While we often think of the Jeep as the first SUV, the Ford Bronco originated from the World War II utility vehicle. With the exciting release of the all-new Ford Bronco, let’s look at its history and why it is one of the more popular classic cars today.
The First Ford Bronco: A Love Child of the 60s
As the car culture took off in the 50s, more people wanted the ability to take their rides off places cars can’t usually drive. This created the demand for compact, capable off-road rides. Ford delivered with the launch of the Ford Bronco in 1966. Built on the frame of a small pickup, the first-generation Bronco featured removable doors, a folding windshield, and an optional wagon hardtop or open-top roadster design.
Under the hood, you found a straight-six 170 cu. Engine producing 105 horsepower that was married to the manual three-speed on-the-tree transmission. Four-wheel drive was standard. And because Ford wanted you to put the ride to work, they offered a wealth of accessories like a power take-off, a winch, and a hole digger.
They also kept it affordable, with an MSRP of just $2,400. Translated into today’s money, that is about $22,000, which made it an entry-level workhorse or weekend toy.
Upsizing for the 70s
The early owners of the Bronco reported that they wished for even more muscle to take-on rocky roads and steep inclines. At the same time, Detroit faced oil embargoes in the early half of the decade. So, the second generation of the trending SUV was delayed until 1978, when they decided to build it using the beefier frame of the F-100. Engine options included the 5.8L and 6.6L 400 V8 to help maximize towing ability.
Third Generation: 80s Pop!
The third generation took its bow in 1980 and started to look more like what we think of as an SUV with its enclosed cabin and larger overall presence. The standard 300 cu. in. inline-six-cylinder engine improved fuel economy, but you could opt for a V8. An automatic transmission, a catalytic converter, and even fuel injection became part of the standard package by the end of the generation in 1986.
Meanwhile, sales continued to climb. Over 62,000 rolled off the factory floor in 1986.
The Year that Lives in Infamy
The fourth generation of the Bronco struggled as Ford released the Bronco II. The Bronco II was a smaller, more affordable version that made headlines due to being prone to rollovers. The bad press harmed sales for its larger brother.
A total redesign launched the fifth generation in 1992, and it looked like this would be the one that would take over the market–until June 17, 1994. The O.J. Simpson slow-motion chase through Los Angeles and Orange County ensured everyone knew about the beautiful Ford Bronco. At the same time, nobody wanted to be seen driving one.
The Ford Bronco was discontinued in 1996, despite expanding the SUV market. Ford would focus on its Explorer and Expedition to fulfil this market segment.
Racking Up the Trophies
As soon as the first Ford Broncos arrived, sporting fans wanted to push its abilities to the limits. And it did not disappoint. It quickly collected trophies for the 1967 Riverside Four-wheel Drive Grand Prix, the Baja 1000, Mint 400, and even the 1971 Mexican 1000 Race.
What are the Most Collectible Broncos?
Except for a few celebrity-owned rides, the classic Ford Bronco is one of the more affordable collector cars in the early SUV segment.
The 1966 Wagon can be had at an average price of about $36,000 in mint or fully restored condition. The third generation can be had for around $10,000–an affordable choice for your first project truck.
If you think 1993 might get a better price at auction–think twice. You pay about the same for a fifth generation as a third unless you are talking about the 1995 Ford Bronco owned by Paul Walker. That auctioned for $73,700.
A Collector Car Ready to Rumble
Ultimately, the Ford Bronco is known for more about what the little SUV can do than how it looks sitting at a show with the hood up. This is one where it wants to get just as muddy as the owner to prove its worth. Add a classic Ford Bronco to your collection if you like restoring old trucks or Jeeps and taking them to an off-road park.
Remember to Protect Your Investment
If you plan on adding to your collector car garage, remember to call us at Wayfarer Insurance Group to receive a quote for a new Collector Car Insurance policy.
That way, you and your Ford Bronco can explore the wilds of Canada with total confidence.