Safety items like brakes should always be at the top of your upgrades list. Most Broncos came stock with manual drum brakes since they weren't offered as an option until 1976. But technology has come a long way since then and there's really no excuse for not upgrading your original Bronco brakes.

Early Bronco Disc Brakes

With the exception of 1976-1977, all early Broncos came with good old fashioned drum brakes all around. But that was then and with today's highway speeds and larger tires it really makes no sense to not upgrade at least the front to disc brakes. They stop more consistently, don't fade when wet, stay cooler, cleaner and are easier to maintain.

Factory Bronco Brakes - If you're lucky enough to buy a 1976 or 1977 Bronco equipped with factory disc brakes already then you should be fine. Just rebuild and maintain the and they should serve well for all but the most hardcore drivers.

Chevy Disc Brakes - This is a popular do-it-yourself modification that involves combining parts from Ford and Chevy trucks into one cohesive kit for the Bronco. Although it may sound cobbled together or go against your true-blue Ford instincts, it really is a good system. It all works together because the donor vehicles all use Dana axles. Dana was a company that supplied several of the big automotive makers with components, including axles and transfer cases. So don't think of it as putting Chevy parts on your Bronco. Think of it as adding more Dana parts to those Ford already used at the factory.

Aftermarket Disc Brakes - There are several disc brake kits available from the different early Bronco vendors. They all vary somewhat in terms of components and new versus rebuilt parts. Some use all Ford parts which is important to certain buyers. Go with one of the several well respected vendors and you really can't go wrong. Just pay attention to exactly what comes with the kit so you know what parts you're getting and what parts you have to source yourself. This is critical when comparing disc brake kit prices too. Be sure you're comparing apples to apples.

Early Bronco Power Brakes

To get power brakes your basic choices are vacuum assist or hydraulic assist, also called Hydroboost.

Vacuum assist is what some 1976-77 Broncos came with from the factory. A large round housing holds a diaphram and is mounted to the firewall with an angled bracket. The bracket locates the large housing away from possible clearance issues with the engine valve covers. These original brakets can be hard to find today, but luckily several vendors offer aftermarket alternatives. A new master cylinder is always advisable when performing this upgrade. If you go with an aftermarket kit the vendor should already have the master cylinder properly sized for your application.

Hydroboost, or hydraulic assisted brakes use hydraulic pressure from your power steering system to apply the brakes. Obviously you'll need power steering to upgrade to hydroboost. Your power steering pump may also need to be replaced unless it's a newer style. The hydroboost needs an additional port on the power steering pump to connect it. The hydroboost body is much smaller then the vacuum canister, but a custom braket will still be required to mount it up to the firewall. These are available from several vendors. In addition to taking up less space under the hood the main advantage of hydroboost is the higher pressure as compared to the traditional vacuum assist. People generally report a significant increase in braking power after this upgrade, even when they already had vacuum power brakes.