The Ford Bronco is a model line of SUVs that were manufactured and marketed by Ford from 1965 to 1996. After the first generation of the Bronco was introduced as a competitor to compact SUVs (including the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout), the succeeding four generations of the Bronco were full-size SUVs, competing against the Chevrolet K5 Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger. The first Bronco was assembled using its own chassis, while the full-size Bronco was derived from the Ford F-Series (F-100, later F-150) pickup truck; all Broncos were produced with four-wheel drive powertrains.
The Ford Bronco was withdrawn from the Ford light-truck model line following declining demand for two-door SUVs. For the 1997 model year, Ford replaced the Bronco with the Ford Expedition, a four-door SUV based on the F-150 (the later Ford Excursion was based on the Ford F-250 Super Duty).
From 1965 to 1996, Broncos were produced at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan. In 2017, Ford announced the reintroduction of the Ford Bronco as a mid-size SUV (derived from the Ford Ranger) as a 2021 model; manufacturing is to return to Michigan Assembly.
The idea behind the Bronco began with Ford product manager Donald N. Frey (who also conceived the Ford Mustang) and engineered by Ford engineer Paul G. Axelrad, with Lee Iacocca approving the model for production. Developed as an off-road vehicle (ORV), the Bronco was intended as a competitor for the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout. Today a compact SUV in terms of size, Ford marketing shows a very early example of promoting a civilian off-roader as a "Sports Utility" (the two-door pickup version).
The first-generation Bronco is built upon a chassis developed specifically for the model range, shared with no other Ford or Lincoln-Mercury vehicle. Built on a 92-inch wheelbase (sized between the CJ-5 and Scout; only an inch shorter than the later CJ-7), the Bronco used box-section body-on-frame construction.
To simplify production, all examples were sold with four-wheel drive; a shift-on the-fly Dana 20 transfer case and locking hubs were standard. The rear axle was a Ford 9-inch axle, with Hotchkiss drive and leaf springs; the front axle was a Dana 30, replaced by a Dana 44 in 1971. In contrast to the Twin I-Beams of larger Ford trucks, the Bronco used radius arms to locate the coil-sprung front axle, along with a lateral track bar, allowing for a 34-foot turning circle, long wheel travel, and anti-dive geometry (useful for snowplowing). A heavier-duty suspension system was an option, along with air front springs.
At its August 1965 launch, the Bronco was offered with a 170 cubic-inch inline-6. Derived from the Ford Falcon, the 105 hp engine was modified with solid valve lifters, a 6-US-quart (6 L) oil pan, heavy-duty fuel pump, oil-bath air cleaner, and a carburetor with a float bowl compensated against tilting. In March 1966, a 200 hp 289 cubic-inch V8 was introduced as an option. For the 1969 model year, the 289 V8 was enlarged to 302 cubic inches, remaining through the 1977 model year. For 1973, a 200 cubic-inch inline-6 became the standard engine, offered through 1977.
To lower production costs, at its launch, the Bronco was offered solely with a 3-speed column-shifted manual transmission and floor mounted transfer case shifter(with a floor-mounted transmission shifter later becoming a popular modification ). In 1973, in response to buyer demand, a 3-speed automatic transmission became offered as an option.
In a central theme of the first-generation Bronco, styling was subordinated to simplicity and economy, so all glass was flat, bumpers were straight C-sections, and the left and right door skins were symmetrical (prior to the fitment of door mounting hardware).
For 1966, three body configurations were offered, including a 2-door wagon and half-cab pickup, and open-body roadster. At its $2,194 base price ($17,507 in 2018 dollars), the Bronco included few amenities as standard. However, a large number of options were offered through both Ford and its dealers, including front bucket seats, a rear bench seat, a tachometer, and a CB radio, as well as functional items such as a tow bar, an auxiliary gas tank, a power take-off, a snowplow, a winch, and a posthole digger. Aftermarket accessories included campers, overdrive units, and the usual array of wheels, tires, chassis, and engine parts for increased performance.
For 1967, Ford introduced the Sport option package for the Bronco wagon. Consisting primarily of chrome exterior trim and wheelcovers, the Sport package was distinguished by red-painted FORD grille lettering. For 1970, the Bronco Sport became a freestanding model rather than an option package.
To comply with federal regulations, the Bronco was fitted with backup lights and side marker lamps (in 1967 and 1968, respectively). After struggling with sales, the open-body Bronco roadster was withdrawn after the 1968 model year.
After 1972, the Bronco half-cab was withdrawn; along with its lower sales compared to the wagon, Ford had introduced the larger Ford Courier compact pickup.
