Ford Bronco: A History of Ford’s Legendary 4×4

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GIs returning after World War II created an entirely new automotive market niche when they bought surplus Jeeps and began exploring the rugged backcountry of the American West. This burgeoning market segment, which eventually became known as sport utility vehicles (SUVs), numbered about 40,000 units per year with offerings from Jeep, Scout, Toyota, and Land Rover. In 1966, Ford entered the fray with its Bronco, offering increased refinement, more power, and an innovative coil-spring front suspension. The Bronco caught on quickly and soon established a reputation as a solid backcountry performer. In Baja, the legendary accomplishments of racers such as Parnelli Jones, Rod Hall, and Bill Stroppe further cemented the bobtail’s reputation for toughness.

Ford moved upstream with the introduction of the larger Bronco for 1978, witnessing a huge increase in sales for the second-generation trucks. The Twin Traction Beam front end was introduced in the third generation, and further refinements including more aerodynamic styling, greater luxury, and more powerful fuel-injected engines came on board in the generations that followed. Through it all, the Bronco retained its reputation as a tough, versatile, and comfortable rig, both on and off the paved road. With the reintroduction of the Bronco for 2020, Ford is producing a vehicle for a whole new generation of enthusiasts that looks to bring modern styling and performance to the market while building on the 30-year heritage of the first five generations of the Bronco so dearly loved by their owners.

From the development process and details of the first trucks through the 1996 models, author Todd Zuercher shares technical details, rarely seen photos, and highlights of significant models along with the stories of those people whose lives have been intertwined with the Bronco for many years. This book will have new information for everyone and will be a must-have for longtime enthusiasts and new owners alike!


From the Publisher

A herd of Broncos poses in front of imposing red rock spires near Sedona, Arizona, on the Broken Arrow Trail. The Arizona Classic Bronco Club has led runs from mild to wild throughout the state since 1991. (Photo Courtesy Tom Alexander)

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Believed to be the earliest known photo of a Bronco, this shot from Ford’s styling studio shows what Ford’s stylists were thinking in 1964. No drivetrain exists in this mockup and it’s likely made of clay. In this view, you can see the 1966-only liftgate latch assembly and the full door has been mocked up. Hubcaps are from a Ford car. (Photo Courtesy Ford Motor Company)

This pristine 1966 U13 Roadster is believed to have been built during the first week’s production in August 1965. A dealership vehicle for the first 17 years of its life, it was not titled until 1983. After some time on a wheat farm in North Dakota, Donald and Drew Peroni purchased it in 2000 and performed a frame-off restoration. The Bronco has traveled about 12,000 miles in its life. (Photo Courtesy Freeze Frame Image LLC, Al Rogers)

This 1974 Bronco Ranger is a true survivor truck. Painted in 1974-only Bold Orange, it has about 70,000 original miles and was purchased from the original Nebraska owner in 1988. Other than a few minor repairs and normal maintenance, this is as close to original as you get. (Photo Courtesy Freeze Frame Image LLC, Al Rogers)

This publicity photo was likely taken soon after Parnelli Jones decided to drive one of Bill Stroppe’s Broncos in an off-road race. Resplendent in a bright orange windbreaker and fancy green jeans, Jones poses with one of Stroppe’s short-course Broncos, which he never drove. (Photo Courtesy Stroppe Performance)

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Arguably the most iconic off-road racer of all time was a Bronco. Big Oly is still owned by Parnelli Jones, more than four decades after it last roared through the desert in pursuit of victory. The truck epitomizes Broncos and off-road racing to many people. (Photo Courtesy Boyd Jaynes)

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Shawn Kleppe of Ossian, Iowa, found this 1979 Bronco Ranger XLT with the Chromatic Stripe package in Alberta, Canada, in 2017, still with its original owner. After jumping through the hurdles to bring it stateside, the clean-up process resulted in the beautiful truck seen here. The only items replaced were gas tank, brake system components, and rear leaf springs. (Photo Courtesy Freeze Frame Image LLC, Al Rogers)

This 1981 Free Wheeling Bronco with chromatic stripe is a rare beast indeed. The Chromatic stripe was a one-year-only option in the third-generation trucks and not many have survived. This Bronco also sports a rare pair of SEV Marchal lights under the front bumper, many likely disappeared due to their mounting location alone. (Photo Courtesy Christopher Lott)

The 1991 Silver Anniversary Bronco was offered in this stunning shade of red only. The Silver Anniversary Badge was mounted on the B-pillar. Luggage, keys, and a jacket were also included. (Photo Courtesy David Grinch, Scott Russell)

This 1987 Eddie Bauer model is an excellent example of the top trim package for the Bronco II. This specimen sports a chrome push bar popular in the era along with aluminum modular wheels. (Photo Courtesy Mecum Auctions)

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