to put his custom touch on a new Bronco build, stewed.
Less than an hour later that same morning, he received a call from Tucker Key, his salesman at Bickford Ford, saying they had a cancelled order that he could purchase. Before he even knew what configuration, color, or anything, he signed up to buy it that day. When he got to the dealership, he found a Cactus Grey, black diamond, 4-door 2.3 automatic, hard top, non- sasquatch Bronco waiting for him in all its glory. After signing the paperwork, Kyle’s wife made it pretty clear that she just got a new car. Not even 48 hours later, it was lifted with new wheels and tires, and Kyle was hooked. He was ready to give it a solid-axle swap, but cooler heads prevailed, and he decided he should find “his own” Bronco to cut up now and keep the nice one stock-ish—for now.
With only 102 miles clocked on the odometer from driving it home and running a few errands around town, it was in the shop on the lift and going under the knife.
Six days after the purchase of the first Bronco, he found a black, base model, 4 door, 2.3L, soft top, with zero options. He made a call and reserved the Bronco at a dealership about an hour away or so. During the drive there he received multiple phone calls asking if he was close as there were other customers wanting to buy it. When he showed up, he found a serious high-pressure sales staff. This discouraged him so much, he almost left without the Bronco. However, already owning an early delivered Bronco, and knowing just how hard they were to come by at this point, Kyle bit his tongue and drove off with Bronco numero dos.
With only 102 miles clocked on the odometer from driving it home and running a few errands around town, it was in the shop on the lift and going under the knife. Naturally a solid-axle swap and 40s were in store for it, and of course, the custom Bronco build just snowballed from there.
The Road to SEMA
Kyle called up his buddy Solomon from The Ford Era, hoping that during such a tough time to find parts in stock, he could help. When Solomon heard the plans for the second Bronco, he quickly connected Kyle with Cris Payne from Truck Guru to help the Del Fab crew go all out and make this a full SEMA build. They only had roughly nine weeks from tear down to when it needed to be on its way to Las Vegas for a SEMA Show 2021 debut.
When Kyle was fervently hunting a Bronco to solid axle, his only requirement was a 4-door since he has three daughters and he wanted to be able to share off-road adventures with them, just like he got to do with his dad when he was a kid.
So off they went. They picked and fitted 1-ton axles, and used a bald set of 40s for mockup. Kyle decided to post up a few teaser pics on social media, and that’s when the internet went crazy. There were all kinds of articles, posts, and comments ripping him apart from every angle. “How could you ruin a new Bronco…” “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen this week…” and so on. But, that’s what social media is these days it seems, a bunch of ‘can nots’ picking on the ‘can dos’.
Kyle tried not to let it get to him, as the stress of SEMA and parts delays were more than enough to keep him occupied. Kyle worked day and night around the clock with his oldest friend Richard Albertson by his side every step of the way. As the deadline quickly approached, he called in for some more manpower.
Kyle’s dad, Brian Delfel, came to the rescue. Along with help from Powder Coating, Inc. in Everett, Washington, they rushing overtime to powder coat every surface underneath this insane custom Bronco build. Aaron’s Olympic 4×4 Supply set up the carriers and ring and pinions in the axles, speeding up the assembly process.
Dayne from Ardor Printing came through in a major way, designing the graphics using their other Bronco as a template. Kyle recalls, “We must’ve wrapped it 10 or 11 times until we got the fit exactly how we wanted it.” Roger Habich, a local family friend and fabricator, built a custom aluminum gas tank. To give clearance to the new 1-ton drivetrain, it needed to have all the machined components to allow the factory emissions and fuel pump to fit properly. Also, Marc in the Bickford Ford parts department spent countless hours helping them order many replacement Bronco parts to complete the build.
As they drove the Bronco down the Las Vegas highways at 70+ mph to their first photo spot, it was the first time that Kyle felt the success sink in a bit.
Adam, a local 3D scanner and composite specialist, helped complete Kyle’s vision for a throwback first gen influenced grille. With his help, they 3D printed it and had it in hand less than a week before they had to leave for SEMA. Then, they chose to cut up the 3D printed grille and a factory Bronco grille to build a hybrid. Local legend Kasey Debeau handled the body work and paint.
The seat covers showed up just days before they had to leave. After rushing to finish up the install on those, they only had one more part to install. The following morning, they swapped out the 40s for donut rollers and clipped the custom grille in. Kyle recalls it still reeking of fresh paint solvents. They loaded it in the trailer and took off south for Vegas, sticking the Bronco build in the enclosed trailer with zero test miles.
Final Stop Before SEMA
The Del Fab crew headed straight to Blake Gordon’s Fab Shop. There, they unloaded the Bronco and put the big tires back on. They detailed it and did the last final checks on the truck. Finally, they drove it on the road for the first time. With the Bronco parked safely in the shop, the crew clocked a few much-needed hours of sleep.