In a minor revision, for 1977, the exterior-mounted fuel tank caps were replaced behind hinged doors (as on all other Ford trucks).
1966-1977 Ford Bronco body styles
1966 Bronco roadster
1966 Bronco roadster, left side
1966 Bronco roadster, right side
1966 Bronco roadster, rear
1966 Bronco roadster instrument panel
1972-1976 Bronco Ranger wagon
1972-1976 Bronco Ranger wagon, rear
1966-1967 Ford Bronco pickup
interior, 1966-1967 Ford Bronco pickup
Inititally offered as a single trim level with a long option list, for 1967, Ford introduced the Sport option package for the Bronco wagon. Consisting primarily of chrome exterior trim and wheelcovers, the Sport package was distinguished by red-painted FORD grille lettering. For 1970, the Bronco Sport became a freestanding model rather than an option package.
For 1972, in line with the F-Series trucks, the Ranger trim became the top of the line Bronco, offering body stripes, model-specific wheel covers, cloth seats, woodgrain door panels, and carpeted interior.
In a 1975 interior revision, the Bronco Sport and Bronco Ranger adapted the two-spoke steering wheel from the F-Series.
In 1965, race car builder Bill Stroppe assembled a team of Broncos for long-distance off-road competition. Partnering with Holman-Moody, the Stroppe/Holman/Moody (SHM) Broncos competed in the Mint 400, Baja 500, and Mexican 1000 (later named the Baja 1000). In 1969, SHM again entered a team of six Broncos in the Baja 1000. In 1971, a "Baja Bronco" package was marketed through Ford dealers, featuring quick-ratio power steering, automatic transmission, fender flares covering Gates Commando tires, a roll bar, reinforced bumpers, a padded steering wheel, and distinctive red, white, blue, and black paint. Priced at US$5,566, versus the standard V8 Bronco price of $3,665, only 650 were sold over the next four years.
In 1966, a Bronco "funny car" built by Doug Nash for the quarter-mile dragstrip finished with a few low 8-second times, but it was sidelined by sanctioning organizations when pickups and aluminum frames were outlawed.
For the 1978 model year, the second-generation Bronco was introduced; to better compete with the Chevrolet K5 Blazer, Dodge Ramcharger, and Jeep Cherokee, the Bronco entered the full-size SUV segment. In place of a model-specific chassis, the Bronco was adapted directly from the Ford F-Series, becoming a shortened version of the F-100 4x4. Originally intended for a 1974 launch, the second-generation Bronco (named "Project Shorthorn" during its development) was postponed to 1978 in response to fuel economy concerns related to the 1973 fuel crisis; the second-generation Bronco was released for sale after development was nearly finalized on its 1980 successor.
In a notable break from a period of downsizing in the American automotive industry, the second-generation Bronco grew significantly in size, adding 12 inches of wheelbase, approximately 28 inches of length, 11 inches of width, and 4 inches of height; based on powertrain configuration, the Bronco gained 1,100 to 1,600 pounds of curb weight over its predecessor.
The second-generation Bronco marks the introduction of design commonality with the Ford F-Series and retained the lift-off hardtop bodystyle for the three-door wagon, though now fiberglass over the rear seat area only (and not a full length steel top), continued through the 1996 withdrawal of the model line. In spite of its short production cycle (only two years), the second-generation Bronco proved successful, overtaking the Blazer and Ramcharger in sales for the first time; initial demand was so strong that customers waited several months to receive vehicles from dealers.
The second-generation Bronco is based on the Ford F-100 pickup truck chassis (1973–1979 sixth generation). Approximately one foot shorter than the shortest F-100, the Bronco has a 104-inch wheelbase (12 inches longer than the previous Bronco). The second-generation Bronco is still fitted exclusively with four-wheel drive; a part-time system was standard with a New Process 205 gear-driven transfer case with the option of permanent four-wheel drive and a New Process 203 chain-driven transfer case.
The second-generation Bronco is fitted with a coil-sprung Dana 44 front axle and has a leaf-sprung Ford 9-inch axle in the rear(similar to the later 1st generation Broncos). The 1st and 2nd generation Broncos are the only versions designed with non-independent front suspension (solid front axle).In contrast all 3rd generation and later were fitted with the Ford/Dana twin traction beam independent front suspension system.
Two different V8 engines were offered for the second-generation Bronco: the 5.8L 351M and the 6.6L 400. While offering virtually the same horsepower output, the 400 produced a higher torque output over the 351M. As the 460 V8 was restricted to rear-wheel drive F-Series trucks, it was not offered in the Bronco.
For 1979, Ford added emissions controls to its light-truck engines; the Bronco gained a catalytic converter (among other equipment) in both engine configurations.
