The Ford Bronco has had one wild ride. It was born in the tie-dyed 1960s, came of age in the ’70s, survived a horrific midlife crisis in the ’90s and then, suddenly, disappeared. But the Bronco didn’t die — it just went ‘underground.’ That’s when a secretive team of dedicated Ford engineers, designers and product development managers did everything imaginable to Bring Back Bronco. Ford presents Bring Back Bronco, an eight-part serial podcast that tracks the iconic rise, untimely fall and unprecedented rebirth of the iconic SUV. Hosted by veteran NPR auto reporter Sonari Glinton, the podcast explores the truck’s trajectory through the lens of American history, pop culture and automotive innovation — including the secretive “Bronco Underground” team who kept the dream alive for the last quarter century.

Check out a sampler of the Bring Back Bronco podcast, and Bronco's wild ride from the early 1960s to its apparent death in 1996, up to the rebirth in 2020.

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Bring Back Bronco
Host: Sonari Glinton

Reporter and producer Sonari Glinton served as a correspondent on NPR's Business Desk and the ground-breaking NPR podcast Planet Money where Glinton developed an expertise in economics and the auto industry. Sonari began his journalism career as a producer at WBEZ, followed by NPR's All Things Considered.

In addition to NPR, Sonari’s work has been heard on This American Life and on the BBC, and he has written for The New York Times magazine, The Grist, and The Advocate. He’s a contributor to the influential arts and culture program NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Sonari's innovative approach to storytelling has been heard by NPR's 40 million listeners on 60+ stations.

Experience The 2021 Bronco

Bronco History: Built Wild For More Than 50 Years

Ford Bronco launched in 1965 as a 1966 model year vehicle, taking its inspiration from the Willys Jeep Ford had built for the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, returning veterans clamored for a more street-worthy version of the legendary utility vehicle. Ford produced five generations of Bronco. Now, after a 25-year hiatus, a 2021 Bronco line debuts this month including a smaller Bronco Sport model. It's an all-new brand of outdoor adventure vehicles for Ford that goes on sale in Spring 2021. The history of this iconic SUV is a colorful one that has seen multiple turns and trials.

The Path To Bronco 2021

From concept cars to the final 2021 Bronco and Bronco Sport, take a look at the trail that has led us to a new family of Broncos.

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The Bronco Papers

Take a walk through Bronco history and view some of the gems from Ford’s archives that created the legend.

Speaking of Bronco

Bronco Nation

For Enthusiasts. By Enthusiasts

Take your seat in our circle of independent adventurers, enthusiasts and builders. Here, we celebrate, discuss and collaborate on all things Bronco. A community dedicated to carrying on a rich off-road legacy, while delivering breaking news and blazing trails for the next generation of the Bronco family.

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Bronco FAQs

Why did Ford develop the Bronco?
The original Bronco had a connection to the original World War II Jeep?
Why was there a delay in redesigning the Bronco until 1978, and why another new model in 1980?
Who should be credited with designing the original Bronco?
Did the O.J. Simpson chase in the infamous white Bronco have anything to do with killing off the Bronco in 1996?
Is the original Bronco collectible?
What was the Baja Bronco?
Is Bronco really the first “sport utility vehicle”?
How much did the original Bronco cost?
What are the best known films that featured a Bronco?
The Bronco II has not gained much traction in the collector community. How did the Bronco II do in terms of sales compared to the full-size Broncos during the same sales year?
Was the 1978 Bronco a sales success?
What years was the roadster model sold?
What year were power steering and automatic transmission options available on the Bronco?
What year did the Bronco program begin at Ford?
Many vehicle programs at Ford have names, or acronyms, that don’t match the eventual name of the vehicle. Did the Bronco have such a name?
Who were the Bronco’s primary marketplace competitors at its introduction?
Tell us more about the pairing of Eddie Bauer and Broncos.
What are some names, or nicknames for the various generations of Broncos?
What year did Broncos start using fuel-injected engines?
Was the Bronco’s top always removable?
Did Ford do anything special for the Bronco’s 25<sup>th</sup> Anniversary in 1991?
Was off-road racing an important part of the Bronco legacy?

Why did Ford develop the Bronco?

They saw an emerging market in the early 1960s with increasing sales of Jeep CJ-5s, International Scouts, Toyota FJ40 Landcruisers and recognized they should be in the market as well.

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The original Bronco had a connection to the original World War II Jeep?

It did! Ford built nearly half the Jeeps used in the war effort from 1941-1945. There were likely a few surplus Ford-built Jeep owners that transitioned to Broncos in the 1960s.

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Why was there a delay in redesigning the Bronco until 1978, and why another new model in 1980?

The 1978 Bronco was actually designed in 1972, with an original planned introduction for the 1974 model year. The 1973-74 oil embargo and resulting downturn in the economy, which greatly affected automakers’ profits, delayed the new Bronco’s introduction for 4 years. The 1980 Bronco was already well into development by the time the 1978 model was introduced.

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Who should be credited with designing the original Bronco?

While the design was a team effort consisting of stylists, technicians, and engineers, the designer most often credited with the design was Paul G. Axelrad, the chief engineer on the Bronco project.

