From the Pope to OJ Simpson: The Ford Bronco's bizarre backstory
The Ford Bronco.
You like it?
You love it.
You want some more of it, but do you really know where that name comes from?
Let's dive into that iconic nameplate and get some insight on how we got to where we are today.
Like most stories, we got to go back in time just a little bit.
Now if you watched our Ford F150 naming video, you may remember that the company switched its focus during World War Two to the war effort.
During that time, it was one of three companies who worked to develop the Jeep, after the war and many returning veterans as well as outdoor enthusiasts ended up preferring that Jeep design and Ford realized that there was a demand for best in class utility vehicles.
But surveys showed that not everyone enjoyed that rough and tumble ride from the military jeeps in their everyday lives.
They needed something to go off road and also fit the demand for the more comfortable rides that could go on the ever improving roads of that day.
And their solution.
T. No, not like the billy goat but the G.O.A.
T. Heck, there's even an internal document that has that acronym.
So we haven't emotive and we've taken a peek inside the auto industry.
So let's just go a little bit further and point out how manufacturers keep things under wraps.
Many car models start out in the planning and development stages with a code name.
For instance, did you know that the Mustang wasn't always called the Mustang?
Its code name was originally Cougar.
Well, it was part of a program called the T five and later they picked the cougar for the car name.
See, you can see the badge on this early photo, but then later they just changed it to the Mustang.
But I mean, that's just a whole other story.
But I want to know, can you guess what the Broncos original code name was?
It was Bronco.
Yeah, this was one of the rare vehicles where the code name actually stuck.
That's how good this name is.
Don't believe me?
Check out this document from Ford in 1963.
See codename Bronco.
The idea was to have the Mustang before it's fast fun sporty coupe and the bronco be there fast fun off rotor.
No other possible names before they landed on the bronco were the Bravo Caballero.
The custom the Explorer and that pops up later the Gaucho rustler.
Sprint, Trailblazer wait and Wrangler, Wrangler and Trailblazer.
I smell a spy.
Bronco shows up in many pop culture references from songs to movies and TV shows.
Lady Gaga has got one.
Even pope john paul the second had one made for a trip to the states in 1979.
And check out this adorable thing.
I mean it doesn't really fit the whole wild horse theme, but it exists and I want one.
Okay, now we're back to the story.
So the Bronco originally started out with three trims, the roadster, the wagon and sport utility.
Roadster is that little fella over there with a World War II/Jeep vibe.
The sport utility looked more like a modified pickup truck with a cab and an open back.
Now the wagon has more of that look that we're used to today.
Eventually we lost the Roadster and the sport utility names and we just get Bronco and Bronco sport and you can get them both with an empty rear bed or with seats.
In fact, one of the major selling points for these Broncos was the customization You could get different trims different looks and accessories to add in like snowploughs and a two way radio.
You can see them hauling a family out camping or even using them for law enforcement became really popular among off-road racers too.
And in 1969 it got a big boost in Fame at the Baja 1000 for being the only four wheel drive overall winner driven by rod Hall, and no, I'm not related to him.
I really wish that I were but no Now despite all these variations and some slight upgrades.
It's interesting to point out that the Bronco didn't really change much from 1966 to 1973.
That year a picked up power steering and an automatic transmission.
In 1974 there was a plan to redesign the Bronco, but that got halted due to the economic downturn from the 1973 and 74 Oil Embargo.
In 1978, the Bronco got a boost in capability when it adopted the F series platform.
This provided an improved ride both on and off road as well as better comfort inside with such amenities like air conditioning, and an am FM radio.
I know big time right?
But that's all a really good thing because it was just in time for the Pope's trip to the United States in 1979.
That's a nice little call back to our fun facts earlier?
The Popemobile Bronco had an open rear for the Pope to be able to stand in wave and it rocked paint job called Wimbledon light, very, very regal.
From 1980 to 1986.
We got another change to the Bronco.
This generation got smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient and it also got independent front suspension for the first time.
The Bronco two was introduced in March 1983 as a 1984 model, and this is kind of what you would call the Broncos little brother.
Unlike the bronco with the F 150 frame, this one worked off the smaller Ranger platform.
The Bronco two only lasted until 1990 when it was replaced in Ford's lineup with the Explorer, and this could kind of be seen as the beginning of the end.
The regular Bronco did get some upgrades in different trim levels through the next few years, but by 1996 it was completely discontinued.
And yeah, during that time there was a particularly noteworthy chase involving a Bronco, but I'm sure you all know about that.
So anyway, after 1996 We had no more Broncos, but its popularity is still stuck around, which might make you curious why they killed off the bronco in the first place.
Well, that sort of goes back to World War Two.
See World War Two led to the baby boom.
And those boomers eventually had kids and then those kids starting having kids and a family lifestyle just didn't really fit in with the bronco.
That tuner design is just too annoying when it's trying to load up the kids.
When the bronco two was replaced with a brand new explorer to meet those needs, the age of the four door family SUV was born and we jump into what you could now call the era of the SU DS explorer in the middle child and the expedition Addition is fit for that larger squad.
Both of these are three row SUVs and the edge of the escape fall to the smaller side of the spectrum with just two rows.
And after about 25 years, people have been calling for a bronco come back and finally, here we are.
Sure people could find them online and stuff but we didn't get anything new until this year.
The 2021 Bronco offers both two and four options, size variations with the bronco and the bronco sport to fit your needs, features and capabilities out the wazoo.
I mean everything is finally right in this world.
Now they're all up to date.
Let's look at some of the competition.
I mean, you've got things like the Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Cherokee, Land Rover Defender, Toyota Rav4 really.
Depends on the model, but we have got a lot of in depth reviews and compare those to the Bronco so be sure to check out some of our vs videos.
All right folks, that is the Bronco we have plenty more coverage on it and more over at our YouTube channel and on roadshow comm so be sure to head over there and check it out.