Replacing the multiple body configurations of the first generation, the second-generation Bronco was offered solely as a 3-door wagon with a lift-off rear hardtop. During its development as Project Shorthorn, a central requirement by Ford was to adopt bodywork from the F-100 with minimal modification. As with its chassis, the second-generation Bronco derives much of its body from the F-Series truck line, sharing the doors, front roofline and sheetmetal, and interior with the F-Series.
Retaining the wagon body from its predecessor, Ford designers shifted from a full length hardtop (as with the previous Bronco and on the Jeep CJ-7) to a lift-off hardtop from behind the B-pillars. Designed by Dick Nesbitt, the configuration achieved higher commonality with the F-100 (sharing the doors and overhead roof stamping); attention was focused on minimizing leaks around the top seals (a problem related to the design of the K5 Blazer hardtop of the time). In a configuration similar to the Ford LTD Country Squire, the glass of the rear window rolled down into the tailgate (via a dash-mounted switch or from using the key on the outside), allowing the tailgate to fold down.
Coinciding with its commonality with the F-100, the second-generation Bronco introduced features new to the model line for the first time, including air conditioning, radio, and tilt steering. While a two-seat interior remained standard, the 11-inch wider interior allowed for a three-passenger front bench seat; with a folding and removable rear seat, the Bronco became a six-passenger vehicle for the first time.
For 1979, the Bronco saw little change from 1978 models. Along with the F-Series, rectangular headlamps (introduced on the Ranger trim for 1978) became standard on all Broncos. In an interior revision, captain's chair front seats became an option.
1978-1979 Ford Bronco
1978 Bronco Custom (aftermarket wheels/tires)
1978 Bronco Custom
1978 Bronco (aftermarket tires)
1979 Bronco Ranger XLT
For the second-generation Bronco, the model line adopted the same trim nomenclature as the F-Series. The Bronco Custom served as the standard-trim model with the Bronco Ranger XLT as the top-level trim. For 1978, as with the F-Series trucks, Customs were fitted with round headlamps while Ranger XLTs had rectangular units, which became standard for all Broncos for 1979.
During 1978 and 1979, alongside the Econoline, F-Series, and Courier, the Bronco was sold with a "Free-Wheelin'" cosmetic option package for both Custom and Ranger XLT trims. Featuring tricolor striping and blacked-out exterior trim, the package featured revised exterior striping for 1979.
Beginning production development in 1977 (before its predecessor was released for sale) the 1980–1986 Bronco was designed to address many concerns that held the 1978–1979 Bronco out of production. Nominally shorter and lighter, the 1980 Bronco was designed to adopt a more efficient powertrain while retaining its full-size dimensions.
In 1982, the Ford Bronco II made its debut; unrelated to the full-size Bronco, the Bronco II was a compact SUV based on a shortened Ranger pickup truck and sized similarly to the 1966–1977 Bronco.
Again based on the Ford F-Series, the 1980–1986 Bronco is based upon the Ford F-150 (1980–1986 seventh generation). Although based on an all-new chassis, the Bronco retained its 104 in (2,642 mm) wheelbase. Both transfer cases were replaced with a New Process 208 version.
In front, the 1980–1986 Bronco is fitted with a Dana 44 front axle with Ford TTB (Twin Traction Beam) independent front suspension. As with the 1978–1979 Bronco, the rear axle is a leaf-sprung Ford 9-inch axle.
For the first time since 1977, the Bronco came with an inline-six engine as standard; the 4.9L 300 I6 was available solely with a manual transmission. The 400 V8 was discontinued, with the 351M taking its place and the 302 V8 making its return as the base-equipment V8. The 351 Windsor made its debut in the Bronco as it replaced the 351M in 1982; gaining a 210 hp "high-output" version in 1984. In 1985, the 5.0L V8 (302) saw its carburetor replaced by a multiport electronic fuel-injection system, rising to 190 hp (the standard 156 hp 5.8L V8 was discontinued for 1986).
As with its 1978–1979 predecessor, the 1980–1986 Bronco shares much of its external sheetmetal with the F-Series pickup line, with the same parts from the doors forward. Based on a design proposal originally used in the development of the previous-generation Bronco, the B-pillar of the roofline was modified slightly to produce an improved seal for the hardtop. Prior to 1984, the hardtop included sliding window glass as an option.
For 1982, the Bronco saw a slight facelift as it adopted Ford's blue oval emblem, taking the place of "F-O-R-D" lettering on the hood, and the bronco horse was removed from the fender emblems.