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Did the O.J. Simpson chase in the infamous white Bronco have anything to do with killing off the Bronco in 1996?

No. Vehicle design cycles usually take a minimum of three years, so the design of the Expedition (introduced in the fall of 1996 for the 1997 model year) was well underway by the time of the O.J. Simpson chase.

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Is the original Bronco collectible?

Yes, it is extremely collectible. In fact, until recently, the Early Bronco sat atop Hagerty Insurance’s most collectible vehicles list.

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What was the Baja Bronco?

The Baja Bronco was a special model produced from 1971-1975. Baja Broncos were painted red, white and blue, with black hoods and shipped to Bill Stroppe and Associates in Long Beach, CA, where a variety of modifications such as rollbars, dual shocks, automatic transmission and power steering (1971-1972 only), fender flares, larger tires and wheels, a special spare tire cover, and other goodies were added.

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Is Bronco really the first “sport utility vehicle”?

It’s the first vehicle that had “Sport(s) Utility” as model name (now commonly known as the half cab). However, the Bronco was far from the first of what we now call sport utility vehicles.

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How much did the original Bronco cost?

The original Bronco cost about $2500 in 1966.

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What are the best known films that featured a Bronco?

The Bronco has been featured in many different films over the years, with some of the most popular being Speed, Romancing the Stone, and Gone in 60 Seconds (the original).

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The Bronco II has not gained much traction in the collector community. How did the Bronco II do in terms of sales compared to the full-size Broncos during the same sales year?

The Bronco II consistently out-sold its larger brother each year it was sold, usually by a factor of two to three times.

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Was the 1978 Bronco a sales success?

By almost any measure, yes. Sales of the 1978 Bronco were over 400% higher than its 1977 predecessor.

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What years was the roadster model sold?

1966-1968. In 1968, Ford only sold 212 roadsters.

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What year were power steering and automatic transmission options available on the Bronco?

These options were first available for the 1973 model year.

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What year did the Bronco program begin at Ford?

The first sketches in the Ford Archives date from mid-1963. The first clay models were constructed in the fall of 1963. The program received the green light and $10 million in early 1964.

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Many vehicle programs at Ford have names, or acronyms, that don’t match the eventual name of the vehicle. Did the Bronco have such a name?

Yes, the Bronco program originally had the acronym, G.O.A.T., which stands for Goes Over Any Terrain.

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Who were the Bronco’s primary marketplace competitors at its introduction?

The Bronco’s primary marketplace competitors were the Jeep CJ-5 and the International Scout. Other competitors included the Toyota Landcruiser FJ40, Nissan Patrol and Land Rover. Later entries in the segment included the Jeepster Commando, Chevrolet Blazer/GMC Jimmy and Plymouth Trailduster/Dodge Ramcharger. As the Bronco grew in size starting with the second generation, the Chevy Blazer was its primary competitor.

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Tell us more about the pairing of Eddie Bauer and Broncos.

Eddie Bauer was a longtime outdoors outfitter that Ford paired with for a trim package in the 1985 Bronco. The Eddie Bauer package added unique paint/trim/interior features (along with luggage) to the Bronco that made it feel bit more like a ‘luxury outdoors vehicle’. The Ford/Eddie Bauer pairing was unique in the SUV market and Eddie Bauer Broncos are some of the most collectible of the 3rd/4th/5th generation Broncos.

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What are some names, or nicknames for the various generations of Broncos?

The first generation trucks are usually referred to as Early Broncos, or EBs, for short. Third generation trucks are called ‘bullnoses’ and 4th generation trucks are ‘bricknoses’. The 5th generation Broncos are called OJBs (OJ Broncos) or OBS (Original Body Style) Broncos. The Bronco II is sometimes called the ‘Deuce’.

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What year did Broncos start using fuel-injected engines?

The 5.0 (302) in the Bronco received multi-port fuel injection mid-way through the 1985 model year. The 300 cu. in. six cylinder and 5.8 (351W) gained fuel injection in 1987 and 1988 respectively. The Ford multi-port injection system was considered superior to the throttle-body system used by competitors.

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Was the Bronco’s top always removable?

Yes, it was always removable but as the years progressed, it became more and more difficult to remove with fasteners buried under trim pieces, etc. The 66-77 Broncos used a full-length removable steel top while subsequent generations used a removable fiberglass design that covered the rear passenger compartment.

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Did Ford do anything special for the Bronco’s 25<sup>th</sup> Anniversary in 1991?

Yes, they produced a 25th anniversary edition Bronco that was available in one color: Currant Red. The Broncos had badges on the B-pillars and a 25th anniversary logo on the tire cover. Leather upholstery, thick carpet, and color-keyed trim panels were found inside. As with the Eddie Bauer model, owners received a Silver Anniversary jacket, bag, and keys when they purchased one of the 3,000 special editions made that year.

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Was off-road racing an important part of the Bronco legacy?

Indeed it was! Broncos started racing off road immediately after their introduction, thanks mainly to the efforts of Bill Stroppe. The Bronco’s rich racing legacy was forged in the next 10 years and beyond in Baja and the southwestern U.S. thanks to the efforts of such noted racers as Parnelli Jones, Rod Hall, Larry Minor, James Garner, James Duff, Carl Jackson, and many others.

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