The argument started out like this. “I know they made a four-door Bronco for a while,” said one man. The other guy in the argument just shakes his head. “No, they didn’t,” he says. “You don’t know,” the first man says. From there things get really interesting as the tones get louder and the language more colorful. Time after time, we heard this disagreement at the 2019 Detroit Autorama. The various debates always took place in the same place throughout the weekend for good reason.
If you haven’t heard of Maxlider Brothers Customs, then consider this your introduction. The company has been around since November 2014. Since then, the founders of the company, Erik and Kris Barnlund, have been creating and selling some of the most badass Ford Broncos in the nation. Not only are they one of the preeminent sources for vintage Broncos, but they also do their own high-end custom work in-house. Hence the four-door version of the 1966 Bronco that caused a stir at the 2019 Detroit Autorama.
If the last name of the brothers and the Maxlider Brothers Customs business name is confusing for you, then you may be interested in the story of how the company got its name. Both Eric and Kris were once hard-charging rockers in a band.
That band, Maxlider, was rapidly becoming nationally recognized for its unique sound. When the group disbanded in 2014, the brothers decided to pursue another one of their passions. That passion is exemplified by the piece of artwork featured here.
Eric was already the CEO of an accomplished social media marketing and web-based design firm – Mavidea. Kris was an ASE master certified vehicle technician working at Ford and BMW dealerships. Things changed when the two brothers decided it was time to pursue their lifelong passion for the Ford Bronco platform.
We say lifelong passion, as the brothers were quick to point out that their family has a long history with the Ford Bronco. Eric said, “Our uncle bought the very first 1966 Ford Bronco available from our local dealership when they first came out. As we grew up, our cousin, Rick Conrad, always had Broncos. We wanted to be cool like him, so we got Broncos, too. By the time we opened the shop, we already had a warehouse full of ’em!”
These days, the custom aspect of the business brings some pretty huge headlines, as this four-door Bronco build has really turned heads. That’s for good reason. The brothers and their crew spent a lot of time and money to create a beautiful truck. The Bronco looks as though it could have rolled off an assembly line in 1966. That’s not just our opinion. Many of the Autorama attendees also thought so. That’s why we heard so many arguments while at the Maxlider booth.
“We didn’t want to change those key features that make it look like a Bronco,” Kris said. “The grill, the lines, tailgate, and the hood – those are things we wanted to keep. It took a lot of time and money to be able to keep all of that. We even used a genuine 1966 frame that we cut and stretched to keep it as authentic as possible. The ultimate compliment is when people come up and ask, ‘Did Ford make a four-door Bronco?'”
In addition to the authentic look, this Bronco is also a performer. The spec list for this truck boasts some of the best components available in the performance aftermarket. As an example, the Coyote 5.0-liter engine is equipped with a ROUSH supercharger. It turns out 670 horsepower. It is backed by a modern 6R80 transmission that is built to handle all the horsepower, and then some.
Various adapters from Advance Adapters (as well as an Atlas 2 transfer case) make sure that all the power is split to the front and rear. Engaging the four-wheel drive system is a breeze thanks to the Powertrain Control Solutions push button shifter. The whole drivetrain is pretty stout and is definitely just as much go as it is show.
Most of us have had experience with the concept that if you want to go fast, you also have to be able to stop fast. To that end, Maxlider utilized Wilwood Superlite disc brakes to bring the big rig to a complete stop in an acceptable distance. Yukon Gear & Axle driveshafts and differentials, as well as Currie Enterprises front and rear axle housings ensure that things keep moving when the going gets tough.
The 37-inch BF Goodrich KM2 tires make short work of any terrain you want to take the Bronco on. An AGR Performance steering gearbox ensures that the JZM Tire Fuel Nutz 20×12 wheels go where they are pointed. In addition, the speakers from WetSounds are integrated into the roll cage. The premium sound system makes slinging mud or sand in the truck an enjoyable experience with your favorite tunes. That is, of course, if you are not wanting to hear supercharged Coyote music instead.
When it comes to the cage, Maxlider had Black Beard Broncos handle some of the fabrication duties for them. The frame extension and stretching, custom roll cage, and custom handcrafted suspension were all designed and fabricated by Blackbeard.
The front suspension features a four-link with long arms, so you can be certain that those 37s stay planted. The three-link rear with long arms handles the flex in the rear. Fox coilovers reside on each corner, so you know that the big Bronco can absorb any hits. A modular front clip was also added to ensure that any maintenance can be handled hassle free and to encapsulate that trademark grille we spoke about earlier.
Inside the Bronco, comfort and practicality merge into awesomeness. Twin City Upholstery handled the custom interior that features a Classic Instruments gauge cluster and Bestop TrailMax 2 seats. There are also many various parts from Wildhorses4x4. Their installation is seamless, with the peerless quality and attention to detail that is prevalent throughout the build.
“I think when people meet us and work with us, they realize we are just a couple of hillbilly farm kids that want to do the right thing every day. It just so happens that we also have the ability to build some of the nicest Broncos and Ford trucks that you will see anywhere,” Eric explained. “We want our customers to have that same experience we did as kids.”
“We used to ride with our cousin Rick and we would jump railroad tracks and get into trouble,” Eric said. “Those memories and experiences are important. We want all our customers to feel even better about our relationship after the build is done. This is a long-term relationship that we take very seriously. We go through very painful and expensive decisions that are always weighted to benefit the customer. We are always willing to sacrifice our bottom line to make our customers happy.”
While we have not had the pleasure of doing business with Maxlider, we can definitely attest to their professionalism and fantastic sense of humor. It only takes a couple of minutes of hanging out with these guys and hearing Kris joke about being the better-looking brother to know that they are fun. If you really want to get a sense of how the brothers and Maxlider operate you should check out their social media channels on Facebook and Instagram. The shop acts as a bit of a reality show and is pretty entertaining.
Eric finished up by sharing that, “To be able to close your eyes and dream up this project and then to watch it come together has been really remarkable and rewarding. Mostly, I hope people come and see it and realize that we have one of the best teams in the industry. No one person is over-represented in this build. Everyone played a role and the craftsmanship that went into this is second to none.”
We agree, and the fact that the build was given a 1st place award sure indicates that the Autorama leadership agreed as well. So the next time you hear an argument over whether Ford made a certain body style, you may want to look over your shoulder for Maxlider. They just might be behind you waiting to weigh in on the discussion with a big smile on their faces.