Ford Bronco-Based Big Oly Is the Ultimate Race-Ready Tribute Truck

If you’re a fan of off-road racing, you probably know Big Oly, the 1970s legendary truck built by Bill Stroppe and famed racing driver Parnelli Jones, that has been tearing up dirt roads and challenging obstacles for decades and continues to elicit cheers from the crowds to this day.
Big Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall Madruga 11 photos
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
Big Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaBig Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall MadrugaOriginal Big Oly driven by Parnelli JonesOriginal Big Oly driven by Parnelli Jones
Based on a 1969 Ford Bronco, the original Big Oly is considered by many to be an iconic desert racing vehicle ever made. It set new standards for offroad racing and has inspired the design of many truck builds of today, as well as some tribute builds. It also gained the heart of Marshall Madruga, who decided to build an authentic-looking tribute truck almost forty years after the original roared into the offroading stage.

Madruga’s Big Oly trophy truck, with its retro appearance, highly-tuned drivetrain, and advanced technologies, is the ultimate modern classic race-ready Tribute Truck. The build process on this one-of-a-kind ’71 Bronco-based tribute to the classic Parnelli Jones racer began in 2007, and Madruga spared no expense on this project. He bought a Sandco Performance trophy truck chassis and set out to work the old-school way.

The Parnelli-driven Big Oly was a pioneering concept back in the late 1960s when it was designed and built. Featuring a custom Chromoly space frame chassis, onto which the builders attached lightweight fiberglass and aluminum body panels to make it look like a Bronco, the truck redefined the off-road racer look and dominated high-profile races like the Baja 1000, the Baja 500, and the Mint 400.

Original Big Oly driven by Parnelli Jones
Photo: Mecum
While the original Big Oly is based on a 1969 Ford Bronco, with power coming from a 351 ci (5.7-liter) Ford Windsor V8, capable of producing 390 hp (396 ps) and mated to a reworked Ford C6 B&M hydro transmission, Marshall Madruga’s modern homage is built on a Bronco donor from the same year that Jones drove the original to its first Baja 1000 victory. It is also notably mightier and faster, drawing power from a bored-out 438 ci (7.2-liter) 351W Dart Block Ford V8 that’s been improved with top-shelf internals and mated to a custom-built three-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The brushed-up mill puts out 723 hp (733 ps) at 6,800 rpm on pump gas and 650 ft-lbs (884 Nm) of torque at 5,200 rpm.

Designed from the get-go as a desert racing Trophy Truck able to tackle the harshest terrain, Madruga’s one-off example is built around a custom all-chromoly tube frame paired with 2.5” coil overs, brass-plated Sandco upper and lower A-arms, and Hypercoil springs. It is also fitted with racing brakes and a Baja-grade suspension setup that allows for a whopping 24” of travel in the front and 31” out back.

One of the biggest challenges for Madruga when building the Trophy Truck was to put together the fiberglass body. Since no ready-made Bronco fiberglass was available, he had to improvise. He leveraged his expertise in surfboard shaping and building and created one-off fiberglass panels that make up the vehicle’s body. He also added a huge polished overhead wing, similar to that fitted on the original.

Big Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall Madruga
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
A custom tubular front bumper has also been added to this homage truck, as were side body-exiting exhausts and a six-unit roof-mounted LED light pod setup.

The exterior features a white and yellow color combination in an attempt to mimic the original’s gold Olympia color scheme. The truck weighs 5,950 pounds (2,698 kg) and boasts a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. It also sports top-of-the-line Outlaw 9000 four-piston calipers and rides on a set of American Racing forged aluminum custom wheels, sporting gold center sections and being wrapped in BFGoodrich 39-inch KTR Project tires. A set of full-sized spare wheels are mounted on the truck’s rear bed.

Meanwhile, the interior of the truck is as ready for racing as the rest of the vehicle. It boasts racing seats and harnesses, AutoMeter gauges, and an off-road-dedicated Lowrance GPS.

Combining the technology of modern Trophy Trucks with the classic aesthetic of the legendary Big Oly, Marshall Madruga’s build captured the attention of many. The tribute truck was first shown off at the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California, in 2009, where it received an enthusiastic reception from the attendees.

Big Oly Trophy Truck Tribute by Marshall Madruga
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
After the project was complete, the public was able to admire it at the San Diego Automotive Museum. It stayed there on display for two years. Then it was moved to the Petersen Automotive Museum, where it remained for six months. It also made an appearance at SEMA in 2011 and received a Top Ten pick at the show. It was was also featured in numerous magazines and websites.

This 1971 Ford Bronco-based “Big Oly” Trophy Truck Tribute is now being offered for auction. If you’re an off-road racing enthusiast, check it out, especially considering it is California-registered and street-legal. No mileage or price guide is mentioned in the listing.
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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
Ancuta Iosub profile photo

After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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