Ford Bronco

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Ford Bronco II of 1983 to 1990, see Ford Bronco II.
Ford Bronco
1992-96 Ford Bronco.jpg
Manufacturer Ford
Production 1966−1996
Assembly Wayne, Michigan, USA
Australia [1]
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door SUV
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Successor Ford Expedition

The Ford Bronco is a utility vehicle that was produced by Ford from 1966 to 1996, with five distinct generations. All these vehicles are currently classified as sport utility vehicles (SUV). Broncos can be divided into two categories: early Broncos (1966–77) and full-size, or "Big" Broncos (1978–96).

The Bronco was introduced in 1966 as a competitor to the small four-wheel-drive compact SUVs that included the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout, and it was built on its own platform.[2] A major redesign in 1978 moved the Bronco to a larger size, using a shortened Ford F-Series truck chassis to compete with both the similarly adapted Chevy K5 Blazer, as well as the Dodge Ramcharger.

The full-size Broncos and the successor Expedition were produced at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan.


First generation
Ford Bronco in Reykjahlid, Iceland.jpg
Production 1966–1977
Body and chassis
Body style Compact SUV
Engine 170 cu in (2.8 L) Straight-6
200 cu in (3.3 L) Straight-6
289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
Wheelbase 92 in (2,337 mm)[3]
Length 151.5 in (3,848 mm)[3]
Width 68.5 in (1,740 mm)[3]
Height 71.6 in (1,819 mm)[3]

The original Bronco was an ORV (Off-Road Vehicle), intended to compete primarily with Jeep CJ models and the International Harvester Scout. The Bronco's small size riding on a 92-inch (2,337 mm) wheelbase made it maneuverable for some uses, but impractical as a tow vehicle. The Bronco was Ford's first compact SUV.

The idea behind the Bronco began with Ford product manager Donald N. Frey, who also conceived the Ford Mustang; and similarly, Lee Iacocca pushed the idea through into production. In many ways, the Bronco was a more original concept than the Mustang; whereas the Mustang was based upon the Ford Falcon, the Bronco had a frame, suspension, and a body that were not shared with any other vehicle.

The Bronco was designed under engineer Paul G. Axelrad. Although the axles and brakes were used from the Ford F-100 four wheel drive pickup truck, the front axle was located by radius arms (from the frame near the rear of the transmission forward to the axle) and a lateral track bar, allowing the use of coil springs that gave the Bronco a 34-foot (10.4 m) turning circle, long wheel travel, and an anti-dive geometry which was useful for snowplowing. The rear suspension was more conventional, with leaf springs in a typical Hotchkiss design. A shift-on the-fly Dana Holding Corporation transfer case and locking hubs were standard, and heavy-duty suspension was an option.

The initial engine was the Ford 170 cu in (2.8 L) straight-6, 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.

Styling was subordinated to simplicity and economy, so all glass was flat, bumpers were straight C-sections, the frame was a simple box-section ladder, and the basic left and right door skins were identical except for mounting holes.

The early Broncos were offered in wagon, halfcab, and a less popular roadster configuration. The roadster version was dropped and the sport package, which later became a model line, was added.

The base price was US$2,194, but the long option list included 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.

The Bronco sold well in its first year (23,776 units produced[4]) and then remained in second place after the CJ-5[5] until the advent of the full-sized Chevrolet Blazer in 1969. Lacking a dedicated small SUV platform, the Blazer was based on their existing full size pickup which was a larger and more powerful vehicle, offering greater luxury, comfort and space. The longer option list included an automatic transmission and power steering, and thus had broader appeal. Ford countered by enlarging the optional V8 engine from 289 cu in (4.7 L) and 200 hp (150 kW) to 302 cu in (4.9 L) and 205 hp (153 kW), but this still could not match the Blazer's optional 350 cu in (5.7 L) and 255 hp (190 kW) (horsepower numbers are before horsepower ratings changed in the early to mid-1970s.)

In 1973, the 170 was replaced by a 200 cu in (3.3 L) straight six, power steering and automatic transmissions were made optional, and sales spiked to 26,300. By then, however, Blazer sales were double those of the Bronco, and International Harvester had seen the light and come out with the Scout II that was more in the Blazer class. By 1974, the larger and more comfortable vehicles such as the Jeep Cherokee (SJ) made more sense for the average driver than the more rustically oriented Bronco. The low sales of the Bronco (230,800 over twelve years) did not allow a large budget for upgrades, and it remained basically unchanged until the advent of the larger, more Blazer-like second generation-Bronco in 1978. Production of the original model fell (14,546 units) in its last year, 1977.[4]


In 1965, racecar builder Bill Stroppe assembled a team of Broncos for long-distance off-road competition for Ford. 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.[6]

