October 17, 2021

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Big Oly Heads to Auction

Are you ready to see the first million-dollar Bronco? There’s a good chance that’s about to happen.

Mecum Auctions has announced that it will be selling Big Oly at its upcoming Indy sale in May — and it has the history and the provenance to shoot to the moon in value.

Built by Dick Russell for Bill Stroppe and Parnelli Jones, Big Oly — so named for Jones’ Olympia Beer sponsorship — was a fresh approach to off-road racing. It had a tube frame, a fiberglass and aluminum body, massive wheel and shock travel, a split windshield and a huge wing in place of the roof. Power came from a 351-ci Windsor V8 and a B&M Hydro C6 transmission. 

Much of what the team integrated into Big Oly came from Jones’ experience in Indy racing — including integrated water jugs for both Jones and Stroppe to drink from while racing in the desert.

This was a fresh look at the challenge of off-road speed — and it dominated its competition thanks to the innovative features pioneered by the Stroppe/Jones/Russell team.

The package came together with Baja 1000 wins in 1971 and 1972 and Baja 500 and Mint 500 wins in 1973 — the the inaugural win at Baja was so fast — 14 hours and 59 minutes — that Big Oly was even out in front of the smaller and typically much faster motorcycles.

Because of all that, this is the world’s best-known Bronco, and its appearance at Mecum represents a rare opportunity.

Mecum’s Indy sale is scheduled for May 14-22, 2021 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Big Oly is just one of a collection of Parnelli Jones’ cars to be offered, alongside 2,500 other consignments.

Learn more here.