2021 Ford Bronco design: How the original SUV literally helped shape the new icon

A 1976 Bronco, Ford's vice president of design and a 3D scanner all played integral parts.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
3D scanned Ford Bronco

The OG that helped inspire the reborn Bronco.


A pen and paper are typically the first tools at auto designers' fingertips. Literally, a napkin sketch can turn into something that hits the road years later. It'd be fun to romanticize this kind of story for the 2021 Ford Bronco, but frankly, that's not entirely how things shook out.

Instead, Ford relied on cutting-edge technology to literally shape the new Bronco around the original, first-generation SUV. It just so happens the automaker's Vice President of Design, Moray Callum, is a 1976 Bronco owner and the design team used his personal vehicle to mold the 2021 model.

Designers used 3D scanners to create every single detail the 1976 Bronco comprised, all the way down to orange peel present on the paint surface. Since the design direction skewed toward the first-gen SUV, the 3D scanned version of Callum's Bronco gave the team an incredible reference point. With the scans uploaded, designers could literally compare possible 2021 Bronco design themes with an OG Bronco in real time via virtual reality. Technology is wild.

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An Oculus virtual reality headset let designers place the Bronco designs in the virtual world. As Ford points out, the SUV was largely designed during the cruel winter months in Michigan. However, designers often placed the SUV in desert settings to see how the whole package looked in one of the Bronco's numerous elements. Ford's leaned heavily on VR design tools in recent times and it's some seriously neat stuff. Designers can literally create 3D cars in VR right before their eyes with the latest tech.

Certainly, everyone involved on the Bronco's design team can't wait to see their creation start roaming the roads. Or the unbeaten path. Or zipping through the snow. The Bronco goes over all types of terrain, after all. Ford likes to call it the GOAT.

Watch this: Ford Bronco design boss Paul Wraith dishes program secrets and talks Easter eggs