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Ford Bronco History: How Ford’s ’60s Trendsetter Became an American Icon

The Ford Bronco is one of the most iconic SUVs in American history. From its trendsetting debut in the 60s to its return in 2020, Americans have never gotten over this remarkable SUV. Here’s an overview of how the Bronco became one of the most famous cars in the world.

The early years of the Ford Bronco

Ford introduced the Bronco in 1966 and it instantly became a hit. One of the things that Americans in those days were looking for was the ability to go off-roading, and few cars could do it. Ford saw that demand and created the Bronco. These early Broncos were pretty simple in design compared to the other cars of the day, but that’s what people wanted. 

The first generation of the Bronco, which lasted from 1966 to 1977, was available in three versions, as a hardtop, a pickup truck, or as a convertible. No matter which one a driver chose however, the Bronco gave them a car with four-wheel-drive that could handle almost any terrain.

The second generation of the Bronco, which only lasted a year between 1978 and 1979, solidified in the minds of Americans the iconic look of the Bronco. Those three options were narrowed down to just one.

Ford would only offer a Bronco with a removable hardtop from here on out. On top of that, an iconic feature of the Bronco, a rear-window that lowered into a door, was introduced in this generation according to Men’s Journal.

Fuel crisis and death of the Bronco

From 1980 to 1996 however, the Bronco would go through three different generations of change as American drivers decided that the Bronco, and by extension, large SUVs, weren’t for them. In the third generation, Ford sought to make the Bronco a bit more fuel-efficient as well as more usable on regular roads. This is also the generation when Ford introduced its iconic Ford logo onto its cars.

The fourth-generation once again tried to make the Bronco more practical for everyday driving rather than just for off-roading. A bigger 5.0-liter V8 was installed on this version, but the hype for the Bronco still kept waning. Americans were simply looking for smaller cars, and the Bronco was just too large for most families.

The fifth and most infamous generation of the Bronco saw Ford trying to modernize the Bronco by adding more safety features and notably turning the removable hardtop into a fixed roof, according to Men’s Journal. This generation of the Bronco would be the one that O.J. Simpson famously tried to escape in, and it’d be the last Bronco for decades. 

A new life

Ford turned its back on the Bronco because the Ford Explorer, became extremely successful. However, with recent innovations in the car industry and a renewed demand for SUVs, Ford announced that it’ll be introducing a new Bronco in 2020.

Like many other SUVs in this day and age, the 2020 Bronco will be practical, sporty, and probably very fuel-efficient. Details are sparse but Ford’s going all-out on the new Bronco. Ford will offer drivers many options to customize their Broncos, but the general design and look of the car will likely remain the same.

If this sixth generation of the Bronco proves to be successful, then Ford’s goal of creating an entire family of vehicles based on the new Bronco may come true. However, some critics say that reintroducing the Bronco won’t save Ford as a company.

Regardless of what might happen to Ford, the history of the Bronco remains the same. It was a trendsetting SUV that couldn’t adapt with the times. Now, Ford hopes that it’s created a Bronco that can.