In 1966, a Bronco "funny car" built by Doug Nash for the quarter mile dragstrip ran "erratic" with a few low 8-second times, but sidelined by sanctioning organizations when pickups and aluminum frames were outlawed.[7]


Second generation
'79 Ford Bronco (Toronto Spring '12 Classic Car Auction).JPG
Production 1978–1979[8]
Body and chassis
Body style Full-size SUV
Engine 351 cu in (5.75 L) 351M V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) 400M V8
Transmission 4-speed Borg-Warner T-18 manual
4-speed New Process NP435 manual
3-speed C6 automatic
Wheelbase 104 in (2,642 mm)

The redesign of the Bronco in October 1977 was based on a shortened full sized F-100 pickup,[9] with which it shared many chassis, drivetrain, and body components. The entire front clip is indistinguishable from Ford's full-sized trucks for these years. It had a removable top and forward folding rear bench seat, similar to the competing Blazer.[10] For 1978, Broncos were equipped with round headlights, with the exception of the Ranger XLT trim model. For 1979, all Broncos came standard with square sealed beam headlights.

Ford started the redesign in 1972, codenamed Project Short-Horn, but introduction was delayed by concerns over the mid-1970s fuel crisis.[10] The base engine was a 351 cu in (5.75 L), with an optional 400 cu in (6.6 L). A Ford 9-inch rear axle and a Dana 44 front axle were standard, with leaf spring rear suspension and coil sprung, laterally stabilized front.

The 1978 and 1979 Broncos featured an option for either full-time four-wheel drive utilizing the New Process 203 chain driven transfer case or, more commonly, part-time four-wheel drive with the New Process 205 gear driven transfer case.

The 1978 and 1979 Broncos also merged the rear glass hatch and tailgate of its predecessor into a single unit that allowed the rear glass panel to retract completely into the tailgate by use of an electric motor controlled by a key-operated switch on the tailgate's outside or a dash-mounted control switch. This did cause problems for some customers, as the weight of the glass panel often overheated the motor, sometimes subjecting it to failure. Customers also complained that the retractable glass panel allowed water to get inside and caused the tailgate to rust prematurely from the bottom up. Nonetheless, this design prevailed until the Bronco's end in 1996.

1979 models saw the addition of a catalytic converter, and other various emissions control equipment.


Third generation
1986 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer.jpg
Production 1980–1986
Body and chassis
Body style Full-size SUV
Engine 300 cu in (4.9 L) Straight-6
302 cu in (4.95 L) 302 V8
351 cu in (5.75 L) 351M V8
351 cu in (5.75 L) Windsor V8
Transmission 4-speed Borg-Warner T-18 manual
4-speed New Process NP435 manual
4-speed Tremec RTS OverDrive
3-speed C6 automatic
4-speed AOD
Wheelbase 104 in (2,642 mm)
Length 180.4 in (4,582 mm)
Width 79.3 in (2,014 mm)
Height 75.5 in (1,918 mm)

The Bronco received a major redesign in 1979 for the 1980 model year, coinciding with the F-Series. The new Bronco was shorter, and had cosmetic changes along with powertrain, suspension and other odds and ends. Most notably, the live front axle was replaced by a Dana 44 Twin Traction Beam (TTB) setup in the front end for an independent front suspension. The TTB is a hybrid of a true independent front suspension and a solid front axle, with a "solid" axle that pivots around the differential and uses coil springs instead of leaf springs. The TTB system offered a higher degree of control and comfort both on and off road, but sacrificed wheel travel, and is notorious for being difficult to keep aligned when larger than stock tires are used.

With a smaller Bronco and fuel economy in mind, Ford offered a 300 cu in (4.9 L) straight six as the base engine. Though this engine came with more torque than the 302 cu in (4.95 L) V8 and comparable to the 351 cu in (5.75 L) V8 (until the High Output model), it was limited by a 1-bbl carburetor and restrictive single-out exhaust manifolds. Electronic emissions equipment added in 1983 (1984 model year) further reduced the power of the inline six. Ford used up their remaining stock of 351M engines before turning over to the 351W in mid-model year 1982. A "High Output" version of the 351W became an option in 1983 on 1984 models and continued well into the 1987 model year until the introduction of fuel injection. Output was 210 hp (157 kW) at 4000 rpm vs the standard 2-bbl 351W which made 156 hp (116 kW) at 4000 rpm.[11] The 302 was the first engine to receive electronic fuel-injection, starting in the 1985 model year, as well as a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. The Eddie Bauer trim package started in 1984 as well. From 1979 to 1984, some Broncos had sliding topper windows.

Cosmetically, Ford returned to their use of the "blue oval" logo on the front of a slightly redesigned grille, and removed the "F O R D" letters from the hood in 1982.[12] Power Low Mount Swing Lock mirrors were first offered in 1980 on 1981 models.[13] Classic square mirrors and the optional power low mount swing lock mirrors were discontinued for 1986.


