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The collector car market has changed. Y’all don’t need me to tell you that. Just look around, and you’ll see it. Bring-A-Trailer is full of cars from the ’80s and ’90s, selling for crazy money, not because they are rare or capable of killer performance, but because they have low mileage. That’s kind of the only criteria. This low-mileage 1986 Ford Bronco is a perfect example. These SUVs aren’t particularly rare or great. However, you find one with 7,539 miles, and suddenly, it’s heading to Mecum to sell for a boatload of cash.

Are third-generation Ford Broncos good? 

Bullnose Bronco front end
1986 Ford Bronco XLT | Mecum

The Ford Bronco is an icon. Any model from any generation will have fans. We love Broncos. That said, the third-generation Ford Bronco was a bit of a departure from the first-gen trucks. 

Ford released the third generation Ford Bronco for the 1980 model year; it was based on the best-selling Ford F-150 pickup truck of the same time. This means that parts could be easily interchanged between the two. The two trucks were basically identical mechanically. They even shared the same trim levels: XL, the XLT, and, from 1985 onwards, the Eddie Bauer trim package.

The third-gen Bronco was both shorter and lighter (385 lb lighter) than the preceding model. This was partly due to the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. This was the first time that many people have ever needed to consider efficiency, and that affected the way people bought cars moving forward. As such, this vintage Bronco was designed with a more efficient drivetrain. Granted, it really wasn’t very efficient at all.

1986 Ford Bronco Brochure Cover
1986 Ford Bronco Brochure Cover | Mecum

The base Bronco came with a 4.9-liter inline-six, with the 5.0-liter and 5.8-liter V8s being popular optional upgrades. Power traveled back through either a three or 4-speed automatic or a 4-speed manual, then through a dual-range transfer case to either the rear wheels only or all four wheels.

The third-gen Bronco, with all its changes, was a sales success. Ford made and sold buckets of these things. In fact, ​​the third-generation Bronco stayed in production from 1980 to 1986. It was a strong seller that, in its last year of production, it sold 62,127 units, the model’s best year to date.

What makes this Bronco so special?

1986 Ford Bronco XLT interior in imaculate shape.
1986 Ford Bronco XLT | Mecum

Unlike Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porches, and other cars in this vein, few people bought Ford Broncos to keep them in the garage. Broncos were driven, most of them, at least. This one has 7,539 miles. It is perfect. 

Not only is this third-gen vintage Bronco a time capsule, but it was also beautifully optioned *Chef’s Kiss.* It was ordered with the HO (High-output) 5.8 liter V8 engine and the XLT trim level. It also has the towing package with four HD shock absorbers up front and two HD shocks in the rear. 

The list of features just keeps going, too. It has a “super cooling” radiator with an auxiliary transmission cooler, dual engine block heaters, a 32-gallon fuel tank, underbody skid plates, and a limited-slip 3.50 ratio Ford 9-inch rear axle. This thing is perfect. 

When is the auction? 

1986 Ford Bronco profile view
1986 Ford Bronco XLT | Mecum

The 1986 Ford Bronco we see here is heading to Dallas Mecum in late September. Given its options, the condition, and the impossibly low mileage, there is no question that this vintage Bronco will fetch some serious bread when it crosses the block. 

It’s hard to choke down the prices of some of these regular shmegular cars, but something deeper is happening. These time capsule cars and trucks are appealing because we get to step back to the cars and trucks of our childhood. As soon as some of us of a certain age see these images, our brains will be flooded with memories of textures, smells, and sounds. I can feel those cloth seats. I know exactly how they feel. While spending $100k (that’s a guess) on a stock ’86 Ford Bronco feels a little insane, I kind of get it. Kind of.