It’s been 25 years since Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were murdered outside her Brentwood, CA home. Following an arrest warrant for Brown Simpson’s husband, football legend O.J. Simpson took off with a friend and former teammate, Al Cowlings, driving in his white Ford Bronco.
Simpson held a gun to his own head while Cowlings drove along Los Angeles freeways at Simpson’s request, in an attempt to elude police. Cowlings was afraid Simpson would shoot himself and was on the phone with L.A. Police Department representatives off and on throughout. After roughly two hours, the episode ended in Simpson’s driveway, where he was arrested.
The Ford Bronco was an icon of the era. Built from 1965 to 1996, its features were those of some of the first SUV styles, a combination of a truck and station wagon. The aerial televised chase of the white Ford Bronco, while millions were glued watching, made this particular Ford Bronco a legend.
Cowling was opting to sell the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco
It is still commonly misunderstood that the Bronco did not belong to O.J. It was Cowling’s vehicle, although O.J. also drove a Bronco. It was owned by Hertz, for whom he worked as a spokesman, and was investigated for evidence with drops of blood from both of the victims found on it. Following the trial O.J.’s Bronco was destroyed.
Cowling’s Bronco was to be sold to a company specializing in Los Angeles tours of celebrity graves for $75,000, but Simpson’s former agent intervened not wanting any more publicity on the case prior to O.J.’s trial. The agent, Mike Gilbert, purchased the car with the aid of two others for the $75,000 Cowling had been offered and stored it in the garage of some L.A. condominiums for 20 years. They kept it running by starting it up and taking it for a short drive now and then, but otherwise, the Bronco sat idle.
The famous Bronco goes on display
While they have been offered up to $275,000 for the Bronco, the three men have retained ownership of the car.
For a few months in 2012, the Bronco was brought out for a sports memorabilia show at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Known as the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco, it was displayed in front of the hotel. The owners balked, however at the possibility of it being disassembled to move into the hotel itself, as they wanted to keep it in running condition.
Gilbert moved it back to his home in Hanford, CA where it remained locked up until 2018, when he placed it on loan to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. Also on temporary display at the museum is an exhibit dealing with domestic abuse that honors Nicole Brown Simpson.
Gilbert recently said he is happy with the loan placement.
“Not only would people learn details they never heard, but there would also be a new generation learning about it for the first time. This partnership with Alcatraz East has been important to me. I wanted the Bronco in a place where it would be protected, as well as be part of a bigger story- a part of history.”
Gilbert retains the registration papers, original tires, and the leftover gas from the infamous drive.
Where are things now
O.J. Simpson was acquitted by the jury, however, in a 1997 civil trial, he was found liable. Simpson was later found guilty for his role for a heist from a Las Vegas hotel room and served nine years in jail. He now lives outside of Las Vegas and recently has even joined Twitter.
Nicole Brown Simpson had two children with O.J. Sydney, now 33, is a Boston University grad who leads a private life and is thought to be living in Florida. Justin, now 30, also lives in Florida, is a real estate agent in the southern part of the state.
The new 2020 Bronco was announced at the 2019 North American International Auto Show this past January, but it was never actually shown.
All images provided by the manufacturer unless otherwise noted.