Hooniverse Weekend V.I.S.I.T. Edition – Gettin' the Led Out

No OJ jokes, please.

Drive around Colorado long enough, and you’ll eventually run into one of those old-timey towns whose main street has been preserved to look as it did in the 1800s. The words “historical” and “heritage” are thrown around with alarming frequency, mostly used to describe antiques stores, steakhouses, and art galleries, whose wooden storefronts and hand-painted signs are scientifically designed for maximum financial extraction. They’re the sort of places you thought didn’t exist outside of postcards or Norman Rockwell paintings. If these towns had mottos, they’d be “you betcha!”
Leadville, CO, is one of these towns. Walking down its quaint, folksy main street, you half-expect a musical to break out, or a shootout.

Welcome to America.

Yet Leadville is a town that’s full of meth labs a little rougher around the edges; a town that holds onto its gritty mining heritage more successfully than, say, Manitou Springs or Georgetown. After all, the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is down the street, next to a Safeway and a Denny’s. (No respectable “historical town” would have a Denny’s.)
It’s also the last place you’d expect to see a bright purple De Tomaso Pantera.
"More out of place than…a 70s Italian supercar in a Colorado mining town"

Unfortunately, the lucky bastard of an owner pulled away with a wail before I could stalk it further.  But hey, here’s a Ford Bronco!

Before SUVs ballooned to a size that necessitated rearview cameras, parking sensors, side mirrors the size of Jersey barriers, and a team of Sherpas to guide you into your Starbucks drive-thru, there was a hotly-contested market of small trucks. The Jeep CJ series certainly counted. As did the International Scout, which still thrives in abundant numbers out West. And the new-for-1966 Bronco, on its 92-inch wheelbase,

In many ways it was the Mustang of off-roaders: it wasn’t as well-known as the former, but it sold well, it had a dizzying options list, and it was cheap as hell. But unlike the Mustang it didn’t share a platform with anything, much less the Falcon. No wimpy car-based unibodies here!

Speaking of options, this one gets the 289 Windsor V8. Enterprising sportsmen could go for the 302 in later years, in order to compete with bigger and more powerful Chevy products. Like the one seen below: later Broncos would evolve into similarly-sized behemoths.

Variations on a theme.

But for now, we can look at this honest, salt-of-the-earth Bronco and appreciate it for fitting into an equally honest, salty town. No matter how damn cool that Pantera is.

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    That Pantera probably survives because the air is thin and dry – Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the US with an elevation of around 10,100 feet.

  2. Jo_Schmo Avatar

    Georgetown! I stopped there a few years back for lunch and happened upon some bat-shit crazy stretched and blown jeeps ice-racing out on the frozen lake. Tire spikes were morbidly long and sharp! I took a crapload of photos and promptly lost the camera. Sigh. I need to venture back out there some day.

  3. K5ING Avatar

    While I was going through Leadville a few year ago on a motorcycle trip, I took this picture of what became my favorite convenience store name of all time. Enjoy!
    [IMG ]http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s141/K5ING/Misc/co03.jpg[/IMG]

  4. K5ING Avatar

    While I was going through Leadville a few years ago on a motorcycle trip, I took this picture of what became my favorite convenience store name of all time. Enjoy!
    BTW, don't let sign fool you. It's not "Unleadedville"….LOL

    1. bzr Avatar

      Sigh, $1.35/gal gas…
      Kum & Go is a chain with a bunch of locations on the side of I-70. And yes, I still crack up every time I drive past them.

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    I am POSITIVE that Pantera was just passing through. That is something I noticed driving the highways and byways of Colorado, New Mexico and Utah; folks with awesome rides from the big cities like the hoon those twisties. That Pantera is so fine!

  6. CptSevere Avatar

    Being a serious mining history freak who lives in a historic mining town, it's surprising that I haven't spent much time in Colorado touring towns like this. Leadville is one of the bigtime boomtowns of the nineteenth century, a lot of silver was mined there. I'd love to check out that museum, I'd be in my element.
    Yeah, for that hypothetical trip through the Colorado Rockies, it's a tough choice as to what kind of vehicle I'd want. A car like the Pantera (yeah, right) to take advantage of the spectacular mountain twisties, or a capable 4WD like the Bronco to get up into the mountains to see the mines and ghost towns that you'd otherwise never see? Maybe a dual-sport bike of some kind, like one of the big BMW's would be the right tool for that trip. Man, I'd love to get up there.

  7. Andrew Aleman Avatar

    Wow I have to express that is fantastic. Even composing that article should have taken you a seriously extended time. Many thanks for ones work!