Fourth generation
1990 Ford Bronco Front.jpg
Production 1987–1991
Body and chassis
Body style Full-size SUV
Engine 300 cu in (4.9 L) Straight-6
302 cu in (4.95 L) 302 V8
351 cu in (5.75 L) Windsor V8
Transmission 5-speed M5OD-R2 manual
3-speed C6 automatic
4-speed AOD automatic
4-speed E4OD automatic
Wheelbase 104.7 in (2,660 mm)
Length 180.5 in (4,580 mm)
Width 79.1 in (2,010 mm)
Height 1987–89: 74.0 in (1,880 mm).
1990–91: 74.5 in (1,890 mm)

In 1986, the body and drivetrain of the fullsize Bronco changed, as it was still based on the F-Series. The new aero body style reflected a larger redesign of many Ford vehicles for the new model year. By 1988, all Broncos were being sold with electronic fuel injection (first introduced in 1984 with the 302). In 1990 (1991 model year), a 25th Silver Anniversary Edition was sold featuring special badges, Currant Red paint and a gray and red leather interior. A Nite edition, similar to that on the F-Series, was also available from 1990 through 1992. All Broncos were built at the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan on the same line as the F-150.

The 5-speed M5OD-R2 transmission was added as an option for 300 cu in (4.9 L) and 302 cu in (4.95 L) powered Broncos for 1987. 1988-89 351W trucks received a C6 transmission. In 1989 (1990 model year), the electronically controlled E4OD automatic overdrive came standard on the 351W, and 300. The AOD was mated with the 302 cu in (4.95 L) from 1986 through 1990. In 1990, all engines received the E4OD for 1991 models.

A V8 engine and automatic transmission were standard in Eddie Bauer, Nite, and Silver Anniversary trucks. In order to offer a competitor for Chevrolet's four-door Suburban, a four-door conversion of the F-series crew cab by Michigan-based Centurion Vehicles was offered through Ford dealerships. Centurion would start with a Crew Cab pickup, on which they shortened the wheelbase to 140 inches (3,600 mm) and applied a Bronco rear end. Early models used fibreglass rear body parts but later these were instead made from steel.[14] The Centurion Classic, as it was called, continued to be offered until the Bronco's demise.

A 1989 Centurion Classic, using the Bronco's rear section


Fifth generation
1995 Ford Bronco XLT.jpg
Production 1992–1996
Body and chassis
Body style Full-size SUV
Engine 300 cu in (4.9 L) Straight-6 (1992)
302 cu in (4.95 L) 302 V8
351 cu in (5.75 L) Windsor
Transmission 4-speed AOD-E automatic
4-speed E4OD automatic
5-speed M5OD-R2 manual
Wheelbase 104.7 in (2,660 mm)
Length 183.6 in (4,660 mm)
Width 79.1 in (2,010 mm)
Height 1995–96: 74.4 in (1,890 mm)
1992–94: 74.5 in (1,890 mm)

The Bronco, along with the F-Series, was updated for 1992. The new Bronco was redesigned with safety in mind, incorporating front crumple zones, rear shoulder seat belts, a third brake light embedded in the removable top, and for 1994, driver-side airbags. Because of the taillight and shoulder belts being safety equipment integrated into the top, the top was no longer legally removable (though it was still physically possible) and all literature in the owners manuals that had previously explained how to remove the top was removed. Torx "tamper proof" bolts, which required a special tool, were used in place of standard hex head bolts to secure the top in place, though ratchet sets were still recommended for top removal.

Cosmetic exterior and interior changes included a sweeping front end and a new dash. 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 and from 1995 the Bronco became the first vehicle to incorporate turn signal lights in the mirrors. All 1994–1996 Eddie Bauers have an overhead console. Some 1994–1996 XLTs or Eddie Bauers have lighted sun visors and a dimming rear view mirror.

From 1995-1996, Eddie Bauer models have a vented front bumper. In 1996, XLTs received the vented front bumper as well.

Two-Tone Bronco

1994-96 monochrome trucks are XLT Sport models offered in black, red, and white. In 1991, Ford offered a 1992 Nite edition bronco with an all black exterior and gray interior.

Another limited edition color offered on the mid-1990s XLTs was a two-tone light teal green and white exterior with a charcoal gray interior. Only about 600 of the teal and white two-tone were produced each year.

Engine Changes[edit]

The 302 engine received Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor system in 1993 (MY 1994). The 351 followed with MAF in 1994 (MY 1995) in California. 351s in the rest of the country received MAF in 1995 (MY 1996) along with OBD2 on both the 302 and 351. 1994–1995 351 blocks are roller lifter ready, and 302 and 351 1996 model year engines are roller blocks.