The 1980–1986 Bronco adopted the same trim levels as the Ford F-Series pickups. Following the introduction of the Ford Ranger compact pickup, the Bronco adopted Bronco (base, replacing Custom), Bronco XL, and Bronco XLT.
In 1985, Ford added an Eddie Bauer trim package for the Bronco. Featuring a color-keyed two-tone exterior, the trim package featured an outdoors-themed interior.
Outside of the US, the third generation Bronco was also assembled in Australia by Ford Australia, utilizing locally produced 4.1-litre six-cylinder and 5.8-litre V8 engines. It was marketed in Australia from March 1981 through to 1987.
1987–1989: 74.0 in (1,880 mm). 1990–1991: 74.5 in (1,890 mm)
For the 1987 model year, coinciding with the introduction of the eighth-generation Ford F-Series, the Bronco was given a similar update. While the shortened F-100 platform introduced in 1978 saw changes, the 1987 Bronco was given a number of updates to both the exterior and interior. As it shared its front sheetmetal with the F-150, in the interest of slightly better aerodynamics, the Bronco gained its reshaped front bumper, flatter front grille, reshaped hood, and composite headlamps. A change separate from aerodynamic improvements was the adoption of rounded wheel openings in the fenders. The interior was given redesigned front seats, door panels, dashboard and controls (including a new steering wheel), and instrument panels. In the interest of safety, rear-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) became standard in 1986 with the 1987 model.
For the first time, for 1987 the Bronco was available with push-button control for its four-wheel drive as an option starting at introduction in 1986. The Bronco carried over the 4.9L inline-six, 5.0L V8, and 5.8L "HO" V8 from 1986. In 1986, the inline-six was given fuel injection on '87 models, with the 5.8L HO gaining the configuration a year later. For 1987, two Mazda-produced 5-speed manual transmissions replaced the previous 4-speed (depending on engine); the C6 3-speed automatic was phased out in favor of the AOD 4-speed automatic and the heavier-duty E4OD 4-speed automatic (the latter becoming the sole automatic in 1991).
To commemorate 25 years of production, Ford offered a Silver Anniversary Edition Bronco for the 1991 model year. A cosmetic option package, the Silver Anniversary Edition featured Currant Red exterior paint (package exclusive) and a gray leather interior (the first time leather seating was available for a Bronco).
For 1991 through 1992, the Nite option package featured a completely blacked-out exterior with contrasting graphics. Alongside the top-line Eddie Bauer trim, both special editions were available only with a V8 engine and automatic transmission.
1995–1996: 74.4 in (1,890 mm) 1992–1994: 74.5 in (1,890 mm)
Following the introduction of the ninth-generation Ford F-150, the Bronco saw a major design update for the 1992 model year. It was based on the same basic F-Series chassis introduced in late 1977, and the Bronco also saw updates to the exterior and interior. In the interest of making the vehicle more aerodynamic, designers again used wraparound composite headlight units and a larger grille. Although protruding from the body, the larger front bumper was given a rounded design. The interior again saw updates to the dashboard and instrument panel, with the addition of leather front seats as an option for XLT and Eddie Bauer trims as well as optional remote keyless entry with an anti-theft alarm.
The redesign of the Bronco for 1992 would include the addition of a number of safety features, including front crumple zones, three-point seatbelts for the rear seat, and a center-mounted rear brake light. In 1993, as with the F-150, the 1994 Bronco received a standard driver-side airbag and reinforced internal door beams. One change resulting from the addition of the safety equipment was that the lift-off hardtop on the Bronco was no longer removable from a legal standpoint (as it contained rear-seat seatbelts and the center brake light); to discourage the practice (which was still physically possible), Ford removed all literature in the Bronco owner's manual explaining how to remove the hardtop. To further discourage its removal, the bolts securing the hardtop in place were changed to Torx "tamper proof" bolts, requiring special tools, in place of standard hex-head bolts.
1995-1996 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer
The monochrome Nite edition was again available, though 1992 was its last offering. Monochrome paint versions were reintroduced from 1993 (1994 model) to 1996, as the XLT Sport variant of the Bronco available in black, red, or white. Another variant of the XLT was a two-tone light teal green and white (charcoal gray interior); approximately 600 were produced each year.
As with its Aerostar, Explorer, and F-150 counterparts, Ford continued sales of the Eddie Bauer outdoors-themed variant of the Bronco through 1996. For 1994, the trim featured an overhead console, lighted sun visors, and a dimming rear-view mirror. For 1995, a vented front bumper was added (it was added to the XLT for 1996).