As they drove the Bronco down the Las Vegas highways at 70+ mph to their first photo spot, it was the first time that Kyle felt the success sink in a bit. They simply looked at each other as they cruised and smiled, “We did it!”
After the photoshoot, they tested out the 4wd on some rocks. This led to the first reveal of the finished custom Bronco build on social media since the first crucifixion of announcing the solid-axle swap.
The team was so excited for the completed vision to come to life. They drove the Bronco that whole day and most of the following day, stopping and taking many photos along the way. (Photos which, of course, they shared on social media.) This time, the internet went crazy and loved it, resharing and commenting their appreciation. Quite on the contrary to the first barrage of naysayers. With the Bronco now dirty, they attended a lakebed bonfire and barbeque with buddy Blake Gordon and friends that night.
Rolling up to SEMA in the Bronco
They woke up the next morning with only hours until they had to stage the Bronco in its SEMA booth spot. As they rolled into the SEMA Show, a gentleman handed Kyle his business card through the window. He said, “If you don’t see me again today, please give me a call.”
He didn’t end up crossing paths again that day, so he called. That led to an interview with some very high-up Ford Motor Company individuals. As they parted ways, the gentleman who gave him the card told him the Ford booth was having a little event the next morning. He invited Kyle and his crew. When they showed up the next morning, Ford had announced that Kyle and Del Fab won a Ford Design Award—a true dream come true!
Del Fab’s Bronco Dream Come True
Hard to beat such an amazing week in Vegas, but they had to try. On the way home from SEMA, Solomon tagged along for some fun. They took the wildly successful custom Bronco up to Kyle’s local mountains which had just been blessed with a ton of snow. They were all surprised with the dumping, but it ended up being the perfect backdrop for this beautiful photoshoot.
When Kyle was fervently hunting a Bronco to solid axle, his only requirement was a 4-door. Since he has three daughters, he wanted to be able to share off-road adventures with them. Just like his dad when he was a kid, Kyle wants to continue the family tradition.
Since SEMA Show 2021 they have spent many weekends up in the snow as a family. The Delfels will continue to use this truck for what Kyle built it for. Not the trophies, but just enjoying the outdoors as a family.
2021 Ford Bronco
Engine: 2.3L Ecoboost
Fox 10-inch travel remote reservoir 2.5 coilover front/rear; Ruffstuff Specialties front radius arms; Custom front and rear track bars with Ruffstuff Specialties heims/bungs; Custom rear links with Ruffstuff Specialties heims/bungs; Fox 2-inch 2.0 bump stops front/rear; Artec Industries shock towers with trail gear tube clamps and custom tubing to make an engine cage/shock tower brace that mounts the front shock reservoirs; Custom front frame cross member housing track bar bracket to give frame rigidity after removing the IFS lower control arm crossmembers;
Wheels & Tires:
Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS 40 13.50 17; KMC Grenade 17×8.5 beadlock wheels, 0 backspace
RFS motorsports custom black leather/suede seat covers and matching arm rests in red stitch; Custom reshaped carbon/ suede OEM Bronco steering wheel by Johnny; Switch pros switch panel for lights/lockers/air compressor; ARB dual onboard air compressor; Dash top/door panels/grab handles custom dyed black from original grey
Bronco fender emblems from Bronco Depot USA; Custom 3D printed grille modeled and painted to resemble first gen Bronco grille including FORD instead BRONCO; Custom 1979 Bronco Freewheeling sunset inspired graphics in hi-vis done by Dayne at Ardor printing, along with amber wrapped park lights
4WP Factory series bumpers/fender deletes/ side steps/winch plate; Custom spare tire delete panels housing OEM backup camera; Rear and front wheel wells cut and opened up to allow 40s easily; Debbie at Powdercoating Inc; Front body mounts and lead frame extension brackets modified to allow 40s to steer; Custom intercooler mounts to allow OEM tow hook intercooler bracket combos to be removed to fit custom skid plate that flows with the 4WP bumper; OEM rear axle brackets moved from stock dana 44 rear to new sterling 10.5 diff;
Racktek roof rack; Rigid 360 series 6” front lights on rack; Rigid pods on rack sides/rear/rear bumper; Rigid 6’ light bar in bumper; Rigid rock lights; Custom rear tire carrier fitted into OEM rear cargo hook fasteners allowing access to rear storage compartment housing onboard air hook up, air hose, tire gauge, winch control; Smittybuilt 9.5k winch; Custom drive shafts by DrivelinesNW; Kartek limit straps front/rear; PSC full hydro ram/ power steering pump/ orbital/fluid reservoir; Artec Industries front axle truss / ram mount and hi-steer knuckles; Yukon diff covers/ chromoly axle shafts (1550 u-joints)/ zip lockers/5.38 ring and pinions/axle seals/and bearings; OEM new Ford balljoints/front wheel bearings/rotors/ all axle hardware; SSBC billet calipers front/rear; Warn hub lock outs; RockJock front sway bar