O. J. Simpson's Bronco[edit]

The Ford Bronco entered American popular culture on June 17, 1994, when a 1993 model owned and driven by Al Cowlings with O. J. Simpson, who was wanted for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, attempted to elude the Los Angeles Police Department in a low-speed chase.[15] It was one of the most bizarre events in television history.[16] The scene showed dozens of Los Angeles County police and California Highway Patrol cars following, not quite chasing, a white Bronco with Simpson reportedly holding a gun to his head and crowds massing along the route.[17] The major broadcast networks and cable systems preempted their television shows for live coverage of this unfolding drama.[18] Despite trying to maintain objectivity by the news commentators, the presence of television irrevocably altered the events, raising questions such as "would the LAPD so respectfully follow Simpson's Bronco without the escort of the media?"[19] A search of the Bronco turned up incriminating evidence[20] and the vehicle was also part of the trial.[21] With an estimated television audience of 95 million, the event was described "as the most famous ride on American shores since Paul Revere's".[22]


In mid-to late 1996, Ford announced the discontinuation of the Bronco. On June 12, 1996, the last Bronco rolled off the assembly line at Michigan's Ford Truck Plant. The last Bronco was escorted by Jeff Trapp's 1970 Ford Bronco during a Drive-Off Ceremony. Its replacement, the Ford Expedition, offered four-doors, as well as to compete with General Motors' Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and larger Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL models.

Australian assembly[edit]

The Bronco was assembled in Australia by Ford Australia, utilizing locally produced 4.1 litre six cylinder and 5.8 litre V8 engines.[1] It was marketed in Australia from March 1981 through to 1987.[23]

2004 concept[edit]

Ford Bronco Concept at the 2004 NY Auto Show

At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, a Bronco concept car was introduced. Some features of the concept car, such as the box-like roof line, short wheelbase, and the round headlamps are features associated with the early Bronco, but this concept car also had a 2.0 L intercooled turbodiesel I4 engine and a six-speed manual transmission. The shown concept also featured Intelligent 4WD system which replaces Control Trac II which not only improves stability but provides better fuel economy as well. It was to use the Ford CD2 platform, but the project was dropped when the newer Ford Escape was revealed, making it unlikely that this Bronco concept will see production.[24][25]


  1. ^ a b Ford Bronco, Retrieved 8 June 2015
  2. ^ Clarke, R. M. (1998). Ford Bronco, 1966–1977. Brooklands Books. ISBN 978-1-85520-474-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d Götz Leyrer (1 September 1976). "Kurztest: Ford Bronco - Ameriokanischer Gelaendewagen mit Allradantrieb". Auto, Motor und Sport (18): 62–66. 
  4. ^ a b Zuercher, Todd. "History of the Early Ford Bronco (1966–1977)". Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Jeep Production Dates, Models, & Numbers 1945–1986". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Norton, Andrew (1999). "Baja Bronco Briefing". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Duke, Bill; White, Danny (22 December 2005). "60s Funny Cars: Round 6". Drag Racing Stories. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Dunne, Jim (September 1976). "Detroit Report". Popular Science: 32. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Paul (3 March 2001). "History of the Second-Generation 78-79 Ford Bronco". Project Bronco. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Bradley, Chris (2007). "Ford Truck Engine Specifications". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "History of the Big Bronco". JohnV. 8 June 2006. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  13. ^ 1981 Ford Owners Manual Page 44 and 45.
  14. ^ Johnston, Jeff. "Centurion Classic 350/Ford 7.3 Diesel". Trailer Boats: 82. 
  15. ^ Mydans, Seth (18 June 1994). "The Fugitive: Simpson Is Charged, Chased, Arrested". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Jones, Mark (2012). History of Criminal Justice. Anderson Publishing. p. 333. ISBN 9781437734911. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Greenberg, Brian (2009). Watts, Linda S., ed. Social History of the United States. ABC-CLIO. pp. 258–259. ISBN 978-1-85109-903-0. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase: How it happened, minute by minute". LA Times. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Landy, Marcia (2001). The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media. Rutgers University Press. p. 316. ISBN 978-0813528564. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Reppetto, Thomas A (2012). American Police, a History: 1945–2012: The Blue Parade. Enigma Books. p. 156. ISBN 9781936274437. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  21. ^ Gordon-Reed, Annette (2002). Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History. Oxford University Press. p. 226. ISBN 978-0195122794. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  22. ^ Gilbert, Geis; Bienen, Leigh B. (1988). Crimes of the century: from Leopold and Loeb to O.J. Simpson. Northeastern University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-55553-360-1. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  23. ^ The Red Book, Automated Data Services Pty Limited, Australia, October 1989, pages 295-296
  24. ^ Raynal, Wes (14 May 2012). "New Leader?". Autoweek 62 (10): 52–53. 
  25. ^ "2015 Ford Bronco". 

External links[edit]

Media related to Ford Bronco at Wikimedia Commons