Cosmetic exterior and interior changes included a sweeping front end and a new dashboard. Maroon and blue leather seats were first offered in 1991 (1992 model year) through the end of production. Power mirrors were again offered from 1991 launch, and from 1995, the Bronco became the first vehicle to incorporate turn signal lights in its side mirrors. All 1994–1996 Eddie Bauers have an overhead console. Some 1994–1996 XLTs and Eddie Bauers have lighted sun visors and a dimming rear-view mirror. From 1995–1996, Eddie Bauer models have a vented front bumper. For 1996, XLTs received the vented front bumper as well.
In 1992, the 300 engine was removed from the Bronco lineup. The 302 engine received a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor system in 1993. The 351 followed with MAF in 1994 in California. 351s in the rest of the country received MAF in 1995 along with OBD2 on both the 302 and 351.
In mid- to late 1996, Ford announced the discontinuation of the Bronco. The last model built rolled off the Wayne, Michigan assembly line on June 12. The final model was escorted by longtime Bronco enthusiast Jeff Trapp’s 1970 halfcab during a drive-off ceremony.[relevant? – discuss] The model line was ended to make room for the automaker’s newest addition to the lineup at the time, its replacement, the Ford Expedition.[better source needed] The Expedition offered four doors and was introduced to compete with General Motors' Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and larger Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL models.
In 2020, the Bronco returns to the Ford light-truck product range as a 2021 model, following a 25-year hiatus. Shifting its chassis underpinnings from the F-Series to the Ford Ranger, the sixth-generation Bronco will become a mid-size SUV for the first time.
The revival of the Ford Bronco came to light in 2016, during labor negotiations between Ford and the UAW. As the future of the Michigan Assembly facility came to light, the assembly of the future Ford Focus was to be shifted to Mexico. Following criticism of the decision by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, the UAW revealed to the media that production of the Focus and C-Max were to be replaced by a revival of the Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco nameplates.
While the Ranger was expected to be a version of the global Ranger T6 adapted to North American use, specific details of the configuration of the revived Bronco were less certain. Speculated as a Ford competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco was expected to reach production by 2020. At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Ford officially confirmed the return of the Ford Bronco for the 2021 model year. Later in 2017, Ford released a social media site dedicated to the launch of the 2021 Bronco.
The 2021 Ford Bronco will be a mid-size SUV which will be offered in both two and four-door variants. Built alongside the Ford Ranger at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan (home to the 1966-1996 Ford Bronco assembly), the Bronco is largely speculated to share a body-on-frame chassis with the Ford Ranger pickup and the Ford Everest mid-size SUV. It is likely that it will also share its powertrain with the Ranger. During the announcement of its return, Ford chief technical officer Raj Nair stated that the 2021 Bronco will be designed as a distinct model line, rather than a version of the Everest adapted for the United States and Canada.
Centurion Classic (1987-1996)
A 1989 Centurion Classic; a Ford F-350 crew cab mated with rear bodywork of a Bronco
Although Ford would not produce a factory-built competitor for the Chevrolet Suburban until the introduction of the Expedition and Excursion, a four-door version of the fourth- and fifth-generation Bronco was produced as the Centurion Classic, constructed by Centurion Vehicles, a converter specializing in Ford trucks based in White Pigeon, Michigan.
In the construction of each Classic, Centurion would actually use two different Ford trucks: an F-Series crew-cab pickup and a Bronco. The wheelbase was shortened from 168 inches to 140 inches (nine inches longer than the Suburban), and the Bronco rear quarter panels, hardtop, and tailgate were mated to the pickup bodywork. Early models used fiberglass rear body panels, but later, these were made from steel. As the rear seat of the Bronco was retained, the Centurion Classic featured three-row seating for up to nine people.
Two models of the Centurion Classic were produced: the C150 Classic (based on the Ford F-150 chassis; four-wheel drive was optional) and the C350 Classic (based on the Ford F-350 chassis; four-wheel drive was standard). In contrast to the 3/4-ton Suburban 2500, the C350 Classic was based on a one-ton chassis. The C150 was powered by the 5.0L and 5.8L V8 engines, with the C350 powered by the 7.3L diesel V8 and 7.5L gasoline V8 (the only Bronco variants to use these engines).
The Centurion Classic was offered until the end of Bronco production in 1996; though the Bronco was directly replaced by the Expedition, the C150/C350 is closest in size to the Ford Excursion introduced for the 2000 model year.
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, a Ford Bronco concept vehicle was unveiled. Inspired by the first-generation (1966-1977) Ford Bronco, the 2004 concept adapted a short wheelbase, round headlamps, and squared-off roofline; the concept marked one of the first uses of a three-bar grille on Ford vehicles. Using a minimalist exterior design, the Bronco design was unveiled alongside a Shelby Cobra Concept at the same show.